API Spotlight: Copper

This is a guest blog by Phillip Schuster of Copper.

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There is a lot of software that has improved with cloud services and removing file management, but EDA software is still stuck in the computer stone age. One of the first things I bought when I started working with electronics in my spare time was a printer. As I am not very disciplined with my file management, I searched and downloaded the same 1000 page Atmel ARM MCU datasheet over and over again, and then searched for the same keywords and pages inside it. It’s been more efficient to print the relevant pages and adding my meta data with a pen. Then, I would want want a 3D model of my PCB. This added 3D models to the file management mix. And although searching for specific parts is very easy and efficient with Octopart, it does not solve the problem of storing all the information you find. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet to store the part numbers I found on Octopart alongside the part names in my PCB. This added another file with unlinked external references (like part names in an EDA document). There was a lot of copy and pasting involved, and it’s error prone. Hardware is difficult enough without all these pitfalls. I cannot say how many times I messed up part orders or PCB prototypes due to silly small mistakes.

Being a software developer for more than thirty years (It sounds like I am very, very old, but I just started early ;-)) I decided to do something about that: I built modern EDA software for the Mac. Copper was born.

Copper is a native Mac application that allows you to visualize, analyze, and finalize your Eagle-based PCB layouts on the Mac. It uses the latest Apple technology and is focused on user interface and workflows. It runs alongside Eagle and allows you to add meta data to your layouts without touching your Eagle files. It has Octopart built in, and manages all data and files in one place. It has optimized workflows for getting your PCB designed in Eagle and sent out to a manufacturer, and allows you to choose the optimal mix of distributors for your parts. It’s possible to set important technical specification for your parts, which helps the manufacturer source parts if you order an assembled PCB and could be important down the road.

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If you want to show off your work, Copper generates wonderful 2D and 3D images of your PCB. A 3D PCB is generated from your PCB layout by part generators that automatically create customizable 3D models for ICs like QFNs, QFPs, SOICs, and an extensive and ever growing 3D cloud based part library with photorealistic models and materials.Copper2

While it’s not possible to create schematics or layouts in its first release, this is our goal: A complete software suite for EDA on the Mac. I invite you to follow me on that interesting and exciting road. I want to thank all the awesome guys at Octopart that made Copper possible. Without the extensive Octopart part library built in, Copper would not be that helpful as it is today. Try Copper out today at www.copper-app.com.