Designing with Arduino Mega in Altium Designer
With so many different Arduino boards available for your PCB, you need design software that lets you easily build around your Arduino board and quickly add functionality. Your design software should make it easy to use any Arduino board, like the Uno, Mega, Zero, or other model as part of a multi-board project. The best PCB design software with comprehensive design and management features is the best option for working with an Arduino board.
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A heavily rules-driven PCB design platform for designing industry-standard PCBs.
If you’re a hobbyist or you’re just getting started building a functional prototype, a board like an Arduino Mega is a great platform to help you get started, especially if you’re still learning the finer points of PCB design. These boards include plenty of I/O pins, a MHz speed oscillator, dedicated power, and USB connectivity.
Many programs will support Arduino boards that you want to use in your next project, but not all programs have the features you need to fully integrate an Arduino board into a production-level system. You can add some cable to your project and run a few simulations, but not much else. If you want to design a multi-board system around an Arduino with customized packaging and prepare this project for manufacturing and assembly, you need CAD software that integrates all of these critical design features into a single environment.
Eventually, you’ll need to move beyond Arduino boards altogether if you want to add greater functionality to your design. Instead of confining yourself to Arduino boards, you need design software that allows you to design PCBs that go beyond the basic functionality that is hardwired into Arduino boards. Altium Designer includes all the features you need to build PCBs that leave Arduino boards in the dust.
If you have some electronics design experience, you can easily take advantage of an Arduino board in your next PCB. The built-in microcontroller, digital and analog I/O’s, onboard memory, and USB connectivity make it easy to program your device and interface with other devices like sensor arrays. This makes these boards much more adaptable to other single-board computing platforms.
Working through common circuit board problems such as reaching target input voltage, managing an external power source and power connector, as well as insuring against overheat can become easier when working through familiar boards like an Arduino Mega schematic. Battery or not, knowing the reference voltage, current, volt supply, output, and regulated power function of your circuit are necessary for managing the tricky power systems for wearables.
Some great IoT products originally started as prototypes built on Arduino boards, but many industries still struggle to take systems built on Arduino boards seriously. You can easily build prototypes with an Arduino, but you’ll be in a much better position to move on to mass production and sales if you design your own platform. No matter which direction you decide to go, you’ll need PCB design software that is adaptable to any situation.
Including Arduino Boards in Your Next PCB
Although Arduino boards are a quick and easy way to start building a new device, you’ll still be limited by the hardware on these boards, and your product may not be able to compete with those from your competitors. This is where integrating your system on a single PCB becomes critical, and you’ll need access to the best design, simulation, analysis, and component management tools you can find.
When you have access to PCB design software with the best design features, you can easily complement the features on an Arduino board with your own PCB. This still requires design software that allows you to build a multi-board or rigid flex system. You’ll need extensive component libraries that allow you to integrate an Arduino as the backbone of your device and add greater functionality on an external board.
- Using an Arduino board as your main controller allows you to take a modular approach to PCB design. You can integrate multiple boards in a single system with this design methodology.
- Flexible PCB design software makes it easy to separate the main functions of your system onto multiple boards, making design, assembly, and maintenance much easier.Learn more about separating functionality into multiple boards.
- Designing around an Arduino board is a great way to start developing your next IoT product.Learn more about developing IoT devices around Arduino boards.
The multi-board design tools in Altium Designer
Any PCB design begins with building an electronics schematic that shows how your components connect together into a complete device. This is the first step in getting your design out of your head and onto a computer screen. Including an Arduino Mega or other board in your schematic takes a design package that works with the information in your component libraries and communicates the information in your schematic directly to your other design tools.
The best PCB design software will capture your schematic as an initial layout within a single program. You shouldn’t have to export your design to a different program just to get started on your layout and start wiring up external components to your Arduino board. You’ll be able to create simple boards based on Arduino to more advanced multi-board systems that add to Arduino’s capabilities when you can access all the best design features in a unified environment.
