Getting Up & Running with CircuitMaker
Do I need to register anywhere?
To use CircuitMaker requires an account to be setup. This is achieved by registering to become part of the CircuitMaker Community - through the CircuitMaker website. Upon registering you will receive an email welcoming you to the community. This email provides you with a temporary password. This, along with the email address you supplied when registering for an account, make up your Altium Account Credentials. These credentials are needed during installation of the software. Once installed, these credentials are again used to sign-in to your Altium account from within CircuitMaker, and also to sign-in to Altium 365 and the CircuitMaker Community, through a Web Browser.
What are the System Requirements for CircuitMaker?
- Windows 11 (64-bit only) or Windows 10 (64-bit only)
- Intel® Core™ i7 processor or equivalent
- 16GB RAM
- 10GB hard disk space (Install + User Files)
- High performance graphics card (supporting DirectX 10 or better), such as GeForce GTX 1060/Radeon RX 470
- Dual monitors with 2560x1440 (or better) screen resolution
- 3D mouse for 3D PCB design, such as the SpaceMouse®
- Adobe® Reader® (version XI or later for 3D PDF viewing)
- Internet Connection
- Up to date
- Web browser
- 32-bit versions of OSes
How do I install CircuitMaker?
Installation of CircuitMaker is performed using the CircuitMaker Installer. This wizard-based installer is accessed by running a small (approx. 22MB) executable – CircuitMakerSetup.exe. This executable is downloaded either from the CircuitMaker area of the Altium website, or from the main Downloads page for all Altium products, and can be saved anywhere on your hard disk.
Is the software licensed?
No, there is no licensing to worry about, and no subscription to maintain. CircuitMaker is totally free, giving you all the tools to think big and make cool stuff, with features and functionality to facilitate creation of diverse and challenging designs.
Can I install multiple versions of CircuitMaker?
No. Update to the latest available version of CircuitMaker is a requirement to keep using it. Where a later version of the software is detected, you will be offered the ability to update. Should you reject the update, the software will close.
How can I check for Updates to the Software?
The software can be set to check for new updates on the System - General page of the Preferences (File » System Preferences). Use the drop-down associated with the Check frequency field - in the Automatic updates region of the page - to specify how often a check is made. The default checking frequency is Every 3 days.
How do I uninstall CircuitMaker?
Uninstalling CircuitMaker is performed using the CircuitMaker Uninstaller. This wizard-based uninstaller is accessed from the standard Windows Programs and Features page (accessed from the Control panel). Right-click on the required entry for CircuitMaker then use the Uninstall command from the context menu.
Three actions are provided, facilitating varying degrees of 'uninstall' as follows:
- Uninstall – removes product files and folders from your computer. Product preferences will remain on the computer.
- Remove Preferences – removes just the product preferences. The product files and folders will remain on the computer.
- Remove Completely – completely removes product files and folders from your computer, including product preferences.
Are there any QuickStart Guides?
Yes indeed! To get up and running with CircuitMaker as quickly as possible, use the following QuickStart guides. These guides are intentionally light, aimed at focusing your attention on where to get at specific functionality, and the UI elements involved, as you journey from idea to a manufactured design reality.
How do I get help on specific commands, dialogs, panels, etc?
CircuitMaker's unified design environment consists of various user interface elements plugged into a core platform. Together with the core platform itself, these elements provide the interface of the software - its features and functionality. These are delivered in the form of commands, dialogs, panels, etc. These elements are documented and collated by editor. Use the following methods to locate information on a particular element:
- Within the software, hover over a ribbon button, menu command, dialog, panel, or design object, then press F1.
- Within the documentation, use the navigation tree to the left of this page to browse for documentation.
Use the following set of links to quickly access specific areas of the resource-level documentation, which documents all elements of CircuitMaker's User Interface for the various editors that you'll be designing with:
Which CAM output formats does CircuitMaker support?
CircuitMaker can output Gerber and ODB++ CAM formats.
Can I open my designs from other Altium products?
CircuitMaker does not support local projects. However, you can add existing schematic and PCB documents to a project created through your Personal Space on Altium 365. Any Altium schematic (*.SchDoc) can be added to a project and thereafter opened within CircuitMaker.
