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

    How to Easily Reverse Engineer PCB Project Libraries

    Pierre Meyitang
    |  February 6, 2017

    reverse-engineering-project-libraries

    Receiving design files from clients isn’t always as smooth a process. Clients may send incomplete project files, project files with unstandardized component libraries, or other files that don’t match what you actually need. When that happens, how do you proceed with the project? Read on to find out.

    Outsourcing has become the de-facto solution for companies seeking to cut costs and increase their profit margins. Rather than consuming their own resources on a particular task, companies farm it out to other firms that specializes in that particular area, leaving them to focus on what they do best. New product design often gets contracted out to separate design firms. If that’s you — your company outsources PCB design or your company is a PCB design house — read on because this blog post can make your life easier.

    Communication Problems for Designers

    Outsourcing work to other companies demands better communication among all parties involved. For PCB design engineers, this means ensuring that complete PCB project files are sent to clients. Unfortunately, receiving files from clients isn’t always as smooth a process. Clients may send incomplete project files, project files with unstandardized component libraries, or other files that don’t match what you actually need.

    When that happens, how do you proceed with reverse engineering PCB designs at the start of a project? Here is an overview of the challenges that can arise when board designers need to generate source libraries solely from design project files, as well as some available solutions that can help facilitate this process.

    Understanding PCB Project Files

    Project file structure varies widely among different brands of PCB design software. Typically software packages have the six file types illustrated in the table below:

    Typical File Structure for PCB Design Software Packages
    File Contents
    Schematic File
    Project electrical schematic with logical connections. Generally readable outside software tool
    PCB File
    Trace and routing information and the physical board attributes. Generally readable outside software tool.
    Database File
    Metadata regarding the components
    PCB File
    Physical component parameters
    Schematic File
    Electrical component parameters and component symbols
    Main File
    Links and references to to other files, project options, configuration parameters

    Most Schematic and PCB files are self-contained. This means that a contractor could send just the schematics or PCB file alone to a client, and the client would be able to open and view the full Schematic and Printed Circuit Board file content.

    This flexibility may seem convenient, but it can be a double edged sword. It often leads to situations wherein a customer only recovers Printed Circuit Board or Schematic files due to premature termination of an agreement with their previous contractor(s). The client’s next contractor then gets burdened with having to base future designs off of the incomplete project files that the client has supplied.

    In many cases, editing components within the design is not immediately possible with Schematic and PCB files alone. In those cases, Schematic and PCB files are required as well. This becomes all too evident when a needs to mass-edit components in a PCB design project. With printed circuit files, contractors have more engineering flexibility, including the ability to:

    • Modify a given component footprint and update thousands of references
    • Create standardized components
    • Modify component footprints and symbols

    Reverse Engineering in Altium Designer®

    Achieving these tasks for a few components is easy. But how about having to recreate a footprint and symbol for thousands of different components, each time a new design arrives from a client? The contractor would need to reinvent the wheel, regenerating new libraries for the existing design. It’s both impractical and incredibly time consuming. Our solution is the best way to reverse engineer a PCB design.

    Download a free white paper to learn how to easily reverse engineer your PCB project libraries using Altium Designer.

    About Author

    About Author

    Pierre is the current Sales Applications Engineer for Altium’s North America region. He worked in Mechatronics Design and Fabrication at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Bioinspired Robotics as an Electro-Mechanical Engineer. Pierre recently joined Altium’s engineering team, and continues his hobbies in design and fabrication of miniature PCBs, CNC machines, and IOS app development.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home