7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 30, 2015 7:27 AM by ashkolnik

    AATK 4.1 released


      AATK_V4.1 is on SourceForge.   If you have a problem that you can't fix on your own, give me an email and I will see what I can do.  I didn't get everything but close!  You can Download it from here:





      Is AATK useful to you?  What functions helped?  What is needed? Can you quantify the productivity it saved you or your company?



      RTP AutoActive ToolKit




      User's Guide

      Version 4.1

      11/6/2009 3:41 PM

      Freeware as Unsupported Features



      Table of Contents




      1.      Introduction for AutoActive ToolKit


      All the functions in the AutoActive ToolKit (AATK) for AutoActive Products, such as Board Station RE, Expedition PCB, those are written outside of product development at Mentor Graphics Systems Design Division and as such are Not Supported utilities.


      All the functions in the AutoActive ToolKit (AATK) are written by Automation Layer which is available in AutoActive Products.

      For Board Station RE users, Automation Basic is as free, but Expedition PCB users are required to purchase Automation Basic license to run most scripts and Pro license to edit the .efm scripts and run the Engines (Gerber, Drill, PDF...)  Automation Basic checks out a license when the script is launched and releases it when you exit Expedition.  Automation PRO only consumes a license while you are running a PRO script or using the IDF editor.

      2.      Production Usage


      It is highly suggested that AATK be tested on a non-production design and any scripts found useful be tested and copied to a Company Specific menu.  I try to test and fix these but since I am doing this as a hobby and get a scripts from other sources I can not guarantee they will work with all designs and environments.

      Regarding any issues or problems you may run into the source code is included and you are welcome to change them.  As always any comments, suggestions or ideas for AutoActive ToolKit, Please send email to;




      Sending bribes, trash and trinkets and such will speed up any help that I can give but, try to work though the problems since I am a limited resource and I actually stink at writing code. (i.e. You will probably do a better job than I anyway!)


      3.      Product Version and Platform


      This AutoActive ToolKit has been designated and tested by current released version of AutoActive products, version 2007.5 on Windows platform with Windows operating system which is supported by AutoActive tools, such as Board Station RE, XE and Expedition PCB. This will work on another platform and operating system which is supported by AutoActive tools, I just didn’t test it.

      4.      Install AutoActive ToolKit


      Unzip the AATK.zip file to your location. Following is one of examples.



      Setup Environment Variables


      You need to define following environment variables in your system.


      AATK <Specify the pathname to the AATK directory>


      You would need to use the semi colon “;” for path separator. Following is example.

      AATK = C:/AATK


      Also add it to your WDIR Variable

      WDIR = C:/WDIR; C:/AATK  

      This allows any tool temp/startup files to go to C:/WDIR but still read the AATK Startup


      Setup for Application Startup


      By adding the directory to your WDIR the Edit pull-down menu in AutoActive tool will be active.  You can also copy MGCPCBApplicationStartup.vbs into the pathname which is defined by %HOME% environment variable. This startup script adds the menu for open AutoActive ToolKit main form into Edit pull-down menu in AutoActive tool.  You can also just drag the aatk.efm onto Expedition in the Windows environment, in Linux you will have to use the File>Open Script Form… to get it.



      Online Help View


      In this version, Internet Explore is used as Online Help Viewer. If it is not installed in your system, it is required to install Internet Explorer for viewing Online Help.

      5.      Toolkit Highlights


      AutoActive ToolKit has several categories for utilities, such as Select, Place, Route, Draw, and Report. The menu for open AutoActive ToolKit main form is located at Edit pull-down menu in AutoActive tool. When each category button is selected from the main form, the sub-form of each category will be open. The actual utilities are located in sub-form.


      6.      Function Overview

      This section introduces the function overview. Regarding functional details and usage example, please refer Online Help which is existed in each function diagonal form. When you enable the toolkit you will see this reminder:


      The above exist to acknowledge the dedicated people who write cool scripts but also as a reminder that this is NOT PRODUCTION code and I don’t want to be responsible if you take out Power Grid in your section of the Planet!




      7.      New for 4.1  EZ-Control

      New for 4.1  EZ-UserControl

      Looks at the Design stackup and creates view for single layers and layer pairs.  Thes may be invalid because you have the layers turned off in Editor Control, just hit continue if the form bombs.

