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

    IoT PCB Design: It's More Than Just Hardware Development

    Zachariah Peterson
    |  October 13, 2020
    IoT PCB Design: It's More Than Just Hardware Development

    IoT products are lovely and sometimes frustrating products. Design teams need to be multifunctional to design these products successfully. They need to get the hardware, embedded software, web platform and/or app, and mechanical enclosure perfect if they want to see market success. Problems in any of these areas mean your new product will be substandard and, eventually, competitive products will win market share.

    So what does it take to ensure these products are designed successfully? IoT PCB design isn’t just about the hardware. It’s also about user experience and form factor. This means any IoT PCB design team needs to work across disciplines, and everyone needs a view of each other’s deliverables. Cloud platforms and on-premises networking platforms help make this type of collaboration possible.

    IoT PCB Design Teams are Multifunctional

    If you’ve bought an IoT product recently, such as smart appliances or a home security system, you’ve probably had to download an app to your phone and create an account on the company’s website. These products can also have interesting enclosures that require exacting design specifications. These different aspects of an IoT product mean an IoT PCB design team needs to be multifunctional and need to collaborate for successful design. Your IoT design team will include people from the following disciplines:

    • Electronics engineering. These folks need to design the schematic and ensure components chosen for the board are sourceable before handing a design off to the layout engineer and the software team. 
    • PCB layout engineering. This group is self-explanatory; they need to arrange components, route traces, ensure power/signal integrity, and all the other tasks that go into creating a great PCB layout. 
    • Software/mobile app engineering. The software team usually needs to wait until the electronics engineers finish the basic design, as this will determine which components they’ll be working with. If a web platform is involved, the web team can get started early, developing the basic web architecture, UI/UX, and API framework. 
    • Mechanical engineering. This group needs to work with the PCB layout engineers to ensure the product’s enclosure will fit the finished PCB and vice versa. For products that bend or fold, they also need to ensure any flex or rigid-flex boards will conform to the enclosure.

    Recent IoT projects we’ve worked on required collaboration between myself (as lead engineer/manager), the PCB layout engineer, the embedded developer, the client’s mechanical designer, and the client’s software development team. These types of projects can get very complex when so many people are working on the same goal, and keeping everyone on the same page takes collaboration tools that can support all the different file types required to create a new platform.

     IoT PCB design diagram
    IoT PCB design draws design data and assets from multiple collaborators.

    How Multifunctional Hardware Teams Can Collaborate

    Anyone that’s worked as part of a software team is probably familiar with Slack, Jira, and other collaboration and chat tools for sharing code, tracking task progress, and entering tickets for outstanding development issues. The collaboration tools you use should enable some important tasks as part of IoT PCB design and development:

    • Supply chain visibility. Anyone that’s designed a schematic around some specialty components, only to find their desired components have gone obsolete or have months-long lead times, know the importance of supply chain visibility. Design teams need to start sourcing components early to reduce their risk of redesigns later. 
    • Commenting, project release control, version control, and forking. These features are exactly what you’d find in a GitHub-style architecture for hardware design. It shouldn’t be limited to code commits, PCB layout and mechanical drawing commits need to be accessed as well. 
    • User access control. Not everyone in your organization will be working on the same set of tasks. A system with user access control (both for viewing and editing) ensures the right people can access projects on an as-needed basis. 
    • Sharing fabrication data. IoT PCB design teams will eventually need to work with a manufacturer to get a board produced. Bringing a manufacturer into a collaborative process is a huge value add that can reduce turn times and help you spot DFM errors early. 
    Viewing assembly data in IoT PCB design
    A cloud-based system for IoT PCB design lets everyone on a team see a full set of design and fabrication data.

    As more companies go remote, even in the realm of hardware development, design teams will need cloud-based or on-premises systems that integrate with their design software. The current class of remote collaboration tools can’t provide the accessibility needed to instantly import design data into ECAD and MCAD programs while also providing version control, component management, and user access control. It’s time for hardware teams to use a new platform that unifies PCB designers with mechanical designers and, soon enough, embedded developers.

    Altium 365 is the only platform that integrates Altium Designer with apps like Altium Concord Pro and the Altium Viewer, making collaboration easy for multifunctional teams. Engineers from all disciplines can see each other’s design data and instantly import it into Altium Designer or view it through an Altium Concord Pro web instance. The version control, commenting, and access control features let your team create a GitHub-style platform for hardware development. This is an ideal way for IoT PCB design teams to collaborate on complex projects.

    Altium Concord Pro on Altium 365 is bringing an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.

    We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Concord Pro on Altium 365. You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.

    About Author

    About Author

    Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to electronics companies. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University. He conducted his Physics M.S. research on chemisorptive gas sensors and his Applied Physics Ph.D. research on random laser theory and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensing and monitoring systems, and financial analytics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written hundreds of technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. Zachariah currently works with other companies in the electronics industry providing design, research, and marketing services. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home