Schematic-Only Components in Project

Sometimes I like to place external parts on schematics that aren’t actually part of the PCB, they’re only here to illustrate how the main circuit is used/connected. For example, in one project I placed a symbol for a motor and its motor driver, including how to connect it to a connector. However, these two parts will not end up on the PCB.

Right now, the two components are listed as “unplaced” in the board editor. It would be nice if I could mark them as “schematic only” within the project. (There is already a “schematic only” checkbox in the component itself, but that would be applied globally.)

Suggestion on how this could be implemented:

  • Add a checkbox “Schematic only” in the component properties dialog, in the “Board” section
  • In the board editor, if component is not yet placed, hide it from the “Place devices” section and ignore it in the ERC
  • In the board editor, if component is already placed, add a warning in the ERC

Additionally, in the board editor under “Place devices”, a right-click menu could offer the option “Ignore on board” which would trigger the checkbox. A confirmation dialog would probably need to be shown first, since once the entry is marked as “schematic only” it will disappear.

Yes, this would definitively be a nice feature! But we need a well-conceived concept to avoid ending up with issues worse than the current flaws (thinking not only about the “Place Devices” dock, but also about ERC, BOM export, Netlist export, …).

Note that the use-case for the “Schematic-only” checkbox in the library editor is quite different from the use-case described here. In the library, we mark components as schematic-only which do not have electrical signals/pins anyway (e.g. schematic frames) so these components don’t affect things like the ERC anyway.

However, the feature discussed here will be used for components which do have signals & pins – so you can connect them with electrical connections in a schematic and they are part of the netlist etc. just like any other component.

Ideally the same solution could be used for both use-cases, meaning that the current “schematic-only” feature needs adjustments as well.

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