Keeping Your Arduino-based Designs Organized
Building on top of an Arduino board is easy when your schematic and layout tools appear in a single program. If you use Arduino boards often you’ll want to use software that allows you to create project libraries around your Arduino-based designs. This lets you quickly reuse Arduino controllers in new designs without missing a beat and include all the capabilities of an Arduino controller in a custom package.
Going beyond an Arduino board and engineering your own controller takes adaptable design features that enforce the same type of organization. Hierarchical schematic design in your PCB software lets you conveniently link together multiple schematics for your Arduino and your external boards into a complete system. You’ll be able to design a system with expanded functionality in any package you like.
- Hierarchical schematic design is a great way to incorporating an Arduino board into your next multi-board system and keep track of each functional block in your system.Learn more about hierarchical schematicsin PCB design.
- If you plan to use Arduino boards often, creating project libraries in your design software helps you quickly build a custom platform. This makes it easy to build on top of Arduino and exploit its capabilities in your devices.Learn more about creating project libraries from your Arduino schematics.
- Arduino is a great platform for building sensor arrays, including touch sensors. Great PCB design software makes it easy to include these components on top of an Arduino board or as part of a multi-board system.
The unified design interface in Altium Designer
Working through a mega board layout for particular problems can feel challenging if the pieces of your design puzzle are discordant. However, with the unified design tools of Altium Designer, everything is intended to be easily integrated with each other. No matter the board requirements like using a stepper motor, ic pins, MOSFET, or DC power, trust your design tools to provide accurate information on factors like current draw, regulated power output and supply, and even accurate displays of solder.
With so many ways to build around an Arduino board, your design software plays a major role in making sure that you can stay productive and that your system actually works. You’ll need design software that includes Arduino Mega, Uno, or other boards as standard parts in your component libraries. The CAD, schematic, component search, and multi-board layout tools make it easy to build your next device around an Arduino board.
If you decide to do away with Arduino boards and build your own controller, you’ll need design tools that make it easy to build complex PCBs from scratch and verify the functionality of your device. You’ll need simulation and analysis tools to ensure that your controller works as designed and can compete with Arduino boards.
Building Your Next Controller in a Unified Environment
If you’re ready to build around an Arduino board or build your own controller, your design software should be adaptable to either application. Altium also gives you access to a massive component library and the best design tools, making it easy to include an Arduino controller in your next device or design a custom controller from scratch. The rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer makes sure all your design tools communicate in the same language.
Other design packages and even freeware programs claim to offer an integrated environment, but they still separate your design tools into different modules and programs. Only Altium Designer packages all of your PCB design tools into a single interface, and you won’t have to switch between multiple programs with inconsistent workflows. Instead, your design tools are placed in a single program with a rules-driven design engine, making it easy to build around an Arduino board or build your own controller.
- All the design tools are built on a rules-driven design engine, ensuring your next PCB meets basic and advanced design standards.Learn more about rules-driven design in Altium Designer.
- Building hierarchical schematics is easy in Altium Designer’s unified environment. You’ll have access to the best design tools in a single interface.Learn more about hierarchical schematic design in Altium Designer.
- The best design and editing tools help you build your own controller or build around an Arduino controller. You’ll be able to get a full 2D or 3D view of every aspect of your device in Altium Designer.Learn more about the global editing interface in Altium Designer.
Building around an Arduino board is easy when you use the only PCB design platform that unifies all your design features in a single, unified interface. Altium Designer gives you access to the best design, analysis, and management tools in a single program. You’ll be able to build production-ready designs and seamlessly move to manufacturing with Altium Designer.
Nobody comes up to speed with new design software overnight. Thankfully, Altium does not leave to learn everything on your own. You’ll have access to the AltiumLive community forum, useful design examples, a massive knowledge base, podcasts, and webinars with industry experts. Altium Designer gives you have all the support you need to be successful.
If you want to build your next PCB around an Arduino controller, Altium Designer contains all the design, component, and simulation tools you need to get the job done. With Altium Designer, your tools will be unified in a single design environment, making verification easy and ensuring your design tools communicate in a consistent data format. If you’re ready to ditch your other software and use the best PCB design platform, then you need to try Altium Designer.