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Teardrops on Differential Pairs?
Blog
Should You Place Teardrops on Differential Pairs?

One of the major factors impacting reliability of a PCBA is the use of teardrops on traces in the PCB. Like many aspects of reliability, the considerations also span into the signal integrity domain, particularly as more high-reliability products require greater data handling capabilities and run at higher speeds. In this article, I’ll break down the issues present in teardrop usage on differential pairs and how these may affect impedance.

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How-To's
How to Customize The Properties Panel

How to Customize The Properties Panel: This video will go over how to customize the look and feel of the properties panel in Altium Designer. By being able to personalize your workspace you can greatly improve your efficiency

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
How to Create and Use Impedance Profiles

Using the Altium Designer Layer Stack Manager, we will show how to create impedance profiles for transmission lines and how to apply them to the circuit board using the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor.

Broken PCB
Blog
The High-Reliability PCBA Design and Test Challenge

High-reliability electronics must go through multiple rounds of testing and qualification to ensure they can withstand their intended operating environment. Designing to performance standards, whether the baseline IPC standards or more stringent industry standards, is the first step in ensuring a reliable circuit board. In this e-book, readers will gain a thorough look into PCB testing and analysis, starting from basic tests performed on bare boards and completed assemblies.

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How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Courtyard

The courtyard is an essential piece when you want to create a PCB Footprint in Altium Designer. We’ll talk about what a courtyard is, how to create a courtyard, and how to format a courtyard correctly for your PCB footprint.

Where to place AC Caps on PCIe Lanes
Blog
AC Coupling Capacitors in PCIe Routing

Coupling capacitors find plenty of uses in analog applications and on differential protocols, acting essentially as high pass filters that remove DC bias carried seen on a signal. In the case of PCIe, there are a few reasons to place AC coupling capacitors on differential pairs beyond the fact that AC coupling capacitors are listed in the standard. In this article, we’ll look briefly at where to place coupling capacitors on PCIe links, as well as the reasons these are placed on PCIe links.

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How-To's
How to Edit Existing Tracks in Altium Designer

This new design rule flags a violation when the creepage distance across non-conductive surface and edge regions of the board, between the targeted signals, is equal to or less than the specified Creepage distance.

Tuning dialog
Blog
Altium Designer 22.7 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.7 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.7 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

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How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Silkscreen Overlay

When creating a PCB footprint in Altium Designer creating a silkscreen overlay is an important requirement. We’ll go over the standards for creating a silkscreen overlay for a footprint and the steps to creating one, such as constructing lines and measuring distance of objects and primitives.

The Positive Impact of Supply Chain Visibility on Design to Cost
Blog
The Positive Impact of Supply Chain Visibility on Design to Cost

Design to cost is a lofty idea that is only perfectly executed when supply and demand for components are in perfect harmony. Unfortunately, the current landscape for component sourcing makes design to cost more of a balancing act rather than an exercise in price reduction. To help designers in their efforts to balance cost, capabilities, and procurement, we created this ebook to help users understand how modern supply chain tools can help in these complex design problems.

PCB Comparison
On-Demand Webinar
Getting Started With File Comparison

One major benefit of using a version control system is the ability to compare PCB design revisions against one another. If you are comparing PCB designs, you need a version control system that is electrically intelligent. It’s important to know who made a change, and when they made it. Altium Designer® and Altium 365® make file comparison easy.

Evaluating Stubs on PCIe Lanes
Blog
A Brief Study of Stubs on a PCIe Connector

Stubs are an important topic in high-speed PCB design, and there is a longstanding guideline that stubs should always be removed from all vias on high-speed digital interconnects. While stubs are bad for high-speed lines, they do not always need to be removed. What is more important is to predict the loss profile and frequencies, and to floorplan appropriately to try and prevent such losses.

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How-To's
Adding Designators for Assembly Drawings

Designators for assembly drawings are added on the assembly layer. This video shows how to add the designators.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Material Library

In this video we will learn more about the Altium designers Layer Stack Mangers built-in materials library, and how to add new material and use it in our board stack. We will also look at how we can save the user materials to an xml format.

Surface Layer DFM and Cleanup
Blog
PCB Layout Cleanup Before Manufacturing

Once you finish your placement and routing in your PCB layout, it can be tempting to wrap up the layout and send everything in directly to manufacturing. The reality is that the board may still need some work before it is considered finished. The cleanup you perform at the final stage of PCB layout will help you catch any outstanding errors that can't be programmed into your DRC engine, and it gives you a chance to add any outstanding details to the surface layers.

