Schematic Capture


To Navigate around in the schematic and layout of PCBWeb Designer you can use both the mouse and keyboard. To Zoom, use the scroll wheel or page-up and page-down keys to zoom into or out-of the active area in your design.

If you want to reset your zoom level to fit your design, simply click on the icon in the lower right of the application or press your home key.

Panning in PCBWeb designer is done by holding down the right-mouse button while moving your mouse. You can also use the standard scroll bars on the bottom and side of the application to pan the display area.

Part Placement


PCBWeb Designer contains a fully integrated component catalog allowing you to easily search, filter and place parts that have both a symbol and footprint.

For this example, let's do a search for a "555 timer" and then filter our results to a package/case type that's in a 8-pin Dip.

Notice the results below with a green check mark show parts that ready to place in your design. You can now hover over the results for more information and the click on the results to place them in your schematic sheet.

During part placement - you can right-click and choose "Rotate" or press the "R" key. Once you have placed a part, you can either place the same part again, or press "Esc" to end placing that part. Also, once a part is placed in a schematic sheet, you can right-click and choose to flip it horizontally or vertically in your sheet.

Note that in addition to the main component catalog, a list of generic parts is also available by clicking the library tab in the sidebar. This is also the area where you access your own custom parts.

Wiring and Nets


To create a wire in PCBWeb Designer, simply hover over a pin or existing wire segment and click your mouse. This starts the wiring utility and allows you to create vertices with each click of the mouse. To finish the wire, simply click on a pin or wire segment. Note that wire segments must always have an ending target and redundant wire segments are not allowed.

To move an existing wire segment, hover over the segment you want to move and then do a click-drag with your left-mouse button down.

Once a wire is placed, you can give it a custom net name by right-clicking and choosing properties. You can also show the net name in the schematic sheet for a wire by right-clicking and choosing "Add Net Name Label."

Placing Ports


Ports in PCBWeb Designer allow you to make sheet-to-sheet connections in your design, which is especially needed for parts with large banks of I/O pins. To place a port, click on the port type in the toolbar. For this example let's choose input. Then specify the name or list of names you want for each port. Note that a series of names is easily generated using some simple bracket notation. For example "Data[0:3]" allows you to place four sequential Port pins name Data0, Data1, Data2, and Data3.

Power Ports are placed by choosing the VCC icon in the toolbar. You can choose a predefined value from the drop-down or create your own custom value. For this example, let's create a 3.3V power port.

For ground ports, you can choose any of the standard types from the main toolbar. If you have a pin on a device that you don't want connected, choose the "NC" icon in the toolbar to allow you to place a "No Connection" declaration on the pin.



PCBWeb Designer provides basic text and shape objects to help annotate your design. Simply choose the "Draw" icon in the main toolbar to place a polyline, circle, rectangle, or arc object. Once an object is placed in your design, right-click on the object and choose properties to edit its attributes such as color or line type.

To place annotation text in your schematic, choose the "text" icon in the toolbar and then type in your text string. Once the text is placed in your design, you can right-click on the text object to change its size and color.

Note that the annotation objects do not effect the connectivity in your schematic and so you can place these anywhere on your schematic sheet.

Managing Sheets


PCBWeb Designer supports multi-sheet schematics which are especially useful for large designs. To add a new sheet, simply click on the "+" tab in the bottom of the application bar.

Each sheet has its own customizable title and size. To edit the sheet title or size, hover over the sheet tab in the bottom bar, right-click, and choose properties. To delete a sheet, hover over its sheet tab in the bottom, right-click, and choose delete.

Every design has a set of fields in the title block that are common to all sheets. These include company name, project name and revision. To edit these fields, hover over an empty region on any sheet, right-click, and choose properties.


Adjusting Board Outline


The first thing you want to do before starting your layout is to define the size of your board by adjust the board outline which is displayed as a white polyline. Notice that the default board outline in PCB Designer is a 3 inch by 5 inch board.

Let's say you want to change the size of your board to a 2 inche by 2 inche rectangle. First, let's adjust our grid setting to 0.5 inches in the left side of the toolbar. Next, make sure that you choose the "select" mode in the toolbar. To adjust the outline, we're going to hover over the upper right corner of the board until the mouse legend text reads "Move Poly Corner" and then click. Now, with the corner of the board attached to the mouse cursor, let's move to coordinate X:2.000 in, Y:2.000 in and then click. Repeat the same operation on the upper left corner, moving it to X:1.000, Y:2.000 and the lower right corner, moving it to X:2.000, Y:0.000.

