Isolate Objects on a Design with Custom PCB Queries

January 24, 2017 Charley Yap


It can be a great challenge for engineers to make edits to specific objects on overpopulated boards. Leverage the global editing and custom query features in Altium Designer to easily locate objects and maintain consistency in your designs. Read on to learn more.

Every designer faces significant challenges once a board gets overpopulated with parts and traces. One of the greatest tasks of working with complex electronic designs is managing a large number of design objects. PCB or schematic filtering lets you find a “needle in a haystack” when you need to. Often, when you are working with schematics or PCB documents, you need to select objects of a given type, or that possess some common attribute. But how do you locate and select these objects among a swarm of components?

Quickly Search for Information Using Custom PCB Queries

Filtering tools should allow users to search for information in the schematic or PCB documents by entering keywords to perform expressions. Proper filtering lets you isolate part of the design to divide and conquer its objective. By providing queries to construct filters through the creation of a logical code, selecting and editing multiple objects is quite easy.

Global Selection

To begin the selection process you must first choose which objects to select and which to omit. Identifying the objects to select allows for formulation a plan that later gives you an idea on how to generate custom queries. An example of this is how to select vias of a certain copper size and hole size and how to globally edit these vias to a new dimension.

An example of selection appears in the image below. RF must be shielded and neither radiate or receive RF noise. In the left illustration, nothing has been selected. The parameters have been set to find RF tracks, and the result is the red set of RF tracks.


Selecting RF Tracks with Filtering Options


The ABCs of PCB Queries

Not everyone has a strong background in coding or creating custom PCB queries, which is one of the most common concerns about changing pcb design tools. The user-friendliness of the design tool is a significant feature. User friendliness should not limit a user’s background in programming but to allow them to perform the same capability and flexibility a programmer could do.

Having an interface that can virtually translate the English language into a computer language is every designer’s dream. This will eliminate time consumed in searching the API code to call out certain functions, instead giving you easy access to the source code to generate the correct result.


Creating Near-English Language PCB Queries in Altium Designer

Leverage Global Editing to Maintain Consistency in Your Designs

Global editing is the bread-and-butter of correct consistency and uniformity in schematic and PCB designing. By having these features available, you have practically limitless possibilities to change and apply the properties of objects in both your schematic and PCB environment.

Want to learn more about taking advantage of global editing & custom PCB queries in Altium Designer? Download the free white paper Global Editing & Custom Queries today.



About the Author

Charley Yap

Charley currently serves as a Field Application Engineer at Altium and is responsible for providing technical assistance to Corporate Strategic Account Managers, Sales Managers, Resellers, and Application Engineers. He is also in charge on establishing and managing technical relationships with clients, partners and industry leader. Charley graduated from University of California San Diego majoring in Electrical Engineering, specializing in Power Engineering. However, he's been focusing in the EDA industry for 7 years.

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