Working with Components

Quick Overview

Fig 1. - PCB-Investigator Quick Overview Panel - Component Tab

The Quick Overview panel can be found in the left bottom corner of PCB-Investigator right below the Layer Stack Up panel. The Components (CMPs) tab shows an overview over all components of a board. Each component can be toggled open with a double click to get a list with all the pin and net names it is connected to. A double click on a pin-/net name highlights the selected pin/net in the visualisation. In addition to that you have the usual context menu (right click on concerning component/pin-/net name) options like directly jumping to a certain pin or net as well as assigning them specific colours.

Component Manager

Fig 2. - PCB-Investigator Component Manager Dialog

You can get to the Component Manager through developer » Component Manager. It displays a list of all components that are part of your design and shows you the exact number seperated by their occurance on the top and bottom side right below the closing option in the top right corner of the dialog. The checkboxes allow you to customise which columns should be shown in the list on the right. You can even save your list structure as a local profile to use in the future or export it as an XML file, for example, to give it to a colleague. This way, for instance, you can make sure that you only have those columns for further automatic processing a machine expects. Of course it is also possible to directly print the whole list by clicking the printer icon or save it as a CSV file somewhere on your computer.

Use case - Search & sort:
Like every other list in PCB-Investigator this one too is search- and sortable via the input fields and sorting buttons below the individual column name above the list on the right. A common use case would be wanting to know all components whose height exceed e.g. 6mm (you can change the used unit in the dropdown to switch between mm and mils). To achieve this you first have to check the show checkbox for height in the left component list to add the component height column to the list on the right. Then you click into the input field right below the "Height" column and write ">6" (please note that for this to work there mustn\'t be a space between the greater than sign and your number) into it. The algorithm gets to work immediately and hides all components smaller than 6 of the set unit. The result can of course be selected, printed, as well as exported.

Use case - Sum up:
The Sum Up option lets you group your result list according to one specific column e.g. the part name. A common use case would be getting the Bill of Material. To achieve this select the Sum Up radio button beside the part name entry in your left list. You get one entry per summed up part name in the right list that tells you how many components have the respective part number in common. Now you know, e.g. for placing your next order, how many components of each type you need to assemble one board.

Component View

Fig 3. - PCB-Investigator Component View Setup Dialog

Component View Setup which can be reached through developer » Component View Setup offers you a whole set of options to customise how component information is displayed.

  • Label
    With the label option you can change which component information should be displayed on top of a component giving you a quick overview that may change depending on whether you are in development or fabrication. Possible labels include the part name, rotation and component height.
  • Pin Information
    View Pins: The first checkbox in the Pin Information panel determines whether pins generally should be displayed.
    Highlight first Pin: Activating the second checkbox fills the first pin of every component helping hardware developers to quickly recognize if diodes are correctly aligned.
    Highlight insert Point: File formats like ODB++ provide the optional possibility to state the centre of gravity of components. Activating the third checkbox lets this centre be displayed as a yellow dot. If no centre of gravity is specified in the data basis the middle of the component is used.
    Insert Point Unit: The dropdown allows you to change the unit used for the Insert Point option, for example, if a faulty unit was used in the data basis.
  • View Pin Numbers
    The checkbox determines whether pin numbers should be displayed while the radio buttons specify which data source should be used if the checkbox is activated. It is possible to either use the geometric definition of the component, the component reference (which can overwrite the geometric definition in file formats like ODB++), or special information which could be provided by a plug-in.
  • Component Edge Width
    The first slide control determines the line width of the outline.
  • Component Transparence Value
    The second slide control determines the opacity of components in the visualisation ranging from 0 (no filling) to 255 (completely filled).

Color Group

Fig 4. - PCB-Investigator Colour Group Dialog

You can get to Colour Group via Developer » Color Group.

  • Groups by number
    The Groups by number tab creates colour groups on the basis of the first number of the component reference meaning if the refernce is "R123" it would be 1. Usually components belonging together are grouped by their reference number during circuit diagram creation. The colour coding thus allows you to recognize with one glance how the individual functions have been distributed throughout the curcuit board, for example, having all components belonging to the power supply coloured in a deep yellow.
  • Groups by char
    Grouping by char is very similar to grouping by number with the sole difference being that group by char depends on the first char of the component reference rather than the first number whereby the first char in turn usually is dependent on the type of components (R for resistance, C for capacitor, L for coil, etc.).

In both cases the colour scheme can of course be customised to fit your preferences.

Component Heights

Fig 5. - PCB-Investigator Component Heights Dialog

Component height is an important component property that is deeply attached to it. In earlier versions of ODB++ this property was just a number without unit. Since PCB-Investigator needs a unit for certain features like the 3D visualisation it assumes the unit "mils" by default. The Change Component Heights dialog which can be reached by Developer » Component Heights is a fail-safe that allows you to change the unit if it is falsely assumed by the program. Please note that this option only affects the component height property.