Altium NEXUS Documentation

Working with a Fill Object on a PCB in Altium NEXUS

Modified by Susan Riege on Apr 10, 2021
All Contents

Parent page: PCB Objects

A placed Fill

Summary

A fill is a rectangular object that can be placed on any layer. When placed on a signal layer, a fill becomes an area of solid copper that can be used to provide shielding or to carry large currents. Fills of varying size can be combined to cover irregularly shaped areas and can also be combined with track or arc segments and be connected to a net.

Fills also can be placed on non-electrical layers. For example, place a Fill on the Keep-Out layer to designate a 'no-go' area for auto-routing. Place a Fill on a Power Plane, Solder Mask or Paste Mask layer to create a void on that layer. In the PCB Library Editor, fills can be used to define component footprints.

Availability

Fills 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 » Fill from the main menus.
    • Click the Fill 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 » Fill from the context menu.
    • Click the  button on the Wiring toolbar.
  • PCB Library Editor - the following methods of access are available:
    • Choose Place » Fill from the main menus.
    • Click the Fill 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 » Fill from the context menu.
    • Click the  button on the PCB Lib Placement toolbar.

Placement

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

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

A fill will 'adopt' a net name if it touches an object that has a net name.

Additional actions that can be performed during placement are:

  • Press the Tab key to pause the placement and access the Fill mode of the Properties panel from where its properties can be changed on the fly. Click the pause button overlay () to resume placement.
  • Press the L key to flip the fill to the other side of the board – note that this is only possible prior to anchoring the fill's first corner.
  • 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.
  • Press 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 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.

Graphical Editing

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

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

A selected Fill

  • Click and drag A to resize the fill in the vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously.
  • Click and drag B to resize the fill in the vertical and horizontal directions separately.
  • Click and drag C to rotate the fill about its center point.
  • Click anywhere on the fill away from editing handles and drag to reposition it. While dragging, the fill can be rotated or mirrored:
    • Press the Spacebar to rotate the fill 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 fill 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, then 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

The following methods of non-graphical editing are available:

Via the Fill Dialog or Properties Panel

Properties page: Fill Properties

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

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

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

After placement, the Fill dialog can be accessed by:

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

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

  • If the Properties panel is already active, by selecting the Fill object.
  • After selecting the Fill 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 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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