If you want to add a notch to your board, click on edge where you'd like the notch applied to begin inserting points into your polyline. With each click, you'll notice that additional points are added to the polyline allowing you to create a notch or other shape that is define by the line segments between the points you add. When you are done inserting points into your polyline, press the escape key.

Define Layers Number and Colors


To adjust the number of layers in your design, simply click on the "Board Fabrication" menu in the sidebar and then choose your layer option from the "Layer Count" dropdown.

Notice that as you add layers, they show up in the bottom tabs of the application. Internal layers are noted as "In1, In2, etc.".

To change the display color for each layer, click on the "Display Settings" menu in in the sidebar and then choose the layer color you want to change or you also enable/disable visibility for each layer.

Adding mounting hole or custom pads


If you'd like to place mounting holes or custom pads in your design, simply click on the "Pad" icon in the toolbar and position your mouse in the approximate location where you'd like the hole and click. Once placed, hover over the pad, right-click and choose properties.

Here, you can choose the location, size, shape, rotation, and plating for your mounting hole. Note you can group select more than one mouting hole, choose properties, and then apply properties to all selected pads.

Part Placement


When you first switch to PCB layout, all the parts in your design are placed outside the bottom of the board outline. To move a part inside your board, hover over a pad of the footprint until the mouse cursor text changes to "Move Comp". Then click to attach the part to your mouse cursor. Move your mouse cursor inside the board and click again.

To move more than one part, group select the parts by holding down the mouse button and drawing a rectangular region around the parts you'd like to move. Next, hover over the pad on one of the selected footprints until the text changes to "Move Comp" and then click-drag your mouse to position the parts inside your board.

Note, to manually change the X,Y locations of a part - hover over a footprint, right-click and choose properties.

Picker Filters

PCBWeb designer supports the concept of "Picker Filters" that allow you to mask certain object during the layout of your design. The filters improve your efficiency during design by limiting the total number of objects in your selection mask.

The filter selector is located in the lower right of the PCB design window and allows you to enable/disable the selection of parts, pads, text, traces, or polylines. To change the state of a filter type, hover your mouse over the icon and click.

A good example of using filters is when you're done with part placement and ready to route. Click on the part filter icon to disable the selection of parts and now you don't need to worry about accidentally selecting parts when routing.


Once you're done with part placement, you can now start routing your connections. It's often nice to turn off part selection by clicking on the part icon located in the picker filters located in the lower right of the window.

Before you start routing, notice that all the unrouted yellow connections, called a "rats nest", are represented as yellow lines. To start a route, simply click on one of these connection and the tool will immediatly create a new route using the defeault trace width and spacing.

Note while still in routing mode, you can right-click and choose to change a new width and spacing.

During a route the default routing angle is 45 degrees, but you can hold down the "control" key to override this and route at any angle.

When you get close to finishing a route, you can simply double click to finish the connection.

To route on different layers, change the layers by pressing "T" for top, "B" for botton, or "1,2,3 etc." for "internal 1, internal 2, internal 3, etc.".

Once a route is placed, it's easy to "rip-up" a segement. Simply hover over the segment and click. This will remove the current segment and allow you to reroute it as needed.

You can also move a segment by hovering over it and performing a click-drag operation.

To delete a segment, hover over and press the "delete" key on your keyboard.

To change the width of an existing net or segment, hover over and right-click.

Note the net width is for the entire trace and the segment width is for a single section.

Oftentimes you want to start a route but not complete it - this is called a fanout. To enable a fanout, simply start a route and the right-click and choose "Fanout via here" or press the "F" key on your keyboard.

During routing, you can change your grid setting by pressing "G" to select the grid resolution setting in the upper left and then press "enter" to resume routing.

Note during a route you can pan the display by holding down the right-click drag on your mouse.

Copper Pours

To define a copper pour, click on the "PLine" icon in the toolbar to enable polyline tool. Next, choose location you'd like to start your copper pour and click - this starts a polyline that we'll use to define the pour. Continue to place points on your board to define the outline of your pour. Finish by clicking on the first point that you placed or right-click and choose close polygon.

Next press, escape on your keyboard to exit the polyline tool and return to the select tool. Hover over the polyline that you just created, right-click and choose "properties". Now you can choose the layer for your copper pour, the net connection, and finally choose "filled" from the "poly type" dropdown menu.

You should now see a solid-filled copper pour on the defined layer and net you chose in the properties dialog.

