Tim Fifield wrote:
> Just curious... Does anybody use the 99SE autorouter for large PCB designs?
> Do the majority of board designers do everything manually? I don't even
> bother with the autorouter anymore, it's to messy. Perhaps I'm not setting
> it up properly. What do you people do?

I have used it for medium designs (3 560-pin BGAs, 4 100/144-pin QFPs,
30 or so smaller SM ICs and several hundred discrete R, C, L and XTAL,
plus connectors, test points, etc.) I hand routed the speed critical and
analog sections, set up many design rules (layers, clearances per IC,
per via, etc.) and then turned the AR loose. Spent about 2 hours
cleanup, but I feel like I had good results and it did the job MUCH
faster than I could have done by hand. For large designs, I typically
use Specctra.

For small designs, I may hand route or throw the AR into it just to see
how it does. Often I am surprised by how well it performs!

Sometimes, I setup keepout lines (constraining the traces within
specific regions) and turn the AR loose doing analog and speed critical
signals as well as the rest of the board. I usually have a good bit to
clean up (setting length, max parallel and length rules on signals and
verifying they are within tolerance), but even then I find the AR did as
well as or better than some layout shops had done on designs which were
similar but using other tools.

My advice is set up every rule you can find (even if the AR does not
obey them) and then DRC/tweek until YOU are satisfied. If you think the
cleanup will take too long either add some constraints (new rules or
keepout guides), or do it by hand.

Don't get me wrong, I complain about the AR because there are a LOT of
quirks which I think Altium (nee Protel) should put serious effort into
correcting; but for the price, it does a reasonable job.

David W. Gulley
Destiny Designs

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