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I recently met with Jim Southward, executive account manager for SouthCom Technologies and head of the North American sales office for Pulsonix. Jim walked me through some of the new features Pulsonix has added in recent releases, and he details a few handy functions that some users may not even be aware of.
Nolan Johnson: Jim, thanks for talking with me today. Tell me about the new release of the Pulsonix software.
Jim Southward: Yes. There is a new release coming out, following the version 11 release this year. It will be a full 64-bit application that has been rewritten to utilize this operating system. It will also support Windows 11, as does our existing release, 11. The interface has also been revamped with a dark mode available as an alternative to the traditional light mode. We will also be introducing a new fan-out router for routing from BGAs into a bus pattern which is pretty exciting.
Johnson: I’m sure that’s also an opportunity for you to tackle some pain points or add some powerful features to help your customer base do more powerful designs, correct?
Southward: Correct. We’ve incorporated several features into the design software in the last two to three releases; including STEP models and the capability to actually manipulate those models efficiently in Pulsonix. There are some PCB and schematic capture improvements to the drag-and-drop interfaces for the tools; there’s a lot less typing, in other words.
Now, for the first time, there’s an Inspector Bar which can be used in all Pulsonix editors, not just on the PCB side. We’ve got listings for the netlists of all components by pin, by part, and by node. It’s been well accepted by the users who really love that.
Johnson: Can you detail why these changes to the netlist are important and valuable?
Southward: It allows the customer to see what’s connected on what pin in Pulsonix. You can examine just by the pin or the connection or the rat’s nest, if you will. On the Inspector Bar, you actually get to ping the node and it will tell you. Not only does this pin go here, but the other side of that device—by picking the other pin—will tell you that this goes here. You can do some circuit checking while you’re editing the PCB.
Johnson: That’s rather important, isn’t it? When you’re laying out the PCB and you’re working from a schematic, you want to make sure that you have a one-to-one correspondence between the symbolic side on the schematic and the physical layout. That sort of cross probing is powerful.
Southward: Correct. That’s standard in Pulsonix. We’ve had cross probing for a long time, but this gives you another layer of capability. Engineers love to check schematics and PCB designers love to check boards. Engineers can go through the Inspector Bar, pick nodes on the schematic, and actually see where they go. They can highlight them on the schematic. It will go to it on the page in hierarchy or in flat file capability.
On the PCB design side, PCB designers are only working on one level. They only look at the PCB file. They need to be able to find that and then be able to find out if they’ve got a gate and pin swap opportunity here if they needed to unravel some of the connection’s capabilities. They could swap gates and swap pins just to clean them up a little bit and see where that other connection goes. When the engineer does this in the PCB, all the changes are reflected in the schematic.
Johnson: When’s this new release coming out?
Southward: It’s not scheduled yet, I believe just after the new year we’ll see it, early Q1.
Johnson: Are there some, let’s say, underrated, or not well-known features that the users really should know about, which are really powerful within Pulsonix?
Southward: There are two or three that are really good. One is the apply layout pattern, which is design reuse and the ability to use golden circuits. Apply layout pattern allows the engineers to set up a multiple-use schematic—a multi-channel, a section that I use on every board, or a design that I need to replicate five or six times on a board. This apply layout pattern gives the capability to identically grab every device from every circuit and match it on the PCB. The other side of it is that if you must have small or delicate changes to each one of those circuits, you can usually do that as well.
The apply layout pattern feature gives you the capability to step and repeat that design multiple times in a particular location, a particular grid, if you will. Three by three, two by two, eight by 12, whatever you happen to need for the step and repeat capabilities. It’s very fast and it just works with all the component placement and track routing replicated.
Johnson: The step and repeat capability—do you see that as something that gets used within a single board design itself, or are we starting to talk about creating panel size tiling?
Southward: Not panel size tiling, I want to be clear. But the step and repeat capability is something that if you have a standard product and you do a power supply for every one of your starter boards, for the chassis, for a box that it goes into. You can save that in Pulsonix and start from that level every time with a schematic and a PCB that’s fully routed, ready to go when you start in your circuitry. Pulsonix also has a dedicated Panel Editor from where users can create panelized designs with all the supporting features required, such as fiducial markers, panel mounting holes and test coupons, etc.
Really, we’ve only skimmed the surface of what Pulsonix is capable of, but this will give your readers a quick insight as to its capabilities.
Johnson: Those sound like some pretty powerful features for use inside Pulsonix. Jim, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.
Southward: Thank you. I appreciate it.