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How to create a PCB Footprint
Placing Footprint Pads

Every footprints needs proper pad placement to ensure trace connectivity. Placing pads is the first step towards footprint creation.

Low Cost and Professionally Built LED Panel
Blog
Insulated Metal Substrates: Building an LED Panel

In this project we’ll be building a moderate sized LED panel on insulated metal substrate (IMS). This light panel has three different white balance High CRI LED types on it, warm, neutral and cool. By changing the brightness of the different white balances, the light from the panel can be adjusted to match other lighting, making it perfect for film use - but also creating perfect lighting for electronics work. As with all my projects, this LED panel is open source, you can find the Altium project files over on my GitHub released under the permissive MIT License.

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How-To's
Setting the Transparency for Layers and Primitives

Customize your workspace by setting the transparency of layers and primitives in the PCB.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Create New Via Types Using the Layer Stack Manager

In this video, we will learn how to create new via types using the Layer Stack Manager, and how to create new Routing Via design rules using the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor. We will also explore how to use the different types of Via during interactive routing.

DFM For Your Materials
Blog
DFM in PCB Material Selection

Every design should begin with selecting the materials that will appear in the PCB stackup, as well as arranging layers in the stackup to support layout and routing. This section of our PCB manufacturing andc DFM crash course focuses on selecting the right materials for your PCB design. Materials should be selected given the particular design requirements outlined in your specifications.

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NEW
Skills for Today's PCB Designers
Blog
What Skills Are Needed to be a PCB Layout Designer?

To readers who have been working in the PCB industry for most of your career, you have probably seen a very diverse group of professionals with varied skill sets and backgrounds. Designers might get started as engineers or as technicians, and some designers learn how to create beautiful PCB layouts in university. No matter how you got into PCB design, there are some important skills to know that will take you a long way towards advancing your career.

How to Fix the Top PCB Design Mistakes
Blog
Beginner PCB Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

When starting out with PCB design, it’s common to treat the process as simply ‘connecting the dots’: as long as connections are made, it’s not particularly important how these connections are made. Having reviewed quite a number of PCBs of other PCB design engineers over the last few years, there are common, unfortunately erroneous, occurrences between a lot of them. This article aims to illustrate the top five beginner PCB design mistakes and what we can do to avoid making them. Let’s get started!

Top 5 Questions Regarding Stack Up
Blog
SAP (Semi-Additive PCB Process) – Top 5 Questions Regarding Stack Up

As the PCB design community embraces the benefits of this new printed circuit board fabrication technique, there are of course many questions to be answered.  Today’s blog will address some of the most commonly asked questions related to circuit layer stack up as people are introduced to this new technology.

Design Reuse Blocks Update
Blog
Altium Designer 22.9 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.9 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.9 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

Dual Rail Voltage Supply
Blog
Dual Rail Voltage Supply

The highest performing operational amplifiers often need a split supply with positive and negative voltages connected to the op amps supply rails. In this project, we’re going to be building a positive/negative dual rail power supply for a differential oscilloscope probe I’m designing. I’m making the power supply a separate project, as a dual rail supply is quite useful to have, and I’m sure I’ll find multiple uses for it in the future.

Library Importer Interface
Blog
Library Importer Improvements (former Library Migrator)

Importing file-based libraries from your local computer or network drive to your Altium 365 workspace can be done using the Library Importer. Altium’s Library Migrator was renamed Library Importer—the feature’s name was changed to conform more closely to the tool’s purpose. Not only is its name new, but our team has also made several user experience improvements. We have updated the documentation to reflect this change.

Blog
How to Select Copper Foil for High-Frequency PCB Design

The PCB materials industry has spent significant amounts of time developing materials that provide lowest possible signal loss for products with RF applications. For high speed and high frequency designs, losses will limit signal propagation distance and distort signals, and it will create an impedance deviation that can be seen in TDR measurements. In this article, we'll look at the balance between copper foil losses and other types of losses in a PCB, as well as some strategies that are commonly used to overcome roughness.

Blog
Altium Designer 22.8 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.8 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.8 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

What is Hybrid Beamforming?
Blog
What is Hybrid Beamforming?

In this article, we’ll look at beamforming implementation in an advanced method combining analog and digital techniques, known as hybrid beamforming. This method blends both digital and analog techniques to create multiple beams and thus reach multiple users with varying intensities. In the case of an RF imaging system or a radar system, hybrid beamforming in a MIMO technique also allows tracking of multiple targets with adjustable resolution.

