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This site was created to help the users of NI's (TM) circuit design suite that are currently unsupported by NI. Since Electronics workbench was acquired, the integration into NI's hierarchy has been focused on integrating the product into the NI line. Many users have needed support for parts that are not supported by NI's master database. This site allows users of the suite to share and exchange components, models, and footprints without having to wait. All users have equal permissions and rights to the data as long as they are valid, registered users of this site. The only exception is the administrators of the site who have full control over all users and data within the site.

No, you will never be pestered for fees for access to the site. There are no ads, banners, or any other web tracking bots. There are no hidden tricks, traps or anything malicious, it truly is free to all users.

I am luckily in a very good place in life to where I can give something back to those have given me so much. I know it is rare these days, but just ask around the discussion pages, you will see.

Only registered members are upload and download files from this site, remember, I will never, ever, spam, sell, or otherwise distribute your personal information.  So you must register with the site to access the files for free download.

After you register, the new links will appear on the main menu and you will then be able to upload and download from when ever you are logged into the site.  


Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI


Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI


Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI

1. Find the datasheet for your component.

2. If the datasheet has a internal schematic for the part then enter this information into the schematic capture portion of Multisim.

3. Simulate the schematic you have just drawn to ensure that the part is working according to what you expect it to using the normal procedure for simulating circuits.

4. Once you are satisfied that everything is working according to what you want. Then remove all voltage sources, input sources and instruments used to simulate the circuit.

5. Goto PLACE>Connectors>HB/SC Connector and select. Place these connectors on the input, output and Power, and Ground nets. Label them as per the datasheet.

6. Once this is complete then be sure to save your work in case your need to edit something later.

7. Now goto TRANSFER>EXPORT NETLIST and click it. A dialog box will come up. Enter the filename that wish to save with. This will create a file called "yourfilemame.CIR"

8. Now you are ready to create your component. Go through the normal procedure of creating a component. Once you get to the point where it asks for a model for this component select "load from file" and browse to the .CIR file you just saved and load it.

9. Now comes the tricky part and this must be followed exactly or it will not work. Go into the model file window and at the very beginning add the line


".SUBCKT (modelname) (pin1) (pin2) ..."

The pin names are what you called the HB/SC connectors in the original schematic. Then at the very end of the model file windowplace the statement .ENDS.

10. Make sure the Pin Mapping table is correct and after that you should have a functioning component.


This works good for components with schematics in the datasheet that are clear and concise. Some datasheets only give the internal schematic in block diagram form and this is not well suited for this technique as you really have no idea on what is inside the block in most cases.

Also, most datasheets do not list the type of transistors, diodes or anything like that so you will just have to approximate the type to use based on the datasheet specifications.

Also, please note that there can be no interactive components in your original schematic. Multism does not allow these components to be used to create other components. These include LEDs, Switches, Relays, MCU components.

Hierarchy Block and Subcircuit Basics

By Lacy

Hierarchy Blocks and Subcircuits are basically the same thing with

the big difference being how they are handled by Multisim. A

subcircuit block is contained totally within the current design

project while a hierarchy block is saved as a separate schematic on

your drive.


You create a subcircuit by three methods.


1). Creating a window around the components and nets in your

schematic to be included in the subcircuit and then going to

PLACE>Replace By Subcircuit. This creates all the input and output

connections automatically. You may have to rename them later to

something more desirable as they are just generically labeled as

IO1, IO2 etc. Caution: This removes the components from the main

schematic and places them inside the subcircuit. You can always use

the Undo command to revert it back in case you made an error. I

would suggest to do this immediately after creating it otherwise

you run the risk of not being able to restore the original portion

of the schematic without doing a lot of cutting,pasting and

rewiring. This is due to the Multlsim Undo buffer having a limited



2). Going to PLACE>New Subcircuit. This creates a blank box without

any input or output pins. You must click the subcircuit box and

select Edit HB/SC and then place your circuit inside with HB/SC

connectors from PLACE>Connectors>HB/SC Connector.


3). Create the schematic of your subcircuit first, place the HB/SC

connectors and then use the process outlined in step one.

To create a Hierarchy Block you can use the same 3 techniques

oulined above except you choose from the Place Menu -Replace by

Hierarchy Block-, -New Hierarchy Block-. The difference is that

this block will be saved as a separate file on the hard drive and

can be re-used in other designs or editied at anytime by loading it

as a separate Multisim scheamtic. Subcircuits are saved within the

current project and cannot be re-used in other designs.


