Difference between Foundations vs. Boot Camp or Spec Ops Courses

We get the following question quite often from students who want to know the difference between PCB Foundations vs. Boot Camp or Spec Ops courses in order to determine which course is best suited for them:

         Is there overlap between the PCB Foundations class and the Altium training classes?

Answer: Generally speaking, the answer is "No." The PCB Fundamentals is looking at the whole process. Granted, a major part of this process involves an EDA tool for schematic capture, library maintenance, and PCB layout. Whereas our Altium classes teach you how to use Altium Designer, the PCB Foundations class looks at the process itself. For example:

  • Altium Designer Boot Camp: Learn the tools to draw a footprint and symbol
  • PCB Foundations: Learn what key elements are necessary for consistent libraries which assist in the creation of robust documentation

  • Altium Designer Spec Ops: Learn how to use the EMC command (Edit >> Move >> Component)
  • PCB Foundations: Learn what steps should be taken to ensure good component placement

  • Altium Designer Boot Camp: How to create a .SchDot template
  • PCB Foundations: What needs to be part of the template and why

  • Altium Designer Boot Camp and Spec Ops: Explain how to add layers to the stack up
  • PCB Foundations: What comprises the stack up and why it needs to be known prior to the start of layout

  • Altium Designer Boot Camp and Spec Ops: How to create and batch manufacturing files
  • PCB Foundations: Understanding what files need to be created, where in the process they are created, and what work needs to be done in certain editors to ensure robust documentation

In addition, the PCB Foundations will cover topics that go beyond the EDA tool itself. This includes specification writing, and the major manufacturing aspects of PCBs - fabrication, assembly and test. In fact, we may may be so bold to say when you really understand the process of PCB design, you will use Altium Designer (or any EDA tool) in a very different way.