Features and Basic Teaching of the Latest Altium Designer

Altium designer is a leading CAD software for circuit design, PCB layout design and schematic diagram capture. Today, many design engineers prefer Altium designer as their design platform because of its user friendliness, good graphical user interface (GUI) and the availability of many design options. Embedded system design based on FPGA, hardware description language (HDL) design, signal integrity and circuit simulation are the main characteristics of Altium designer.

Features of the latest Altium Designer:

The software provides automatic routing, differential pair routing, enhanced violation reporting, design rule check (DRC) enhancement, same net gap rule improvement, target length change during adjustment, intelligent component placement, 3D step model generation of mechanical shell design, active BOM and static simulation probe.


Altium designer version 18.1.7

When you launch the Altium designer application from the start menu, you will see two main elements. The first is the main document editing workspace, and the other is the project panel.

1 - create project:

File → new → project → PCB project (this will create pcb_project1. Prjpcb *)

The asterisk * sign and red color show that there are some changes in the document that need to be saved. When the document is saved, the * symbol and red disappear.

2 - add schematic and PCB

Right click the PCB item in the left panel to add schematic and PCB layout documents. After that, save the project, schematic diagram and PCB layout documents in an easily accessible folder on the computer hard disk

The main document is the schematic diagram and PCB layout document. The project panel displays the main project originally created, under which the schematic and PCB layout are saved.

3 - Altium Library:

On the right, you can see the library panel that displays the component name, part number, component symbol and package.

Click the libraries button in the right panel to open the available libraries window.

This is used to add / remove libraries in a specific group Library Directory. For example, there are libraries available for St microelectronics, Texas Instruments, Maxim semiconductors, etc. In fact, libraries are classified by semiconductor manufacturers. So if you want to add a library, read page 4

4 - add library:

Install button → install from file → select all subcategories of a specific library manufacturer → open

5 - place components:

After adding a library, you can see the manufacturer's name in the list of added libraries. By default, other devices are selected.

Library → other equipment → select your manufacturer type → design project ID select your selection → place components → click schematic to place components on the worksheet.

Use the spacebar to rotate the component 90 degrees in any direction. Left click the component, and then click properties. You will see the properties panel on the right. The panel has indicator, comment, description components. Below the attributes are the footprint and simulation model of the component. The value of a component can be changed from the parameters tab next to the General tab.

6 - place wire transfer:

There is a panel at the top of the middle of the screen where you can choose to draw wiring and connect components. There are also location components, ports, worksheet symbols, GND and text.

7 - Pan / zoom in and out:

Zoom in: right control press mouse wheel

Zoom out: right control press mouse wheel

Pan: right click, press move the hand cursor to pan the schematic

You can pan zoom in / out both at the same time.

8 - update PCB from schematics

Now that we have placed the components, wired them and connected power and grounding ports, we now export the netlist to the PCB document.

This is the simplest example circuit we make a schematic diagram. Now let's move it to PCB design → update PCB document.

The following window opens

this is the engineering change order window. All components and networks are shown here. We will click the "verify changes" button with a green tick. Then we click execute changes. After that, the PCB document will display this

Now we arrange the components on the PCB and adjust the shape and size of the PCB.

9 - set footsteps:

Double click the component in the schematic and the footprint is now displayed in the General Properties tab. Click it and it will drop down to display the current footsteps. Now click Add. It opens the PCB model window. Click Browse to open the browse Library window. Select the space occupied by the component you selected, and then click OK.

10 - schedule components:

Now you will arrange the components as required to fit on the board.

11 - definition of board size and shape:

First, set the PCB layout document view mode to "circuit board planning mode".

Then design and redefine the shape of the circuit board.

A pointer will appear, you just need to click on the proposed slab edge once, hover over the next edge, click again, and repeat until the final edge coincides with the first edge to complete the final slab shape and size.

Layer 12 stack manager:

The layer stack manager provides information about thickness, dielectrical material, dielectric constant, layer name, layer material and layer type.

Design → layer stack manager

13 - add layers and interior planes:

You can add interior planes and layers as needed. Go to the layer stack manager and click add layer

14 - automatic and manual routing

Active route:

The active routing function provided by ad18 is also called automatic routing.

Keep the button above clicked until the options are displayed. Select active route and click release. Then select your component and click / release the button above to route automatically.

Manual interactive Routing:

In the same way as above, select the interactive routing option. A pointer will appear. You can now route as needed

15 - place vias, pads, nets

The window opens when you place the PCB on the PCB. This is the properties window for via / hole. It has net information, size and location of through holes / holes or pads

You can change the network type to VCC, GND or any other component pin.

