easylogix - Fabio's blog

You need an overview of the nets connected to test points?
You want to find out, how many test points there are on a net?
You search for a special test point on a specific net?

To create a simple overview for each net with test points, you can use the test point report, this helpfull dialog gives you a list for each net with connected testpoints.

The list can be exported in excel/CSV, but the more usefull method is to check the nets directly in PCB-Investigator. By double-clicking you can highlight each net and set special colours to mark the test points. The Information is based on ODB++ attributes/component references or partnames and can be changed easily by your company settings.

It is also possible to use IPC356 import to check test points connections to nets or add your test points with the component editor and check, whether all nets are handled with your own test points.

In resumption to our preceding blog entry about export formats supplied by the PCB-Investigator (full particulars at Export Formats) today`s topic will be appositely about the import formats.
To survey, here is a list of all relevant import formats provided by the PCB-Investigator V8, followed by a short elucidation concerning the particular fomats.

List of all formats:

  • ODB++
  • DXF
  • GenCad 1.4
  • IDF
  • DPF
  • PDF schematics
  • Gerber 274x
  • IPC 2581
  • IPC356 D Netlist
  • Excellon 1/2, Sieb & Meyer drill files
  • Images (JEPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, TIF)
  • AVL Attribute List and CSV Attribute Files

Our mainly used fomat is ODB++. It furnishes you all copper/ document/ component data in a defined layer stackup. Information supported by the format includes but is not limited to netlists, drill depth and attributes.

A commonly ocurring format is DXF. PCB-Investigator enables its usage in both directions, export as well as import.

Providing the same advantage, you can adopt the GenCad format for either export or import. Furthermore it comprises nets and component information with outright layer stackups.

IDF The next format to mention, furnishes you a library file for components and another one with information about layers.

An easier structured format is Gerber. It is restricted to merely vector data of signal elements without componets and nets.

In conjunction with the IPC356 netlist your are enabled to export layers including net information.

With IPC2581 you have a file format containing all important information like components, nets and attributes.

The Sieb & Meyer format supplies the function to export drill information. It is signified through simple attributes and tool definitions.

For our next release we are working on direct Eagle import of brd-Files and an importer of IBIS Files.

How do I get a quick overview of my panel and step repeats?

You have some ways to see used panel information in PCB-Investigator.

  • In view menu you have an option to show/hide step names with rotation and mirror.
  • You can show/hide the repeat of sub steps (draw only the step outline instead of all elements).
  • Have a look on the step control, single PCBs use different icons than panels.

To see more details, you can have a look in the Panel Builder or use the "Step and Repeat" Dialog (Ctrl+S) for an exact offset and rotation values.
If you want to create your own Panel, your can use the Panel Builder (see Description).

In V8 of PCB-Investigator there is no direct 7z/rar import integrated. But there is a powerful scripting engine implemented which enables you to use any other installed software while running PCB-Investigator. So you can import all compressed archives by using another software (e.g. 7z or winRAR).

Using the script engine to start another software and to do your work is very simple with PCB-Investigator scripting.

The only thing you need to do is installing the used software like winRAR or 7-Zip and download the script from the web library.

It is easy to add shortcuts to your menu to load the archives next time with one click. For this actions we have prepared a PDF: You can see it below with detailed instructions.

With our PCB-Investigator you can calculate areas of copper on your PCB.
Or all other materials e.g. paste or coating or gold too. You can use selection to get the used area of nets, layers or pin pads.

  • You need the complete board area?
  • You need the percentage of copper, coating or paste usage on a layer?
  • Is there a good balance of the used material concerning the stackup?
  • Do you have a complex area fill and you need the area?
  • You need the material usage of one net or maybe of nets on many layers?
  • You search for a fast answer of how much material is used?

For such questions you can use the "calculate area" dialog to find the answer.
You can export the results in MS Excel or copy the list in any other editor. This gives you an easy way to use the results later again.

If you need parts of the profile, it is possible to use one script "Create_Polygon_of_Selection"* to generate a surface with the profile outline.
After creating the profile surface you can cut it with negative lines in smaller parts and calculate the area of this parts.

*you can download the script "Create_Polygon_of_Selection" in web tab of scripting tool under "editing"

PCB-Investigator has many export formats. Here we have a short overview and information for each format.

All available export formats:

  • List of all formats:
  • ODB++
  • DXF
  • GenCad 1.4
  • IDF
  • Gerber 274x
  • IPC356 D Netlist
  • Sieb & Meyer drill files

  • Image (JEPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, TIF), also AOI images in very high resolution
  • Excel/Txt Lists (BOM, Component List, Pick and Place, also individual list exports e.g. in component manager, selection list or netlist)
3D Formats:
  • Google Sketch Up files
  • 3D Data as obj-File (in 3D Window)

Our main Format is ODB++, this formats gives you all copper/document/component data in a defined layer stackup. The format supports netlists, drill depth, attributes and much more information.

