For Clear Communication, Use the Best RF PCB Design Software

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: March 24, 2020
For Clear Communication, Use the Best RF PCB Design Software

More and more RF PCB designs are being used every day, and if you aren’t already working with them you may find yourself doing so very soon. To make sure you have the greatest advantage, use the best RF PCB design software you can get; Altium Designer.

ALTIUM DESIGNER

Working through RF PCB design commandments like frequency, components, noise, and layer management with ease.

The communication gap is shrinking all over the world as more and more wireless devices are being created every day. It wasn’t too long ago that if you suggested that a refrigerator might one day need to be connected to a network that people would doubt your sanity. Today though, wireless technology is everywhere. Phones, GPS, IoT, drones; the list goes on and on. PCB designers today are more likely to be working on RF specific designs or designs that incorporate a portion of RF into them than ever before.

To be prepared for this, we’ve put together some information on RF PCB design that will help. Starting with some basics about RF design, RF PCB design software, and then talking about specific antenna design, you will get a better understanding of what the technology is that you are about to work with. We will also show you how Altium Designer can best help you with features that specifically will help determine impedance values for your design and analyze your project’s signal integrity. In addition, Altium Designer will provide you with the most powerful RF PCB design software you can get today. This will help you during PCB trace routing and working in 3D to incorporate your mechanical features and constraints into your design. Altium Designer is fully equipped with everything you need for RF design so that you can get started immediately on your next project.

Some of the Basics of RF Design

RF design does require knowledge of some of the unique principles associated with it, and it has also been referred to as an art form. Whether it’s noise management, knowing a dielectric constant, finding the proper components for a power supply for a frequency-dependent board, or calculating inductance and capacitance figure numbers, you’ll want to be sure you understand what you’re working with.

Below, you will find some of the RF-specific requirements that you need to know to succeed with your design. You will also find discussions on topics such as impedance calculations for your design as well as how the RF PCB design software, Altium Designer, can help you solve these design problems.

Know What is Ahead of You Before You Jump In

Keeping power, frequency, and noise in check while working through transmission lines, characteristic impedance and other printed circuit factors can be a taxing demand. A successful artist is only as good as what they have prepared for and that holds true for you as well as you begin your RF PCB design.

Altium Designer wifi frequency 3D transmission layout and properties in RF PCB design software

Wifi PCB design in Altium Designer, RF PCB design software

PCB Design Tools to Help You Make the Best Choices

In RF design you will have a lot of different design choices to make. One example of this is to decide what kind of antenna strategy your design may require. Here is some information on working with antennas in PCB design that will help you with your designs. You will also see how Altium Designer is equipped with signal integrity tools and other features to help you analyze your design in order to make the most informed design choices possible.

Matching frequency with proper components, placing dielectric correctly, and having transmission lines functioning are just parts of your circuit board. However, if you were to dive into all the necessary thought for voltage, plating, pins, an amplifier, applications, or even laying out a conductor with capacitors and a metal shield - the list of things to keep track of continues to grow.

Your Design Tools Should Help You with the Design Choices You Make

Tracking frequency, power, inductance, and voltage couldn’t be easier when using a PCB design tool that is built to account for these things. Altium Designer contains a lot of analysis tools such as its signal integrity tools that will help you as you choose how to best create your RF PCB design.

Altium Designer tuned routing in RF PCB design software for frequency, components, and voltage

Tuned routing in Altium Designer

Powerful Tools Make for the Best RF PCB Design Software

You’ve done your homework, and you are now prepared to layout your RF PCB design. You still need the best tools that you can get to be successful, however, and fortunately Altium Designer has everything you need for the job. Starting with the schematic and going all the way through PCB layout, Altium Designer has all the design features you need. With Altium Designer’s interactive routing functionality you will have no problem routing in the unique trace routing patterns that you need in RF design.

With today’s competition, you need to get your designs into the market faster than ever. Fortunately Altium Designer is prepared to help you reduce your design cycle time with features such as its powerful native 3D engine. You will be able to import your mechanical designs into your layout so that you can check and verify your clearances to the mechanical constraints. This can save you lots of time and expense in prototype board builds. You will also be able to quickly and precisely create your fabrication and assembly documentation using Draftsman; Altium Designer’s drawing generator tool.

You Need the Best for Place & Route as Well as the PCB Documentation

Don’t let frequency clog your designs. Utilize design software that can account for proper coupling, copper and dielectric placement, data input for power or noise, and strong layer management. Don’t fight inductance and your board software, make your software fight with you. Altium Designer has all the PCB layout tools that you will need in one powerful design system.

There are only going to be more and more RF PCB designs coming your way in the future, make sure that you are prepared for them by using Altium Designer.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. 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.

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