Is your via impedance calculator accurate?
Blog
Why Most Via Impedance Calculators Are Inaccurate

The problem with every via impedance calculator that I have seen is simple: they are incomplete or totally wrong. The “incomplete” part refers to a lack of context; these calculators can roughly reproduce a well-known estimate from a legend like Howard Johnson in his Digital Design textbooks. However, these calculators never provide insight into what they are actually calculating, or where the calculated via impedance is accurate. Keep reading to see why these calculators get it so wrong, as well as the context surrounding via impedance.

Blog
Buck Converter Simulation in Altium Designer

When designing high power circuits (usually very high voltage and/or current), you’ll need to create a regulator from scratch and place it in your PCB layout. It's also the case that you may want to model a real component using discretes in a simulation in order to qualify the system's expected operating regime. As part of buck converter design, you can easily run a buck converter simulation directly in Altium Designer’s schematic editor. Here’s how you can access these features in the newest version of Altium Designer. 

PCIe 6.0 Overview
Blog
Overview of the PCIe 6.0 Standard

Just as you get used to PCIe 5.0, they decide to release another standard! The newest iteration of PCIe is Gen6, or PCIe 6.0. PCIe 6.0 brings a doubling of channel bandwidth through introduction of PAM-4 as the signaling method in high-speed differential channels. This signaling method is a first for PCIe, and it’s an important enabler of the doubled data rate we see in the current standard. In this article, I’ll run over the important points in the standard and what PCB designers can expect when designing these channels.

SPI vs. I2C For Memory Access
Blog
SPI vs. I2C: How to Choose the Best Protocol for Your Memory Chips

One of the common implementations of SPI and I2C in a PCB layout is as a protocol for reading and writing to an external Flash memory. Flash chips are a very common component in embedded systems and can offer high capacities of non-volatile memory up to Gb values. When choosing a memory chip, you'll want to match the application requirements and functionality with the bus speed you need for read and write operations in your memory chip. There is also the matter of the type of Flash memory you'll need to access (NOR vs. NAND).

Blog
Is There an SPI Trace Impedance Requirement?

There is no SPI trace impedance requirement? The reality is that SPI lines only start to need impedance control when the length of the interconnect becomes very long. And because there is no specific impedance requirement in the bus, you have some freedom in channel design and termination. So what exactly qualifies as “very long” and when is some termination method needed? We’ll break it down in this article.

The Skin Effect and EM Fields
Blog
The Skin Effect, Current Density, and the Electromagnetic Field

During this year's AltiumLive CONNECT event, I recall receiving an interesting question about the skin effect and the distribution of current due to the presence of ground in coplanar transmission lines. In this article, we'll look at the electric field around a transmission line carrying a signal, and how this might be impacted by the skin effect.

Packaging for your PCBAs
Blog
What You Need for PCB Packaging and Shipping

When you get your PCBA back from an assembler, you’ll notice the packaging materials used to pack and ship the PCBA. Those materials are specific to electronics, and if you build products on behalf of clients, it’s important to know the packaging materials used for packing and shipping electronics. In this article I’ll show the main set of materials and equipment used to package electronics assemblies.

Tag
Further Enhancements to Sheet Cross-referencing
What's New in
Schematic Capture Improvement

Adding cross-references to the project allows you to easily follow the connective flow of nets between the schematic sheets in a project. 

Embedded thumbnail for A365 Getting Started: Schematic Compare
Getting Started with A365
A365 Getting Started: Schematic Compare

The schematic sheets in a project are subject to change over time, and sometimes it may be necessary to compare several different versions and detect differences between them. In Altium Designer you can easily perform an automatic comparison of any revisions of schematic documents. 

NEW
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How to Work with Draftsman
Draftsman Document Board Assembly View

The Draftsman Document can include a Board Assembly View. We’ll show you how to add it and the properties you can change to create the exact view or views you need.

Embedded thumbnail for A365 Getting Started: Migrate to Altium 365 from other VCS
Getting Started with A365
A365 Getting Started: Migrate to Altium 365 from other VCS

The development of electronic devices always involves the release of many different types of files. And these files are not static - they change as the project progresses. Traditionally, one way to manage data is to use a version control system such as Git or SVN. Unlike other VCSs, Altium 365 is the system designed specifically for managing project data.

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How to Work with Classes
How to work with Component Classes?

Modern printed circuit boards can contain a large number of components, which makes them difficult to work with. In this video we will show what component classes can be on a PCB, how to create custom component classes and how they can be useful for us. 

