MSK2PADS Agilent's ADS MSK to PADs PowerPCB Translator

If you use Agilent's ADS for your microwave and RF circuit design and PADS PowerPCB for the rest of your board then MSK2PADS will help you move data from ADS to PADs.

MSK2PADs reads the mask file produced by Series IV and translates that data into the ASCII format of PADS database. You can then import the layout directly into PADS.

The Main Menu

MSK2PADS uses a simple menu that takes you step by step through the translation process.

Select MSK - Opens a dialog box enabling you to select the desired msk file to translate.

Configure - Opens the configuration dialog box that controls some translation options.

Layers - Opens the layer mapping dialog box.

Translate - Starts the translation engine and creates a log file.

Understanding the MASK format

The ADS mask format was intended to be further translated into artwork formats such as GDSII, Gerber and DXF. It contains only layout data - no parts, netlists or schematic information. Hence you cannot reasonably expect to get an intelligent PCB into PADS via this output from Agilent's layout program.

This is not necessarily a problem since most RF and microwave circuits can’t be treated as pads and circuit traces, but are dropped into the rest of the board as a complete subsystem.

You can take the layout data imported into PADs and add the required information to create a valid library part if that is your intention.

ADS Mask File Details

The ADS mask file format consists simple geometric elements that describe the board layout. Because the shape of each element at microwave frequencies is critical, each element is typically described as a polygon. The illustration below shows how each mask entity should appear on the final artwork.

The PADS ASCII Database

PowerPCB has an ASCII import and export capability that can be used to import and export all or part of its internal database. The section of the database that describes geometric data is called *LINES*. Artwork’s MSK2PADS creates an ASCII file containing geometry under the *LINES* header.

There are a variety of entity types within the *LINES* section. The table below shows how ADS mask entities are mapped to PADS line entities.

ADS  			PowerPCB		PowerPCB
Mask Entity	 	        LineType     		Piece Type

closed filled			COPPER		       COPCLS
closed empty			COPCUT	 	       COPCUT
open				COPPER		       OPEN
circle				COPPER		       COPCIR
hole				COPCUT		       CIRCUT

Potential Problems

There are two potential problems one may encounter during this translation.

    Too Many Vertices - while the mask file format has no defined upper limit on the number of allowable vertices per polygon, PADS does have a limit. Earlier versions of PADS such as 1.5/2.0 had a limit of 100 which could be easily exceeded by many RF/microwave designers. Ver 2.1 of PADS has a higher limit, 500, that generally is only exceeded by extremely complex polygons - not common, but still possible.

    Re-entrant Polygons - the mask file allows a type of polygon known as re-entrant which folds back on itself to form an inner void. PADS does not accept this type of polygon at all.

For more details see - Polygon Limitations

Platforms Supported

417 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060    Tel (831) 426-6163     Fax 426-2824    email:

Price List Download Revision History PADS Index Page Artwork Home