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Make 2 alternative board files (layout, 3D PCB) for a single schematic

Message 1 of 3
175 Views, 2 Replies

Make 2 alternative board files (layout, 3D PCB) for a single schematic

I was wondering if there was a way to make 2 alternative PCB documents based on the very same schematic, kinda like how you can make several footprints for a single component.


The use case I want is making different possible physical versions of the very same circuit (which would have the same schematic and be electrically equivalent). For example:

  • A crude forgiving PCB with large dimensions, spacing and tolerances meant for home PCB making vs a more demanding version meant to be sent to professional PCB prototyping service
  • A version with T/H parts vs a version with equivalent parts but SMD (and much smaller, probably)
  • A version meant to print an actual PCB vs a version meant to be made in a protoboard with fixed 2.54mm spacing but the exact same components
  • A version meant to be a standalone board with connectors vs a version with a phyisical layout meant to plug into something else like an Arduino Shield, but the exact same components


I've found no way to do it and from what I can observe it seems a schematic is linked 1:1 to a single PCB layout document (and the PCB layout in turn can be linked to a 3D PCB).


I've found questions asking about 2 boards single layout but they were people who had more or less designed two circuits in a single layout file and then wanted to split them: I don't want exactly that, my layout contains a single coherent circuit but I want to make 2 or more possible physical versions of the circuit when it comes to sizes and layouts


For now I'm using "simply duplicate the electronics project files in question and edit them" as a workaround but perhaps there was a proper way to do this and have it all linked together nicely instead of having 2 parallels of what's deep down the same circuit.

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Message 2 of 3
in reply to: ramlopezm99

Nevermind, I already found the answer to my own question by accident, sorry about that. But I write it here if anyone finds it:


When you copy the original project files, the new ones all linked up to the original ones, not to each other (which is what was giving me trouble and I made me find out the answer by accident). If you open the "Electronics Design" file you can see what files it is linking to and remove the old links selectively. So to achieve what I wanted you can:


  1. Make a copy the electronics project files, make sure to rename every single one to avoid confusion with linked files (even if in different folders)
  2. Open the "Electronics Design" file which is the "root" electronics project file (the icon of this file type contains both a schematic and a PCB behind it).
  3. On the linked file browser on the left, right click on the PCB (layout) file and unlink it*.
  4. Now you can either re-link to the new copied files and edit them, or delete them and re-create them from scratch. Both options are done with the Create toolbar in the Electronics Design file, but the key point is to leave the link to the original schematic file (what I wanted to achieve)
  5. If you copied the layout too delete the copy, you're linking to the original one anyways


* 3D PCBs link directly to PCB Layout files, not the root Electronics Design file it seems, so by unlinking the PCB Layout you also cut off the 3D PCB

Message 3 of 3

Hi @ramlopezm99 - Loren from Autodesk here. One other thing you can do is:

  1. Create a new Electronics Design
  2. Link the original schematic (a single schematic can be linked to multiple electronics designs)
  3. Start your new PCB layout

The advantage of this approach is the schematic can remain linked to multiple electronics designs, which can continue to consume changes to the schematic. In other words, you don't need to break any links to re-use your circuit design.


Hope this helps,


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