16 - preferences:

In the tools drop-down menu at the top, click it, and then select preferences at the bottom of the menu. The following window opens

There are many options in this window, which can be set according to the requirements of PCB design. It has interactive routing preferences that you can set.

17 - design rules:

Go to the design drop-down menu and click rules. You will see this window

It has many options that can be set as your design constraints. You can set these parameters according to the limitations and requirements of PCB manufacturing laboratory and its capacity

Electrical, wiring, SMT, mask, plane, test point, manufacturing, high speed, mounting, signal integrity are parameters for users to set.


At this stage, we have diagrammatically discussed many functions of Altium designer version 18.1.7. We have shown the schematic and PCB layout workspace properties, which are the most commonly used properties of Altium. However, there are many or other properties, and there are still many capabilities to discuss and explore, but ultimately it depends on the technical aspects of how users require to use Altium designer.

The Usage Distinction Between Via and Pad When Protel Designs PCB
With regard to "via cover oil" and "via window opening" (the usage distinction between via and pad), many customers and design engineers often ask what this means when placing an order on the system, and which option should I choose in my document? This issue is explained as follows:        We often encounter such problems. The design is seriously non-standard, so we can't distinguish between pad and via. Sometimes the conductive hole is treated with pad attribute, and sometimes the keyhole is treated with via attribute. The design of via attribute and pad attribute is confused, resulting in wrong processing. This is also one of the problems that often complain. For circuit board production plants, when processing CAM data, Some film processing engineers will make mistakes because the customer's design documents are not standardized. They help the customer modify the documents, make the non-standard design right, and process the engineering data with their own experience, which leads to and contributes to the customer's non-standard design. Jieduobang hereby explains that what you did right last time does not mean that your documents are right! All engineers must pay attention to the design standards and specifications! Jieduobang will again strictly require all film processing engineers to maintain the status quo of customer documents as much as possible! Try to deal with it according to the design specifications and standards, not according to the so-called experience! Reflect the problems, so as to make a reference for all design engineers, improve the design quality and reduce the occurrence of problems!      This article mainly explains the conductive hole, keyhole, and the connection between Protel / pads / and Geber files. Conductive hole: via keyhole: pad is particularly prone to several problems: first, the mixed use of pad and via leads to problems. 1. When your file is pads or Protel, send it to the factory and ask for hole cover oil. Pay attention to it. You should carefully check your plug-in hole (PAD) Is it also useful for via? Otherwise, green oil will be applied to your plug-in hole, resulting in the inability to weld. The dispute points: the plug-in hole must be sprayed with tin. How can you cover the oil and how can I use it? Please check the documents when saying this, whether it is designed by pad or via!      When your document is pads or Protel, send the document to the factory, and the order requires via cover oil. Many customers use pad (plug-in hole) to represent the conductive hole, which leads to the opening of your conductive hole. Maybe what you want is via cover oil. At that time, the dispute may be that what I want is via cover oil. Why did you open the window, Please check your document design!Again, if you are via, press via. If you are pad, press pad! Because no one will know that you are a conductive hole, that is a plug-in hole, and via and pad are the only signs. Please be clear!      During the conversion process of via, problems are caused by non-standard design or unclear Gerber setting rules. When you send Gerber files, the factory can't distinguish which are through holes and which are keyholes. The only thing that can be identified is processing according to the file, which is helpful for welding layer and opening windows! Dispute point: you open the window for me now. I may cause a short circuit. Please check your file. The Gerber you sent out is a film file. The factory has no way to check whether you have a conductive hole or a keyhole. Please check the Gerber file to see if there is a welding aid layer. If there is any, open the window and cover the oil. III How to design the oil of the through hole cover in Protel or pads—— This is the most standard practice. If the design standard is, there will be no mistakes!      In the via attribute of Protel, there is a holding option. If it is checked, it must be oil capping, and all you transfer out are oil capping. In pads, the oil capping method of holes (via) is to be considered when transferring pads to files: when outputting soldermask, i.e. solder resist layer, just check the upper soldermask top - lower via, which represents all through-hole windows, If you don't check it, you can use the oil on the cover of the through hole. To sum up: pad is made according to pad, which is the plug-in hole. Via, you have two choices. If you provide the original file, you can choose it when placing an order. If you provide Gerber file, you must check whether the Gerber file meets your requirements!
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