Customization of Net Colors

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The Summer 09 release brings even greater control over the highlighting of nets on your PCB documents, using your own overriding color scheme. Now, instead of purely having a net object colored using its respective layer color, you can assign to use a specific alternative color. Add to this a range of preconfigured color override patterns and you have a powerful enhancement to your PCB visualization arsenal.

This feature is only available when using DirectX display mode and viewing the PCB in 2D. In GDI display mode, highlighted nets will display in the associated layer colors only.

Defining Net Coloring

The actual colors for the nets are assigned from the PCB panel, with its browsing mode set to Nets. You can assign a color to an individual net, multiple selected nets, or to all nets in one or more selected net classes. Simply make your selection accordingly – either in the Net Classes or Nets regions of the panel – and then right-click and choose the Change Net Color command from the context menu. Use the Choose Color dialog to select the color you wish to use.

Assignment of overriding net colors is simply a case of selecting the net class or individual nets and choosing the color!

The chosen net color will appear, for each affected net, in the far left field in the Nets region of the panel. This field also presents a checkbox, which is used to enable the color-override feature for that net (see Enabling Net Color Override).

The panel will reflect the chosen override color for nets.

Override Patterns

Having assigned the override colors to your nets, you can now choose how your new net highlight coloring will be used. The net highlighting is governed by a specified Base Pattern. There are six such patterns to choose from, defined on the PCB Editor – Board Insight Color Overrides page of the Preferences dialog (DXP»Preferences).

Specify the base pattern to apply when highlighting nets in the workspace.

Table 1 illustrates example results based on the chosen pattern. In each case, the assigned net override color is .

Table 1. The various base patterns available.

 

Selected Behavior

 

 

Description

 

 

Example Result

 

None (Layer Color)

The assigned net color is ignored,
leaving the default layer colors visible only.

Solid (Override Color)

The assigned net color is used,
totally overriding the default layer colors.

Star

The assigned net color is displayed using small stars,
leaving the default layer color also visible.

Checker Board

The assigned net color is displayed using small squares,
leaving the default layer color also visible.
(This is the default override pattern).

Circle

The assigned net color is displayed using small circles,
leaving the default layer color also visible.

Stripe

The assigned net color is displayed using 45 degree stripes,
leaving the default layer color also visible.

There are also options for how the nets are displayed when you zoom out. For example, you can elect to have the assigned net override color become more dominant the further you zoom out, until the layer color is not noticeable – and vice-versa. Play with the options available from the Zoom Out Behavior region of the page, to find the setting that best suits your needs and working preference.

Enabling Net Color Override

As with assigning colors to nets, you can enable/disable the net color override feature for an individual net, multiple selected nets, or all nets in one or more selected net classes. Simply make your selection accordingly – either in the Net Classes or Nets regions of the panel – and then right-click and choose either the Display Color Override»Selected On or Display Color Override»Selected Off command from the context menu as appropriate. For individual nets you can also just click inside the associated checkbox, in the far left field for a net.

Enable the net color override feature for the nets required at the
click of a button!

The enabled nets will be displayed in accordance with defined coloring and chosen override pattern.

Net color override in action. In this example, nets LED7..LED0 have all been assigned the same overriding net color (with Base Pattern set to Checker Board), but only
LED7..LED5 have the feature enabled. LED4..LED0 are therefore displayed in their default layer (MidLayer1) color.

Within the workspace, the net color override feature can be toggled on or off using the View»Net Color Override Active command (shortcut: F5). Note that this does not toggle the enabled state for a net with respect to color override, rather it is simply a visual toggle.

Using Net Override Color in PCB Prints

Your chosen net override color (and base pattern, where applicable) can also be included in printouts from the PCB. To do this, simply enable the Use Net override color option, in the PCB Print Preferences dialog.

Include your chosen net override color/scheme in your PCB prints, by enabling the corresponding printout option.

You can also specify use of the net override color when exporting the PCB document to PDF, using the Altium Designer Smart PDF wizard (File»Smart PDF). Enable/disable the option as required in the PCB Print Preferences dialog, accessed via the Preferences button on the PCB Printout Settings page of the wizard.

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