Thursday, June 25, 2015

Altium Vault 2.5.10 Available (25 June 2015)

Version 2.5.10 (build 45793) is now available for download.

We kindly remind, that before doing update you need to create backup of your data and configuration.  

You can explore the documentation for Altium Vault 2.5 in the techdocs.

Release Notes
#6668 The Altium Vault can now be correctly updated from version 2.1 to 2.5, when using Oracle as the back-end database. 
#6711 An issue whereby sending of email notifications from the Altium Vault would cease after more than 6 minutes of domain inactivity, has been resolved.

You can view all of the release notes for this update by link.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Altium's Free PCB Tool Available for Test and Evaluation

Altium wants users to test drive and kick the wheels on CircuitMaker PCB tool


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Altium Ltd. has just released an open beta version of its CircuitMaker free community-driven PCB design tool. The company is inviting all interested electronics designers as well as DIYers in the maker/hobbyist as well as open hardware communities to download it. Take it for a test drive and kick the wheels to see how it works, then Altium invites you to provide feedback for further improvements.

According to Dan Fernsebner, director of Corporate Partnerships at Altium, CircuitMaker and the website associated with it have been under active development since late last year. They incorporate what both Altium engineers and early visitors to the web site think would appeal to DIYers and professionals alike. “Before going live with a final version, we want to give those who will be using it a chance to further improve it,” said Fernsebner. “The comments and suggestions received will be evaluated and if possible added to the final version of CircuitMaker before the end of the beta period."

He said Altium has been thinking a long time about how to take advantage of the enthusiasm, energy, and ideas in the maker and DIYer community. This beta is the company's best guess at what that community will find useful in a tool designed specifically for do-it-yourselfers.

What makes CircuitMaker different
One of the things that makes the CircuitMaker different from most free PCB programs is its completeness, Rather than make available the first two or three layers in the PCB development process and leave a developer hanging with a far from finished board design, CircuitMaker has virtually the whole range: from schematic creation through simulation to final pre-production stages. There are also no limits on board size or configuration, the number and types of components, the number of layers used or the number of net connections.

Some of the features in the professional Altium Designer version are not included on the free CircuitMaker. "Missing are such high-end and legacy features required by very advanced high performance designs such as rigid flex design, high speed routing, and signal integrity simulation," said Max Clemons, Product Engineering Manager at Altium. "But virtually everything else is there."

CircuitMaker uses a user friendly and familiar Windows-based GUI to simplify access to various tools for printed circuit board design.

"I think everyone will be more surprised at what we included in CircuitMaker rather than what we did not such as full impedance load control and differential pair routing, 3D modeling, cross-probing and a variety of navigation features."

Not just another pretty face
"The user interface on our Altium Designer is one that professional PCB developers are familiar with, but for the uninitiated it can be confusing," said Clemons. "So, for newcomers to PCB design the CircuitMaker tool is designed deliberately with the look and feel of the Windows environment.”

The first thing that will be apparent is that unlike many embedded cloud-based tools, the user is not limited to working within a program resident on a remote server someplace. Instead, for performance purposes, CircuitMaker is downloaded as a native application resident on a Windows platform. However, all work done on a design is saved to a location set aside for a developer's work on the CircuitMaker.

Part of collaboration on the CircuitMaker PCB design site is the ability to leave comments and suggestions for a PCB project creator to consider.

The second thing to note is that the user interface of the CircuitMaker is not a carbon copy of the professional version. It is specifically designed with the look and feel of a typical Windows app, with the main features organized for easy access in a ribbon menu horizontally across the top. Other familiar Windows-like features include multi-tab design editor windows, dockable panels for working with design documents, a set of command shortcut keys, user configuration preferences, and of course, a context-sensitive, web-based Help reference.

CircuitMaker Libraries panel is populated by entries from the Ciiva parts aggregation data base and linked component 'packages from the cloud-based Community Vault.

