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Make sure you understand what might transpire in your copper layout on any board layer for your design.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
For avoiding copper shorts, choose the right design software.
I recently attended a meeting with a handful of startup companies looking to showcase their designs to investors, incubators, as well as anyone else who wanted to take a look. As the presentations preceded, their were a handful of very clever PCB powered devices that most of the crowd took particular interest in. Unfortunately, there was a company who had to drop out in the last hour of the meeting due to prototyping complications. Later on, we found out that it was due to a very unfortunate duplicated copper via on the HDI board that was causing errors. To think about this company’s mistake in avoidable errors greater detail yields a much heavier impact than simply a mis-printed board.
These days, the PCB game is fast and furious in terms of the venture capital side of things. A single slip up can cost millions in private funding, or even worse not getting the financial assistance in the first place, say finding a late in the game short during an investor meeting. Come to find out that the company never got a second chance to present to the investors and had to look elsewhere! What a drag!
Fortunately, these errors are all but avoidable, and not just by being more diligent in your work. Altium Designer boasts a handful of system constraint set and checks, ease of editability of designs if errors arise throughout the design, all while built under a clean and efficient user interface making errors editing a breeze.
The first and most notable feature under the Altium Designer hood is the rule setting for validating routing even through the most highly packed circuits. The concept is simple; setting a handful of rules throughout each route allows Altium Designer to check for errors and shorts along the design process. This is important not just for first pass quality (which it is very much so), but also for second, third, fourth, and the twenty-sixth pass. Trying to remember the rule checks to make by hand after each small revision is the hardest part to any engineers’ job. Altium Designer takes the guesswork out of routing validation by double checking for you.
Taking things further down the line, although most routing defects will be found in the validation stage, the simulation stage will ensure a quality signal is strong and maintained. Testing for EMI interference, shorts, and component placement issues is just a the start of what can be accomplished with Altium Designer’s simulation software.
Like the company storied above, some of us learn the hard way when it comes to integrity in routing, placement, and signal. However, utilizing even a fraction of Altium Designer’s features will keep your design smooth and error free along the way. You’re that much closer to getting that prototype up and running for that upcoming investor meeting!
While first and second passes may seem smooth sailing, the time will eventually come when you must maintain outdated parts, find agility when it comes to pricing swings, and even dig deep in routing to shift the design for customer demands. Regardless of the situation and regardless of the device itself, the design will need to be edited.
Choosing to maintain designs by hand limits the effectiveness of each design engineer. Design engineers are meant to do just that, design, not maintain. Taking the often mundane tasks of necessary system checks off the list will free up your most valuable assets, your engineers.
Trimming down your laundry list of things to remember with Altium Designer, you’ll notice that backed behind the system checks, ease of editability, and overall integrated system architecture, the entire system falls under a single clean user interface. This will not only go far for your ease of use, but also formats itself nicely when sharing files, simulations and presentations to the potential business partners.
Altium Designer’s footprint wizard assuredly helping your design process.
I always hated the limitations in resources offered by other software. Perhaps they’ll send out a massive pdf copy that takes a few weeks just to download only to find that their language is sloppy and confusing. Getting left in these informationless black holes while in the middle of a design is never a fun game.
I was shocked when I initially began to use Altium Designer not by the obvious strength of software features, but by the support along the way while learning! There are seemingly an infinite amount of articles of all sorts; from datasheets, to video tutorials, and even with industry news and happenings within their blog section. Reaching far past the novices, documentation into even the most advanced and complex issues arise leaving no leve of engineer at a loss for information.
The obvious fact that each article is documented within the Altium Designer servers will allow the information needed for any topic to be available at any time needed. From the video archive, the following are great examples of topics covered by the previous sections of this article.
Sample layout of polygons within Altium Designer’s 3D model
To bring closure to previous lessons can be summed up briefly. Simple routing errors cost companies loads of money, but we now know that each error is entirely avoidable. Altium Designer makes this a fact by employing a variety of system features giving you the freedom to design under your terms.
Don’t allow your copper infused designs crumble from wear after all the time you spent getting the product designed. The base layer of your designs should always consider durability and security within the metal and copper content of the electronic device. There’s no better way to achieve this copper confidence than with a strong design software like Altium Designer.