PCB Design Improvements
Added New PCB Section View
To provide better insight into the layout and structure of a complex PCB, the Section View functionality has been implemented for the PCB editor. Using the Section View is helpful when it is required to reveal details within a PCB that might typically not be visible, for example, when smaller SMD components are placed under larger components or mechanical parts, which could make operations such as component movement and distance measuring difficult.
The Section View functionality is available in the PCB editor's 3D layout mode (View » 3D Layout Mode, shortcut 3). Select the View » Toggle Section View command, click the button on the Active Bar, or use the buttons of the Section View option on the Section View tab of the View Configuration panel to toggle the display between Edit, On and Off.
Modes of the Section View applied to a PCB: Edit, On, and Off
In Edit mode, the section planes are displayed in the design space. The location of each section plane can be changed by clicking and dragging on the appropriate colored arrow of the section view gizmo. You can enable the display of section planes and configure their direction and color in the View Configuration panel.
The default is to hide everything that is in the current Section View's negative space, i.e. display only objects that appear in the Section View's positive space. This behavior is flipped if the Invert Cutout option is enabled in the View Configuration panel. Then the objects within the negative space are displayed, and the objects within the positive space are hidden.
Custom Thermal Reliefs for Pads
This release brings you greater control over the way in which pads connect to a polygon pour.
Thermal reliefs can be applied in one of two modes, either rules-driven (using the Polygon Connect Style design rule) or custom (at the individual pad level, configured using the Edit Polygon Connect Style dialog). In both modes, an Auto option has been added, which automatically adds a relief connection from the center of each pad edge. You can use the Min Distance setting to control the spacing between each spike.
You now have the ability to manually define thermal relief for pads (both regular and custom shaped) by precisely specifying the connection points where the spikes need to connect. Manually-defined thermal relief connections are supported across all pad stack types (Simple, Top-Middle-Bottom, and Full Stack), with the ability to craft connection points as needed for different layers in Full Stack mode. The points themselves can be edited and defined graphically directly within the PCB design space.
To manually define thermal relief connection points, enable the Thermal Relief option in the pad properties, then use the commands in the Pad Actions right-click menu or click the Edit Points button in the Properties panel. After clicking the Edit Points button, you can use Ctrl+Click to graphically add a spoke at any point along the pad shape without invoking the command from the right-click menu. When adding, editing or removing connection points, they are presented as white crosshairs on the pad edge.
An example of a simple pad with custom thermal relief defined
When thermal relief is manually defined for a pad, it will be denoted by the Manual option in the Properties panel and the Edit Polygon Connect Style dialog that is now accessed by clicking the link in the Thermal Relief field in the Properties panel. If required, you can also choose the minimal distance between the conductors by enabling the Min Distance checkbox and entering an appropriate value.
The Xpedition Importer supports importing custom thermal reliefs defined in an Xpedition™ board design. In addition, where a predefined ‘8-leg’ (8-spoke) thermal relief is defined in Xpedition, this will also be imported as a custom thermal relief. Note that Xpedition’s support for the custom rotation of spikes is not supported when imported into Altium Designer.
Preserve Route Path During Retrace
Added a Preserve route path option to the Gloss And Retrace panel that enables you to preserve the exact trace geometry during Retrace.
When this option is enabled, the Retrace algorithms will not modify the centerline of the trace. Tracks may change width and be split into segments of different widths, but the trajectory will not be changed.
Harness Design Improvements
Added New Harness Covering Object
A new Harness Covering object has been added that can be placed over a Harness Bundle on a Layout Drawing document (
*.LdrDoc) and can be used to cover in-line components, etc. The length of a harness covering can be graphically modified in the design space during or after placement to specify the start/end gap to the connector. Harness Coverings are available for placement from the Place menu and the Active Bar.
Use one of the placement methods to begin the placement of a Harness Covering. When the cursor is over a valid Harness Bundle object, an orange dot will appear in the design space, which signifies that the Harness Covering can be placed. (A gray dot signifies that a harness covering cannot be placed at that specific place.) Click the orange dot where you want the cover to begin, then move the cursor along the bundle to the point you want the cover to end, then click again. An orange dot appears at the endpoint and the Harness Covering is placed. Harness Coverings can overlap one another, as demonstrated in the video below. Use the Harness Covering mode of the Properties panel to configure the properties of the harness covering.
Layout Label Enhancements
Multi-line text for a Layout Label is now supported. When defining the label's text in the Text field of the Properties panel in its Layout Label mode, use Ctrl+Enter or Shift+Enter to add a new line of text. Enable Show only first line to display only the first line of the Text field in the design space. The Layout Label text can also now be aligned according to your needs using the Alignment controls. Scroll through the below images to see the new features at work.
The background color of the label can now be defined in order to distinguish the label from other primitives. Click the color box associated with Label Color, then select the desired color from the pop-up options.
Parameters Added to Connection Points and Layout Labels
Parameters and their values can now be added to Connection Points and Layout Labels that are placed on a Layout Drawing (
*.LdrDoc). This allows you to specify, for example, a length parameter for a heat shrink. Click Parameter from the Add drop-down to add a parameter, then configure the name, value, visibility, etc.
Parameters can now be added to Connection Points and Layout Labels. An example of a parameter added to a Connection Point is shown here. Hover the cursor over the image to see parameters added to a Layout Label.
Data Management Improvements
Commit tags and release revision IDs are now displayed when viewing the applicable comments/tasks in both the Comments and Tasks panel and the commenting dialog in Altium Designer.
- Comments created in the Web Viewer when reviewing the design snapshot of a tagged commit will include the associated tag name. Click the tag name link to open the related commit snapshot in the Web Viewer.
- Comments created in the Web Viewer when reviewing a specific release will include the release revision ID. Click the release revision ID link to open the Manufacturing Portal for this release.
Ability to Attach Images to General Tasks
It is now possible to add a comment with an image to a General Task. Click the entry for a General Task in the Comments and Tasks panel to access its commenting dialog. When adding a comment to the task, paste a copied image as you would for a regular comment/task (using the Ctrl+V shortcut or the right-click menu's Paste command).
Circuit Simulation Improvements
To assist in exploring simulation results, the concept of interactive probes has been implemented in this release. When the Interactive Mode option is enabled in the Preparation region of the Simulation Dashboard panel, any changes to probes in the design (adding and removing probes, enabling and disabling probes, moving a probe to a different net, changing probe color) will be immediately reflected in the
Demonstration of the interactive probes feature
Note that after enabling the Interactive Mode option, the simulation should be re-run for the feature to work.
Added PSpice Primitives
The following support has been added:
- Random access read-write memory (RAM) PSpice digital primitive and its URAM timing model.
- Multi-bit D/A converter PSpice digital primitive and its UDAC timing model.
- Bidirectional transfer gate PSpice digital primitives: N-channel bidirectional transfer gate (NBTG) and P-channel bidirectional transfer gate (PBTG).