Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment

Downloads

Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE
  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool

  • NEXUS

    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • CLOUD PLATFORM
  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • COMPONENT MANAGEMENT
  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PRODUCT EXTENSIONS
  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • EMBEDDED
  • TASKING

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • TRAININGS
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • ONLINE VIEWER
  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use

    ALTIUMLIVE

    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Downloads

    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Chris Carlson's Time Saving Tips for PCB Design

    Judy Warner
    |  January 20, 2020

    Chris Carlson, Snr FAE at Altium and accomplished Electrical and Electronic Engineer shares the expertise of his 23-year career in development, documentation, manufacturing, application engineering, and customer support. According to an Aberdeen study, 61% of a designer’s time is spent doing non-direct, design-related activities, such as sourcing components, document control, and so much more. Chris is here to help you improve your efficiency and understand how your fab drawings are your quality assurance documents. 

    This discussion includes many tips and tricks about version control, auto-routing, consistent project templates, multi-board interface management, and excellent library management. Continue listening or watch the full episode for a treasure trove of tricks and tips you can apply to save time and get your boards right the first time. 

    Listen to the Podcast:

    Download this episode (right click and save)

    Watch the video:

    Show Highlights:

    • Design reuse is very valuable to streamlining the design process. Build up a library in your CAD tool of power supplies or interfaces and other parts which you know work well and are purchasable to quickly use in a new design.
    • Avoid back-and-forth phone calls or emails by creating templates of all your documentation standards for consistency across all design documents, and provide everything your fabricator and assembler needs the first time.  
    • Sit down with your fabricator and assembler to ensure you understand all their documentation requirements. 
    • You’d benefit most from having various templates, with different standard note sections for specific types of materials and technologies. Specify items such as impedance-driven widths, and you’ll have a foot to stand on if the board doesn’t work.
    • A good trick is, on a small edge of the board, route a few traces according to your impedance specifications. When you get the board back, polish the edge of the board, look at it under a microscope, and measure it to ensure the fabrication process was indeed correct. 
    • Getting the layer stack correct is essential. A terrific technique called, ‘stacking stripes’, involves putting a trace of say, 200 mils on the first layer, 400 mils on the second layer, and so on. After polishing the edge, you’ll immediately see if the layers stackup in the correct order. 
    • Octopart can benefit greatly with part sourcing. Also, look for several sources that actually have high volume stock. 
    • ACTIVEBOM® is an incredible tool that provides information about real-time costs, all manufacturer lifecycles, plus any supply chain issues, as you design. 
    • Many eCAD tools such as Git, CVS, and SVN have the capability to plug into version control tools built directly into the UI—use it religiously! This practice provides the entire evolution of your design in the repository and also gives you traceability of who did what, when, and why.
    • Designers’ favorite advice from Chris to save time and improve efficiency includes having a UI that interfaces version control, Altium’s automated routing assistant, consistent project templates, multi-board interface management, and excellent library management.
    • The cost of not following optimal design cycles could mean the success or failure of a company.

    Links and Resources:

    Creating Layer Numbers and Stacking Stripes in Altium Designer
    PCB Layout Tips: How to Get Your Layer Stack Right - Whiteboard Video
    Other resources from Chris Carlson
    eCAD Tools for Version Control 
    Octopart® 
    Altium Designer® Documentation for ActiveRoute

     

    See What's New in Altium Designer

    About Author

    About Author

    Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

    She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home