So what are they good for? The subcircuits can have many uses, but

the one that I use them for most often is to shrink my print down

to create a block diagram form. This compresses the design to fit

in my work space. Also, you could start out using subcircuit blocks

to outline the block diagram for design flow purposes and then go

into each subcircuit and create the circuit that accomplishes this

particular block. There may be other applications for these, but

this is mainly what I have used them for.


The Hierarchy blocks are more versatile in their applications. Once

you create a circuit that may be used across more designs, then

this will always be available to you to use from the hard drive. You

could have a complete library of common circuits and then just

choose the one you need and place it in the current design. This

makes it easier to design things as you do not have to re-create

circuits that have already been designed and tested. Call it Plug

and Play Multism style.


You can also create components using the Hierarchy Blocks. This is

not like using the Component Wizard, but is an alternative when you

need a quick and dirty component for your design. This is the only

method of component creating that allows the use of Interactive

Components to be used in the creation of new parts.

Now for the downside of Hierarchy Blocks/Subcircuits. You cannot

assign footprints to them for export to Ultiboard as a single

component. All the components inside the subcircuit/hierarchy block

will transfer as individual parts. If you need to export your

subcircuit/hierarchy block as a single component to Ultiboard you

will need to use the Component Wizard to create a blank component

template with a footprint. Once the simulation phase is done you

will need to replace the subcircuits in your schematic with the

blank component templates in order to transfer your schematic to

Ultiboard in this manner.


What I have outlined here is just the basics for these items. There

may be more uses for them other than what I have outlined here. I

only want to give the basics and you may have a completely

different use for them. It is up to the designer and the

application to determine how to use them and when.

Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI


Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI


Here is a complete tutorial from start to finish, please visit this link from NI



With the integrated capture, simulation and layout environment of the National Instruments Circuit Design Suite, engineers have a complete PCB design and validation environment. With the integration with NI LabVIEW, measurements can be easily introduced into the design flow, with simulation results improved with real-world data (a concept called virtual prototyping), and the transfer of simulation data to the test environment to compare real vs. theoretical. 

In this series of Best Practices articles, National Instruments provide a number of new resources to show you how to use various features in NI Multisim and NI Ultiboard in the most advantageous way to save time and maximize resources.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Routing of Copper Traces
  3. Getting Started
  4. Method 1 Manual Trace Placement
  5. Method 2 Follow-Me Router
  6. Method 3 Connection Machine
  7. Method 4 Autorouter
  8.  Best Practices: Maximizing the Use of Your Routing Methods

1. Introduction

In this introductory article we will investigate the various techniques available for copper routing in NI Ultiboard, how to use them, and when to use them.


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2. Routing of Copper Traces

In Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design, there are three fundamental tasks that allow you to prepare a board for prototype and manufacture. First the board outline must be created for the form factor of the design.

Second in consideration is part placement. In part placement various landpatterns (or footprints) of design devices are configured on the board. Each placed part consists of pins which are terminals that need to be connected in order to complete the design. A PCB design tool represents the necessary connections between parts with a wire. These wires are called nets. 

Therefore the third fundamental task in board design is to route these net connections between various parts. The routing processturns these various net connections into copper traces which connect parts in the physical prototype with current carrying connections. The net acts as a design guide indicating that two pins must be connected, while the copper trace is the actual physical connection which will be made as a part of your PCB.

NI Ultiboard allows you to define copper traces using a number of different methods. Each method provides varying degrees of control that allow an engineer to balance precise copper definition with automated speeds in order to effectively design a PCB. The routing methods available to engineers are:

  1. Manual Trace Placement
  2. Follow-Me Router
  3. Connection Machine
  4. Autorouter

In this article we will investigate how and when to use each of these routing methods.


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3. Getting Started

To assist in the steps outlined in this article, we will use the attached example file to practice routing.

  1. Download the attached 6880_Example_Design.ewprj file to your desktop.
  2. Select Start > All Programs > National Instruments > Circuit Design Suite 10.0 > Ultiboard to open Ultiboard.
  3. Select File > Open.
  4. Browse to the desktop where you saved 6880_Example_Design.ewprj.
  5. Click on the Open button to view the file (as seen in Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: 6880_Example_Design.ewprj


Follow the next steps to ensure that your work area is correctly setup:

  1. Notice that on the left side of the NI Ultiboard screen you have the Design Toolbox (if you cannot see this currently you can view it by selecting View > Design Toolbox).
  2. On the bottom of the Design Toolbox select the Layers tab.

