At 02:34 PM 5/12/2004, Brooks,Bill wrote:
In the case of PCB WEST TOP GUN, the actual design is held in confidence for
obvious reasons.

It's obvious why it would be held in confidence prior to the contest. Is it kept in confidence for all time after that? If it were available, then one could hold a virtual contest, not the same (because not subject to the same monitored time conditions, etc.) but still useful to those who tried it.

If we were able to obtain the contest design specifications, we could, for example, have a number of experienced designers try to design that board with Protel. If the results are honestly reported (as I think they would be), we could then have some basis for comparison between the tools.... better than pure speculation!

Again, if the design files are publically available, there is no way to have a buttoned-down, no-way-to-cheat contest. We *could* come up with our own design files, but this would (a) be quite a bit of work in itself and (b) not give us the comparative data.

My interest here would not be in producing some kind of promotional material for Protel, but in understanding how Protel stands in comparison to the other tools, in the hands of experienced users. Protel is *much* less expensive than the tools used by the winners, so I don't expect Protel to be able to beat the design times, particularly given the autorouter situation. On the other hand, perhaps we might be surprised. More likely, though, we might come up with something like "you can get a faster tool than Protel, and this is how much more it is going to cost you, and this is how many years -- or this is how much total design volume -- it will take to recover the additional cost (if ever)."

The idea was to pit designer/tool against designer/tool. In the case you
suggest it would really be designer vs designer the tool would be the same.

TOP Protel Designer would be a prestigious award for a PCB designer who used
Protel. A good idea.

For the TOP Protel Designer contest I think we'd need to create our own design, because the temptation and potential reward for cheating would be too much for us to be secure from it. Would we need to hold the contest at some conference? Perhaps....

If the design were one that could reasonably be done in 8 hours, or the contest were broken into pieces with each piece being about eight hours of work, we might be able to just release the design information by email. This could favor designers living in one part of the world.... Yes, designers will have machines of different speeds, and designer collaboration might be a possible way of cheating (if it were against the rules) ... on the other hand, if you can get the design done faster by collaborating, maybe this itself would be of interest. Perhaps the designers would be required to submit hourly progress files. That would throw the kibosh on some kinds of collaboration.

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