Note, however, that CircuitMaker has its own PCB file format (
*.CMPcbDoc). As such, the PCB documents created in other Altium products cannot be added directly to a project and opened within CircuitMaker. For a PCB document created in Altium Designer, you can export it to this format. From Altium Designer's PCB Editor, and with the PCB document active, use the File » Export » CircuitMaker command.
What are CircuitMaker's design limitations?
- Unlimited components
- Unlimited nets
While there are no 'hard limits' per se, the software has been engineered to make it impractical for use with large designs. To this end, the PCB Editor will start to exhibit performance degradation when editing designs containing 5000 pads, becoming virtually unusable with designs containing 50,000 pads. Degradation itself takes the form of progressive slow-down in PCB editing functions (such as routing, placing components, polygon pours, etc...).
Does CircuitMaker have crash reporting?
Yes, CircuitMaker provides you with the ability to send a crash report through to the Altium Developers, should you encounter an error in the software. In the error/exception dialog that appears, simply click the Send Report button and add a description of what you were doing at the time of the error. The more information, the better the chance of the cause of the crash being reproduced and addressed.
I found an issue - what can I do about it?
The CircuitMaker Forum is the best place to report issues. Please provide as many details as possible, as well as images and any step-by-step instructions to recreate the issue.
What is Altium 365? Is it a product or a platform?
Altium 365 is a cloud-based infrastructure platform used to host Altium applications in the cloud. It is a platform, not a product, therefore you can not buy or download Altium 365. Another way to think about Altium 365 is as an operating system for cloud-based Altium applications. Just as Windows enables the execution of application software on your local hardware, the Altium 365 platform enables the execution of Altium products in the cloud.
How do I get access to Altium 365?
As a CircuitMaker user, your interaction with Altium 365 is through your Personal Space. Each registered user of the CircuitMaker Community is given their very own Personal Space on the Altium 365 platform. Your Personal Space can only be seen by you. This is the place where any project you create in CircuitMaker is stored. You can work on projects privately within your Personal Space and when you fancy a little more collaboration you can share with other, specified people, for collaboration - editing (through CircuitMaker only) or viewing only. Comments enable you to quickly create a focus group - with participants able to review a design with or without CircuitMaker.
Ultimately, once your design is ready for flight into the wider CircuitMaker Community, you can publish it to the CircuitMaker Community - all from within your Personal Space on Altium 365!
If others in the CircuitMaker Community have shared their design projects with you, you'll be able to access these from a dedicated Shared with Me area of the Altium 365 Platform Interface - again, both from within Circuitmaker and through a Web Browser.
How do I connect to my Personal Space from within CircuitMaker?
First, ensure that you are signed in to your Altium account through CircuitMaker. To do so, click on the control at the top-right of the main application window, then click the entry on the associated menu. Use the subsequent Sign in dialog that appears to enter your account credentials, then click . Alternatively, sign in using your Google® or Facebook® account and, in doing so, link/associate that account with your Altium account. If you don't have an Altium account, you can click the control to register for one (which will take you to a page for registering with Altium 365). The control will change to reflect having signed in to your Altium account by displaying your profile picture or avatar. The menu will display this also, with full name and with a link to quickly access your account (profile) through your default Web browser. Once signed in, you will be connected to your Personal Space on the Altium 365 platform automatically.
How do I connect to my Personal Space from a Web Browser?
Your Personal Space is actually presented as a constituent part within the overall Altium 365 Platform Interface. Access to this interface can be performed through its direct URL: https://365.altium.com. Sign in using your Altium account credentials. Alternatively, sign in using your Google® or Facebook® account and, in doing so, link/associate that account with your Altium account.
Any additional IT requirements/documentation to access my Personal Space on Altium 365 in general?
Not at the moment. All you need is access to the Internet and uninterrupted access to the altium.com resources over https protocol. We can work with you, if your IT department requires a specific list of the domain names, IP ranges, or have complex proxy configurations.
What are the fees to access Altium 365?
Altium 365 is a platform not a product. There are therefore no fees for Altium 365 since it is not an entity that can be purchased. You experience, or rather access Altium 365, based on your relationship with Altium. See the previous question for how you will interact with Altium 365 as a registered CircuitMaker user.
How is my design data protected on Altium 365?
Please visit the Altium 365 Trust Center, which connects you to the latest information on the security, reliability, privacy, and compliance of the Altium 365 cloud platform.
Can I access my Altium 365 data off-line?
