Tutorials on Cadence OrCAD Capture, PSpice and PCB Designer

I teach several courses that use different applications in the Cadence OrCAD suite and have collected the handouts here. Please send me a note if you find them useful and that might encourage me to keep them up to date! Suggestions for improving them would of course be welcome too.

Textbook on PCB Design using OrCAD Capture and PCB Editor

An excellent book was published in 2009 on this software: Complete PCB Design using OrCAD Capture and PCB Editor by Kraig Mitzner. It covers the general principles of designing a PCB, including a lot of useful reference material, as well as the software itself. PCB Editor gets most coverage but Capture and PSpice are also described more briefly. A few minor points are already out of date because the author uses version 16.0 and the current release is 16.3, but that’s inevitable. I recommend this strongly. It is far more comprehensive and authoritative than my tutorials, listed below.

Capture and PSpice

Many good introductions to Capture and PSpice can be found on the web and in textbooks. A recent book is Analog Design and Simulation using OrCAD Capture and PSpice by Dennis Fitzpatrick. It uses OrCAD 16.5, the latest version at the end of 2011.

Here is my rather long-winded tutorial for students who have never used these applications before.

The tutorial was originally written for version 16.0 although little had changed since version 9 as far as an elementary tutorial is concerned. I have updated it for versions 16.2 and 16.3, which have a significantly different appearance to bring Capture in line with OrCAD PCB Editor. The biggest alteration in the interface is the Place Part dialog box, which has become a pop-out panel. Switch between a fixed window and pop-out panel by clicking on the ‘pin’ icon in the title bar. This behaviour can be changed with an option in the Miscellaneous tab of the Preferences dialog box. I have not yet updated it for version 16.5

There are few changes in functionality beyond version 16.0 as far as this tutorial is concerned. However, instructors will be delighted to hear that the type of project can be changed in version 16.3 of Capture. Right-click on a design file (with extension .dsn) in the project manager and choose Change Project Type. This solves the common problem of students who create the wrong type of project.

PCB Designer

PCB Designer replaces Layout for the design of PCBs and is a completely different suite of applications. The main component is OrCAD PCB Editor, which is based on the Allegro PCB Editor. Unfortunately the tutorials that come with PCB Designer are fairly limited, given the complexity of the software, and it is not easy for newcomers to navigate around the documentation. The detailed descriptions of commands are excellent but you need to be reasonably familiar with the tools before this becomes meaningful.

This introduction guides you through two simple designs and is followed by a list of (slightly) more advanced techniques. It has been updated for version 16.3 but not yet for 16.5.

The tutorial is based on my introductory course on PCB design. The course includes revision of basic circuit analysis, Capture and PSpice as well as PCB Designer. We use a local library of footprints that includes extra large pads to make assembly easier for inexperienced students. Most PCBs for students are made in-house using photomasks printed directly from PCB Editor; this needs considerable manipulation of the colours and visibility because PCB Editor was not designed for such an old-fashioned process! We also require guide holes in the pads for the drill, which requires specially modified padstacks. Most people are probably not interested in the extra material but here is the handout for completeness.

The main difference between the two is the way in which the padstacks are modified to get guide holes for the drill.

Please send me a note if you would like a copy of the local library of footprints mentioned above.

John H. Davies

Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering
Glasgow University