Working with the Draftsman Board Assembly View in Altium NEXUS

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Parent page: Working with Views

A Draftsman Board Assembly View is an automated graphic composite of the active PCB project's board outline, cutouts, holes, and component graphics with additional notation. Its drawing representation, included information and data sources are all configurable in the Properties panel.

A placed board Assembly View can be moved, scaled and viewed from different sides.
A placed board Assembly View can be moved, scaled and viewed from different sides.

An Assembly View for the nominated source project PCB is placed in a document by selecting the  button on the Active Bar, or via the Place menu options. After launching the command, drawing data is retrieved from the source PCB file, the cursor will change to a cross-hair and the rendered Board Assembly View is attached to the cursor. Move the cursor to the desired position then click to confirm the placement.

Note that drawing data is retrieved from the PCB document specified in the Source section of the Properties panel when in Document Options mode. To change the panel to that mode, deselect all objects in the design space (click in free space).

Both the position and size of placed Board Assembly View may be graphically modified.

A selected Board Assembly View will show a node handle at the top right of the selection outline, which can be dragged to a new location to modify the view's size. To move a Board Assembly View, drag and drop it to a new location.

Drag a selected Assembly View's resize node to change its scale.
Drag a selected Assembly View's resize node to change its scale.


The Board Assembly View's component graphics are automatically generated and take data on a priority basis from several sources, such as:

  1. The projection of a board component's three-dimensional model (3D model) – used by default.
  2. A component's silkscreen graphic taken from the Top/Bottom Overlay layer – used when a 3D model is not available.
  3. A graphic of the component's dimensions derived from its contact pads (its Bounding Box) – used when both a 3D models and screen overlay are not available.
  4. A component graphic on the Assembly Component Layer Pair specified in the PCB design, under the Layers & Colors tab of the View Configuration panel – the layer pair containing component data is set to the Assembly Layer Type in the associated Edit Layers dialog.

    Note that the automatic generation of a Board Assembly View does not rely on the availability of an additional board assembly layer (for example, Top/Bottom Assembly), so this mode is an option.

Use the Component Display Properties section of the Properties panel to set the visibility, designator attributes and graphic style of all components shown on the Board Assembly View. Alternatively, select a specific component on the Assembly drawing itself to set only its graphic options in the Component Display Properties section. Multiple components may be selected in order to adjust properties across various components.

For access to all component display attributes, including component Footprints, Classes and any associated Parameters, select the panel's button to open the the Component Display Properties dialog, where component properties may be changed individually, in groups  or through multiple selection.

The position of component Designators also can be graphically modified by dragging and dropping the text to a new location. Hold the Ctrl key while dragging then use the Spacebar to rotate the Designator through 90° increments.

Displayed layer data

Further PCB topology information is included in a Board Assembly View by enabling layer data associated with the current view (Top or Bottom) in the Properties panel.

With a Top side assembly view for example, the panel’s Topology option (under Show additional data) displays the board Top Layer – and enables SMD/through-hole pad options, which may be selected independently.  The Mask and Paste options overlay the Top solder mask and paste layers, as determined by the current view side (Top, in this case).

Additionally, the Properties panel’s Layers tab is populated with the mechanical layers available in the board design. Multiple layers can be selected for display, where their draw order determined by the listed order. Use the  and  buttons to specify a layer’s relative list/draw order.

To change the color of a layer overlay on a view, select its associated color icon to open the color selector drop-down, which offers standard color shades plus definable RGB levels. The transparency level of a layer color, such as might be used for the solder Mask overlay, is available in the Define Custom Color part of the selector as a percentage slider.