Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

Altium Online Store

Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • 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


    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

    Altium Online Store

    Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    • 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

    Why You Should Take a Modular Approach to PCB Design for Internet of Things Applications

    April 7, 2017

    Nerdy scientist soldering

    As engineers, one of our worst nightmares is doing the same pointless thing over and over again. Adopting a modular design philosophy for Internet of Things PCBs will save you from that monotony. Optimize your design process and save time, money, and sanity, by reusing your PCB designs. Read on to find out more!

    While in college I did several projects with Arduino boards. I started with the basic Arduino Uno, but later bought several different Arduino shields for various projects. The standard design of Arduino has helped them become one of the top entry-level embedded system platforms. Arduinos are often used to prototype IoT devices, which are mostly modular. Since the IoT is inherently extensible, PCB design for IoT devices should be as well. Adopting a modular PCB design for your IoT PCBs will help you design more efficiently, and reduce manufacturing costs for your PCB module.

    Internet of Things
    The Internet of Things!

    Optimizing Workflow

    I once interned in a testing lab where I ran the same test on a broken machine every day for 4 months. My supervisor hoped I could find some kind of correlation in the data I collected, but there was none. That machine is still being tested by some poor intern, spitting out bad data. With a traditional design mindset, you’ll end up doing the monotonous work of designing 10 similar boards, for 10 similar products. I may wear monotone colors, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy monotony. Extensible design means producing one board that works for all 10 products. You can benefit from this design philosophy by streamlining your PCB’s design, tailoring, testing, and sales.

    • Design - What do a WiFi toothbrush and a WiFi chair have in common? Yes, they are both useless, but that’s not what I was going for. They both use similar components, maybe WiFi, RFID, etc. Most IoT things will include fairly predictable features that use predictable components. So, instead of designing a PCB module for a toothbrush, and then a PCB module for a chair, make one that does both. Then you’ll have supplied two bad embodiments with a single board.

    • Tailoring - So, what if your customer now wants to make a WiFi shoe? It will probably have similar functionality to the WiFi chair, but different structural requirements. Well, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make some alterations so your basic board will work. However, it’s often easier to change an existing board than to make an entirely new one.

    Business man looking at factory
    Taking a modular approach to your IoT designs lets you be efficient and chill.
    • Testing - It’s much easier to test 20 of the same board than to test 20 unique boards. Though, it is easier to test 20 unique boards incorrectly. Do you really trust those guys in Quality Assurance to rigorously test such a wide variety of boards? Just make the designs as close to each other as possible and reduce the risk.

    • Sales - Would you enjoy using a new design program every couple of weeks? No? Well, embedded systems engineers won’t like it if you make them use a new board every couple of weeks. If you make your design standardized, like Arduino’s, embedded systems engineers will choose it simply because they already know how it works.

    No one really enjoys doing more work than they have to unless they’re just a huge nerd. Okay, lots of us are huge nerds, but let’s save ourselves the extra work anyway. Modular PCB design will save time and work from design down to sales.

    Nerdy scientist soldering
    Doing the same repetitive tasks is the worst!

    Optimizing Cash Flow

    If you need to convince your manager to let you start with an extensible design, send them this section.

    Optimization in the design process automatically translates to cost savings in man hours. Time not spent rehashing the same old designs is time spent designing boards for new useless products. Another major cost saving area is in board manufacturing. Manufacturers dislike fabricating low quantities of board designs, a preference they show with high pricing. The more similar your PCBs are, the less they’ll cost to manufacture. A modular PCB design is the way to go!

    Your PCB design software should help you keep old designs with a new fangled feature called “save.” However, CircuitStudio® has a somewhat more advanced “comparator” feature that can help with a modular approach to design. With the “comparator” function allows you to compare different designs against each other. This makes tailoring modular designs and adding features from one design to another a breeze.

    Life is short, don’t waste developing the same over and over. Modular PCB design will help you use your designs and time more efficiently. It will also help your company save money in man hours and manufacturing costs.

    Has modular PCB design left you with lots of time on your hands? Chat with an expert at Altium Designer.

    Check out Altium Designer® in action...

    Powerful PCB Design

    most recent articles

    Back to Home