If you are looking for software to design electronic products, look no further as this review of Altium PCB design software includes the information you need.
I will introduce you to Altium designer, show you its key features, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, the prices to use it and give you other information about it.
I hope that at the end of this review, you will be able to decide if this software has the features and tools you need and if you can really get the maximum of them.
The General Overview
- The Product: Altium PCB software.
- Operating system: Microdot Window.
- Used for: Designing electronic products.
- Owners: Altium Limited.
- Overall customer ranking: 8.7 out of 10.
What Is Altium PCB Design Software?
Altium Designer belongs to Altium Limited, and it is one of the most used PCB designer software currently available in the electronics industry.
It supports 3D modeling, length tuning and has many tools, including PCB modules, an auto-router, a schematic, differential pair routing, etc.
Other tools integrated within this sofware are circuit simulation, development, FPGA-based embedded system design, HDL design capture, PCB design, and signal integrity analysis.
You can customize the Altium Designer environment according to your project requirements. It is user-friendly and will help you to reach your goals as planned.
The environment of this software consists of two main elements: the area for editing documents located on the right side; the second element is made of workspace panels.
By default, some of these panels are on the left side of this application, while others are available in pop-out mode on the right side, hidden or floating.
In brief, this innovative software has revolutionized the electronics industry since its launch up to now.
It will help you realize your projects efficiently as a software engineer, parts supplier, electrician, mechanic, etc.
Altium PCB Designer Key Features
Altium designer’s features are so many that describing all of them in this review is almost impossible.
I will give you a brief overview of the most important and show you how to browse all of them in detail.
Altium 365 Platform
Altium 365 will enable you to easily connect all your project’s components: engineering design, purchase of parts, manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly to obtain the final products.
You do not need to download, install and configure Altium 365 on a server because it is cloud-based and fully integrated into Altium Designer.
All cloud software-based services hosted into Altium Designer run on Altium 365 platform to help you and other people involved in your project effortlessly create the products you want.
Another benefit of Altium 365 is its ability to help you share on any device the projects you are working on with interested parties such as the management, partners, potential customers, etc.
There are three levels to access the Altium 365 platform and its servers:
- Personal level: It is for those who want to use Altium 365 without a connected workspace to store their data.
- Standard – This level is for users in need of all the global sharing benefits of Altium 365, including having their designs and components in a single connected workspace.
- Pro Level – You can use this third level if you want the full structure and formality of data management offered by the Altium 365 platform.
The schematic design features will make it easy for you to create multichannel and hierarchical designs effortlessly.
You will find the easy-follow schematic-driven design rules through the schematic editor and how to get started smartly.
Among other benefits of Schematic Design is its ability to simplify multichannel, complex designs and provide users with the tools to manage logical chunks.
This feature integrates three components that are: interactive routing, stack-up planning, and 3D visualization. You can find below the benefits associated with each component.
- Interactive routing tools to help you design high-quality PCB layouts easily.
- Stackup planning made of the layer stack manager updated regularly by the people behind Altium Designer. It includes materials library, impedance calculations, etc.
- The Altium Designer’s advanced 3D engine that you can use to visualize and interact with your designs conveniently.
Other features integrated into Altium Designer are a unified environment, data and component management tools, and the features to design and manufacture your desired products.
How To Use Altium Designer?
Now that you have a general idea of Altium Designer software, the features it integrates, and their benefits, let’s see how you can start using it.
Downloading Altium Designer
You will first need to open a free account, download and install a free version of Altium Designer, and your license on your computer.
Once done, you will log in to your account, start browsing the features included within this software and see their respective advantages.
At the end of the downloading process, remember to run the software on your computer by following the indicated process.
Setting Up The Design Project
The owners of Altium Designer recommend users setting up their PCB projects after the first phase, you’ll find how to do it and the design templates to use.
You must also add a schematic sheet to your project as indicated, set up the right document options, and start drawing your PCB with no hassle.
Do not forget to add other elements such as components and libraries in Altium Designer.
Once added, those elements will appear in the design capture process as schematic symbols.
In this third step, you will go to the libraries, choose your preferred components, and place them on a running schematic.
Do not worry because the process is straightforward, especially that you already have enough electronics skills.
You will also find tips for designing the placement process within the collapsible parts. This process can be more effective if you implement it correctly.
Before adding a PCB, you will need to wire your board and create connectivity between the different parts, but the process is easy once again.
Project Compilation and Checking For Errors
Before you assemble your project, it would be better to check some inaccuracies, make the necessary corrections, and then move forward.
Circuit Board Creation
It is also advisable to make a blank, label, and save it before relocating your schematic design to the circuit board editor.
Before moving your schematic design, also ensure to modify the settings of the blank PCB correctly.
You will, for example, need to:
- Change the imperial units to metric.
- Choose a suitable snap grid.
- Resize the shape of your PCB and arrange the layers of your design.
- Transfer the Schematic to the PCB Editor.
That’s all but also remember to create the output documentation once you have finished implementing all the steps described above.
Output documentation will be handy when reviewing, fabricating, and assembling the PCB. You will find within the Altium Designer how to create outputs for different purposes.
Altium PCB Pricing
The owners of this software don’t provide the option to use it for free. Instead, they will give you 14 days to try its various features and see their advantages.
If at the end of the trial period you decide to keep using this software, you will upgrade your account to one of the following paid plans:
- Altium Designer System Engineering: This plan costs from EUR 105 per month and will give you access to powerful schematics tools.
- Altium Designer: The cost of this second plan is from EUR 295 a month. It includes schematic tools, PCB layouts, and other tools to design high-quality printed circuit boards effortlessly.
- Subscription Reactivation: This plan is for people who want to reactivate their Altium PCB subscription; it costs EUR 3 390 and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
You can use this banner to browse all features in detail and choose the most appropriate for you.
The Final Words
This is the end of the Altium PCB Design software review. I have provided you with all the information I could gather about this platform, and I hope that this post will be helpful.
This comprehensive and user-friendly platform has all you need to develop and manufacture high-quality electronics products, provided that you have the required skills to do that.
You can use it as a manufacturer, part supplier, PCB designer, or someone else involved in manufacturing electronics products.
Just choose the plan suitable for your need or those of your business and get started right away.
Millions of other individuals and business owners worldwide are happy users of this software.
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