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The Role of Altium Circuit Maker in PCB Development

PCB fabrication requires the use of several software, tools, and procedures. There are software for designing PCB schematic, PCB layout, and more. Circuit design at all levels requires a wide range of various disciplines. There are various tools that meet the demands of designers and allow them to achieve their board in a short time.

It can be difficult to determine the interplay between steps in a design cycle due to the wide variety of subjects covered. Therefore, it is crucial to realize the forward and backward annotation between the board level and schematic. PCB construction is always a one step back, two steps forward cycle. Also, you can generate more data from simulations and testing as the design proceeds.

Furthermore, the task at hand usually determines the best tool to use when designing. Board layout and schematic capture are essential for creating boards that impact each other through ongoing updates and revisions to the project. This is where the circuit maker software comes in. Therefore, we will be exploring the circuit maker software and how it impacts PCB development.

What is Altium Circuit Maker?

A circuit maker is software for PCB designs. It is electronic design automation (EDA) software targeted at hobbyist and the circuitmaker community. This software comes in freeware. The hardware designed with this software is ideal for both non-commercial and commercial purposes. It is presently available as version 2.0 by Altium Limited.

There are different types of circuit maker. These include Altium and Protel. These two circuit makers are popular among PCB designers. A circuit maker integrates printed circuit board design and schematic capture by utilizing the same engine as Altium Designer. Therefore, this offers a similar user experience.

The Altium circuit maker is an easy-to-use and powerful simulation tool and schematic capture. With this software, you can design output netlists and electronic circuits for other PCB design tools. Also, this software offers accurate and fast simulations of analog, digital and a combination of both.

Circuit maker is a free software that allows PCB designing on Windows. Also, this desktop based software requires internet to function. To start circuit design on this software, all you need is to create a new project. Circuit maker comes with a nice feature of collaboration. This feature allows you to work on a project as a team.

All members will work together on a project if you add team members to the project. Select the team option in this software to design a team project. Also, you can add members and assign attributes. You can only save the design online. Once you complete your project on the software for Windows, you can display it for anyone to view or submit to partner with selected members. Also, this helps you to gather the knowledge and skills to get the projects done.

Features of Altium Circuit Maker

pcb layout
pcb layout

Circuit Maker is EDA software designed based on Altium Designer technology. Therefore, the altium designer technology offers a powerful engine and a streamlined interface. These features below make design and schematic capture as simple as ABC.

Great community library

The Altium Circuitmaker is specially designed on a community library with several components. This library is all supported by the Octopart database. With this library, it is easy to place all the component in designs. Also, you can include your own mechanical components and custom parts.

Multi-sheet schematic editor

Circuitmaker utilizes a similar easy-to-use schematic PCB editor. Altium is well known for its great looking and easy-to-use schematic editor. Also, this software allows you to carry out complex multi-sheet designs and as well as generate SmartPDF outputs. Complex multi-sheet designs are easily carried out with this software.  Furthermore, this feature allows you to utilize hierarchical design blocks.

Capable and free

This software offers about 16 plane and 16 signal layers. Also, this software allows no restrictions to how you can work with the PCB dimensions. You can have about 5 private projects with Circuit Maker and decide if you desire to share it with authors and the circuitmaker community.

Topological auto-router

Circuit maker features Situs topological auto-router. This feature works in line with the design rules to help you create the board quickly. The design rules ensure you easily create boards. With via optimization and BGA and SMT fanout, you can use Situs to get fast result. Also, you can route single nets or multi nets.

Native 3DTM

Altium  Circuitmaker features a native 3D technology. With this technology, press the 3 key and you will see the PCB layout in 3D. Also, it will display component clearance violations and you will know the overlap distances.

Other Features Include

Share and collaborate

This free PCB design tool, Altium Circuitmaker, allows you to share your project with the whole community or the authors you want. Also, this helps you to gather the knowledge and skills to get the projects done.

Push and shove routing

The push and shove routing feature is available in free version of Altium Circuit maker. The interactive routing modes include obstacle ignore and hug. Also, the interactive routing modes feature push obstacle avoidance. You can route differential pairs and include accordions to nets that require additional length for signal delays.

DRC/DFM outputs

Circuit maker produces industry standard CAM outputs when transforming your design into a real board. Also, you can choose ODB++ or Gerber files and NC Drill. You can choose both NC Drill and ODB++ if you wish to.  Furthermore, this software can generate IP test point reports and other necessary outputs.

One-click manufacturing

Altium 365 will be integrating this feature. The one-click manufacturing feature allows you to release the project to the community after you have completed your design.  Altium circuitmaker collaborated with some manufacturers to offer a one-click manufacturing button. With this button, you can send your circuit board for quoting.

Circuit maker is reliable PCB software with several features like streamlined interface. Also, this software helps to interactively route multi nets. The generation of industry standard CAM outputs helps to transform your PCB design.