One common format is DXF, this will be supported by PCB-Investigator in both directions (export and import).

The GenCad Format is also supported in both directions (export and import), this data includes nets and component information with complete layer stackups.

Next format is IDF. It gives you a library file for components and a second file with layer infromation.

Gerber format is easier with only vector data of signal elements without components and nets.
In combination with the IPC356 netlist you can export layers with net information.

Drill information can be exported in Sieb and Meyer format. This special format has simple attributes and tool definitions.

Reports are not really export formats, but they can be a usefull helper.
Many reports use different formats (Individual Lists in MS Word/Excel/HTML), in this case it is worth to have a look in the specific plugin description.

What is the best way to find components in PCB-Investigator? Use Search Dialog or use the component manager?

You search for an component reference and have no idea where on the board it is located?
Or you search for all components of a specific type?
Or you want to find all components with specific reference beginning?
Maybe you know the part number, geometry size, height or other properties and have to find the component?

Use search dialog to find your component (Crtl + F or in the selection menu).

In the quickoverview is a search box integrated, here you find the component reference as fast as with the search option.

Use component manager, there is a filter option in the list. Maybe you have only the package name or location than it is easy to find your component here.

There are some more options to find searched components, just try it out.
If you need more information here is a full video for component manager: video link

PCB-Investigator V 8.0 is now available!

Manage your components in your own library with 3D models?
Use the new features component editor and component library to do this!

Create optimized panels for fabrication?
Use the panel builder to create panels depending on your panel size. Or calculate the panel size for fix count of PCBs.

Check groups of nets depending to rule sets for distances?
Use Net Group Wizard to find out how.

Is there a short in your IPC356 netlist?
Use drag and drop and PCB-Investigator gives you the answer.

This and many more ways to analyse and optimize your PCBs are available in PCB-Investigator 8.0.

New features PCB-Investigator 8.0.0

  • Component editor is connected with component library, now you can manage components and replace 3D-elements simply.
  • Update of IDF, it's faster to export and import and now you can write much more details in output files.
  • Add new options to find testpoints (also added some more information by importing GenCad test points).
  • Import of IPC356D netlist do short and open checks immediately.
  • Using of component library while importing CSV component information or attributes.
  • Add many new options and tools to net group wizard (e.g. distance checks for groups with rule files).
  • Compare mapping to set default values in graphically board compare.
  • Flatten step and repeat is faster than ever.
  • Interface updates:

    • New IAttribute class added many more methods for handling of properties and (user) attributes.
    • With IEDA_PRP class you have an easy way to handle properties for all types of elements.
    • IDrawingParameters are added to handle the image creating exactly.
    • INote class for creating and showing your own note elements.


    » Automation Interface Update (pdf)

    » Release Notes (pdf)

    » Interface Documentation


PCB-Investigator @Electronica 2016

Visit us at the Electronica 2016 exhibition in Munich, November 8th to 11th at Hall A1 - Booth 661

Our Team will be happy to inform you about the latest PCB-Investigator News and to answer your questions!


PCB-Investigator V 7.0 is now available with many more features.

Beside ODB++, GenCad 1.4, DXF and many more data formats, a new import for DPF files is now available.
Also a new export option for Sieb and Meyer files (drills and routing layers) was implemented.

The Bare Board Analysis (DRC) has been completely reworked and now offers a broad range of design rule checks with a dramatically increased performance (More Details).

For easily defining and editing the PCB stack-up, a new Matrix Dialog was added, including an own material library (More Details).

In order to keep track, we also improved the general map in the info area.

Please find below a short extract of other improvements and changes done in V7:

Interface updates:

  • Many new functions and methods e.g. for handling overlay Images, measure distances and adding new tool definitions
  • New classes to handle notes (INote) and to handle attributes (IAttribute)
  • More methodes to act on mouse events or property changes
  • IPolyClass has many powerfull new methodes

New Plug-In updates:

  • New Plug-In for 3D using DirectX, for a fast and smooth movement
  • Improved gerber export to get smaller file sizes
  • Many lists do now support filtering and a CSV export
  • Reworked user interfaces and many more options in most Plug-Ins


» Automation Interface Update (pdf)

» Release Notes (pdf)

» Interface Documentation


The matrix dialog offers you an easy way to define new stack-ups or to use existing stack-up definitions to add additional information to your PCB data, even to Gerber 274x or Excellon files.