Design Rule Checking

PCBWed Designer supports full electrical and mechanical rules checking. This includes things like shorted nets and spacing violations that invalidate the design. To run a design rules check, click on the "DRC" icon in the toolbar and note any design conflicts that show up in the "Design Rule Check" sidebar.

Each DRC violation shows up as a small marked circle. You can zoom to each violation by click on the error message in the sidebar or by pressing the "D" key on your keyboard to cycle to each markers location.

Note that a DRC is run anytime you order a board through the system, to ensure that it has no design violations and can be manufactured by the chosen board house.

Board Ordering

PCBWeb Designer integrates directly with board manufacturing services, and checks your design against the specific service before you order. To configure your board for manufacturing, choose the "Board Fabrication" menu in the sidebar and select the material, thickness, and finishes that you'd like. Notice that for each option you choose, real-time pricing is provided.

When you're ready to order, click the "order" button in the board fabrication sidebar or in the upper-right of the applicaiton.

Before you board is sent off for manufacturing, PCBWeb Designer run a final rules check to ensure that the electrical and mechancial specification are valid.

If the design check run successfully, then you can proceed with a final dialog which confirms your preliminary order and allows you to begin checkout.

If you decide you want to use your own design service, you can always generate industry standard gerber files from the tool by clicking on the "File" menu and choosing "Generate Gerber".

Note, PCBWeb Designer supports gerber format RS-274X with Excellon drill files.

Part Editor

Creating a New Part

PCBWeb Designer includes an integrated part editor that allows you to easily create new custom parts consisting of a linked symbol and footprint.

Define Part

The first step in creating a new part is to define the manufacture part number by clicking on the catalog icon next to the manufacture part number input box.

Clicking on this icon brings up Digi-Key's entire catalog of parts, allowing you to search, navigate, and filter down to exact part types. Once you've found the desired manufacture part number, choose "ok" and note that all of the attributes of the chosen part are now linked into properties fields of your new custom part.

In addition to the manufacture part number you also need to define the reference designator that you'd like this symbol to have when placing it in your schematic. Typical reference designators include "U" for IC devices, "R" for resistor, "C" for capacitors, etc.

An optional labeling system is available so that you can organize this part in your custom library. Choose the "add label" link in the bottom left of the editor to add a new label. Note that you can create nested labels by typing a forward-slash between labels. For example, you can create a label called "passives/resistor" and it will store you custom part under a top level passive label with a resistor sub-level label.

Add Symbol

The second step in defining a custom part is to create your own symbol. From the main part editor, click on the "Add Symbol" tab at the top of the dialog box to switch to the symbol editor. From here, you can place multiple pins and draw the shape of your symbol using a list of common object types such as a line, polyline, circle, arc, etc.

A grid option is available in the lower right of the symbol editor to allow for finer placement of objects. Note that this grid is based on a multiple of the default pin grid, and that pins will always stay on a unit grid of "1" to allow for clean wiring in the schematic.

Each pin placed in your symbol shows up as an editable row in the "Pin Info" sidebar. From here you can choose basic pin attributes such as pin type and pin shape. Additional properties for each pin are available in the pin properties dialog box when you hover over a pin, righ-click and choose "properties".

The symbol editor also includes the ability to add multiple sections to your symbol by clicking on the "+" tab at the bottom of the editor.


The third step is to create your footprint. Let's say you want to create a footprint for a standard 8-pin DIP. Start by setting your grid in the left sidebar to 100 mils. Then select the "pad" icon in the toolbar to begin placing each pad of your footpring. Place the first pad at the origin make and then continue to place sequential pads in a counter clockwise fasion. After placing the pads, you can group select them and do a right-click properties. Here, we can set the drill size to 0.035in to give all the pads a through hole.

After placing all the pads, you can switch to the silk layer and begin drawing the silkscreen body of your package. Do this by clicking on the polyline or arc objects.

Saving Component

Now that you've define a symbol and footprint you can go to the "Define Part" tab and save your part. Note that the manufacture part number field is used as the file name of the part.

After your component is saved, you can place it in your design by navigating to "library" tab in the left sidebar of the schematic and then clicking on your part in the "My Parts" menu.

Bill of Materials

Bill of Materials Manager

PCBWeb Designer supports a bill of materials manager with integrated Digi-Key part ordering. Each part in your design that includes a valid Digi-Key part number, shows up in the bill of materials list with an orderable link. There's also a cart icon in the toolbar of manager that allows you to order your entire assembly of parts.