Altium 365 is a platform not a product. There is no data to access. However, the data from your Personal Space (hosted on the platform) is cached locally and is accessible in the event you are offline. When projects are opened from your Personal Space, they are copied locally for offline access. The same is true with components; the Libraries panel caches all component data required for placement and ECO’s locally. Please note however, that projects cannot be created/saved in/to your Personal Space, and components cannot be saved to the CircuitMaker Component Library, when you are offline.
Do I have to download Altium 365?
No, Altium 365 is a cloud platform so there is nothing to download!
Are all Web browsers supported for Altium 365 viewing?
Officially supported Web Browsers can be found here.
What happens if the Altium 365 platform goes down?
Altium 365 is backed up by AWS with system-wide weekly backups as well as 24-hour individual backups. Your data is cached locally so in the worst case scenario, you will still be able to continue the majority of your work: placement, design, routing, and commit data to the server once connection is restored.
There is no requirement to be always connected to the platform.
Working with Projects in CircuitMaker
How do I create a new project?
Create a new design project using the File » New Project command. Use the Create Project dialog to give the project a meaningful name and perhaps a description, which will ultimately be helpful when shared with others and the wider CircuitMaker community. The project will be presented in the following places:
- The Projects panel in CircuitMaker - this is the local cached working copy of your project.
- The Files page of your Personal Space on Altium 365 - the storage location for all of your created design projects through CircuitMaker.
How do I commit changes to my project?
Right-click on the project in the Projects panel and choose the Save Project to Server command. You will be presented with the Save to Server dialog. Select the files you wish to save to your Personal Space and click the OK button. Once added, the Projects panel will reflect the fully synchronized state - between local working copy and that in your Personal Space - as indicated by the associated icons.
How do I open a project?
You can open a private project, or a project that has been shared with you by another community member. To do so:
- Access the Open Project dialog by using the File » Open Project command.
- Select the source location where you would like to open a project from - choosing either the My Personal Space entry, which is distinguished by the icon, or the Shared With Me entry, which is distinguished by the icon.
- Choose which project to open.
- Click Open.
- Once opened, the project will appear in the Projects panel. When a project is opened, the design files are cached locally on your machine.
To inspect or open a CircuitMaker public project:
- Locate it within the Projects area of the workspace.circuitmaker.com website and click on its entry - the detailed page for this project will open. Click the button next to the Design Files section name to open the project in Altium 365's Web Viewer. This will open on a separate tab of the browser.
- Click the button at the bottom-left of the viewer. CircuitMaker will open (if not already), with the project and its constituent documents loaded in the Projects panel.
Where's the Forking command gone?
The notion of 'forking' an existing project is no longer supported. What you can do is clone a project. Find and open a community project as detailed for the previous question, then right-click on the entry for the project in the Projects panel and choose the Clone command from the context menu.
The newly-cloned project (to all intents and purposes a 'fork' of old) will be created in your Personal Space on Altium 365. From there, work with it as you would any other design project - ultimately you can publish to the wider CircuitMaker community, giving back as it were!
What is Sharing a project all about?
A private project can be shared with others, even before publishing it to the wider CircuitMaker community. You can share with editing rights (with editing only through CircuitMaker), or share for viewing and commenting only - just to get feedback - which can be performed by people through CircuitMaker, or through a Web Browser. Sharing can be performed:
- From within CircuitMaker - with a document for a project open, just click the button at the top right of the design space. Sharing is performed through the Share dialog, with recipients receiving an email invite.
- From your Personal Space through a Web Browser - select the tile for the project you wish to share, then click the button at the top-right. Sharing is configured and performed through the Share window, with recipients again receiving an email invite.
When you think that your project is ready to be shared with the broader CircuitMaker Community, you can do this by publishing the project to
circuitmaker.com. This is done from within your Personal Space as follows:
- Open the Personal Space browser interface using the direct URL: https://365.altium.com (sign in if not already) and open the Files page.
- Find the tile of the project you would like to publish and click the button at the bottom-right corner of the tile.
- Choose the Publish to circuitmaker.com command from the associated menu.
- Confirm publishing in the window that appears by clicking the button.
Yes indeed, and this can be performed with or without CircuitMaker installed! A comment is a user-added note that is assigned to a specific point, object, or area (as applicable) and may be replied to by other users. Comments promote collaboration between users without altering the shared data itself, because comments are stored independently of that data.