Whenever you are placing copper routes in the work-area you must first select the layer upon which the route will be defined. In this example we will be using the Copper Top however any of the copper layers (Top, Bottom, Inner) can be selected in the Design Toolbox.

  1. Double click on the Copper Top layer in the Layers tab (it will now be highlighted in red as seen in Figure 2 below). You are now ready to draw routes upon the top copper layer.

Figure 2- Design Toolbox


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4. Method 1 Manual Trace Placement

What is Manual Trace Placement?

Placing traces with the line drawing tool allows the user to completely control every aspect of a copper trace. This drawing tool follows your mouse cursor and creates a copper route according to your exact specifications.

Other than following your mouse it is important to note that since you have complete design control you must be careful not to create routes that will cause design rule errors or put into questions the validity of your design. This means that sharp or obtuse angles in your routes should be avoided that will cause you to lose signal integrity.


When to use Manual Trace Placement

The manual trace placement is recommended when you have a part that requires a very specific routing, particularly when you have a surface mounted connector (with a high pin count), FPGA or very restrictive spacing between adjacent pins, the manual trace tool will give you the needed accuracy to properly define your route. Other methods such as the autorouter (discussed later in this article) may not be able to mathematically define how to route suitably in these situations.


How to use Manual Trace Placement

In this example we will make a manual connection between part C13 and part R12. To use the manual trace placement tool:

  1. In Ultiboard select Place > Line.
  2. With the mouse left-click once on the top pin of part C13 (figure 3 below)

Figure 3 - Component C13


  1. As you move the mouse away from the pin you will notice a neon-green connection trail your movement. Move your mouse in the direction of the net connection between C13 and R12.
  2. To place a pivot point for your copper route, left-click with your mouse anywhere in the black work-area of your design. You have now defined the placement of this segment of your design (as seen in Figure 4)

Figure 4 - First routed segment


To create an orthogonal section to a copper route, you can simply click on the SPACE BAR on your keyboard, and Ultiboard will automatically create a route that is exactly 90 degrees to your mouse movement. Click on SPACE BAR again to exit orthogonal mode.

  1. Complete the route and connect C13 to R12 as seen below in figure 5, by using the SPACE BAR to create the orthogonal route.

Figure 5 - Manual Trace Placement Routing


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5. Method 2 Follow-Me Router

What is the Follow-Me Router?

The follow-me router adds to the functionality of the manual trace placement tool, with Ultiboard beginning to make some design decisions on your behalf. With the follow-me router, your mouse again defines the shape of the route however Ultiboard will automatically suggest pivot points and the route between two pins, with a light blue trace connection. Also if your route must be narrowed at all to make the connection appropriate (to get between pins etc…), Ultiboard will automatically narrow your route.


When to use the Follow-Me Router

The follow-me router is an appropriate tool when you need some guidance on how to connect two components but still want to be able to define the route, pivot points etc… Generally if you do not need precision of manual placement, but would like assistance in creating traces which do not conflict with good design practices (sharp angles etc…) then the follow-me router is an appropriate tool. It would still be recommended to use manual trace placement for high pin density chips and FPGAs.


How to use the Follow-Me Router

In this example we will make a follow me router connection between part C13 and part C7. To use the follow-me router placement tool:

  1. In Ultiboard select Place > Follow-Me.
  2. With the mouse left-click once on the bottom pin of part C13.
  3. Notice that as you move the mouse a light-blue connection guide appears between the two pins (figure 6). This is an Ultiboard suggestion for routing.

Figure 6 - Ultiboard Trace Guide

  1. Continue to move the mouse towards the pin of C7 and notice that pivot points are automatically placed in your design.
  2. To add your own pivot points, simply left-click once anywhere in your design.
  3. Complete your connection between C13 and C7 (figure 6)

Figure 7 - Completed Follow-Me Route



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6. Method 3 Connection Machine

What is the Connection Machine?

Again we continue to build upon our more manual processes (manual trace placement, follow-me router) with the Connection Machine. The Connection Machine can be considered to be a subset of the autorouter. The connection machine automatically defines a route, but does so, on a net-by-net basis, with a minimal amount of user intervention to customize the route.


