Author Topic: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell  (Read 1349 times)

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Offline Kelbit

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Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« on: April 13, 2017, 05:00:11 PM »
Does anyone else use the Altium flex PCB feature that they introduced in back Altium 14? I've been using it regularly for the past year and a half for flex/rigid-flex boards and it has to be one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to deal with  |O.

As far as I can tell, they *still* haven't fixed most of the outstanding bugs since the feature launched. Coverlays disappear, vias randomly become untented, gerber outputs don't generate properly (and this isn't even deteriministic, so sometimes your gerbers from the exact same .PcbDoc look right and other times they break). Oh, and my favourite - if you edit your board outline even slightly, all your flex/rigid-flex defined regions and all your bends disappear. It's a pretty awful workflow. And don't even try calling support, they haven't used it.

I suspect this is because they did their Shanghai -> California move right after they introduced the feature so none of the programmers stayed with the company. However, Altium is still advertising the feature as the greatest thing since sliced bread despite the fact that they aren't willing to do any fixes to it (just check their changelog if you don't believe me). I sent a big list of bugs off to an applications engineer at Altium - didn't even get an acknowledgement back.

I'm a little annoyed that my employer has to pay maintenance on something that Altium clearly has no intention of fixing. Altium has also been pushing SolidWorks integration hard, yet their SolidWorks plugin doesn't integrate with the flex circuits feature. Well, what's the point in that, then?

I am curious as to how well Cadence does flex circuits, since apparently OrCAD and Allegro have this feature now - any Cadence users want to chime in?
 

Offline The OBJ-Router

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2017, 07:11:58 AM »
Sorry you are having so many issues! :( Figured I would try to address some of your concerns/questions. Full disclosure: I am an AE for the OrCAD/Allegro product.

Flex circuit design is not a new feature in OrCAD/Allegro and anyone who’s has attended one of my demos will always hear me say “Flex circuits could be done before this current release and flex circuit design is not a new feature”. What is new, however, is the auto pick and click of Classes and Subclasses as well as materials for the flex circuit design. Since they (coverlay, stiffeners, bend zones and adhesives) have their own subclasses, what is created on them does not disappear when changes to those objects are made in the design process. Similarly, vias in OrCAD/Allegro do NOT disappear or become unmasked! Vias are defined as symbols and can be managed and edited individually which prevents the untenting problems you describe (as well as providing a host of other benefits).

I must also point out we provide extensive flex-specific rule management in our Constraint Manager which allows real time DRC checking for these predefined subclasses. We also support contour routing which allows for route keepins or other etch lines to be contour routed to—creating a match to the turns and bends in a flex.



 
Please don’t just take my word for it. We would be happy to offer a demo or further discussion with our team to show you how we handle these design issues. Please feel free to email us at info@ema-eda.com to set that up. If you would rather do more of your own research at this time, I find this webinar:https://www.ema-eda.com/resources/library/cadence-webinar-serious-tools-advanced-rigid-flex as well as this whitepaper:https://www.ema-eda.com/resources/library/automating-inter-layer-design-checks-rigid-flex-pcbs to be helpful.

Hopefully I was able to give you an idea of how flex is handled differently in OrCAD/Allegro. If you need further explanation or clarification, I would be more than happy to help.

Regards,
Orlen
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 07:15:20 AM by The OBJ-Router »
 

Offline Mars

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2017, 02:20:09 AM »
Quote
Does anyone else use the Altium flex PCB feature that they introduced in back Altium 14? I've been using it regularly for the past year and a half for flex/rigid-flex boards and it has to be one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to deal with  |O.

As far as I can tell, they *still* haven't fixed most of the outstanding bugs since the feature launched. Coverlays disappear, vias randomly become untented, gerber outputs don't generate properly (and this isn't even deteriministic, so sometimes your gerbers from the exact same .PcbDoc look right and other times they break). Oh, and my favourite - if you edit your board outline even slightly, all your flex/rigid-flex defined regions and all your bends disappear. It's a pretty awful workflow. And don't even try calling support, they haven't used it.
Like with everything else in Altium (now ver 17.1), working with Flex boards in Altium makes me, as a former Expedition PCB user, want to shoot myself. I hope that helps.
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2017, 02:37:18 AM »
I'm a little annoyed that my employer has to pay maintenance on something that Altium clearly has no intention of fixing. Altium has also been pushing SolidWorks integration hard, yet their SolidWorks plugin doesn't integrate with the flex circuits feature. Well, what's the point in that, then?

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/altium/a-bugcrunch-bug/msg1277010/#msg1277010 :-DD

Tim
Seven Transistor Labs, LLC
Electronic Design, from Concept to Layout.
Need engineering assistance? Drop me a message!
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2017, 03:31:16 AM »
you're doing something wrong...

Done plenty of flex boards. works like a charm.

you need to set up the stacks first in the layer stack manager and define the stacks for each zone
you do need to set up the border properly in planning mode (hotkey 1) and assign the stacks to the zones.
then you define the from-to pairs in case you need those.
then you pull in the design , place and route.

mucking mid-design with the stacks is problematic as you break the from-to pairs. so the via's drop back to simple through holes in the affected region. simply switch them back

as for tenting changes : you need to learn to drive that stuff from rules. i see so many designers changing these things manually. write rules. altium will enforce them automatically ( it is not just a rule check , it will do the tenting for you according to the rules given )


Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline Mars

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2017, 05:26:50 AM »
you need to set up the stacks first in the layer stack manager and define the stacks for each zone
you do need to set up the border properly in planning mode (hotkey 1) and assign the stacks to the zones.
then you define the from-to pairs in case you need those.
then you pull in the design , place and route.
This linear design process sounds ideal and realistic only for the most basic designs.

mucking mid-design with the stacks is problematic [...]
Mucking mid-design with the stackup should be completely unproblematic, as should changing the board outline. Neither is set in stone in a complex design (-environment) where you might need an extra pwr-gnd pair for whatever reason or your mechanics guy comes running  into your office asking for last-minute changes to the board outline.

I was really looking forward to the transition to Altium, but so far I'm shocked at the level of bollocks that I now have to deal with on a daily basis. I guess you get what you pay for.

Good night!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 05:59:18 AM by Mars »
 

Offline mc172

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Re: Altium flex circuits: still buggy as hell
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2017, 06:00:46 AM »
I used this a while ago when I had access to Altium at a place I used to work, set all the fold points etc., exported to SolidWorks and showed it in the housing after about a solid week of dicking about. Made me a bit angry. |O

It would also draw random things that weren't really there over the top of other things when unfolded.
 


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