Because the company hopes that CircuitMaker will rapidly become a site for active community involvement, a lot of work was put into collaboration, including unlimited access by registered members to contributed designs. Clemons said users can leave comments at the location of an existing design, make changes to it if the original contributor allows it, or create a fork to an alternate location on the site where they can start a design using it as a starting point. "We want to make CircuitMaker not only participatory, but hands-on", he said.

No PCB tool is any good without parts with which to populate a design, so integrated with CircuitMaker is the online Ciiva part aggregator database. Using the database, project creators can search several major part suppliers for information about pricing and availability, as well as component parameters and datasheets.

"We have populated this database of parts with hundreds of thousands of component models (symbols, footprints, and 3D models)," said Clemons. "This means about 90% of the components a designer needs have already been created, and can simply be placed directly into a design project. The remaining parts, those without models attached, can be created by users and added to the community."

Since the open beta program started last Friday (5/22/15), over 28,000 users have registered. And since the site was launched in October of last year, 1,283 projects have been created. "So far we are off to a good start," said Fernsebner. "I hope everyone who tries it out will be as excited as we are."

Those interested in in trying CircuitMaker and adding their two cents to the discussion can register for the open beta at the CircuitMaker website. If you are undecided or want to learn more, a detailed set of on-line how-to documents is available, as well as a brief video tutorial on You Tube. To drill down deeper, there is a CircuitMaker Video Vault on the site with additional official YouTube tutorials on project creation, collaboration, schematic capture, PCB layout and component acquisition and creation


10 Circuit Design Simulation Apps for Pros & DIYers

10 Circuit Design Simulation Apps for Pros & DIYers

Cabe Atwell


Whether you're a professional printed circuit board designer or do-it-yourselfer, you know that testing your circuit board design is a must. Testing can save you money and time avoiding faulty PCB fabrication because it gives you a chance to fix what doesn't work before the board is made.

It's best to test your design out virtually. In other words, make a digital (virtual) prototype of your board and simulate (model) how it will behave in the real world. Here are some popular tools to do virtual testing. These software packages cost money but can save you costly mistakes.

Multisim (National Instruments)
One of the better-known tools on the market for both circuit design and simulation comes from National Instruments with their Multisim (formerly Electronics Workbench) platform. The software is actually part of a larger conglomerate — the NI Circuit Design Software package, which allows users to design their own circuits (circuit capture) and run simulations using a SPICE-based app to test the designs on the fly.

This includes options for design validation and gives users flexible layout options even with 4-layer PCBs with up to 1400 pin designs. The package comes in two versions with a free base-platform with basic options and a paid version equipped with more functionality in terms of error reduction and increased integration flow from schematic to testing.

Click on the image below to begin a quick slideshow (slideshow opens in a new tab on your browser). To read more about each tool, click on the page links in table of contents at bottom of each page.


National Instruments’ Multisim software is based on Berkeley SPICE and comes in both free and paid additions.
(Source: National Instruments)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

AltiumLive Points: So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

Hi AltiumLive Community Members,

After careful consideration, we have decided to remove the necessity to place a bounty on a forum post as part of our plan to discontinue the Altium Points system. 

We believe these changes will greatly enhance the overall user experience of the AltiumLive forums, and allow community members to freely contribute ideas without any of the restrictions currently in place. 

What does this mean for you?

There is no longer any restrictions on voting or submitting software enhancement ideas or bug fixes. 
Anyone with an active AltiumLive account will now be able to submit and vote for software enhancement ideas or bug fixes.
Most importantly, everyone will now have an equal vote when contributing their ideas and bug fixes for Altium Designer. 

We’re confident these changes will create an environment where ideas and feedback can flow more freely between the community and the Altium development team.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Design Secret 56 - Importing Outlined Logos and Shapes using DXF format

Hi Everyone,

I'm very pleased to introduce to you Max Clemons, one of our AE's on the US support team.

