Electronics > RF, Microwave, Ham Radio

Best CAD to build an RF board with?

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All of the projects I've worked on there have used either Cadence tools - e.g.  DE HDL and Allegro or Altium.

As to OP's question - it depends entirely on the scope of your project and your budget.
This very capable SDR is on a very basic PCB with no fancy RF stuff.

--- Quote from: nctnico on March 09, 2023, 03:57:08 pm ---
--- Quote from: TheUnnamedNewbie on March 09, 2023, 08:37:43 am ---
--- Quote from: W2DML on March 08, 2023, 02:20:54 pm ---
Also KICAD is supported by CERN which do loads of RF with their particle accelerators.

--- End quote ---

This statement always bothers me a bit. Just because CERN is in part behind KICAD does not mean they actually use KICAD for all of their design. From what I'm told, quite the opposite.
This is just like Analog Devices owning/developing LTSpice does not mean those people actually use it to design the chips.

--- End quote ---
Agreed. Given the size of CERN, they are likely to use a wide range of electronics CAD packages.

--- End quote ---

We use Altium. An SDR board shouldn't be super difficult to design though, so you should be able to get away with Kicad or something if you don't have access to Altium.

As long as you don't need complex microstrip filters or anything (and you shouldn't - just use Mini-circuits ones if you can because they're well designed and work to spec), it's just a matter of getting your trace impedance right and watching out for parasitics etc. (we try to get our stackup so an 0402 cap or resistor's pads are about the same width of a 50 ohm trace, so we don't have to worry as much. For boards with more layers you can do the same but with 0201 parts).

It's when you start having microstrip filters and matching networks and stuff that you do start to need a simulator like ADS, and that's when things get expensive. Once its simulated though we bring the geometry into Altium.


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