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What is the best source for reliable libraries for Altium?

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  • What is the best source for reliable libraries for Altium?

    Altium designer does not come ready with libraries of parts like Eagle PCB. Where should a person look for reliable libraries for Altium designer? Does it matter if the libraries were created for an old version of the program?

    Also, in the year 2022, why do many people still prefer to create their own libraries? I mean all we have is a schematic symbol and a footprint. Why can't there be a "universal" schematic symbol and footprint for complex parts so no one has to recreate it ever. Isn't the IPC body created for this exact purpose?

  • #2
    When it costs you to build a board let's say 10 000 USD, would you trust libraries downloaded from somewhere? That is one of the reasons why professional companies always create their own libraries - you need to have 100% confidence in them, otherwise if there is for example a wrong footprint it can cost you a lot of money and a lot of time to fix it.

    Another big reason is, everyone is following different standards - e.g. what layers are used, how they draw outlines or mark pin 1, how they rotate components in libraries .... etc. In your own library, you would like to have it consistent - if you keep downloading libraries from different places, your library will not be consistent or you have to update the footprint / symbol anyway.

    And you have to always check the downloaded symbols and footprints. So, often it is just faster to create the symbol and footprint by yourself. Sometimes it may help if you download it (it can save some time from manually drawing it), but you still will need to do some work with it.

    Many people tried to "standardize" libraries, but I still have not seen one single place which would be used by everyone.

    PS: Yes, there is IPC standard, it helps, but there are still many footprints where even IPC generated footprints are adjusted.

    - from my experience the libraries between altium versions are usually compatible
    - the closest I have seen to standards is probably PCB Libraries https://www.pcblibraries.com/

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    • #3
      Actually what I would expect is that the complex part vendors like Intel, Xilinx, Microsemi, Cypress, NXP, FTDI, TI, Micron, ISSI e.t.c would provide the library symbol and footprint themself. The main issue with complex part in my beginner level understanding is getting the footprint correct and matching it to the correct pins in the schematic symbol. This is certainly the most time consuming part isnt't it?

      FPGAs can have hundreds or even more than a thousand pins. Microcontrollers have pins that have a lot of different functions. What I had expected is that the vendors would provide the footprint and schematic symbol to simplify the process. If we choose to design the schematic symbol and footprint ourself, there is always a changce of making mistake, that is how humans operate.

      Everyone designing their own schematic symbol and PCB footprint appears to me like reinventing the wheel each time. This is why this question was born.

      Maybe in my beginner level understanding of PCB design, I am expecting too much from the part manufacturers. It is clear that there are many different ways to design the schematic symbol and the PCB footprint and different people have different preferences and constraints to work with.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by gyuunyuu1989 View Post
        ...getting the footprint correct and matching it to the correct pins in the schematic symbol. This is certainly the most time consuming part isnt't it?
        No, most time consuming are:
        1) Finding the right component, especially today
        2 / 3) Creating the symbol with all pin details
        3 / 2) Adding the parameters. For copy/paste components this would on second place.
        4) Creating the footprint. Except for complex connectors, that would be second spot.

        Originally posted by gyuunyuu1989 View Post
        ... there are many different ways to design the schematic symbol and the PCB footprint and different people have different preferences and constraints to work with.
        Exactly, not everyone wants it the same way. The most common is EU/US variations in schematic symbols.

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        • #5
          The chip manufacturers you listed often provide reference designs (reference schematic + reference layout) and you can import these and generate symbols and footprints from them. You don't have to re-draw them manually, but you still may want to adjust them and make them according to your standards.

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