When to use the Connection Machine

The connection machine is not for components with a high number of pins, or with a need for a complex routing arrangement.  As we move to the connection machine generally a larger amount of space is required with less need for precise routing.


How to use the Connection Machine

In this example we will make a connection machine route between part C10 and part C9. To use the connection machine tool:

  1. In Ultiboard select Place > Connection Machine.
  2. With the mouse left-click once on the bottom pin of part C10.
  3. Move your mouse slightly and notice that two small white crosses appear at the bottom pin of C10 and top pin of C9 (highlighted in red in figure 8 below).

Figure 8 - Connection Machine Selection


These white crosses indicate that these are the pins to be routed together by the connection machine.

  1. Move the mouse slightly to the left of C10 (maintaining the two small white crosses) and click on the black work area between the two points. Two larger white crosses will appear between the two pins to be routed (highlighted in red in figure 9 below).

Figure 9 - Connection Machine Selection Validated


  1. Move the mouse cursor up and down and notice that the route is created automatically between the two points, with the movement of the mouse defining the route.
  2. Left-click once more to settle on a route configuration (as seen in Figure 10).

Figure 10 - Connection Machine Defined Route


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7. Method 4 Autorouter

What is the Autorouter?

The autorouter can potentially be the fastest way in which to configure the routing of all the copper on your board. The router goes through a number of steps, most notably:

  • Determining the approximate direction and route of each net on a board
  • Selecting a sequence in which the nets are to be routed
  • Routing each net in the sequence previously determined

If the routing cannot be completed based upon these previous steps:

  • The router iteratively remove net routings
  • The router tries to re-route the board with either alternate routes or in a different net order

It should be noted that an autorouter cannot always route a complete board. It is important to understand that the above steps are based upon a mathematical routing method for the board and that there are times that a router will not be able to resolve an appropriate solution.

A router can also possibly create routes that are not acceptable for your board. An angle maybe too acute for your application, causing issues with signal integrity, and therefore should be taken into consideration when defining the board.


When to use the Autorouter

The autorouter is certainly a strong tool for defining a board, however should be used when the nets that need to be routed are not critical. Critical nets should be manually defined using either manual trace placement or the follow-me router.

Also when you have a part such as an FPGA or connector, where you have multiple pins on the underside of a surface mounted component the autorouter may not be able to define the correct routes. In this situation again, we can consider these critical nets and a manual technique should be applied.


How to use the Autorouter

In this example we will begin using the autorouter, however first we will make sure that the nets we have already manually defined are not changed by this routing process.

  1. In the select toolbar (if you cannot see the select toolbar go to View > Toolbars > Select). The select toolbar allows you to filter what objects you are selecting and manipulating on your board. This is important in allowing you to truly pinpoint what your mouse is selecting on your board (traces, parts, vias, pins etc…)
  2. Select the second icon in the toolbar. This will allow you to choose and manipulate only copper traces in your design (red box in figure 11 below). Make sure that all other icons are deselected.

Figure 11 - Select Toolbar


  1. Right-click on any of the traces you have so far defined on you board.
  2. In the context menu that appears select Select All
  3. Right-click once more on the selected traces and select Lock
  4. All the traces you have routed will become highlighted in orange (figure 12).

Figure 12 - Locked Traces


These copper routes are now locked and therefore cannot be altered by the autorouting process that you are about to apply to your design.

We are now ready to begin autorouting:

  1. Select Autoroute > Start/Resume Autorouter
  2. NI Ultiboard will route the rest of your copper on your board (on this board this should take a matter of seconds and will look similar to Figure 13).

Figure 13 - Completed Routed Board



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8.  Best Practices: Maximizing the Use of Your Routing Methods

As discussed throughout this article we have a number of tools which allow us to effectively route our board. The autorouter should not be considered as the only routing option. In fact it is suggested that if one is to begin defining a board, you follow a procedure such as the following:

  1. Consider a component of high importance with a trace routing that can be considered critical.
  2. Route the nets for this critical component using either manual or follow-me routing
  3. Find components such as connectors or FPGA components which require routing beneath/between multiple surface mount pins.
  4. Route the nets for this component using either manual trace placement  (or follow-me routing if convenient/possible)
  5. Lock all nets in the design that have been routed using steps 1 to 4 above.
  6. Use a combination of the autorouter or connection machine to route the rest of your board.

Using this simple methodology, you can be comfortable in knowing that you can maximize the use of your time in the layout and routing stages of your design.