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The Best Electronic Circuit Design Starts with a Spirit of Creativity

Line drawing of an original Star Trek Phaser


It was a moment destined for the history books, the day that I invented the world’s first working Star Trek type Phaser. Or at least it would have been if I hadn’t only been eight years old, and clueless as to how any of this would, or in this case, wouldn’t work. You see my idea was to electrify a glass of water using some wires connected to a D-cell battery, and then shine a flashlight through the water. I was positive that I was on to something, and then bitterly disappointed when my experiment resulted in only a wet battery.

The important point though is that the spirit of creativity was alive in me because I had been watching as my dad worked with electronics. Whether he was repairing household appliances, or creating new circuitry for different projects, I was captivated by what he was doing and wanted to be part of it. Now, my own kids are doing the same thing as they watch me work with PCB design CAD tools. Careers are built on experience and experience starts with education, but the motivation for all of this comes in part from the spirit of creativity. Never before in history have we had the ability to foster creativity in electronic circuit design as we can now with today’s CAD tools.

Electronic Circuit Design Starts with Drawing a Simple Line

It is true that CAD tools can be incredibly intimidating. There are so many options and commands to work with that new users are often hesitant to start. Therefore when I’m working with someone who is new to the tools, I encourage them to just jump in and draw a line. It doesn’t matter what type or color the line is, it could be any shape as far as that goes. 

The important thing is to just start drawing something. Whether it’s the first time you’ve swung a bat at a pitched baseball, or sung karaoke, the best advice is usually to just go for it. It may seem scary at first, but if you jump in with full determination to give it all you’ve got, you’re probably well ahead of everyone else around you. And that goes for working with CAD tools as well.

Once a new user gets comfortable with the basic functions, they are then ready to start exploring how the tools will support their design creativity. The key here is to help users with easily attainable goals that will build their skills and confidence so that they are encouraged to continue on to the next steps. Give a new user too much too soon, and their frustration may kill their creativity. On the other hand, once they see how each successive skill will contribute to the next, their abilities with the tools will quickly expand. This growth will ultimately get them to the point where their CAD skills will naturally help foster their creativity in design.


Picture of electronic circuit design engineers at work

The right design tools can help your creativity to soar


Multiple Tools Give You that Much More Room to Grow With

It used to be that PCB design CAD tools were limited in scope in what they were able to do. Schematic capture was handled by one group of people, while PCB layout was handled by another. Fortunately, that has changed in today’s CAD tools as the tools are now designed to work together in harmony. Not only does this make the different tools easier to use by one person, but there are now many more tools available in the mix. The traditional schematic capture and PCB layout tools are now complemented by library management tools as well as circuit simulators and signal analysis tools to name just a few.

With the availability of these different tools, and with the ease of which they can be operated by a single user, the ability to be creative in electronic circuit design software has increased exponentially. Instead of waiting for someone else to find a necessary component, design engineers can now use their tools to search for the components they need. Their creativity doesn’t have to stop while they wait for another department to do this work for them. 

Similarly, circuit simulation can be done in the same tools and in the same design that are being used to capture the schematic diagram. Design engineers no longer have to stop what they are doing to ship off the design for someone else to simulate. Instead, circuit simulation as well as many other functions are all part of the same creative circuit design process.


Screenshot of OrCAD PCB Designer 3D layout

Using tools like OrCAD’s PCB Designer, the sky’s the limit on what you can create


The Right PCB Design Tools at the Right Time

The critical part of all of this is making sure to use design tools that will help foster this creativity instead squashing it. Too many design tools limit what their users can do instead of providing the flexibility that encourages creativity. They may say that they have a circuit simulation option, but the simulator that they provide will only do a portion of the necessary work. With the right tools in hand however, designers are free to create what they can imagine, and at that point the sky’s the limit.

Cadence has a whole line of high-performance PCB design tools that will give you the creative freedom to design the kinds of electronic circuits that are needed in our rapidly technologically evolving world. To answer this call, OrCAD PCB Designer has set the standard for usability and flexibility in schematic capture and PCB layout tools. Additionally, it is tightly coupled with the PSpice circuit simulator as well as library management, automated PCB layout tools, and high speed signal analyzers. No matter how far your creative design imagination can reach, OrCAD and the other tools from Cadence can give you a way to capture and build it.

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts.