Parent page: PCB

Objects are the basic elements used for designing a printed circuit board. The available objects include simple, or primitive objects, such as arcs, tracks and regions; as well as group objects, including components, polygons, and the drill table, that are made up of primitive objects.

Objects are placed on layers to create the required shapes needed to design the board, for example the routing across a signal layer, or the footprint where a component mounts and connects to that routing. When output files are generated, the objects are analyzed and data is written into the output files in the appropriate format to render those shapes, for example as flashes and strokes in the Gerber-format fabrication files. 

Your board is designed from a palette of primitive and group objects.

Available PCB Design Objects

Use the links below to learn more about each available object:

Editing PCB Design Objects

Even a small and simple printed circuit board design can be made up of hundreds of design objects, which is why editing is the most common activity performed while designing a printed circuit board. Objects have to be correctly positioned and sized, have their rotation set, or their layer changed. There are essentially two types of editing: graphical editing, where the object is interactively relocated or resized using the mouse cursor; or editing the non-graphical properties, such as the layer, the font, or the line width.

An object can have it's non-graphical properties edited in the following ways:

  • Double mouse-click on the object to open the properties dialog.
  • Right-click on the object and select Properties from the context menu open the properties dialog.
  • Alternatively, you can edit the properties of any object in the PCB Inspector panel. Click View | PCB | to display the panel, then select the object to load its properties into the PCB Inspector.

The properties of an object can be edited in a dialog, or in the PCB Inspector panel.

Graphical properties, such as the size or location of the object, are generally edited interactively. To interactively edit an object:

  • Click once to select it, if it can be edited graphical then editing handles will appear,
  • Then click and hold on a handle to reshape or resize the object,
  • Or click and hold anywhere on the object to move it.

Locking Objects in the Workspace

Each type of PCB object can be locked in the workspace, by:

  • Enabling the Locked checkbox in the dialog or PCB Inspector panel, or
  • Right-clicking on the object and selecting the Locked command from the Context menu, for example this command appears for a text string - .

Use the same techniques to unlock the object.

Selecting Locked Objects

When you attempt to select a locked object, for example using a left-click or by dragging a selection rectangle, objects that are locked will not become selected. This behavior is to help prevent inadvertently editing the object. To graphically modify a locked object (for example move it), it must be unlocked first.

Editing Multiple Objects

One of the great strengths of the PCB editor is the ability to edit multiple objects simultaneously. Imagine that your fabricator can etch 6mil tracks for the same price as the 10mil tracks your unroutable design currently uses, or you realize that the 60mil text strings are simply too large and must all be reduced in size. Edits such as these are actually simple and straight forward, using the PCB editor's ability to edit multiple objects.

The fundamental process is to:

  1. Select - to edit multiple objects, they must be selected. They can be selected using a variety of techniques, including: interactive selection, command-based selection, and property-based selection.
  2. Inspect - at the core of the Select-Inspect-Edit process is the PCB Inspector panel, where the editing is performed. Confirm that the correct set of objects have been selected and loaded into the panel.
  3. Edit - the last step is to use the PCB Inspector panel to edit the properties of the selected objects.

Refer to the Editing Multiple Objects page to learn more.


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