I have found the TOP GUN competitions very interesting, as well as the 
discussion here. But in my case, the types of designs that are used in 
the competition are totally irrelevant to me and the type of designs I 
actually do. Everything we do is manually routed, predominantly because 
there's usually an equal mixture of analog/power/mechanical components 
that autorouters just can't deal with. Our designs are usually space- 
constrained too and often requires a "minimum board space/shortest
tracks and fewest vias" mentality. We also do very few boards greater
than 4 layers. In that regard I think Protel99SE is a great tool, it's
manual routing tools are excellent. 

As an example, my last "big" board design was 4 layers, 8" x 10" and
about 700 components (many of them power and analog). The schematic was
23 "B" size sheets. Here's a screen shot of the board:

http://www.mps-design.com/misc-images/M2CPU.bmp

I'm not sure anyone could layout that kind of board much faster or
better with any other tool, regardless of the cost of the tool. I think
the value of the tool depends on how closely it matches your intended
use. 

Matt Pobursky
Maximum Performance Systems
 
On Thu, 13 May 2004 10:30:18 -0500, Protel Hell wrote:
> I know at least one person has made Top Gun using PADS. I believe all others
> who have made Top Gun used what would be considered high end ($) CAD. If you
> want to get the job done quickly and accurately, that is what you want to
> use. If you cannot afford one of these high end tools, If you have more time
> than money  then you will be forced to use a low cost CAD, but be aware that
> in the end you will spend almost as much, it's just that you will be
> spending your time instead of money. And in time to market, you will almost
> certainly loose.
> 
> I think that Bills experience pretty much proves my point, he is a very
> experienced designer, a Top Gun in all measure, but in competing against
> other Top Guns, he was basically in a shootout at the OK corral armed with a
> slingshot while others had automatic high caliber weapons.
> 



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