Unit-Aware Component Parameter Data Types

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Altium Vault 2.6, in conjunction with Altium Designer 16.0, brings the ability to define explicit data types for component parameters defined within a component template (*.CMPT).  In addition, these data types are unit-aware, with a range of popular unit prefixes supported. As such, you can enter a parameter's value using a range of formats - such as 2.2k, 2k2, 4M, 2.5GHz - with the Altium Vault engineered with the requisite smarts to recognize the numerical value behind those entries.

This enhancement facilitates targeted searching through the Vault's Advanced Search facility - a facility that not only allows you to search by component type, but allows you to search smarter, with range, greater than, or less than searches. Using the power of unit-aware component parameters, you can quickly define a search, for example, to find all capacitors with a capacitance between 47uF and 220uF.

For more information on the Advanced Component Search facility and how unit-aware component parameters are used, see Advanced Components Search.
This functionality requires that the latest version of the CMPT Editor extension be installed. The CMPT Editor can only be accessed if the extension is installed as part of your Altium Designer installation. This extension is installed by default when installing the software but in case of inadvertent uninstall, it can be found  on the Purchased tab of the Extensions & Updates page (DXP » Extensions and Updates).

Supported Units

The following data types are supported when defining a user parameter as part of a component template:

  • Text
  • Volt
  • Ampere
  • Ohm
  • Farad
  • Henry
  • Watts
  • Hertz
  • Celsius
  • Decibel
  • Percent
  • Metre
  • Gram
  • Second
Supported Prefixes

The following table lists the prefixes that are supported when entering a value for a unit-aware parameter type.

Prefix Term Value (Scientific) Value (Normal)
T Tera 1 x 1012 1,000,000,000,000
G Giga 1 x 109 1,000,000,000
M Mega 1 x 106 1,000,000
k kilo 1 x 103 1,000
d deci 1 x 10-1 1 / 10
c centi 1 x 10-2 1 / 100
m milli 1 x 10-3 1 / 1,000
u micro 1 x 10-6 1 / 1,000,000
n nano 1 x 10-9 1 / 1,000,000,000
p pico 1 x 10-12 1 / 1,000,000,000,000
Note that the use of some, or all prefixes may not be applicable, depending on the parameter type. For example, no prefix is valid for a Percentage. The software will alert you to any invalid use of prefixes.

Adding a Unit-Aware Component Parameter

When adding a parameter to the template (click Add in the Parameters region), use the associated Type field to choose the required unit-aware data type from the drop-down.

Choosing a supported unit-aware data type for a newly-added user parameter in a component template. In this example,  Ohm is the parameter type.

Entering a Value

When entering a value for a component parameter that uses a unit-aware data type - either as the Default Value in a component template, or as the required value in a component definition - the following are things to consider:

  • You can enter the value in a range of different formats: 
    • Numerical value only (e.g., 10).
    • Numerical value and units (e.g., 10F).
    • Numerical value with prefix (e.g., 10k).
    • Numerical value with prefix and units (e.g., o 10kF).
    • Numerical value with prefix in typical engineering format (e.g., 2k2, 2k2Ohm, 10r2, 10R2).
  • You can enter prefix and/or units with or without a space after the numerical value (e.g., 10uF, or 10 uF)
  • When using a prefix, the value entered for a parameter will be normalized to display the lowest numerical value, with the prefix changed as required. For example, when entering 47m, the value will be changed to display 4.7c.
Note that engineering abbreviations are case insensitive, so entering 2k2 is the same as entering 2K2, and entering 100R is the same as entering 100r. The only exception is M (Mega) and m (milli).

Data Validation

When a unit-aware data type is used for a component parameter, the entered value is validated against the specified data type. This ensures that the correct measurement unit for that data type is used. For example, a parameter of type Volt cannot have a value of 3mm.

Validation is performed wherever a component parameter with a unit-aware data type is used and a value for that parameter is supplied:

  • When defining a default value for a parameter in a component template.
  • When defining a value for a parameter as part of a component's definition in a component library.
  • When configuring a range search, based on parameter value, as part of an advanced searching scheme.

Example of data validation in action within the CMPT Editor.

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