1. How to Start a Project in Altium Designer

1. How to Start a Project in Altium Designer

welcome to Altium Designer and getting started we will walk through the design process starting with a blank project heading schematics and the default PCB we captured the design and once it’s complete we will compile the design performing the electrical rule checking or ERC prior to the transfer to the PCB for layout once layouts complete run DRC’s and then generate the needed files for fabrication and assembly let’s start with a new project to create a blank project click on file new project and then project again we could have just picked PCB project instead of the second project pic but this way we can see the various options available while there are many options we will start with the typical PCB project here we can name the project and determine where it’s saved as well as if we want to create a folder for this project to be saved into we will call the project expansion board and have Altium Designer create a sub folder under the exercises folder on the desktop by checking the create project folder box this panel is the projects panel all the amuses panels to provide access to information and tools now in this project we could add schematics by right-clicking on the project file name and selecting add new then schematic this will add a new blank schematic to this project with a default name it also opened up another panel the properties panel we will dock this newly open panel on the right left side to change the name right click on the current name and select save as now we can save this with the proper name at this point we’ve created and saved a name schematic sheet but you will note that there’s an asterisk on the project file name entry in the project panel this is an important concept the asterisk indicates that the project file is not up to date with the addition of the schematic document the project does not have this information the project file contains a list of all the project related files it needs to be saved in order to add the schematics information to the list of the project files right click on the project file and select save project now the schematics have an entry in the project file and the asterisk gone in Altium whenever there’s a change to a document you will see the asterisk indicating the current live version of the document is not yet saved to the disk to access the list of possible panels in Altium Designer left click on the panels button at the bottom right of the window this opens up a menu with the various entries note the panels with the checkmarks are currently open panels if the properties panel was not opened I would encourage adding it now by clicking on the properties panel entry let’s clean up the panels so that we can work with some order to them the window layout is a personal choice and I would encourage you to spend some time deciding what panel arrangement you prefer we can move the panels by clicking on them and dragging I generally grab the floating panels and place them on the left or right side of the all team designer window as you can see here moving a panel towards a side will highlight it and if desired letting go of the mouse button will dock the panel at the current location at the top of every panel are some icons with the thumbtack vertical the panel is pinned in place or docked clicking on it rotates at 90 degrees and then allows the panel to hide but still be available as you can see here the property panel has a tab that can be clicked on to reopen it clicking on the X icon will close that panel clicking on the thumbtack toggles the behavior of the panel we will not close this particular panel we can now add a PCB to the project right click add new – project PCB as you can see now we have a blank PCB to save the PCB right mouse button click on it and select save as and naming it expansion board then save the project to add this file to the project file list the project is an important concept in Altium the project file contains the listing of all the project related files note it does not contain the files only links to the files and their locations clicking on either the entry in the projects panel or on the tab above the active window will switch the view to that file here we click on the schematic tab to change our active window to it clicking on the project panel entry for the PCB makes it the active when to open a file not already open double-clicking on it in the project panel entry will open it we need to briefly discuss the role of preferences in Altium Designer clicking on the icon that looks like a gear opens up the Preferences window the Preferences are stored in local machine independent of projects and they drive the tools operation and options at the system tab we see a number of sub entries we will not cover this particular tab in detail but if you’re interested in further information hit the f1 key and that will open up the all TM documentation on this panel we will also take a look at the schematic and PCB tabs just to show what options are available click on the cancel button to exit without making any changes to the Preferences as needed along the course we will make changes to these preferences Before we jump into creating a project and performing the design we should cover briefly the options for libraries and Altium Designer starting with a brief look at the basic libraries for schematic symbols and PCB footprints these can be combined into a single integrated library file a brief mention of these more basic library formats would include schematic and PCB libraries as you can see here the schematic library holds the symbol used for design capture the PCB library holds the footprints that are used on the PCB when placing the component these can be combined into an integrated library that is a single file with an extension of int Li B we will use the default installed integrated libraries for some of our capture in addition to these local libraries there is an online source of components called the Altium content vault this is a large collection of existing parts with both schematic symbols and their associated footprints this is where we will get the bulk of our components for this design Altium supports another kind of library called the database library there are a few types of database libraries DB link DB live and SVN DB live the DB link library provides an efficient means of linking and keeping the components used in your design synchronized with the data entered into a database the DB live n sv NDB live approach takes this proven linking efficiency and adds to it the freedom to be able to place a component directly from the database in essence creating the component dynamically from the information stored for it in the corresponding database record the DB live in SV NDB live are essentially the same the difference being that with the SP NDB live it’s an extension of a DB log file it basically has the schematic and associated models stored in libraries under SVN control the resulting database library simply needs to be made part of the available libraries by installing it so that it’s accessible from the libraries panel there is another means for storing and accessing components at a company level within Altium this is similar to the LT on content vault but instead of being online in public it is a company private vault called the LT m Nexus server in many ways this provides a number of good features company centric control of parts a common part source with version control and tracking features such as where used feature from parts she can see Altium supports a number of libraries it is up to you to decide what works best in your environment this concludes the starting a project lecture in this video we started a new project added both schematic sheet and a PCB to the project in our next module we will start the schematic capture

4 thoughts on “1. How to Start a Project in Altium Designer

  1. Can you please post the Altium Designer 19 version of these videos? The videos are currently marked private. Thanks.

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