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Altium Designer Guide Beginning & Intermediate Version Glenn Mercier mercierg@unlv.nevada.edu Research Engineer,TBE-B311 University of Las Vegas, Nevada Part 1: Beginning Guide  This guide is a beginner’s guide to PCB design using Altium Designer and is geared towards the following individuals: ◦ Possess ample theoretical electronics knowledge ◦ Has little or no PCB design experience ◦ Has little or no Altium Designer experience Beginning Guide  Before proceeding to the actual software tutorial, It is important to understand when it is absolutely necessary to use a PCB rather than design with a breadboard  Most students have a reluctance to learning new software and spending money for something they could possibly build on a breadboard. Breadboard vs. PCB  For many electronic designs, one has a choice to build a circuit on either a breadboard or on a printed circuit board.  Most students have a certain comfort zone working with breadboards, but there comes a time when the complexity of the project or the physical requirements requires electronic design through CAD (computer aided design). Breadboard Advantages  Very quick to prototype using standard components  Can easily make changes to schematic or the functional working of the circuit  Easy to connect to electronic equipment such as function generator, oscilloscope, power supplies, etc. Breadboard Disadvantages  Unprofessional appearance  Difficult to troubleshoot due to human error and poor connections  Works very poorly for high speed design  Difficult to modify complex SMD components for prototyping  Excessive capacitance  Difficult to replicate Printed Circuit Board Advantages  Professional appearance  Repeatable and controllable stray inductance and capacitance  Can handle most power requirements  Can make very compact  Excellent high speed capabilities  Easy to assemble and replicate Printed Circuit Board Disadvantages  Increased design time  Drastically increased schematic-to-finished product timeframe  Development Cost  Difficult to modify once board is fabricated  Must learn at least a basic form of CAD software  Quality of PCB can be affected by limited knowledge of software package  Capabilities vary greatly with different software packages.  High end CAD software is very expensive Required PCB Design  Small Packages, such as a BGA, MLF, QFP are practically impossible to prototype on a breadboard due to their small size and MUST be designed on a http://content.answers.com/main/content/img/CDE/_MCROBGA.GIF PCB. Required PCB Design  Just dealing with the sheer number of pins on modern practical designs required a PCB.  It is common to see single components containing up to 1,500 pins  High speed design cannot be performed using traditional prototyping methods Altium Designer  This is based off the current version of Altium Designer, 6.9.0.12759  The Altium Designer Suite contains many unified features such as: ◦ FPGA schematic design ◦ VHDL/Verilog compilers ◦ C/ASM compilers ◦ Scripting ◦ Simulation ◦ 2D Field Solver ◦ Simulation Engine ◦ Library Management ◦ Database and advanced query language ◦ CAM display management ◦ Schematic Capture ◦ PCB Layout System Requirements Getting Started  Start the software by clicking START PROGRAMS ALTIUM DESIGNER Altium Designer 6  Create a start bar shortcut if you plan on using the software a lot. (shown on right) Project File  Project files are like a container for your project. There are many different things you will need for even a basic project, such as: ◦ PCB Footprint libraries ◦ Schematic libraries ◦ Schematic documents ◦ PCB documents ◦ Scripts ◦ CAM files ◦ Settings ◦ Generated reports ◦ Generated files ◦ Version Control features ◦ Etc. Creating a Project  When the software starts, follow the menu sequence in the image to create a new ‘PCB Project’  Many people skip this step and just create a schematic file. This a huge mistake! Absolutely everything in Altium Designer is based on project files Project Name  We need to save our project and rename the project to something more meaningful.  Right click on PCB_Project.prjPCB and save the project as ‘PROJECT- EE495’ to a new folder (preferably on a flash drive) called ‘EE495 Project’ inside