This data preparation is important for further data processing, e.g. in the Design Rule Check (DRC) or when simulating the physical behaviour with PCBI-Physics.

The new matrix dialog enables you to:

  • update the layer order
  • change the layer types
  • invert layers
  • polygonize layers
  • add material information (material library)
  • change layer attributes
  • define and assign new standard stack-ups
  • export a stack-up report
  • ...

The material library thereby helps you to manage multiple copper foils and pre-pregs for easy adaptations.
You can add own materials and define thicknesses for dielectric, mask, paste, copper and core layers.

In the layer attribute dialog you can change the attributes of a layer and add new attributes.
It is also possible to add own custom attributes with any kind of information, needed for further processing.

Bring more information into your design data for a perfect further processing, e.g. for manufacturing analysis and simulations!

In PCB-Investigator are many options and methods in the ribbon menu. This special menu can be change by “Customize Ribbon” button in the Start Tab (last button). We offer different menus for our Editions (Ultimate, Developer, Fabrication and Basic) and the options to change the menu individually.

You have the option to import existing menus or one of your company or colleagues.
If you want to create a company or division menu just locate all buttons, dropdowns and groups in the avail-able tab pages or create new pages and export the file to central location where your colleagues have access. Than they can import the xml file and have the same menu as you have.

You can modify the menu by adding commands with “Add Command” button to the selected Tab-Page-Panel.
The Order of elements is:

  • Tab
  • Panel
  • Group/Button-List
The Tab and Panel is required, all other options are individually and can be combined as you want.

All Buttons/Icons without script favourites are possible to add many times and in many tabs/panels.
It is also possible to use drag and drop for new buttons to add.

If you search for a special item and do not find it use the search function of “All Commands”-Tab, just insert the name in the header and the list will be filtered to all with same name including.

With next release we add a function to automatically save changes of your ribbon menu in your PCB-Investigator directory (C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\EasyLogix\PCB-Investigator).
This is important after reinstallation you can use the last menu without do all customization again.

In Button options you can change the size and some more details like “Hide Text” and all bolt written elements.

More information about adding scripts or plug-ins to the menu in this articles:

Using Scripts
Scripte as Plug-Ins

PCB-Investigator contains a CAD Net List to handle all nets easily. You Find Nets with search function in all column headers.
You can highlight nets by selection or setting a color. You can also save your color settings to import them in other designs or give it to a colleague or customer.

You have options to show the components connected to the nets (count and selection). By selecting a net you can optimize the view to highlight especially this net and activate containing layers.

There are tools to generate net list or remove it from existing data. You can rename the nets to “anonymous” names to give it to customers who do not need all information.

Maybe you want rename a single net or combine two nets, that’s also possible like adding a color to a single net or export the net list to csv or copy it and paste it in any software you want.

You see immediately the net properties of all nets and you can filter for special net properties.

Component Properties Dialog
With the V6 update the properties dialog was extended by a component image, an area for the component information and one for the package information.

If you connect your components with online material or documents (PDFs, Videos, webpages) you can use links to find your files/pages easily by double clicking.

In the property grid all component properties are listed, where some of them are also changeable like the color or height.
In the Package property grid all values are read-only as it is not possible to change the package definition here (for doing this you need the component Editor plug-in).

For signal layers the property dialog now has some more Information, too. Here some values like the 'FreeText' or layer net number can be changed. In the upper part of the dialog you can use the context menu to set colors or select all objects with a similar property.

In the lower part of the dialog, there is an attribute list where you can select all other objects with a similar attribute by double clicking.

PCB-Investigator 6.0.0 advantages

V6 is optimized to be integratable in any work flow. A full customizable ribbon menu helps you to adapt it to your work flow. Predefined tasks are integrated. For the shop floor usage, the 'View' tab creates a paperless factory solution. For preparing data the 'Fabrication' tab gives fast access to the proper functions. An extra tab for Electronic Developers provides a rich set of tools to check the physical layout.

Many Import and Export formats makes it easy to bring data from all processes together. Use the easy way to compare all data formats PCB-Investigator supports. Formats with component and net information are ODB++, IPC2581 and GenCad 1.4.

Here is an overview about what's new:

- New menu structure (ribbon).
- Easy view of selection in the layer list.
- Scripting with menu shortcuts.
- Panel Builder integrated with easy handling of panel creation.
- GenCad 1.4 export update.
- DXF import update.
- Fabrication options to modify the board contour.