      It also lets you set the Grids and route with multiple widths from a form with user input to add your own values.


      8.      Key Definitions

      Export Display Scheme Scripts

      Allows the saved Display Schemes to be activated by key combinations in the Customize Accelerators scripts

      Customize Accelerators

      Looks at exported Display schemes and all vb code in the WDIR and allows users to assign key combination shortcuts to them.


      9.      Select Objects By

      Utilities for select function provide the parameterize selection to objects, such as traces, vias, plane shapes and netlines.


      Select Netlines (Guides) by Length and Layer

      Select netllines by specified minimum and maximum length range values.

      Select Netlines By Angle

      Specify an angle From low To hi i.e From 30 To 60   or   From -45 To -10

      Select Netlines By ZAXIS

      Select all the nets that only go to pins on the top or to pins on the bottom or only the nets that have through board connections

      Select Traces and Vias By Length/Width/Name

      Select traces and vias by specified minimum and maximum length range values and layer for traces, and via name and span for vias.

      Select Traces by Length and Width

      Select traces by specified minimum and maximum length range values, and minimum and maximum trace width values, and layer.

      Select Vias By Name

      Select vias by specified via name and span for vias.

      Select Plane Shapes By Layer and Net Name

      Select plane shapes by specified net name and layer.


      10.                                          Place

      Export XY Place Selected Parts.

      Export XY Place (as known as xyplace.dat) for selected parts only. To import, use pr –file=<file name> from keyin command line. 

      New in 4.1 Radial Placement and Fanout of Radial Parts.

      Enter your radial Origin and place parts based off that coordinate.  Fanout Radial parts or Wire Bonds easily. 

      Clone Schematic

      Used with DxDesigner to copy Schematic Placement to Expedition. (i.e. If you have an Analog circuit you can use this to place parts in Expedition relatively the same as they were places in DxDesigner)

      New in 4.0  Clusters Report

      Users can get a list of the comps in each cluster

      New in 4.0  Read BoardStation Comps File

      Users can read component placement form a Board Station design.  Great for XE compatibility.

      New in 4.0  Java Place

      My own creation.  A dynamic placement routine with spring loaded connectivity!  Works outside AutoActive in Java, using the Sun Java spring tutorial. Export should open a Java window move your parts around.  Shift-LMB locks a part down, Ctrl-LMB movees it to the back of the board.  Expedition button writes the output that the Import button reads into AutoActive.  (If you don’t have Java loaded you will need it for this)


      11.                                          Route

      Replace Vias

      Replace existing vias by specified via name and span.

      Add Via Array

      Add an Array of vias. (Were you looking for a better definition?)

      Add Tuning

      Adds user specified Tuning and talks to CES.  Note this works in 2004 but is broken in 2005 and 2005SP1.

      Diff Bump

      Attemps to make up the difference in diff pairs by adding a bump..

      Bus Route non-CES

                              For non-CES designs that are privileged enough to use a Bus Route License

      Multiple Via Objects

                              Creates the whacky side file for MVO.  It only handles the Master Scheme so if you want more you will have to edit it.

      New in 4.0   Delete Duplicate Vias

                              Creates You guessed it for those odddesigns that wind up with duplicates this can help you get rid of them

      BGA Breakout        

      An attempt to control directional fanout from surface mount parts (There are more versions of this in the vbs/route directory)

      BGA Breakout Orig           

      Simple form of above.


      12.                                          Draw

      Change Plane Shapes Net

      Change net name for selected plane shapes by selected object, such as pin, trace, via, or netline.

      Color Net Dx

      Changes the color of the net in Dx and Expedition at the same time.  Both tools need to be open to work.  Interestingly this script will run from Dx or Expedition.  I was going to make a side file that saved the net color and changed it the next time the other tool was invoked but I didn’t. 

      New in 4.0  Draw Diff Pair Connector

      Adds a DiffPair user layer and draws on line on that layer between the differential pairs in each component.  Great for visualizing the pairs so you gan get a handle on how to route out of the devices. 

      New in 4.1  Find and Replace text

      Finds all matching User Layer text in the design and replaces it with new value.


      13.                                          Microvias


      Let user beef inner layer short nets between vias (dogbones)

      Short Nets

      Similar to some of the scripts in the select section but as functionality increases it will route net segments.

