> wouldn't you want pairing to be mech 1 with 16 and mech 2 with 15, etc.
> ?

While I can appreciate what you are saying, the *existing* layers of a
paired nature (with the exception of the external copper layers) are
"adjacent" to one another in dialog boxes and in the numbers assigned to
each layer in internal/database representation. To similarly pair "adjacent"
Mech layers would thus seem to be more helpful to users, overall, as they
would still be able to set up a Print Configuration file which created a set
of Printouts in a sequence of Mech 1, Mech 3, ... , Mech 13, Mech 15, Top
Paste Mask, Top Overlay, Top Solder Mask, Top Copper, ... , Bottom Copper,
Bottom Solder Mask, Bottom Overlay, Bottom Paste Mask, Mech 16, Mech 14, ...
, Mech 4, Mech 2.

The ideal would of course be to permit users to pair Mechanical layers to
one another as they saw fit, and without any restrictions. (They could then
pair in the manner you suggested if they so wanted.) Previous versions of
PCAD provided a not dissimilar capability, so it is not without precedent.

My suggestion of confining the pairing capability to "adjacent" Mech layers
was based on the assumption that this would simplify the user interface and
probably the actual implementation as well (and so make the implementation
of this more straightforward for Altium).

> as to the ad hoc layer naming and creation in autocad ...
> it can be as much of a source of clutter and trouble as it can be an aid
> in getting the job done
> much of the trouble comes when trying to re-use and merge designs
> unless you follow rigorously controlled naming conventions and usage you
> soon wind up with 'layer hell' which can take quite a while to sift
> through, sort and rename or combine
> acad 2002 supposedly has done something to ease this and although i have
> it i haven't had a chance to load it

Both previous and existing versions of PCAD provide a default set of layers,
which *reduces* the nature of this problem, though I concede that this is
not *totally* eliminated as a consequence. I don't know how likely it is
that Protel would evolve to a feature of user-defined addon layers, but I
would suggest the retention of the existing four pairs of paired layers,
plus the special-purpose MultiLayer, KeepOut, Drill Drawing, and Drill Guide
layers as the default, "pre-defined" set of layers (which users would not be
able to re-number, re-name, or delete).

The provision of a suitable Wizard could facilitate what happens when users
want to merge files with differing sets of layers (and while I am not
familiar with Acad 2002, I suspect that something like that may well have
been provided within it). But to some extent, this situation is not
dissimilar to merging *existing* PCB files, when the Mechanical layers have
been assigned different names and/or purposes...

> interestingly solidworks as far as i can tell in my limited explorations
> does not have layers at all!
> it seems to me that pc design is much more defined in it's scope than a
> do anything tool like acad and as such some structuring of layers for
> typical use (customizable) is adequate
> you most always want a title block, an outline, silkscreens and so forth
> and having these always setup the same from job to job takes a bit of
> discipline as it is
> i think what we need is the ability to define all this stuff once and
> then inherit that from a master template or from a menu of templates
> we do bds with parts on both sides all the time and i have not been
> (much) troubled by the current method of looking thru the board and
> flipping parts to the other side
> Dennis Saputelli

The provision of additional Mechanical layers in Protel 99 SE could be
regarded as indicative that while the dominant reason for using Protel
continues to be to design PCBs, it is also enhancing its ability to
accommodate other aspects of PCB design, such as mechanical details,
supplementary documentation, etc.

P-CAD 2001 has eleven "hard-wired"/pre-defined layers: the unpaired Board la
yer, eight layers corresponding to the paired layers available in Protel 99
SE, and yet another pair of Assy (Assembly) layers. Assembly layers are one
example of additional paired layers that many Protel users would probably
want to have provided; another conceivable example could be two "Height"
layers, in which height details of each component are depicted in some
manner (so that if a component is moved to the other side of the PCB,
associated height documentation details also change to the appropriate

The provision of a feature of adding your own layers as you see fit could be
regarded as overkill for an application whose dominant purpose is to design
PCBs, but perhaps one reason why PCAD provided this feature in the past (and
continues to do so) is to lure prospective owners with the idea of owning an
application which can match Autocad in (at least) that regard (and thus
spare many such users from having to *also* purchase Autocad).

But P-CAD is currently "up-market" from Protel, so perhaps it could be
argued that it is more appropriate for Protel to continue to be targeted to
those wanting to acquire a more focused (on PCB design) product that does
not cost as much. However, as I have suggested, even when Protel is used for
PCB design, rather than as a general-purpose CAD application, there is still
some case for providing the ability to have more than the existing four
pairs of paired layers. And while changing to the Autocad/PCAD way (of
defining new layers as required) would be one way of doing that, there are
alternatively the other suggestions of mine, to wit, either providing yet
another four (or eight) pairs of entirely new layers (which are "hard-wired"
in their paired nature), or the longer-standing suggestion of being able to
pair (the existing) Mech layers as required.

Geoff Harland.
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