# Tools for PCB Designers

## Sierra Circuits has developed easy-to-use PCB tools for designers and electrical engineers at every stage of circuit board development.

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### Via Impedance Calculator

Sierra Circuits’ Via Impedance Calculator uses the physical dimensions of a via to calculate its capacitance, inductance, and impedance. The tool implements numerical solutions of Maxwell’s equations to render accurate and consistent results.

Vias (plated holes) are used to route electrical signals among different layers of a multilayer layer PCB. These holes comprise barrels, pads, and annular rings. The physical dimensions of these attributes affect the impedance, capacitance, and inductance of a via. Via design is also affected by the presence of a second ground plane and the distance between the ground planes. Thus, it is crucial to know the precise values of these parameters during the design phase to maintain the signal integrity of your system.

### Maximum Via Stub Length Calculator

Sierra Circuits’ Maximum Via Stub Length Calculator helps you to determine the optimum stub length and its resonant frequency. The tool:

• Calculates via stub resonant frequency and maximum allowable via stub length based on dielectric constant and maximum data transfer rate/fastest signal rise time/maximum frequency content/3dB bandwidth
• Facilitates reverse calculation i.e, it computes maximum data transfer rate, fastest signal rise time, maximum frequency content, and 3dB bandwidth for the desired stub length and dielectric constant
• The units of the inputs and outputs can be changed using the respective dropdowns
• A brief description of each input and output parameter can be viewed by clicking on the help button

### RLC Resonant Frequency and Impedance Calculator

Sierra Circuits’ RLC Resonant Frequency and Impedance Calculator computes resonant frequency and impedance of series and parallel RLC circuits. The resonant frequency is the frequency at which a circuit’s highest oscillatory response occurs. This can be seen in circuits having capacitors and inductors. Generally, a resistor is introduced in resonant circuits to decay the oscillations. This process is known as damping. RLC (resistor, inductor, and capacitor) circuits are one of the most fundamental circuits used in PCB layouts. Hence, it is essential for a board designer to know about the resonant frequency and impedance of an RLC circuit.

The RLC Resonant and Impedance Calculator determines the capacitive reactance, inductive reactance, resonant frequency, impedance (parallel/series), and the quality factor without having to insert too many input parameters.

### Bandwidth, Rise Time and Critical Length Calculator

The characteristics of transmission lines in any high-speed design should be uniform to avoid degradations such as signal distortions and crosstalk. To help you achieve this feat, Sierra Circuits has introduced the Bandwidth, Rise Time and Critical Length Calculator. Using this tool, you can calculate 3dB bandwidth (BW), fastest signal rise time (tr), critical length (lc), maximum data transfer rate (DTR), and maximum frequency content (Fmax).

High-speed PCBs operate in the range of hundreds of MHz to several GHz. These boards are prone to signal integrity issues. Hence, it is important to analyze the high-speed trace properties and calibrate their values as per the standards.

### Transmission Line Reflection Calculator

The characteristic impedance of a PCB trace should remain constant to have a uniform transmission line. Any discontinuity at any point will affect the uniformity of the characteristic impedance and cause reflections. The reflected signal propagates in the direction opposite to the main signal. These reflections are referred to as ringing.

The Transmission Line Reflection Calculator graphically depicts the ringing of a signal at the source and load of a transmission line.

### PCB Conductor Spacing and Voltage Calculator

Sierra Circuits’ PCB Conductor Spacing and Voltage Calculator calculates the minimum spacing between two conductors if the potential difference between them is provided. Conversely, if the spacing between two conductors is given then the maximum potential difference that can be allowed between them is computed.

With this tool, you can get an accurate estimate of the space and voltage required between the conductors. This is particularly helpful during the PCB design and layout stages. The calculator is largely based on IPC 2221B standard, table 6-1.

### Signal Layer Estimator

We offer an easy-to-use Signal Layer Estimator that will eliminate your complicated design delays. With the help of this tool, you will be able to understand the recommended number of signal layers in a go. Keep all the necessary input parameters handy and get a hassle-free estimation in no time.

### Via Current Capacity and Temperature Rise Calculator

The via current capacity and temperature rise calculator is designed to assist designers in building the perfect PCB vias. This tool offers a simple and swift calculation of the three important aspects related to via design – temperature rise above ambient, via diameter, and maximum current carrying capacity.

You will also have the option to see various important parameters like resistance, voltage drop, and power loss at the specified via current.

### Impedance Calculator

The Sierra Circuits Impedance Calculator uses the 2D numerical solution of Maxwell’s equations for PCB transmission lines. It renders fairly accurate results suitable for use in PCB manufacturing and engineering analysis.

Most of the free online tools for impedance calculations are generally not as accurate as they are based on empirical formulas and do not take into account the trace’s trapezoidal shape or the effect of multiple dielectric materials.

### Trace Width, Current and Temp Rise Calculator

In just minutes, our innovative “three-in-one calculator” can conduct an audit of your designs to determine the trace width, current capacity, and temperature rise of your prototype before you begin the manufacturing process.

If any two of the three measurements are known, The Trace Width, Current and Temp Rise Calculator can determine the output for the third element. It can also identify  the DC resistance and the voltage drop across the trace of a given length.

### Better DFM

Better DFM is an online design tool that checks for manufacturability of an electronic circuit design. The primary objective of this tool is to simplify the product design while enhancing the functional performance of the electronic circuit, making it easier to manufacture. We also offer our customers the opportunity to customize specific design parameters, as per their requirements.

Our Better DFM tool allows you to load your IPC-356 format netlist along with Gerber files and creates a netlist that is compared to the IPC netlist. Any errors (shorts or broken nets) in the design are identified in a custom report.

### BOM Checker

The Sierra Circuits BOM Checker instantly identifies BOM errors and helps you resolve component issues quickly. The tool serves an aid for designers in getting all the required assessments of a BOM for assembly, which eliminates the need to check various software and websites to get hold of the required information. This tool points out all the errors associated with the uploaded BOM and helps get a cost estimate for the required number of PCBs. It also gives the user an idea about the availability of the parts and their life cycles from a set of vendors.

### PCB Material Selector

The Sierra Circuits’ PCB Material Selector allows you to search and compare the properties and specifications of board materials that fit your application. There are 50+ rigid materials and 10+ flex materials available in this tool. For each material, there are various parameters listed, such as dielectric constant, dissipation factor, glass transition temperature, decomposition temperature, moisture absorption, etc.

The tool can quickly find the materials (rigid or flex) suitable to your application and provide datasheet for any given material instantaneously. It also provides you with a comparison of materials that fit your application criteria such as IPC revisions, slash numbers, Tg, Dk, and lead-free compatibility.

### PCB Stackup Designer

The Sierra Circuits PCB Stackup Designer offers precise options for cost-optimized stack-up structures. This designer’s tool helps reduce electromagnetic emissions and crosstalk. Land on the best stackup by getting precise data, including: dielectric thicknesses, copper weights, layer order, impedance layers and reference layers. It also has an integrated impedance calculator to get the desired impedance and trace/space values on any signal layer.

## Talk to a Sierra Circuits PCB Expert today

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call us: +1 (800) 763-7503
Email us: through our Customer Care form