      Calculate Rules

      Based on BGA pitch it will help you determine the trace and space rules under your BGA’s.  SWEEEET!



      14.                                          Report/DRC

      Report Net Length

      Report net length for Manhattan vs. routed net length with factor value.

      Radius Sweep Angle

      This mess will calculate the stuff that the RF propellerhead asks you and you don’t have a clue why.

      Current IPC-2221a

      This will calculate the IPC-256/2221a current for a given trace segment.

      Placement Areas

      Originally written for a competitive benchmark, this script will determine if your 10 lbs of $#!? parts will fit on your board.  This is a PRO script which means it uses the MASK engine to do the calculations.

      New in 4.0  Nets over Splits

      Uses the Analysis>Summary Reports>Nets Over Splits file and puts a GUI on it for interactive editing. I call it 2 degrees from Kevin bacon because if you are more than 2 layers away, the route probably will find another return path for the signal.

      New in 4.1  Check Angles

      A DRC that will check for odd angle nets.  For those who hand edit in Angle Plow this ma come in handy for Acid Traps.

      New in 4.1  Length in Area

      If you have a DRC that only allows a certain length of routing at a reduced trace width in a Rule Area.

      New in 4.1  Short Traces

      There is a DRC for this in the DFF module but this will do it interactively..




      15.   Copy Move Paste

      Copy Highlighted Objects

      User can copy highlighted nets, vias and fills to a file in c:/temp (This was written before the COPY PASTE functionality that is in Expedition)

      Paste Objects

      Users can paste the previous saved nets, vias, fills into the same or new design.  If the net does not exist watch out it is not handled yet.  Hack the ascii file in c:/temp to fix.  (This was written before the COPY PASTE functionality that is in Expedition)

      Move Vias

      Grab some vias and use AutoActive to move them. What a concept!

      Assign Net Names

      This is in the tool, this script just automates the process. (It puts it on an Icon as well)

      16.   Microsoft Excel


                  Straight from the included examples (more examples in the vbs/CopyPaste directory)

      Display Control

                  Change setting in Excel


                  Similar to ExcelCompList list but works with nets


      17.   Manufacturing

      Trace to Pad Exit

      Good for manufacturing rules on 0201 gnat poop parts.  Lets the user find traces going into a pad that are larger than a user specified amount.

      New in 4.0  2007 User Layer Mapping

      Helps add those new user layers.  Only works in 2007+..

      New in 4.0  Mfg Out Validation Rpt

      Can read the report and interactively find the items.

                  Add FAB Text

                              A simple example of adding text.

      Move Assembly Ref

      This script will move the Assembly Ref text to the center of the part.

      New in 4.1  Backdrill

      Creates a backdrill file for those thick backplanes.

      Add Layer Stack

      This script reads the board stackup and adds it to graphical layers in Expedition. (This is as close to AMPLE in Fablink as it gets boys and girls)

                  Run Mitron Gencad

                              A cool script that uses the replay option.  Since Automation will not let the user pick from a list the replay.

      Export VRML

      Lets Engineers see a 3D view of the board without sending to a mechanical tool.  You need to load the VRML viewer in Internet Explorer to get this to work.  If your company will not let you load this, have your manager set up a meeting with me and I will visit you boss personally to see why they are impeding productivity.  (Call you tell that I am anti-IT/Management and pro-user?)

      Export POV

      I am a POV fan so if you do not know what I am talking about go to http://www.povray.org/ and see what you can do with math!  Andy Tefft, this is for you!

      18.   New in 4.0 Design For Test

      New in 4.0  Testpoint Flow

      A flow guide for testpoints.  Everything in green just fires up an existing form to fill out.  The Yellow is actual automation to help in inserting or reading Test Points.   This can alos read the fixture Data from an existing BoardStation or Expedition design.  Could be modified to read any netlist.

      New in 4.0  Insert TP’s

      Stand alone Insert TP’s form from the above flow.

      19.   New in 4.0 IDF

      New in 4.0  IDF Import

      Imports portions of the IDF file that the standard AutoActive EDF Import misses.

      New in 4.0  IDF Export

      Exports portions of the IDF file that the standard AutoActive EDF Export misses.