In this video Max shows us a neat and tidy process for bringing logos, RF geometries and other shapes, into the PCB editor and library editor, from vector imaging tools using the DXF file format.

This applies to RF shapes developed in field solvers such as CST or uWave Office and others, equally to logos and company graphics developed in AutoCAD or Adobe Illustrator - all these tools provide the ability to export vectored designs in DXF which Altium Designer can use to bring them into your designs, templates, or components.

Watch and enjoy this video here:


Altium Vault 2.5 Now Available

We are excited to announce the release of Altium Vault 2.5.9 (build 45043). Installation file is now available for download.

That is next major update of Vault, that include several significant features and improvements, such as lifecycles with approvals, managed component templates, change notifications and free binary files storage support. Some of the new features, such as, for example, component parameters view in a columns of the VaultExplorer, requires new version of Altium Designer 15.1.

More details you can find in the updated documentation for Altium Vault 2.5 in the Techdocs.

We kindly remind, that before doing update you need to create backup of your data and configuration.  

What’s New
#4565 New view in VaultExplorer shows component parameter data in columns, similar to Search and Library Panel (BC:4985).
#4667 3D models can now be managed by Altium Vault and reused as 3D Bodies in designs and footprints (BC:5066).
#4570 Particular lifecycle transitions can now be either limited to a specific group or require an approval process.
#5300 Fully functional templates can now be defined on a Vault level to control and define component structure including the list of parameters, default values, and required parameters.
#5035 LDAP synchronization has been completely reworked and now supports non-Windows LDAP servers, attribute mapping and all LDAP queries.
#4752 Event stream, email notification and change subscription (for project and component) functionality has been added to the Altium Vault web UI.
#5025 Lifecycle Definition and Naming Schema can now be limited for usage with specific content types.
#5271 Clone action are now supported in VaultExplorer and cmplib for component related content types.
#4442 Altium Designer now suggests to update related components during footprint/symbol release.
#4568 The ability to perform different operations (lifecycle transition, item deletion, etc) can now be granted in a more flexible way without limiting them only to administrators.
#4432 The Footprint/Symbol preview is now available while the VaultExplorer is open in modal mode for model selection.
#4454 The PartCatalog now supports direct data requests via ODBC without intermediate caching, improving data accuracy and performance.
#4455 Configurable list of component parameters is now used for supplier searches in ActiveBOM, PCL and Supplier Links.
#4942 Altium Vault installation now contains a Status Report tool, that can be used for support case investigation (by preparing zip files with logs and environment information).
#5019 Added a new Home Page for Altium Vault Web UI.
#5324 After component creation, symbol and footprint items will now be opened for editing automatically.
#4424 Altium Vault now allows for the storage of any kind of file including documents, images, binaries, etc...
#4830 The Vault installer now creates automatic backup before starting the update process.
#4834 Previously mandatory svn password synchronization can now be disabled via an Altium Vault config file.
#5020 It is now possible to have the url of individual project page in the web UI.
#5128 Outdated product and extension versions can now be deleted via NIS to reduce the size of the database and backups.

Bug Fixes
#4665 New Document Template can now be defined for cmplib (BC:4904).
#5159 Project release no longer fails when generating a Composite Drawing output with specifically configured outputjobs (BC:5145).
#4457 CmpLib editor now allows a user to create new components using supplier search results, including proper mapping from preferences (BC:3458).
#5475 Error "405 method not allowed" no longer appears on the system with the WebDav module installed.
#5482 Fixed the "Could not locate Schematic component" error when defining alternate Vault components in the VariantManager.
#5642 Fixed an issue with the wrong currency displaying for Mouser supplier.
#6174 Hyperlinks in the Component Preview aspect of Vault Explorer now works properly.
#5403 The File-less editing feature now properly works for components from different folders when called with the Where-Used feature.
#5091 Non-applicable revisions are no longer treated as hidden in the Altium Vault UI.
#5360 Bug with using the same Item revision for multiple revision configurations has been fixed.