How to Use Routing Tools

After placing components, setting up some impedance rules, and setting some of the basic design rules needed for your project, it’s time to start routing some of your signals. If you’ve taken time to follow the previous sections and layout components appropriately, routing will be much easier. In addition, if you haven’t set up your design rules, it’s important to do so, especially if you need impedance control.

Routing Single-ended Traces

Just as was the case with component placement, there is no single way to route every PCB, whether with single-ended traces or differential pairs. However, we can offer some guidelines to help you get started.

To see some strategies for beginning routing in a PCB, let’s look again at the initial component placement in your DemoProject PCB. If you open up the project from your Altium 365 Workspace, you should see the unrouted component arrangement shown below.

Before you start routing any traces, think about where you’ll place some of the basic connections. Since this device is a power regulator, want to think about:

  • Where will we be placing input and output power connections?
  • Which components are close enough to each other that they can be quickly connected?
  • Do components share nets such that they can be quickly connected with traces or polygons?
  • Are there any components that can be moved to satisfy the previous three points?

The reality is, very few layouts will ever be routed without the need to move at least some components. Just remember that it’s okay to move some of the components around during routing as long as they are not essential for some reason.

Different ECAD programs have different routing tools, but they are all designed to allow a point-and-click workflow. As we saw briefly in the previous lessons, these tools can automate some of the tasks in routing like placing corners and setting trace widths.

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