Altium Designer Documentation

Smart Copper Editing

Modified by Jason Howie on Apr 11, 2017

Copper areas, including board regions, board shapes, and polygon pours, are a staple of most board designs, but their modification in Altium Designer's PCB Editor has become a little dated. Desired shapes are often hard to create the first time and editing through movement of vertices can quickly become frustrating - often ending up with more (and sometimes unplanned) vertices than you started with. With Altium Designer 17.0, editing of placed regions and polygons has been re-energized with the arrival of streamlined and intelligent editing - something we like to call Smart Copper Editing.

With the following impressive repertoire of editing features and modes, Smart Copper Editing makes the graphical management of your regions, board shapes, and polygon pours - directly in the workspace - a breeze.

Smart Editing for Polygon Pours

Combining Selected Polygon Pours

Two or more polygon pour objects can be combined by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. Place new (or drag existing polygon pours) so that they are overlapping each other as required.
  2. Select all polygon pours that are to be combined.
  3. Right-click over one of the pours in the selection then choose the Polygon Actions » Combine Selected Polygons command from the context menu.
The new polygon properties is copied from the first selected poly in each colliding group.


Combining two existing polygon pours to make a single polygon pour.

Subtracting Selected Polygon Pours

One or more polygon pour objects can be subtracted from another 'base' polygon pour by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. Place new, or drag existing polygon pours so that they are overlapping the required base polygon pour -  this is the pour to be 'subtracted from'.
  2. Select the base polygon pour, right-click, and choose the Polygon Actions » Subtract Polygons from Selected command from the context menu.
  3. Select the polygons to be subtracted.
  4. Right-click or press Esc to complete the process. The polygon will need to be repoured afterwards.


Subtracting an existing polygon pour from an existing 'base' polygon pour.

Improved Vertex Editing

Polygons contain to points, or "handles" with which to edit the shape of the polygon.

  1. Full Handles - These filled handles are located at the corners of the polygon.
  2. Empty Handles - These blank handles are located in the centers of the segments created by the Full Handles.

Empty Handle moving now moves the whole side (for track and for arc). To move empty handles with the behavior implemented in previous versions of Altium Designer, click Ctrl while grabbing the handle you wish to move. The Ctrl key only needs to be held at the start of movement. After beginning to move the handle, the Shift+Spacebar command can be used as normal to cycle through placement modes (arc, miter, Any angle).


The above two images show empty handle editing.
In the bottom images, Ctrl has been clicked while grabbing the handle to move for editing.

If the any angle placement mode creates unwanted vertices, or to remove extra vertices in general, click Ctrl and grab the central full handle. An X icon appears over the handle and dragging the edge will reduce the vertices on that edge to one.

This new manner of editing polygons helps avoid creating unwanted, extra vertices and gives designers more control over creating desired polygon shapes.

Modify Polygon Border

In addition to the improved vertex editing, there is also a new Modify Polygon Border command which allows designers to easily change the shape of polygons. The command is run by right-clicking on the desired polygon and selecting Polygon Actions »Modify Polygon Border. Once the command is launched, the cursor becomes a crosshair. Each time you click, a new vertex is added. As during polygon placement, the Shift+Spacebar keys can be used to change corner shapes.


Modifying a polygon border followed by vertex correction.

Smart Editing for Board Shape

Modify Board Shape

Similarly to the new modify polygon border command,, there is also a new Modify Board Shape command which allows designers to easily change the shape of their board. The command is accessed in Board Planning mode run by  selecting  Design » Modify Board Shape. Once the command is launched, the cursor becomes a crosshair. Each time you click, a new vertex is added. The Shift+Spacebar keys can be used to change corner shapes.


Modifying the board shape.

Smart Editing for Board Regions

Modify Region Border

In addition to the improved vertex editing, there is also a new Modify Region Border command which allows designers to easily change the shape of polygons. The command is run by right-clicking on the desired region and selecting  Polygon Actions » Modify Polygon Border. Once the command is launched, the cursor becomes a crosshair. Each time you click, a new vertex is added. The Shift+Spacebar keys can be used to change corner shapes.

 

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