Embedded thumbnail for Placing Connections Between Boards
How to work with Multiboard
Placing Connections Between Boards

A multi-board design requires relationships between several board designs referred to as interboard connections. We’ll show you the different types of connections and how to connect your boards using the proper connection type.

Embedded thumbnail for Show the Net Connections Between Select Components
How-To's
Show the Net Connections Between Select Components

This video demonstrates how to show net-specific component connections. This is helpful when routing as you’re able to reduce clutter and focus on the connections on which you are working.

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How to Work with Draftsman
Draftsman Editor Settings

In this video we’ll go over the Draftsman editor settings and properties so you know how to set up the editor to be exactly what you need.

Embedded thumbnail for Assuring Your Board Is Large Enough to House All Components
How-To's
Assuring Your Board Is Large Enough to House All Components

This video covers how to make sure your board is big enough to house all your components.

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How-To's
How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram

This video shows how to create an interactive PDF using the Smart PDF Wizard.

Embedded thumbnail for What is the Draftsman Document?
How to Work with Draftsman
What is the Draftsman Document?

Once your PCB layout is finished it’s time for review. This is where the Draftsman Document and Altium Designer’s Draftsman Editor comes in.

Embedded thumbnail for Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic
How to work with Multiboard
Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic

If you’re using multiple PCBs in your Multi-board design, Altium Designer allows you to add existing projects directly to your schematic with modules. We’ll show you how to quickly and efficiently add these projects to your Multi-board design.

Embedded thumbnail for Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs
How-To's
Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs

High voltage devices have leakage currents that propage over the surface of the board. In such devices, it's important to consider not only the standard gap between the two topological elements, but also the shortest possible path between them, taking into account cut-outs and holes. With Altium Designer 20, you can check for creepage using the new creepage distance rule.

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How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard

Altium Designer makes it easy to create a BGA footprint using our IPC compliant footprint wizard. We'll show you how easily you can create and modify a BGA footprint using the footprint wizard.

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How-To's
How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes

Unused pad shapes can cause distortion among other problems so it is best to exclude them from your designs. This video shows how to remove unused pad shapes.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Presets and Templates

In this video, we will learn how to apply predefined layer stacks to the board, as well as how to save the layer stack file as a template.

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Printed tracks on PCB in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
Printed Circuit Design in Altium Designer

Printed Electronics is emerging to become as common as 3D printing. With this fast-emerging technology, new possibilities have come into the manufacturing arena, allowing engineers and designers to develop products in markets never before realized. With the emergence of many contract manufacturers possessing this capability, the cost is competitive. Quick-turn prototypes and volume production are now all possibilities, and with Altium 365® you stay connected directly with your manufacturer throughout the design process.

Webinar preview
On-Demand Webinar
Using Output Job Files for Rapid, Repeatable PCB Manufacturing Data Generation

An OutJob is simply a pre-configured set of outputs. Each output is configured with its own settings and its own output format, for example, output to a file or to a printer. OutJobs are very flexible – they can include as many or as few outputs as required and any number of OutJobs can be included in a project. The best approach is to use one OutJob to configure all outputs required for each specific type of output being generated from the project. 

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Best Practices: Efficient Use of Snapping in Altium Designer

Getting your PCB layout design done takes patience and precision. Complex footprint geometries, board shape, and dense component placement require accurate primitive positioning. Each stage of PCB design needs a different snapping configuration. Often your settings can be excellent for one stage and be unfavorable for another. Learn more about different snapping usage patterns and best practices of efficient snappings.

On-Demand Webinar
Communicating Design Intent with Manufacturing Outputs

No one wants to do a board respin because of inaccurate or incomplete manufacturing outputs confusing design intent. This webinar covers the information needed for PCB Manufacturing and Assembly, as well as, a simple way to communicate and collaborate with manufacturing.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Editing Your PCB Geometry with MCAD Tools Webinar

You need to define your PCB geometry in the context of your enclosure. If your board cannot physically be assembled into the final product, it doesn't matter how well laid out it is electrically. This webinar focuses on how the MCAD CoDesigner allows you to edit your PCB in the context of a higher-level assembly, allowing you to respect the relevant mechanical constraints.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Editing Your PCB Geometry with MCAD Tools

You need to define your PCB geometry in the context of your enclosure. If your board cannot physically be assembled into the final product, it doesn't matter how well laid out it is electrically.

This webinar focuses on how the MCAD CoDesigner allows you to edit your PCB in the context of a higher-level assembly, allowing you to respect the relevant mechanical constraints.