UserInterface - Circad

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Straight Forward User Interface


CIRCAD's powerful and straight forward user interface makes any PCB design and layout project a walk in the park! Knowing that the majority of Windows applications are click and menu driven, CIRCAD has taken these ideas to the next level. In a standard PCB design package you might expect to have to type <ALT P> to invoke the place menu, and then select Component in order to place a part on your drawing sheet (you may even have the luxury of clicking on an unrecognizable 32 by 32 pixel mnemonic on a toolbar). While CIRCAD maintains compatibility with these ideas, the CIRCAD functions can be accessed by a set of intuitive two letter commands. For example, a quick type of the keystroke "PC" and CIRCAD invokes the Place Component dialog box ready to go. Similarly all of the other CIRCAD functions can be accessed by typing "GL" for Grab Line, or "DP" for Delete Pad. The fact that CIRCAD uses the same package for both the schematic capture and the PCB layout phases of the design means that there is only one user interface to learn. Using components from the CIRCAD user definable library, a schematic can be made that CIRCAD can then use to create a PCB file with all of the components lined up along the bottom ready for user placement. If the library does not contain the component needed the user can build and define any component needed. CIRCAD has the ability to have open and work in as many files as memory will allow. By pressing <ALT N> the user can switch between open files. This feature can be used for several things such as toggling between a schematic and a PCB, or even browsing several open libraries.


Once the schematic is complete, CIRCAD's schematic capture portion will pull the required components out of the libraries and line them up along the bottom of the drawing ready for placement. Point to point lines or "Rat-lines" can be a useful tool in placement by showing what components need to be close to others.
CIRCAD operates in one of two modes:

1. Windows mode, which can be identified by a pointer cursor and a menu bar along the top the screen.

2. CIRCAD mode, which can be identified by a full screen cross hair cursor and the absence of a menu bar at the top of the screen.


To toggle between the two modes simply press the space bar at any time. When CIRCAD is in Windows mode, the pointer cursor is free to roam anywhere (including outside of the CIRCAD window) without affecting the current data file. However, when the program is operating in CIRCAD mode the cross hair cursor is confined the within the CIRCAD window. Move the crosshair cursor down to the far lower-left corner of the screen, and the x,y readout in the left hand end of the status bar will go to zero. As the cursor is moved to the right along the bottom of the screen, the first number (the x coordinate) will grow larger. This figure indicates distance, in the current grid snap, from the lower-left corner, or origin. As the cursor is moved upward, the second number (the y coordinate) will behave similarly. As the cursor approaches the edge of the screen CIRCAD will automatically "pan" the current data file off of the screen and draw in the new data. This process provides a simple method of sliding around the data file without the bother of clumsy and inefficient scroll bars.
In addition to being easy to use, CIRCAD has many powerful features to make even the most complicated of PCB designs trivial. Examples of such features would be the ability to rotate any "grabbed" item (single line, component, or even complicated poli-line block) to any arbitrary value for use in the construction of round PCB's. Perhaps you have several occurrences of one type of error in your design. No sweet, simply put CIRCAD into a "watch me" mode, correct one of the errors, and then use the playback to correct the remainder of the problems.

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