Use the Best Circuit Design Software With SPICE and Schematic Capture

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: August 17, 2021

Every new electronic product starts with circuit diagrams, schematic sheets, and eventually a PCB layout. Designers that want to create a new design that will eventually be manufactured need more than just simple circuit diagram drawing software, they need to translate their designs into professional file formats that can be used with schematic capture to create a real PCB. The best circuit design software can do all this and much more.

With a complete set of CAD tools to aid your design process, Altium Designer includes everything you need to create high-quality circuit diagrams from real electronic components you’ll find from major distributors. If you’ve never used Altium Designer, take a look at its complete set of product development tools, beginning with system-level design and ending with expedited PCB manufacturing.

ALTIUM DESIGNER®

The best circuit design software and PCB layout software with advanced CAD tools for design professionals.

Most design programs will take you down a difficult road of using separate tools to create circuit diagrams, find components for your libraries, and transition your board to a PCB layout. Unified PCB design software solves these problems by placing all your important design features in one program with a single workflow and design strategy. Your design tools should help you easily create your circuits and import them into a new PCB layout.

When you use the best circuit design software like Altium Designer, you’ll have the tools you need to design all of your circuits. Passive RLC circuits and complex networks of transistors or integrated circuits can be imported into Altium Designer and evaluated in simulations. If you’ve never worked in an integrated design platform with everything needed to build and evaluate circuit board designs, keep reading to see how Altium Designer can help.

Features in the Best Circuit Design Software

Whenever you get started on a new design, you’ll start in schematic sheets, where you create circuit diagrams and find real components to build your system. Circuit diagrams can contain just about any type of component you like and should be designed to create the basic functionality of your product. However, the schematics you create for your design need to contain models for real components that can be found in the PCB supply chain and ordered from distributors. Every component in your circuit designs and schematics needs other CAD data attached to it, and you’ll need a complete set of features to help you manage the design data in your project.

The best circuit design software gives you access to a complete set of features to do much more than just draw circuit diagrams. Your design software needs CAD libraries that contain data on real components to help you build a real circuit board from your design and prepare orders for components from distributors. In addition, circuit design software should include SPICE simulation features to help you evaluate your circuit designs. Most design software will separate design data into different programs, but now with Altium Designer, you have everything needed to quickly transition into a new PCB layout for your design.

From Circuit Diagrams to Schematics in Altium Designer

Schematics and circuit diagrams go together in Altium Designer. With integrated supply chain features, designers can quickly find and import components into schematics and gather the data they need to create a PCB layout.

Component selection in the PCB supply chain
The Manufacturer Part Search Panel in Altium Designer helps you find schematic symbols and PCB footprints for your design so you can create schematic symbols.

Design Evaluation With SPICE Circuit Simulations

Circuit simulations are performed with SPICE packages to help you evaluate the functionality of your design and prepare the design for the transition to a PCB layout. The best circuit design software should include a SPICE package that is accessible inside your circuit drawing tools. However, simply having a SPICE package isn’t enough for examining real electrical behavior, you’ll need to make sure you can define SPICE models for your components and prepare the design for simulation.

Inside Altium Designer, you’ll have the ability to add custom simulation models to your components and new models to existing components in your circuits. Full control over your components gives you the ability to experiment with different components and circuits as you create your schematics. After circuits are evaluated with a standard circuit simulation package, they can be integrated into your larger design using your schematic editor.

Stay Organized With Hierarchical Schematics in Altium Designer

Hierarchical schematics provide a simple way to link designs together into a single project and stay organized. Altium Designer’s schematic editor allows designers to implement flat, hierarchical, or multichannel design structures in schematic sheets, making connections and reuse easy tasks in a single program.

Schematic capture PCB layout
Easily transition to your new PCB layout and create your physical design from your schematics in Altium Designer.

Altium Designer is a Complete Circuit Design and PCB Layout Package

Circuit board layout can’t begin until your schematics are completed and you’ve imported PCB footprints into your component libraries. Altium Designer keeps all your circuit design tools and PCB layout features in a single application to help you quickly transition into your PCB layout. The rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer allows all your design tools to work together so you can seamlessly build a physical layout for your new design. While other circuit board design platforms separate your design features into different applications, Altium Designer gives you access to everything you need in one application with a single workflow.

Easily Get to Manufacturing With Altium Designer

Once you’ve finished your design, you can quickly generate each file needed by your manufacturer inside Altium Designer. The OutJob file feature instantly takes your PCB component data and your layout information, and it generates standard deliverables needed by a manufacturer. Your Altium Designer output files and documentation will include sourcing information for the components in your schematics and circuits, helping ensure accurate assembly.

Schematic editor in Altium Designer
The schematic editor in Altium Designer.

When you need to build the most accurate CAD database for PCB design, ou need the complete set of component creation and management tools in Altium Designer. Get access to the industry’s best ECAD utilities for creating your PCB layout and prepare your manufacturing outputs.

Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers 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. Start your free trial of Altium Designer + Altium 365 today.

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.

most recent articles

Back to Home