Tutorial - Searching for and Acquiring the Components in Altium NEXUS

Created: July 12, 2022 | Updated: July 12, 2022

Parent page: Tutorial - A Complete Design Walkthrough with Altium NEXUS

Accessing the Components

Related page: Building & Maintaining Your Components and Libraries

The real-world component that gets mounted on the board is represented as a schematic symbol during design capture, and as a PCB footprint for board design.

Components for your PCB design project can be created in and placed from your company's Workspace library. These components are placed through the Components panel that uses Altium NEXUS's advanced component search engine.

A new Workspace library component is created using the Component Editor where you can define all component data (domain models, parameters, part choices, etc.) manually, or use data acquired from the Manufacturer Part Search panel. This panel gives you instant and up-to-date access to a powerful component search and aggregation system, detailing millions of components from thousands of manufacturers, each with real-time supply chain information. Many of the components are design-ready, complete with a symbol and a footprint model; these parts will include the Has Models icon icon in the panel.

  • For this tutorial, all of the parts will be acquired from the Manufacturer Part Search panel to your Workspace.
  • Throughout the tutorial, the terms component and part are both used to describe the design components you will be placing and wiring.

Learn more about Component Management with a Connected Workspace.

Learn more about other available component management methodologies (Database and File-based libraries): Building & Maintaining Your Components and Libraries.

Searching for New Parts

Panel page: Manufacturer Part Search

Your go-to location to find new components is the Manufacturer Part Search panel. To open the Manufacturer Part Search panel, click the Panels button button at the bottom right of the application window and select Manufacturer Part Search from the menu. Panels that are currently visible are marked with a check in the menu.

The first time the Manufacturer Part Search panel is opened, it will display a list of component categories as shown below.

Manufacturer Parts Search panel
The Manufacturer Part Search panel, before performing a search.

Utilizing Altium NEXUS's advanced component search engine, the Manufacturer Part Search panel can be used in a straightforward search mode by entering a query in the main Search field, or in its advanced faceted mode by progressively refining the search criteria using the Categories and Filters choices – or by using both capabilities together.

  • To perform a straightforward search, type a search description into the Search field at the top of the panel and press Enter.

    For example: LED green clear 0603 SMD

    Manufacturer Parts Search panel, simple search
    Use the Search field to perform a text-based search. Click the small x next to the search string to clear it, click the search string to reload it into the Search field for editing.

  • To perform a faceted search, use the Categories and Filters to explore potential parts by toggling criteria on and off.

    For example:

    1. First select a Category, such as LEDs,
    2. then Filter the LEDs category by the Color, Packaging, Mount, Has Model, and so on.

    Manufacturer Parts Search panel, faceted search
    Or use a combination of the Categories, Filters, and the Search field to perform a faceted search.

  • Categories are accessed using the drop-down, indicated by number 1 in the image above.
  • Click the Manufacturer Parts Search panel, Filters button button to toggle the Filters list on and off (number 2 in the image). The contents of the Filters list changes to suit the category of the component being searched.
  • Some of the Filter fields include text boxes to enter numeric values. Press Enter on the keyboard to apply the value.
  • If the results list does not update, click in the Search field and press Enter on the keyboard.
  • The current search criteria defined by the enabled Filters list are detailed just below the search bar. Click the small x icon to remove any of the existing search criteria. Note that the contents of the Filters search box apply to these results too, so if it has not been cleared, you will only be able to remove the search criteria that was last entered into the search box. Clear the search box to resolve this.

    Manufacturer Parts Search panel, edit search conditions

  • Click on a column heading to sort the results by that column.
  • Right-click on an existing column heading to access the Select Columns dialog for configuring column order and visibility.

    Select Columns dialog

Panels and dialogs that support searching for components have a normal mode and a compact mode. As the panel/dialog is resized the controls will re-arrange, so they may not present exactly as they are shown and described here.

Exploring the Search Results

The search results region of the panel displays a list of manufacturer parts that wholly or partly match the search criteria. Click on a part to select it and display a link giving access to up-to-date supply chain information about that part.

Manufacturer Parts Search panel, details of the selected part

  • If the manufacturer provides an image of the part, it will be displayed. Next to the image is the Manufacturer Part Number (MPN), which is also link to detailed information about the part on the Octopart website (indicated by the number 1 in the image above).
  • The vertical colored bar indicates the manufacturer's Lifecycle status; for example, Volume Production, EOL, etc. Hover the cursor over the bar for more information. Note that the manufacturer's Lifecycle status is not an indication of availability; that is displayed in the individual supplier tiles (as described below). For example, a manufacturer might have a part flagged as End of Life, but suppliers might still have large amounts of stock.

    Learn more about Interpreting the Manufacturer Lifecycle State.