Other Facts About Circuit Maker


Circuit make integrates PCB design and schematic capture by utilizing the Altium Designer technology. Also, the schematic  PCB editor features circuit design and basic component placement. Furthermore, it includes hierarchical design blocks and multi-channel design. Anyone having a CircuitMaker account can view schematics uploaded to the Altium server.

The Circuit maker supports any incorporation with Octopart and enables the drag and drop component placement. Also, users can design missing schematic symbols and dedicate them to the server known as the Community Vault. Therefore, they are available for users. The increasing part database gets rid of the need for a PCB footprint design or a custom schematic symbol. Therefore, this makes it user-friendly for beginners.

Furthermore, component models can’t be directly imported from Altium Designer to Circuit maker. However, there are workarounds to this restriction. Concurrent editing was included in Version 1.3. Therefore, this allows several users to cooperate on a PCB document or schematic at the same time. Also, it allows the exchange of thoughts via annotation system and integrated comment.

In Circuit Maker, schematics transfer to a PCB is quite straightforward since PCB footprints can attach to any component on the schematic. PCB footprints can have simple 3D models that enable real time 3D rendering.  Circuit maker offers support to design rules configuration. This software includes advanced features like interactive length routing and differential pair routing.

You can directly export production files. However, you must export production files directly. Also, you can export the whole board as a 3D STEP model. Circuit maker is available for Windows only. To use Circuit maker, users must have a Windows license. Also, this software doesn’t support the export of design resources. Circuit maker allows you to include your mechanical components.

Circuit Maker Software Begins with Schematic Capture

The circuit maker will cover designs from the schematic to PCB level while creating output files for more manufacturing processes along the way. Therefore, this process starts by using symbols to populate the schematic and their associated data. You may have to make new symbols for pinouts and parts that don’t adhere to standard designs.

For readability purpose, the data sheet should follow the naming convention while planning later phases of the layout design. After this, the engineering team will need to wire the circuit. The engineer can now use a SPICE environment to start simulating the design. This is quite similar to the breadboard setup and through-hole components set up of those days. Therefore, this enables quick and correct simulation of different waveforms without the need to deal with probe contacts.

Furthermore, cross-probing functionality enables the visualization of data and real-time calculations. An example is the imaginary and real voltage components of Bode plots or phasors for attenuation and gain. Analyzing a circuit simulation at this depth and speed will help to streamline the review process. Also, this will offer an insight to downstream operators on the best way to modulate their work perfectly.

Simulation offers Feedback Before Production

Figure 1 Sample PCB Design file
Figure 1 Sample PCB Design file

Information such as basic circuit connections and material details are provided by the manufacturer. These pieces of information determine early circuit simulation. Power and signal integrity enables you to analyze the board. Therefore, at this design stage, engineers can now simulate worst-case signals meant to represent a bigger sample.  Unluckily, the computational power needed to perform analysis wouldn’t enable across-the-board simulation of all signals feasible.

However, you can test the thermal properties of PCB by integrating similar degree of sophisticated simulation. Therefore, this minimizes the time spend during testing.  

How to Get Started with Circuit Maker

In this section, we will use the free student edition to simulate and design logic circuits. The Circuit maker’s student version is available for download. However, this software is only ideal for students to use on their computers.

Facts to note before getting started

  • Circuit maker can simulate and design both digital and analog signals. Therefore, SPICE in the help system indicates analog simulation. Also, you can design your circuit without paying attention to this fact. However, when you simulate ensure to do so in digital mode. Otherwise, you will receive a cryptic message indicating that you need a ground node before it can generate a valid spice netlist.

You can prevent this problem by clicking on the toolbar button having a transistor symbol. This button is in the middle.  Always click the transistor button when you start running Circuit maker.  Also, ensure you set up Circuit maker with your favorites.

  • If you want neat diagrams, choose “Grid” in the Options menu and click on the “Snap to grid” option.  Displaying the grid can be distracting for some users. Therefore, it is a choice for you.  Also, use the wire tool to link outputs and inputs together. To add a wire, click on a connection point and move the mouse.
  • Utilize the Devices menu to choose gates. Several simple devices and gates are on the Hotkey submenu without browsing through device and parts lists.
  • The digital logic switch is a common input device. It alternates between 0 and 1 anytime you click it. Also, you can type “hotkey” to get one.
  • When you want to set several inputs at once, the Hex keypad comes in handy. By simply typing a hex digit, you will get four outputs.


Altium Circuitmaker offers better and more efficient design tools. These tools are specially created to help you transform your ideas into reality. The Circuitmaker is a great schematic and PCB design software. The powerful engine and streamlined interface make PCB design easy for you. Also, Circuit maker is a fee PCB design tool.

Furthermore, Circuit maker is a free design software and broad design community. It enables users to work on the same premises and easily gather skills and knowledge. You definitely need design tools that can transform your ideas into real-life products. Therefore, the Altium circuit maker is the ideal choice. This software won’t limit your creativity or imagination. Circuit maker includes all the features needed to create high quality layout and schematics.