      New in 4.0  IDF Layer Detail

      Allows for some layer mapping of the IDF layers..


      20.   PRO Engines

      Export PDF

      Stand alone PRO engine that allows users to set up a common script to output PDF from all stackups.

      Export Gerber

      Stand alone PRO engine that allows users to set up a common script to output Gerber from all stackups.


      21.   Example Fab Flow

      Hit GO or click on any of the icons on the right.  For most BoardStation Users, this would be a good start to switch their Fablink Automation to Expedition. 

      Drawing Editor is a new tool for documentation of Expedition/ Fablink PRO designs.  Drawing Editor will be released shortly so you may want to wait for it

      before you go nuts with Automation in Expedition like I have done with this example.




      22.   Flip Chipimage019.jpg

      New in 4.1  Flip Chip/Advanced Design Support

      Allows for some layer mapping of the IDF layers

      1.    Create New Package from Template

      a.    Some editing need but a simplified Netlist Flow Create design from Template.

      2.    Route

      a.    Find Diff Pairs based off Pins or Vias.  Creates user layer with a line between the pairs to help in planning.

      b.    Die Breakout similar to BGA breakout but simplified

      c.    Delete Duplicate Via needed for reading in re-use circuits or data from other vendors

      3.    DRC

      a.    Angles, Neck Length in rule area, short traces and a Return Via Check.

      4.    Test Vehicles

      a.    Crossprobe between Excel and Expedition

                                                                                                         i.    Nets (with color option to color the cell in Excel and the net at the same time)

                                                                                                       ii.    Pins

                                                                                                      iii.    Vendor DRC report (X,Y’s)

      b.    Add User Layer test to selected Pins

      c.    Change Width on a GUI

      d.    Layout Driven Netlist

                                                                                i.    Create/delete Nets on the fly and write a new keyin netlist

      e.    Offset via creation

      f.     Create Heater patterns (serpantines).

      5.    Manufacturing

      a.    Length report by width/length/layer with number of squares calculation(less the vias, I can’t figure that out)

      6.    Design Review

      a.    Report pins of selected net or DXF chain

      7.    Drawings

      a.    Will need specifics for your flow but create Assembly and Manufacturing Drawing Sheets on the Fly.


      23.   Online Help


      Some of the functions have Online Help document inside form. Please refer Online Help regarding functional details and usage examples.

      24.   Menu Bar Additions

      There are 5 new Route Menu Bar additions, these examples execute the following tasks:

      v  Dyno Filter

      o    Select nets and hit Dyno Filter the nets are automagically your filtered nets.

      o    Mash it again and you are back to selecting all nets

      v  Copy Highlighted to a File

      o    Highlight Nets, Vias Fills and it will write a file to C:/temp, you can hand edit this and use the paste below with or without an offset.

      v  Paste from the file

      v  Rename Nets

      o    Great for Flex or changing copper names.  The net can not be hooked to a pin.

      v  Flip Chip Menu Form

      v  AATK Menu Form



      25.   User Community/Training

      There is a MUG forum on Automation that you can ask others questions on scripting.  Mentor Graphics also has a training course available to get you started.  If you are one of my Global Accounts customers, give me a call and I will be happy to talk to you about your scripts.





      Kendall Hiles CID
      Global Applications Engineer Consultant
      Mentor Graphics 2530 Meridian Pky

      Durham, NC 27713  USA








        • 1. Re: AATK 4.1 released

          Thanks you very much for the update Kendall !!



          • 2. Re: AATK 4.1 released (CES Patch)

            A small patch if you are using the user columns in CES with Versions 2007.5 on.  The format of the user.cns file has changed slightly so the file was out of date in the 4.1 release.  The good news is there is a GUI in the tool under Edit>Constraint Definitions that you can add your own columns to CES and it will update the user.cns file Automatically.


            Unzip this in your AATK4.1 directory replacing the existing user.cns file if you use the IPC-D-275 Current fields or the Comment field in CES.



            • 3. Re: AATK 4.1 released (CES Patch)

              Hi, I'm looking for change/modify the accelerators keys for changing view layers while do the routing.

              Can I use the free license to do this for PCB Expeditions?

              Do anyone got any samples which allow to change view layers by press keyins command?

              Appreciate if can share it out to me, thanks.