  • The Has Model icon indicates that there are models available for this part. Click the Part information button at the top right of the panel to display detailed part information, including the models.
  • Click anywhere on a row to select that part. The row will highlight and a second link will appear indicating the number of suppliers who can deliver that part (number 2 in the image above). Click the link to display detailed supply chain information about the suppliers that carry that part, ordered by availability and price.
  • Each Supplier's details about that part are presented on a tile with a colored banner. These tiles are also referred to as SPNs (Supplier Part Numbers). Details about the icons and information in each tile are given below.
  • Click the panel's Manufacturer Parts Search panel, settings button to configure: the currency used, if invalid SPNs should be excluded (display only suppliers that show suitable stock levels and up-to-date data), or configure the available suppliers.

Understanding the Supplier Tile

There is a large amount of information presented in each SPN tile. Hover the cursor over an icon or detail to display a tooltip with more information.

Manufacturer Parts Search panel, Supplier Part Number tile The SPN tile includes detailed information about the part and its availability.

  1. Tile banner showing the Supplier name, where the banner color indicates:
    • Green = Best choice
    • Orange = Acceptable
    • Red = Risky
  2. Supplier part number (links to that part on the Octopart website).
  3. Country code for the Supplier location (ISO alpha 2).
  4. Source of the part information (typically the Altium Parts Provider). Color indicates:
    • Light Gray = Default, updated less than one week ago
    • Orange = 1 week < last update < month ago
    • Red = last update > 1 month ago
  5. Stock quantity: red if no stock available.
  6. Unit price: red if no price available. Unit price is shown in currency configured in the panel settings (Manufacturer Parts Search panel, settings).
  7. Packaging of supplied parts; hover for details.
  8. Available price breaks with Minimum Order Quantities.

Acquiring from the Manufacturer Part Search Panel to the Workspace

If a component that you have found in the Manufacturer Part Search panel has Altium design models, it will display the Has Model icon icon. If a component has models, the schematic symbol and footprint models will be listed in the Component Details pane of the panel (click the Manufacturer Part Search panel, part information button in the panel to display this pane, or click the Components panel, compact mode, component details button at the bottom of the panel if the panel is in its compact mode). This component can be acquired to your connected Workspace.

Manufacturer Part Search panel, faceted search results
Use the faceted search features in the Manufacturer Part Search panel to only display components with models.

The Filters region of the panel includes a Has Model filter. Enable this to only display design-ready parts. Click Manufacturer Part Search panel, Filters button to display the available filters.

To acquire a component from the panel to your connected Workspace:

  1. Select the Acquire command:
    • Select Acquire from the menu of the Download button in the Component Details pane.

      Manufacturer Part Search panel, acquiring from component details pane

    • Right-click on the component and select Acquire from the context menu.
  2. The Create new component dialog will open. Select a component type from those that are currently defined in your connected Workspace and click OK.
  3. The Single Component Editor and the Use Component Data dialog will open. Select component data (parameters, models, datasheets) you would like to add to the new component and click OK.
  4. Apply changes to the new component definition as required.
  5. Save the new component to the connected Workspace using the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.
  6. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field and click OK.

The acquired component will then be available for placement from your connected Workspace to the design through the Components panel.


Acquiring the Multivibrator Parts

Now, it is time to use the Manufacturer Part Search panel to find the components needed for the Multivibrator circuit as listed in the following table.

Designator Description Comments
Q1, Q2 General-purpose NPN transistor, e.g. BC547 or 2N3904 Search for: transistor BC547, choose BC547CG
C1, C2 22nF capacitor, 5%, 16V, 0603 Search for: capacitor 22nF 16V 0603
R1, R2 100K resistor, 5%, 0805 Search for: resistor 100K 5% 0805
R3, R4 1K resistor, 5%, 0805 Search for: resistor 1K 5% 0805
P1 2-pin header Use the faceted search feature to filter for a: Connector, 2-pin, vertical, male, header
  1. Open the Manufacturer Part Search panel if not already – click the Panels button button at the bottom right of the application window and select Manufacturer Part Search from the menu.
  2. Use panel's Search field to search for: transistor BC547.

    Manufacturer Part Search panel, searching for a transistor

  3. Click the ON Semiconductor BC547CG transistor to select it in the results grid in the panel.
  4. To explore the availability of a component, select it in the results grid in the panel then click the SPN link that appears.

    Manufacturer Part Search panel, exploring part availability

  5. Display the Component Details pane of the panel using the Manufacturer Part Search panel, component details button (or using the Components panel, compact mode, component details button at the bottom of the panel if the panel is in its compact mode) so that you can explore the properties and models of the selected component. You will be choosing a component that includes a symbol and footprint.
  6. When the required transistor is selected in the panel, click the Download drop-down in the top region of the Component Details pane and select Acquire.
  7. In the Create new component dialog that opens, select the Transistors component type and click OK.

    Create new component dialog, transistor creation

  8. In the Use Component Data dialog that opens, disable the Only matching option at the top-right of the dialog and enable Parameters, Symbols, Footprints, and Datasheets options, then click OK.

    Use Component Data dialog, transistor creation

  9. The Single Component Editor will open, with the chosen data loaded. If necessary, you can check that the symbol, footprint, and parameters comply with your company requirements; as well as layout-critical data, such as the pin assignments on the PCB footprint. Note that most components available from the Manufacturer Part Search panel include a datasheet, available either as a PDF detailed in the list of Parameters (as shown below), or via the Datasheet button in the Part Choices list.

