Altium NEXUS Documentation

Working with a Rectangle Object on a PCB in Altium NEXUS

Modified by Jason Howie on Jul 14, 2021
All Contents

Parent page: PCB Objects


A placed Rectangle

Summary

A rectangle can be placed on any layer. Rectangles of varying sizes can be combined to cover irregularly shaped areas and can also be combined with track or arc segments and be connected to a net.

Rectangles also can be placed on non-electrical layers. For example, place a rectangle on the Keep-Out layer to designate a 'no-go' area for auto-routing. Place a rectangle on a Power Plane, Solder Mask, or Paste Mask layer to create a void on that layer. 

Availability

Rectangles are available for placement in both the PCB and PCB library editors in the following ways:

  • PCB Editor - the following methods of access are available:
    • Choose Place » Rectangle from the main menus.
    • Click the Rectangle button () in the drop-down on the Active Bar located at the top of the design space. (Click and hold an Active Bar button to access other related commands. Once a command has been used, it will become the topmost item on that section of the Active Bar.)
    • Right-click in the design space then click Place » Rectangle from the context menu.
  • PCB Library Editor - the following methods of access are available:
    • Choose Place » Rectangle from the main menus.
    • Click the Rectangle button () in the drop-down on the Active Bar located at the top of the design space. (Click and hold an Active Bar button to access other related commands. Once a command has been used, it will become the topmost item on that section of the Active Bar.)
    • Right-click in the design space then select Place » Rectangle from the context menu.

Placement

After launching the command, the cursor will change to a cross-hair and you will enter rectangle placement mode. Placement is made by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. Click or press Enter to anchor the first corner of the rectangle.
  2. Move the cursor to adjust the size of the rectangle then click or press Enter to anchor the diagonally-opposite corner and complete placement of the rectangle.
  3. Continue placing further rectangles or right-click or press Esc to exit placement mode.

Additional actions that can be performed during placement are:

  • Press the Tab key to pause the placement and access the Rectangle mode of the Properties panel in which its properties can be changed on the fly. Click the design space pause button overlay () to resume placement.
  • Press the Spacebar to cycle through the various corner modes. Select Rectangle for straight corners, Fillet for rounded corners, or Chamfer for sloped/angled corners. 
  • Press the + and - keys (on the numeric keypad) to cycle forward and backward through all visible layers in the design to change the placement layer quickly.
  • Press and hold the Alt key to constrain the direction of movement to the horizontal or vertical axis depending on the initial direction of movement. 
While attributes can be modified during placement (Tab to open the Properties panel), keep in mind that these will become the default settings for further placement unless the Permanent option on the PCB Editor – Defaults page of the Preferences dialog is enabled. When this option is enabled, changes made will affect only the object being placed and subsequent objects placed during the same placement session.

Graphical Editing

This method of editing allows you to select a placed rectangle object directly in the design space and change its size, shape, or location graphically.

When a rectangle object is selected, the following editing handles are available:

A selected rectangle

  • Click and drag the corners to resize the rectangle in the vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously.
  • Click and drag the centers of the sides to resize the rectangle in the vertical and horizontal directions separately.
  • Click anywhere on the rectangle away from editing handles and drag to reposition it. While dragging, the rectangle can be rotated or mirrored:
    • Press the Spacebar to rotate the rectangle counterclockwise or Shift+Spacebar for clockwise rotation. Rotation is in accordance with the value for the Rotation Step defined on the PCB Editor – General page of the Preferences dialog.
    • Press the X or Y keys to mirror the rectangle along the X-axis or Y-axis.
If attempting to graphically modify an object that has its Locked property enabled, a dialog will appear asking for confirmation to proceed with the edit. If the Protect Locked Objects option is enabled on the PCB Editor – General page of the Preferences dialog and the Locked option for that design object is enabled as well, that object cannot be selected or graphically edited. Click the locked object to select it then disable the Locked property in the List panel or disable the Protect Locked Objects option to graphically edit the object.

Non-Graphical Editing

Via the Rectangle Dialog or Properties Panel

Properties page: Rectangle Properties

This method of editing uses the associated Rectangle dialog mode and Properties panel to modify the properties of a rectangle object. 

  

   The Rectangle dialog on the left and the Rectangle mode of the Properties panel on the right

During placement, the Rectangle mode of the Properties panel can be accessed by pressing the Tab key. Once the Rectangle is placed, all options appear.

After placement, the Rectangle  dialog can be accessed by:

  • Double-clicking on the placed rectangle object.
  • Placing the cursor over the rectangle object, right-clicking then choosing Properties from the context menu.

After placement, the Rectangle mode of the Properties panel can be accessed in one of the following ways:

  • If the Properties panel is already active, select the rectangle object.
  • After selecting the rectangle object, select Properties from the Panels button at the bottom right of the design space, or select View » Panels » Properties from the main menu.
If the Double Click Runs Interactive Properties option is disabled (default) on the PCB Editor - General page of the Preferences dialog, when the primitive is double-clicked or you right-click on a selected primitive then choose Properties, the dialog will open. When the Double Click Runs Interactive Properties option is enabled, the Properties panel will open. 
While the options are the same in the dialog and the panel, the order and placement of the options may differ slightly. 
Press Ctrl+Q to toggle the units of measurement currently used in the panel between metric (mm) and imperial (mil). This only affects the display of measurements in the panel; it does not change the measurement unit specified for the board, which is configured in the Units setting in the Properties panel when there are no objects selected in the editing design space.

Editing Multiple Objects

The Properties panel supports multiple object editing, where the property settings that are identical in all currently selected objects may be modified. When multiples of the same object type are selected manually, via the Find Similar Objects dialog or through a Filter or List panel, a Properties panel field entry that is not shown as an asterisk (*) may be edited for all selected objects.

Via a List Panel

Panel page: PCB List, PCB Filter, PCBLIB List, PCBLIB Filter

A List panel allows you to display design objects from one or more documents in tabular format, enabling quick inspection and modification of object attributes. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering - by using the applicable Filter panel, or the Find Similar Objects dialog - it enables the display of just those objects falling under the scope of the active filter – allowing you to target and edit multiple design objects with greater accuracy and efficiency.

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