              • 4. Re: AATK 4.1 released (CES Patch)



                You can use the free license and there are 2 examples in AATK 4.1.


                1. Use the EZ control

                2. Use the ey def and define views for each layers you want and assign them to an <ALT> + key



                • 5. AATK 4.3 released

                  I just uploaded AATK V4.3 With FlipChip2 V2.0 on SourceForge.   http://sourceforge.net/projects/uwtoolbox/


                  The Global Team has been spending the better part of 2 years working on a World Class FlipChip flow for Expedition.  Most if not all the new features are in the FlipChip Menu. 


                  AATK is shareware scripts.  They are collected from many people and free for distribution to customers so they can test and modify scripts for their own use.  They are not supported by the division and you can’t open a ticket on them.  Users should test the script on a junk design and move the ones they want to their own menu structure.  If they crash the design or need modified it is the users responsibility to fix the problem, I can't guantee any of them, they worked on the testcases they were designed around.  They all have the source code so anybody can modify the scripts.  Please understand that this is sort of like an Open-Source project and if you have modifications or cool scripts they can send them to me for inclusion.  I am delinquent of the documentation so that will come with time but most were written by designers for designers so hopefully they are intuitive, they were to me!


                  Here is the splash screen, I just want you the users to know whacky things may happen that may hork up your design.  Save a copy before you try any of these on a design that is supposed to go out the door at 5:00PM today!


                  "DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY:  Unless otherwise agreed in writing,"

                  "Mentor Graphics software and associated files are provided "as is""

                  "and without warranty.  Mentor Graphics has no obligation to support"

                  "or otherwise maintain software.  Mentor Graphics makes no warranties,"

                  " express or implied with respect to software including any warranty"

                  " of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose."


                  " LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: "

                  " Kendall Hiles and/or Mentor Graphics are not liable for any property"

                  " damage, personal injury, loss of profits, interruption of business, or for"

                  " any other special, consequential or incidental damages, however caused,"

                  " whether for breach of warranty, contract, tort (including negligence),"

                  " strict liability or otherwise. In no event shall Mentor Graphics'"

                  " liability exceed the amount paid for the product giving rise to the claim."



                  Here is the Flipchip Menu, it can be accessed from the AATK Form or the last icon on the Route Mode Toolbar.



                  Reset EC Resets the Editor Control to MGC recommended defaults (Not really MGC, Kendall Defaults and If I could get rid of the Angle Plow, Route Plow and Gloss Off menus, I would!).  This fixes 98% of the people complaining they can’t route out of a die and that the pad entry is not any angle.  I actually used automation instead of loading a saved scheme because I touch all the pads in the current design.


                        Save Backup was made for Netlist flow design and not the EE Flow. The "Save As" command does this for the EE Flow but, it wants to put the .prj up a level from the .pcb. This script kills the iCDB server and copies the PCB directory and zips it.  If you are running the EE flow it won't get the .prj file and the CES directory becasue they are up a level in hierarchy. You could start with this and tweak it for you application but YOU WILL have some problems with the iCDB not restarting and the design crashing.  It is intended for a quick minimal backup of a design before reading in a new netlist or making major changes to the design structure.  Like I said, use this for the Netlist Flow!


                          Color Wheel is Awesome and will crossprobe nets and pins with the first Excel sheet you open and color the nets and the Excel sheet.  It will also put in a snap point if you select 2 adjacent cells in Excel (x and y). If you leave Crossprobe off you can just color the selected nets.



                  EZ-User Control has been updated to reflect the user input I got.




                  If your stuck and can't figure out the intent of something, let me know.  I will try to explain.





                  Kendall Hiles CID
                  Sr. Global Applications Engineer Consultant

                  Mentor Graphics Corporation

                  North Carolina  USA

                  Cell +1-919-345-9807

                      Challenging myself through innovation, integrity and resolve to bring success to MGC customers.

                      Ask other users questions here:  Communities

                      Vote on Enhancements here:  Bright Ideas



                  • 6. Re: AATK 4.1 released

                    Anyone having problems, or figure out how to run this in Windows 7?

                    • 7. Re: AATK 4.1 released

                      Hi , i want to use ExportGerber_Expedition.vbs but it's an Error where : Capture.PNG

                      Why it doesn't works ?


                      Thanks you for your GREAT WORK!!!