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Hitting Our Stride: What’s New in Autodesk EAGLE 8.4

Sam Sattel

what-new-eagle

Hitting Our Stride: What’s New in Autodesk EAGLE 8.4

Ladies and gentleman, Autodesk EAGLE is finally hitting its stride. In Autodesk EAGLE 8.4, you’ll find a ton of new, professional design features along with an entirely new dimension for EAGLE – integrated SPICE simulation. Here’s every new feature you need to know about and how to use them today.

Live Design Rule Check

If you’re designing a PCB, then the possibility for mistakes can be lurking around every corner. With the new Live Design Rule Check, you can see, and fix errors, as they happen.

This feature is perfect when you want a quick visual reminder that you’ve stepped beyond the bounds of your design rules. Trying to place a component on your board outline? Live DRC will let you know. Or maybe you’re trying to plow through a set of traces on the wrong layer? Just look for the visual cue and correct your ways.

How to Use It

In Autodesk EAGLE 8.4 Live DRC is enabled by default. With your design rules configured, try routing a trace or placing a design object that’s in violation of your rules. You’ll notice a set of hashed boxes that appear, showing you exactly where your violations are.

eagle-live-design-rule-check

Not a fan of the default hashed pattern for visual DRC violations? You can change this with the following steps:

  1. Select Options » Set at the top of your interface.
  2. In the Settings dialog select the DRC tab.
  3. Select the Fill style of error polygons button and choose a new pattern, then select OK to save your settings.

drc-fill-color

Board Flip View

Remember that one time your mechanical designer gave you a connector and you placed it backward on your bottom layer? This mistake happens to all of us, and for a good reason. Designing on the bottom layer of your board is a traditionally mirrored process.

With the new Board Flip feature you can view, place, and route on your bottom layer from its natural perspective. Just imagine flipping your board over in your hand, that’s what you’ll see in this position. This view is excellent for accurately planning out a layout strategy for your bottom layer without any mirrored confusion.

How to Use It

There’s a new Board Flip board-flip icon at the top of your layout editor that will twist your PCB when clicked. You can also access this via View » Flip Board.

board-flip-view

Prefer to use this with a keystroke? Select Options » Assign and create a new keyboard shortcut. The Assigned command for Board Flip is Window Flip.

new-key-assignment

Live Preview Layers

How about a quick and easy way to preview layers on your board? The new Live Preview Layers allows you to quickly toggle layers on and off without that pesky Apply button. We’ve also added some handy layer filtering options to view All Layers, Used Layers, Unused Layers, or Routable Layers at a glance.

How to Use It

Select the Layer  Settings display-icon icon on the left-hand side of your interface to open the familiar Layers dialog. Now you can select a layer in the list, and on/off it toggles without requiring any extra clicks!

You’ll also notice the new Filter drop-down at the top of the Layers dialog. Select one of the available presets and your layer list will change to show just what you care about.

live-preview-layers

Command Line Autocomplete

The command line is one of the most significant features of EAGLE, which is both a good and a bad thing. It gives you a ton of control over your design environment, but learning all of the syntax and commands requires a steep learning curve.

Now you don’t need to remember exact commands. Just focus on the context of what you want to accomplish and EAGLE will take care of the rest. This is like Google’s autocompleting search, but for EAGLE. Type in the first few letters of your command phrase, and you’ll get a helpful autocompletion to guide you the rest of the way.

How to Use It

Need to rip up all the signals on your layout? Maybe it’s ripup, ripall, something else? Start typing “ri” and the command line will autocomplete “ripup” for you. Hit tab and the autocompletion gets added.

command-line-auto-complete

SPICE Simulator

Last but not least, the paramount feature of this release, integrated SPICE simulation. The days of connecting to third-party simulators and having to recreate your circuit from scratch are over. Design in EAGLE, simulate in EAGLE.

For those of you new to electronics design, SPICE, or Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis, allows you to check the integrity of your circuitry and predict circuit behavior. In other words – are all of those connected components in your schematic going to produce an output waveform that looks as you would expect?

You can use SPICE simulation for a ton of use cases. Like knowing what’s happening with the voltage in your circuit at a specific point in time. The integrated SPICE Simulator in Autodesk EAGLE 8.4 comes with three modes, including:

  • Transient Analysis. This will allow you to simulate how your circuit performs over a given period as current flows through your components. This analysis can help you understand the stability and reliability of your circuit.
  • DC/AC Sweep. For circuits with either an AC or DC input source, you can see what happens to your voltage as it travels through each component to the output.
  • Operating Point. This mode will allow you to analyze a single component node at a defined point.

eagle-spice-simulator

How to Use It

How to use the SPICE Simulator in its entirety is another blog post of its own that we’ll be posting shortly. Until then, take a look at the top of your schematic editor interface, and you’ll notice some new icons:

spice-simulation-icon Opens the SPICE simulation dialog.

 

Sim-Operating-Point-Analysis Toggles the display of SPICE simulation results on your schematic.

 

Sim-Voltage-Probe  Sim-Voltage-Phase-Probe Places new voltage or phase probes on your schematic.

 

Sim-Map-to-Model Allows you to map a SPICE model to an existing schematic symbol.

 

Sim-Add-Model Allows you to set SPICE device types and map SPICE models to either individual or multiple schematic symbols.

To make your simulation work easier, we’ve added a new Managed Online Library filled with SPICE compatible parts. Place one of these parts, and you won’t have to worry about attaching SPICE models to your existing symbols. Look for the ngspice-simulation library folder to start using these in your next project.

ngspice-library

One last thing to note, we have also added some new design examples in your Projects folder so you can test out your simulation options. Take a look at the ngspice Projects folder and start playing around with all of the samples!

EAGLE Enters Its Prime

In less than a year Autodesk EAGLE has grown up more than we could have ever imagined. We’re hitting our stride now, pumping out professional-level features for design and simulation at a fraction of the price of traditional EDA tools. It’s a total game changer.

If you were on the fence about trying Autodesk EAGLE, now’s the time to dip your feet in. Take Autodesk EAGLE 8.4 for a spin and enjoy all of the new design and simulation features inside. Download Autodesk EAGLE 8.4 for free here.

For our ecstatic EAGLE Subscribers, enjoy the new update the next time you start your software.

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