New Post-Route Glossing Tool (New Feature Summary)

Created: September 22, 2016 | Updated: July 8, 2022

Altium Designer 17.0 sees the arrival of a new post-route glossing tool. Applied to selected tracks, the tool endeavours to improve the quality of the overall route defined by those track segments involved. And while its functionality in this release is embryionic to start with - for example it does not include arcs, and does not observe pad entry design rules - it's a powerful beginning, and one that will continue to be refined and enhanced over future releases.

Access

The glossing tool can be accessed from the PCB Editor by:

  • Choosing the Edit » Gloss (will become Route » Gloss Selected) command from the main menus.
  • Using the Ctrl+Alt+G keyboard shortcut.

Use

Ensure that the routed track that you wish to apply glossing to, is selected in the design workspace, before running the command.

To select a routed net (or nets) for glossing:

  • Select a segment anywhere within the route, then press Tab to extend that selection to all connected tracks on that layer. A second press of Tab will extend the selection to all objects on that net, on all used layers.
  • Use Click+Drag a selection rectangle, from right to left, to invoke the select touching rectangle mode to quickly select a track segment in multiple nets, then use the Tab key to select all connected tracks on that layer, for all of the nets you have selected.
  • To gloss only a section of a routed net, select a track segment at either end of the section, then run the Gloss command. Only the routing between (and including) the selected segments will be glossed.

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Results

After running the command, the tool essentially modifies the selected and routed track by:

  • Keeping its ends in place.
  • Using segments of regular directions (angles divisible by 45 Degrees).

The modifications performed depend on what is selected for glossing:

  • For single-ended (non-diff-pair) routes, modifications aim at reducing the route length. Also the junctions of the route to adjacent primitives are kept "good" - no acute or right angles, with neat pad entries (although the pad entry design rules are not currently observed).
  • When applied to differential pair nets, the tool recognizes "zipped" portions of the routes - where the pair are already at the defined diff pair gap from each other. Its goal is to "zip-up" the pair, reducing the lengths of any unzipped portions. The corresponding unzipped portions from opposite sides are made equal in length, if possible. Glossing is applied to each unzipped and zipped portion, trying to make it short and smooth, but without sacrificing the parallel routing and length balance.
  • For multiple routes/pairs, the tool attempts to straighten each of them after the obstructing ones have already been glossed. In some cases, however, this is not achieved, because the tool also tries to minimize the time spent. If an unglossed route is present after glossing a bundle of routes, run the glossing command again.

Considerations

  • Lock any routes that you do not want glossed, as these are automatically excluded.
  • When applied to differential pair routes, Gloss recognizes these as zipped pairs that must be kept at the diff pair gap from each other. The goal of Gloss is to zip-up the pair, reducing the lengths of the unzipped portions. The corresponding unzipped portions from opposite sides are made equal in lengths if possible, but Gloss does NOT add meanders to the shorter side of the pair. If length balancing is not achieved naturally, the pair is left unbalanced.
  • Particular attention is applied to differential pair pad entries to improve their quality, but Gloss it does not attempt to match the lengths of the entry routes.
  • Tracks at non-45 degree angle increments are not glossed, unless they are almost regular.
  • Arcs are currently not glossed, support for arcs will be added in a future update. 

 

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