A linear dimension is a group design object. It places dimensioning information on the current PCB layer with respect to a linear distance. The dimension value is the distance between the start and end markers (reference points selected by the user) measured in the default units. The references may be objects (tracks, arcs, pads, vias, text, fills, polygons, or components) or points in free space.
Linear dimension objects are available for placement in the PCB Editor only. Use one of the following methods to access a placement command:
Locate and use the Linear command () on the Active Bar.
For a grouped set of Active Bar commands (indicated by a triangle at the bottom-right corner of the button), the button displays the last-used command. Click and hold on the active button to access a menu of all associated commands for that grouping.
Click the button on the Place Dimension drop-down ( ) of the Utilities toolbar.
Right-click in the design space then choose the Place » Dimension » Linear command from the context menu.
After launching the command, the cursor will change to a cross-hair and you will enter dimension placement mode. Placement is made by performing the following sequence of actions:
Position the cursor then click or press Enter to anchor the dimension start point (this is the first reference point).
Move the cursor then click or press Enter to anchor the dimension end point (this is the second reference point).
The text can now be initially positioned. Move the cursor then click or press Enter when the text is in the desired position, to complete dimension placement.
Continue placing further linear dimensions or right-click or press Esc to exit placement mode.
When dimensioning an object, anchor points become available to you that highlight where the dimension can be attached. The point nearest the cursor will be the one used and where the dimension will attach if you proceed to click or press Enter.
The Status bar displays information about the actions needed for each step throughout the process.
At any time during placement, press the Tab key to access the Properties panel from where properties for the dimension can be changed on the fly. Pressing Tab pauses placement, allowing you to interact with the panel (or other areas of the software) directly. To resume, click the pause symbol that appears over the design space or press Esc.
Additional actions that can be performed during placement are:
Press the + and - keys (on the numeric keypad) to cycle forward and backward through all visible layers in the design to change placement layer quickly. Alternatively, use the Ctrl+Wheelroll shortcut to cycle through the available layers.
Press Spacebar to toggle the dimensioning direction between horizontal and vertical.
While attributes can be modified during placement (Tab to access 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.
This method of editing allows you to select a placed linear dimension object directly in the design space and graphically change properties such as the position of its text and its reference points.
When a linear dimension object is selected, the following editing handles are available.
A selected Linear Dimension
Click & drag A or B to adjust the dimension text position and extension line length.
Click & drag C or D to move the start or end reference points of the dimension.
C and D allow for redefinable references – once the dimension is detached from a reference object it becomes non-referenced and can be moved for attachment to a different reference point or object. As you drag any of the editing handles, the dimension may be rotated.
A dimension object can be moved in the following ways:
Selecting both the dimension object and the objects that are being dimensioned. The whole can be dragged to a new location as required.
Selecting an object that is being dimensioned only. The dimension text will follow the object in its alignment plane only. The dimension extensions will expand/contract to keep the relationship between dimension and object being dimensioned.
Selecting the dimension object only. It is important to note that the dimension cannot be moved on its own if it is referenced by a design object. To move the dimension only, it must first be detached from the objects it is dimensioning.
The dimension's value automatically updates as its start or end points are moved. Likewise, if the position of an object that a reference point of the dimension is anchored to is changed, the dimension will update and expand/contract to reflect this.
If the dimension object is totally non-referenced (i.e. it is not attached to any reference design objects) click anywhere on it away from editing handles then drag to reposition it. While dragging, the dimension can be rotated or mirrored:
Press the Spacebar to rotate the dimension 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 dimension along the X-axis or Y-axis respectively.
If attempting to graphically modify an object that has its Locked property enabled ( button in the Properties panel) , 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.
The following methods of non-graphical editing are available:
Editing via the Linear Dimension Dialog or Properties Panel
This method of editing uses the associated Linear Dimension dialog mode and Properties panel to modify the properties of a Linear Dimension object.
The Linear Dimension dialog on the left and the Linear Dimension mode of the Properties panel on the right
During placement, the Linear Dimension mode of the Properties panel can be accessed by pressing the Tab key. Once the Linear Dimension is placed, all options appear.
After placement, the Linear Dimension dialog can be accessed by:
Double-clicking on the placed Linear Dimension object.
Placing the cursor over the Linear Dimension object, right-clicking then choosing Properties from the context menu.
After placement, the Linear Dimension mode of the Properties panel can be accessed in one of the following ways:
If the Properties panel is already active, by selecting the Linear Dimension object.
After selecting the Linear Dimension object, select the Properties panel 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 editing multiple objects, 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.
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 PCB 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.
When the reference or references to which a dimension object is attached are deleted, a dialog will open asking whether the dimension should also be deleted. If the dimension is not deleted, it remains in the design space, but non-referenced.
Dimensions are group objects consisting of text and track segments. They can be converted to their set of primitive objects by choosing Tools»Convert»Explode Dimension to Free Primitives from the main menus. Once exploded, a dimension object can no longer be manipulated as a group object.