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Placement in Altium - My Eternal Annoyance

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  • Placement in Altium - My Eternal Annoyance

    I purchased Altium about 5 years ago, and have been using it on-and-off, mostly off, and now I am taking courses from Fedevel Academy because I want to see how people use it for completing projects efficiently. I mostly have been using OrCAD with PADS Layout for completing my projects. PADS Layout 2005, the software I am using for layout lacks some functionality especially if I want to go to high-speed design, impedance and length matching traces, or 3D rendering, so I keep using Altium for the lacking functionality with PADS Layout combined, always generating output from PADS. Would be nice just to do it all with Altium, efficiently.

    Along these lines, one of annoyances have been placement of components in Altium. What really helps with placement in PADS Layout is that you can always see the full netlist (ratsnest) as you move components around. In Altum, on the other hand the moment I grab a component and move it the ratsnest vanishes, and you only see the connections of the component you move.
    In PADS also, as you move the part the ratsnest updates for closest connection, dynamically. Other Mentor Graphics software does the same thing, like Mentor Expedition Layout I just tried recently. It has been like that in PADS Layout for the last 20 years, nothing new there.

    Can I change the settings somehow in Altium Designer so that I get the same action, or is it not possible, because that's how Altium developers hide / avoid implementing this functionality?

    Also what is that useless-looking colour line for that appears any time move a component in Altium?

    See screen shots. (I converted PCB to PADS Layout) Thanks.


  • #2
    Very nice questions Especially the "useless-looking colour line" I have no idea what is the line for, but my guess is, that it should help to find the optimum position of the component. I found this on the internet: http://electronics.stackexchange.com...line-in-altium

    It's very interesting to read, that you would like always to see the full ratsnests. I actually like that if I am moving a component I only see the component related connections and many times I pick up a component and move it, just to see where it is connected. I am not sure if there is option to switch it always on.

    When I do placement, I use schematic more than ratsnests: Altium – Component Placement & Probing (The New & Old Way)

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    • #3
      Thank you for your response. I watched your video about the 'improvements' in placement in Altium 16 in complete amazement. I always suspected that the people who do software R&D at Altium have some 'challenges' or 'disabilities' or at least they have never designed a PCB but now you have confirmed it. I think luckily the back and forth import-export seems to work very well between PADS and Altium for me, especially if I use the component wizard as you did in the course, and NOT the IPC component wizard that creates a lot of mostly useless features and layers for me. Will try to stick with PADS for placement and see what happens.What I will try now, is I will spread out the parts according to the schematics, using Altium 13 - my favorite version - and then I will place the components it in PADS and import it back into Altium and go from there.

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      • #4
        It's just about getting used to in my opinion. A huge number of engineers (Robert included) do the whole design only in Altium, and they are doing everything great with a perfect efficiency.

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        • #5
          Thank you
          mairomaster
          Junior Member
          mairomaster. Yes, every software has it's PROS and CONS and even I have some wishes sometimes for some improvements (e.g. interactive routing and length tuning is better in Allegro than in Altium). But usually you can figure out how to go around it or I just learn to live with it. Some of the things are not so bad, they are just annoying because you know it could be done better (e.g. I love single layer routing mode in Altium, when I was working in Allegro, they didn't have it - but who knows, maybe it is there now ....)

          abarnai
          Junior Member
          abarnai I am surprised you can do the import / export things so often. For me, it never worked 100% and I always had to check the design after import and also do some adjustments which can be very time consuming and it may be a potential risk of something being changed.

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          • #6
            No question about that you can use Altium for complete design flow fine. I have seen it done, with extremely complicated designs. Also, one has to be very careful if it is worthwhile to switch back and forth between another program in a particular instance, because of some added cleanup. Not that much though, in most cases.I would personally think though that what I described is a major flaw in the program, because it does make it way harder to use with complicated netlists. Not ones with a bunch of parallel buses, more like complicated analog circuits. Because of 'features' like this I haven't been able to 'sell' Altium to any PADS-people at work, but because of the nature of the designs - high-speed, impedance matched - we are getting more and more into, I will have to use Altium more and more myself: like it or not This is why I am looking at this now. I am learning it, how other people get designs done with Altium, but I am not 'liking' it.so far

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