Working with Arduino Boards in Altium Designer
Arduino boards are a great platform for getting started with a new device. These boards are great for prototyping, but you’ll eventually need to build around an Arduino board if you plan to release a product onto the market. Building PCBs around an Arduino board or replacing an Arduino completely takes the best PCB design software with excellent design tools and component libraries. Once you are ready to build beyond an Arduino board, try working in Altium Designer’s unified environment.
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A heavily rules-driven PCB design platform for designing industry-standard PCBs.
Using an Arduino board is a great way to break into electronics design, especially if you have a great idea for a new device, but you don’t have the time to learn the finer points of PCB design. Arduino boards come pre-packaged with a number of useful features. You’ll have a pre-built board that has a small footprint, plenty of digital and analog inputs, USB capabilities, a built-in EEPROM, and MHz clock speed.
These boards are also a good option for startups looking to build decent functional prototypes. You can easily add capabilities to these boards with external devices and program them using many languages. Eventually, you will need to move on to beta testing a real device, especially if you intend to create a mass-produced device. This is where the drawbacks of Arduino become apparent, and you’ll need to start building your own PCB that goes beyond the capabilities of Arduino boards.
Working with an Arduino board takes some level of electronics design knowledge outside of PCB design. You can take advantage of the built-in microcontroller, digital and analog I/O’s, and onboard memory to get your idea off the ground and show that it really works as intended. Arduino boards are also more reliable from a signal integrity and durability perspective than using a breadboard while still being reusable.
That being said, you’ll eventually need to move beyond an Arduino board if you ever want your device to be more than just an idea. This is where great Printed Circuit Board design software come in. Your design software should be adaptable enough to design your next board around an Arduino, so that you can still include the Arduino capabilities in your device. Your PCB design software should also be powerful enough to replace an Arduino board completely, giving you full control over your new device and imbuing it with greater capabilities.
Including Arduino Boards in Your Next PCB
Whether your Arduino schematic is for an Arduino Uno, Arduino Nano, Arduino Ide or Arduino Shield, you’ll want to make sure your Arduino doesn’t stop being DIY Arduino. Being able to read the schematic view of any Arduino schematic, especially of a microcontroller or the Arduino Uno, will be beneficial in translating your acquired skills to a more complicated circuit. After all, Arduino projects, as with any endeavor, should work to improve your skills.
Printed Circuit Board design software with thorough component libraries include a variety of Arduino models that you use as the backbone of your next device. You’ll be able to design PCBs around an Arduino board, allowing you to expand on the built-in Arduino features while keeping everything in a single, compact package.
- Using an Arduino board on its own or in concert with your custom PCB is a great way to start developing a new IoT device.
Learn more about using Arduino in IoT devices.
- Arduino boards function as useful controllers for more general purposes, providing some advantages when integrating them with custom PCBs.
Learn more about controllers from other components on separate PCBs.
- Using an Arduino board for your controller allows you to take a modular approach to PCB design once you decide to integrate multiple boards.
Moving between schematic and layout in Altium Designer
PCB design begins with an electronics schematic that shows how all your component link together to form a complete, functional device. This document is more than just a drawing; your PCB design software needs extensive component libraries in order to include all of your component information in your schematic. This includes electrical specifications, symbols, footprints, and even 3D models for use in your MCAD tools.
While many Printed Circuit Board designs can be focused on a power supply, voltage necessities like input voltage and output, and incorporation of components like a microcontroller or transistor, DIY Arduino can allow you to know a bit more about what you need from your design in total. Utilizing Arduino Uno or Arduino Shield can become invaluable within a design or design mockup, especially one concerned with a power supply or voltage.
Great PCB design software with extensive component libraries will include Arduino controllers and will allow you to place them in your schematics. You can then capture your schematic as an initial layout, and you can start wiring up components to your Arduino board. You’ll finally move from a functional prototype to a more advanced board that starts to resemble a real product. Only the best PCB design software offers all of these features in a unified environment.
Moving Beyond Arduino
Adding functionality on other PCBs onto an Arduino controller will require building a multi-board system with multiple schematics. PCB design software with hierarchical schematic features allow you to conveniently link together multiple schematics for each board into a complete system. You can then create project libraries around your Arduino-based designs, allowing you to quickly reuse Arduino controllers in new designs.
If you ever decide to move away from Arduino boards and build a custom controller, the best PCB design software with extensive component libraries allows you to include all the capabilities of an Arduino controller in a custom package. You’ll be able to design a controller with expanded functionality in any package you like, use upgraded components, and hardwire connections as you build your new product.
- Incorporating an Arduino controller in your next multi-board design is easy when your design software uses hierarchical schematics.
Learn how to use hierarchical schematics for PCB design.
- Great design software will incorporate rules checking features into schematic design, allowing you to validate your device before you build your entire layout.
- If you use Arduino controllers often, the best design software will allow you to create project libraries based on your schematic, allowing you to quickly build a custom platform for including Arduino capabilities in your devices.
Learn more about creating project libraries from your schematics.
The unified design interface in Altium Designer
Building on top of an Arduino board takes design software that includes an Arduino as a native part in its component library. The CAD, schematic, component search, and multi-board layout tools make it easy to build your next device around an Arduino board. You can take advantage of all the capabilities Arduino offers and integrate these functions into your own designs. These tools allow you to choose your device’s footprint and form factor, allowing your next device to come to life.
Most PCB design software programs don’t create a unified environment. Only Altium Designer packages all of your Printed Circuit Board design tools into a single interface. Altium also gives you access to a massive component library, making it easy to include an Arduino controller in your next device or design a custom controller from scratch. You’ll have full customizability over every aspect of your device, and the rules-driven design engine helps ensure that your design will comply with basic and advanced design rules like anything from resistor placement to analog input.
Working in a Unified Environment
Whether it’s working through input and output voltage and power source layout problems or trying to incorporate your Arduino Uno in an Arduino platform, or even managing components or circuit regulation with a shield, pull-up resistor, power source, reset option, or even a necessary USB connection, you’ll want to consider the best software to use in achieving your means.
Other software platform claim to create a unified environment, but none of these other software programs truly integrate your design, component management, and analysis tools in a single design interface. Only Altium Designer places all of these tools and more in a single program, giving you the power to build the best PCBs.
- The unified environment makes designing your next PCB with similar capabilities as an Arduino board easier than you think.
Learn more about the unified environment in Altium Designer.
- Building around an Arduino or designing your own controller takes a thorough component library with search features.
Learn more about finding and placing the best components in Altium Designer.
- The rules-driven design engine ensures that your next PCB meets basic and advanced design standards. You can rest assured that your PCB will function as intended.
Learn more about the rules-driven design engine in Altium Designer.
If you’re starting out with an Arduino board and you plan to build around it, you’ll need a PCB design platform that gives you all these features and more. Altium Designer is the only unified, rules driven platform that includes top-notch design, analysis, and management tools In a single package. Don’t let the digital advertising from your IP address go to waste, and don’t feel the need to put a reset button on your design plans.
Coming up to speed with new software can be time-consuming, especially if you’re left to learn the product on your own. With Altium Designer, you’ll also have access to the AltiumLive forum, useful design examples, a thorough knowledge base, podcasts, and webinars provided by industry experts. Altium Designer arduino library gives you have all the support you need to design successfully.
The best design, component management, and simulation tools can help you design your new device around an Arduino controller. Altium Designer is the only PCB design software platform that unifies all these tools in a single rules-driven environment. If you’re ready for a new type of Printed Circuit Board design platform, then you need to try Altium Designer.