Altium Designer

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Techniques

Keyboard

Keyboard shortcuts can be viewed by selecting ViewWorkspace PanelsHelpShortcuts. They are also in the PDF at the bottom of this page.

General:

  • Space bar - Rotate component (while dragging or placing) or change direction (straight/diagonal in PCB editor or initial direction in schematic editor)
  • Tab - Set component parameters (while placing)
  • Ctrl+M - Measure the distance between two points
  • X - Horizontal flip

In a PCB:

  • * (asterisk on numeric keypad) - Change routing layer for interactive routing tools (can be used to insert a via while routing too)
  • [ and ] - Increase/decrease mask level (background dim level when viewing a specific net's pins)
  • 2 and 3 - Switch between 2D and 3D view modes

While drawing a trace:

  • Shift+W - Select from a list of favorite trace widths
  • ~ - Quick shortcut menu for all trace options
  • 3 - Select trace width (min, preferred, max based on rules)

While in 3D view:

  • 0 - Reset viewing angle to 0° (flat view)
  • 9 - View board at 90° rotation

Annotation

When placing parts, they are given designators like "R?" or "C?" by default. You can change these designators before actually placing the part by pressing Tab. The preferred method is to just leave them with the question mark and then let Altium number them all automatically.

  1. ToolsAnnotate Schematics...
  2. Make sure Designator Index Control is checked next to each of the sheets you want to be annotated.
  3. Click Update Changes List
  4. Click Accept Changes (Create ECO)
  5. Click Execute Changes and then Close.

NOTE: It is important to annotate your schematics before updating PCB documents since updating the PCB will fail if there are multiple components with the same designator (e.g., if you have multiple components named "R?").

Synchronizing Changes

Engineering Change Order screen

While viewing a schematic, select DesignUpdate PCB Document <name> to update the specified PCB document with any changes from the schematic.

While viewing a PCB document, select DesignImport changes from <name> to import changes from the project's schematics. If you have made changes in the PCB document (such as changing the footprint of a part) select DesignUpdate schematics in <name> to update the parts in the schematic documents. If you don't do this, your footprint changes will be lost the next time you update the PCB document.

Net Classes

Net Classes can be used to trigger certain things. For example, in the following screenshots I have a Power net class that triggers a rule in the PCB designer for larger trace widths.

Also, be sure Generate Net Classes is enabled in Project Options (see below).

Adding a net class from the Place menu in the Schematic Editor
Parameters for the net class
Generate Net Classes in Project Options
DesignRules while viewing a PCB

Ground Planes

If you plan to use a ground plane, you can hide ratsnest lines for the GND net by selecting ViewConnectionsHide Net and then clicking a pin connected to GND.

Exporting Gerbers

This (and more) is detailed here.

Settings

Some settings I modified from the defaults:

Altium PCB Editor - General.png
Altium PCB Editor - Interactive Routing.png
DesignBoard Options while viewing a PCB

3Dconnexion

These are the sensitivity settings I (ike) am using, in case I need them again sometime.

Altium 3Dconnexion Settings 1.png
Altium 3Dconnexion Settings 2.png

More Information