Eliminate Mistakes in Your Schematics with Electronic Rule Checking

Chris Carlson
|  Created: February 21, 2017  |  Updated: November 10, 2020

Green Check Marks

In times of rising design complexity and shortened timelines, it’s more and more for mistakes to sneak through in the schematic that can translate to the printed circuit board. Read on to find out how to easily identify and eliminate issues in your schematic with the Electronic Rule Checking your PCB in Altium Designer®.

Many designers and companies put all their efforts in having a proper PCB layout and, nowadays, checking in real time the surrounding mechanical conditions. But what if the schematic already contains errors? Usually, there is a human driven review of the PCB layout but in times of rising design complexity and shortened timelines, it’s more and more for mistakes to sneak through. What can be done to ensure that no errors in the schematic interrupt your workflow moving forward?

Using Electronic Rules to Identify and Correct Issues Early in Your Designs

The electronic rule check (ERC) function in professional PCB design software can help you in finding and eliminating mistakes in the schematic by checking some basic rules and the ‘grammar’ underlying the design. By configuring the rules to perform checks that are specific to your design rule, ERC identifies problems so you can correct them early in the PCB layout. Plus, setting up and running ERC checks takes very little time...actually a fraction of the time you might spend manually checking the design. This lets you spend your time designing, not re-checking work.

One way to use ERC is to split up the preferences for this check in two general regions that cover the general ‘grammar’ of schematic design and a connection matrix defining which elements are allowed to be connected in which way, as shown below.

electronic rule checking split into grammar checking  ensuring all connections are legal
The ERC is Split into ‘Grammar’ Checking and Checking to Ensure All Connections are Legal.

The ‘grammar’ area covers different settings regarding the usage of busses, components, documents, harnesses, nets, parameters etc.

Altium Designer can support this way of working with a wide range of configurable check routines that can be used either to check the schematic after it has been created or by using the online ERC and batch checks when creating your production data.

Find out how to significantly reduce the time you spend manually checking for mistakes in your schematic with the ERC capabilities in Altium Designer. For more information, download our free white paper Electronic Rule Checking for Schematics today.

About Author

About Author

Sr. Field Application Engineer Chris Carlson came to Altium in August of 2007 and brings with him his background in power electronics, data acquisition, and controls. Chris earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in 1993 and has worked as a design engineer in the Bio-Medical, Industrial Controls, Motor Drive, and Defense industries.

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