Difference between Foundations vs. Altium Courses

We get the following question quite often from students who want to know the difference between PCB Foundations vs. Full Spectrum Altium Designer courses to determine which course is best suited for them:

         Is there an 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 significant 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 Full Spectrum: Learn the tools to draw a footprint and symbol
  • PCB Foundations: Learn what fundamental elements are necessary for consistent libraries that assist in the creation of robust documentation

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

  • Altium Designer Full Spectrum: Explain how to add layers to the stack up
  • PCB Foundations: What comprises the stack up, and why it needs to be known before the start of the layout

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

Also, the PCB Foundations will cover topics that go beyond the EDA tool itself. This includes specification writing and the significant manufacturing aspects of PCBs - fabrication, assembly, and test. We 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.