Interface updates:

  • Many new functions and methods e.g. image creation with GetBitmap in IStep
  • Localized controls with automatic translation.
  • IFilter has new creating methods with less parameters to use them without specific knowledge.
  • Options changeable from interface e.g. component pin labels or way to set license via interface

New Plug-In updates:

  • Possibilities to integrate your own Plug-Ins in a user directory.
  • Customize your menu easily.
  • Better PDF import and synchronization.
  • Optimized HMI structure to save time fulfilling your tasks.


» Automation Interface Update (pdf)

» Release Notes (pdf)

» Interface Documentation


Scripting is one of the most popular plugins of PCB-Investigator. With examples for beginners or more complex scripts to handle complete work processes, the download area is a good basis for creating own scripts.

Now with version 6 of PCB-Investigator you can add all scripts to favourite groups and start them directly from your menu without opening the script Dialog first.

You can create many scripting groups and add your own favourites there. All new favourite groups are added to the PlugIn menu and can be moved to any other tab in the ribbon menu.
There are no limits to create own groups. You can also use own icons and self-explaining names to find them easily.

PCBI scripting is included in our demo with two startup scripts. You can use them directly and/or go to the web area to download new demos.

If you understand programming with .NET you can develop your own scripts easily. For a quick introduction we have many examples online here: how to instructions

For sharing your scripts and use code of other users, it's possible to join our community and use the PCB-Investigator forum. There are many FAQs, if you need help you will find a solution here.

It is also possible to create shortcuts in your script folder, e.g. if you have a server directory with all scripts of your company and all users should use them. Just create a shortcut in your local script folder to the server directory and all server scripts will added to your list of available scripts.

You want to combine and fill objects? This task is very simple by using scripts.

We have an example online “Create_Polygon_of_Selection”

The download is in Web area under “Editing”, with right mouse button you can save it local to modify the script (it create an extra layer to insert the new area fills, maybe you want to replace the old elements instead of make new elements on the new layer).

To use the script select an area on your layer. It should be closed and best is to select only one element to combine. We recommend the Net Selection Shape mode, it search for all connected elements and select them.

After Selecting the relevant lines and arcs start the script and a new area fill appears.

PCB-Investigator's new Job Library is a very useful tool to find and organize your design data.
Just add your most important designs in the needed order and with a meaningful name in the "Favorites" list. Small preview images and a list of basic design parameters will also help you to identify the right project at the first glance.

All last opened designs are also stored in the "Recent" list, no matter which kind of file format was originally imported (ODB++, GenCad, IPC2581 and many more). Recently opened designs can easily be added to the "Favorites" list by using the context menu of each entry (right mouse click on an entry).

In "Browse" mode, a windows typical folder browser helps you to navigate to the desired design data. An automated recognition of ODB++ data structures thereby helps to identify the right directory. To avoid the navigation to often used directories on e.g. a shared team drive with many subdirectories, you can add "Shortcuts" to the quick link icon tray by drag and drop the needed directory from the directory tree or a windows explorer to the quick link icon tray as it is shown in following animation:

With the small "+" button in the left bottom corner of the Job Library you can add e.g. a shared team network drive as an "ODB++ Server" Tab to the Job Library. Here all ODB++ sub directories of the selected drive/path are listed including the last change date. A clear directory structure with self-speaking names (like customer names or project names/revisions) simplifies the inter-team collaboration enormously.

If you have opened a project once before, a small preview image with its components, drills and board outline, as well as some basic design parameters (PCB size, count of copper layers/component layers, ...) will be shown when the project is selected the next time. In that way, the identification of the right project is possible without having to import it first.

Organize your design data and save time with the new Job Library! Try it out now!

There are some new features in version 5.1 to add or remove objects to/from the current selection.

You can use Ctrl key to remove objects or use Shift to add objects to your selection.
This works for all kind of selection tools.

The standard selection tool select features at a certain location.
The first click selects the smallest object at this point. If you click more than one time you can toggle between all elements at this position.

To select a group of objects in a rectangle, the second selection tool is useful.

With the Net selection tools you can add or remove complete nets (or connected objects or a chain of nets). Use right click on the net selection tool button to change the mode.

The default Net Selection uses the net name to identify the net elements to select.
The same method can be applied to objects of activated layers only. An additional method optimizes the display of the selected net by activating all related layers and hiding unimportant parts of the layout.
The newest feature of this selection tool is to select nets with Crossover Mode. With this mode a net is selected across small components with 2 or 3 pins, where Ground pins are ignored. In this way a logical net can be perfectly tracked.

The geometrical shape modes are interesting if your design does not have any net information. Here objects are selected if they are overlapping each other.

As an option for all these methods connected components can also be selected.

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