  10. When you are satisfied that the models and parameters are correct, select the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.

  11. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field (e.g., Initial release of the transistor component, acquired from Manufacturer Part Search), then click OK. A status dialog will open while the component is saved to the Workspace. When this is complete, the Component Editor will close.
  1. Return to the Manufacturer Part Search panel and use the panel's Search field to search for: capacitor 22nF 16V 0603.
  2. Select the KEMET C0603C223J4RACTU capacitor in the search result grid, right-click on it then select Acquire from the context menu.
  3. In the Create new component dialog that opens, select the Capacitors component type and click OK.
  4. In the Use Component Data dialog that opens, disable the Only matching option at the top-right of the dialog and enable Parameters, Symbols, Footprints, and Datasheets options, then click OK.
  5. The Single Component Editor will open, with the chosen data loaded. In the Name field in the Component region at the top-left of the editor, change the component name to Capacitor 22nF +/-5% 16V 0603.

    Single Component Editor, change capacitor component name

  6. Leave other data values at their defaults and select the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.
  7. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field (e.g., Initial release of the capacitor component, acquired from Manufacturer Part Search), then click OK. A status dialog will open while the component is saved to the Workspace. When this is complete, the Component Editor will close.
  1. Return to the Manufacturer Part Search panel, search for: resistor 100K 5% 0805.
  2. Select the Panasonic ERJ-6GEYJ104V resistor in the search result grid, right-click on it then select Acquire from the context menu.
  3. In the Create new component dialog that opens, select the Resistors component type and click OK.
  4. In the Use Component Data dialog that opens, disable the Only matching option at the top-right of the dialog and enable Parameters, Symbols, Footprints, and Datasheets options, then click OK.
  5. The Single Component Editor will open, with the chosen data loaded. In the Name field in the Component region at the top-left of the editor, change the component name to Resistor 100K +/-5% 0805 125 mW.
  6. Leave other data values at their defaults and select the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.
  7. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field (e.g., Initial release of the resistor component, acquired from Manufacturer Part Search), then click OK. A status dialog will open while the component is saved to the Workspace. When this is complete, the Component Editor will close.
  8. Return to the Manufacturer Part Search panel, search for: resistor 1K 5% 0805.
  9. Select the Panasonic ERJ-P06J102V resistor in the search result grid, right-click on it then select Acquire from the context menu.
  10. In the Create new component dialog that opens, select the Resistors component type and click OK.
  11. In the Use Component Data dialog that opens, disable the Only matching option at the top-right of the dialog and enable Parameters, Symbols, Footprints, and Datasheets options, then click OK.
  12. The Single Component Editor will open, with the chosen data loaded. In the Name field in the Component region at the top-left of the editor, change the component name to Resistor 1K +/-5% 0805 500 mW.
  13. Leave other data values at their defaults and select the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.
  14. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field (e.g., Initial release of the resistor component, acquired from Manufacturer Part Search), then click OK. A status dialog will open while the component is saved to the Workspace. When this is complete, the Component Editor will close.
  1. The last component to find is the 2-pin header. Return to the Manufacturer Part Search panel. This time you will use the panel's faceted searching capabilities.
  2. In the Categories drop-down, select Headers and Wire Housings under the All » Connectors category.
  3. Click the Filters button (Manufacturer Part Search panel, Filters button) to display the Filters pane.
  4. The list of available filters is dynamically updated to suit the category being used and can be quite long. To help manage it, only the most commonly-used filters are displayed. Scroll to the bottom of the list and click the Manufacturer Part Search panel, Show More Filters option link to display all of the available filters.
  5. An efficient way of working with the filters is to use the Search field at the top of the Filters pane. Searching returns strings that match in either the Filter Name or in the Filter Settings. Using the following search terms, apply the filters and select the options listed below:

    Search for Choose
    has model Has Model: Yes
    contacts Number of Contacts: 2
    pitch Terminal Pitch: 2.54mm
    male Contact Gender: Male
    straight Mounting Style: STRAIGHT
  6. A small number of 2-pin vertical male headers should be returned, as shown below. Select the suitable Samtec TSW-102-26-F-S 2-pin connector from the search results; right-click on it and select Acquire from the context menu.

    Manufacturer Part Search panel, right-click to acquire selected part

  7. In the Create new component dialog that opens, select the Connectors component type and click OK.
  8. In the Use Component Data dialog that opens, disable the Only matching option at the top-right of the dialog and enable Parameters, Symbols, Footprints, and Datasheets options, then click OK.
  9. The Single Component Editor will open, with the chosen data loaded. Leave the data values at their defaults and select the File » Save to Server command from the main menus.
  10. In the Edit Revision for Item dialog that opens, type in a meaningful comment to the Component Item Revision release into the Release Notes field (e.g., Initial release of the connector component, acquired from Manufacturer Part Search), then click OK. A status dialog will open while the component is saved to the Workspace. When this is complete, the Component Editor will close.
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