- From the browser-based Web Viewer on Altium 365 - comments are posted, replied to, and managed directly within the main viewing area using a contextual commenting window. Comments are also presented on the Comments pane, which is presented on the right-hand side and provides more of an overview/navigational instrument, rather than the operational interface.
- From within CircuitMaker - using the Comments panel.
Comments made through the Web Viewer appear automatically in CircuitMaker, and vice versa.
Working with Components in CircuitMaker
Where do I get components for my designs?
CircuitMaker is built on a community library with hundreds of thousands of components - all backed by the incredible Octopart database. Placing components in CircuitMaker designs is as easy as searching by manufacturer part number or by design parameters. You can also add your own custom parts and mechanical components. Your direct interface to this community library from within CircuitMaker, is through the Libraries panel.
Why are there components with no models?
When you browse through the components in the Libraries panel, you will notice that some components have symbol and footprint models, while others do not. If the Octopart component does not have models, it means that there is no design component stored in the CircuitMaker Community Library for that Octopart component. Any CircuitMaker designer can create a suitable CircuitMaker design component for an Octopart component, which will then be available to all designers in the CircuitMaker community. You are also free to make a new version of any design component, if the existing version is not suitable for your requirements.
Use commands available on the panel's right-click context menu to either create the initial component for an Octopart part (where it doesn't exist), edit and release a new version of the component (where it does), or create a completely custom component - if you can't find it in a search of the Octopart database.
Why does editing a component create a new revision?
This is the Community library's high integrity at play. To ensure no data is ever overwritten, each time an existing version of a component is edited, or a new version of that component is built, it is released (committed) to the community library into the next revision of the parent Component Item. Technically, the moment editing is invoked, the next planned revision of the Component Item is 'reserved', ensuring no other user can come along and release their own modification into that same revision, before the user has finished and either committed or discarded their changes.
These different versions of a CircuitMaker component are distinguished by a revision suffix. For example LM217MS-TR 1 is the first revision, LM217MS-TR 2 is the next, and so on. Revisions can be browsed for all components through the Components area of the CircuitMaker website.
Why can't I find a part i'm searching for in the Libraries panel?
It’s possible that you may be searching with filtering applied to only show components that have models. Click the icon in the column header (the column that display the symbol for those components with models) and uncheck Yes. Clearing the filter will search the entire Octopart database, and may reveal more part options for your design.
If you are still finding no results, it’s likely that your part is not in the Octopart database at all. While the Octopart database is enormous, there are still many parts out there not covered. This can be is resolved by creating a new, unlisted CircuitMaker component from scratch – a custom component. To create a new custom component, select the Create Custom Part option below the component list in the Libraries panel or in the component list area when there are no components found. This opens a new blank component entry in the Component Editor, which can be populated with the information that corresponds to your custom component. In the same way as building a new listed component (one that exists in the Octopart database, but has no Community library component defined), models can then be created and the component committed to the Community library.
What is the 'Favorites only' feature in the Libraries panel?
CircuitMaker offers the concept of a 'favorite collection' of components. These represent community library components that you created or edited, or any that you have manually added to the favorites list.
To manually add a component from the Octopart listing in the Libraries panel to your Favorites collection, right-click on the component entry and select Add To Favorites from the context menu. Note that this option is only available for component entries that have an associated community component.
Switching from CircuitMaker 1.3
Where are my current projects?
All the public projects created before switching to CircuitMaker 2.0 are now visible in two places:
- Your Personal Space on Altium 365 - specifically, the Files page.
Your sandbox projects will also be visible in your Personal Space on Altium 365 (in the Files section), but not visible to the wider community on circuitmaker.com.
Where will new projects be visible?
Every new project created with CircuitMaker 2.x is visible in the Files section of your Personal Space on Altium 365 and, by default, not visible to the wider community on circuitmaker.com. You can publish your project to the community website whenever you choose.
Why is a new project not visible on circuitmaker.com?
New projects created with CircuitMaker 2.x are private by default. To make them visible to the wider community on circuitmaker.com, you need to publish them explicitly from your Personal Space on Altium 365.
Yes. Publishing a project is in fact exposing it to the wider circuitmaker.com community as before. So if you share the project with other community members for editing, changes made by those users will be visible automatically in the project.