Is there a way to assign connector pins in the PCB editor?

As the title says. I have a 20 pin connector with most of the pins going to a radio board with pads on 3 sides. Without resorting to pencil and paper is there a way to create this assignment in the PCB editor.

For instance if the pins of the connector were somehow wild cards with respect where the pins are connected. Traces are dropped on the pins and the device pad the pin was connect to was reflected in the schematic or even listed in a text file of some sort.

Yes you can, but it’s not a good idea. You can manually assign a Net to a pad and then make the required connection by a track to satisfy the Net. But this really is a backwards way of working . . . instead make the connection in the Schematic and the Net will automatically be assigned to the pin . . . then you can take advantage of DRC checks to find anything you might have missed/done wrong vs the schematic when you come to the track layout.

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I assume this is for a connector that can be wired in an arbitrarily order.

Even if you have made the connections in the PCB editor, you would still need a way to communicate it back to the schematic. If the schematic only knew they were connected in some arbitrary order, that would be a very bad form of documentation.

For those I usually draw tracks to near the connector so I can see in which order the PCB layout is easy, and only then connect them in the schematic. When you have both the schematic and PCB editors open at the same time (dual monitor or big monitor is delicious) then fixing it directly in the schematic is quicker then working with some intermediate text file with notes. Or as a variant: First draw the schematic (so you at least know which wires go to the connector), and during PCB layout go back to the schematic and swap some wires or labels.

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Paul, thanks for the answer.

Just a thought, how I envision it “could” be;

  • In the schematic the components would not be connected to the subject connector
  • In the PCB editor the “net” rule would consider the connector to be a “wild” net. i.e. nets would be “*”
  • One would then connect the component pads to connector pads/pins.
  • PCB editor would provide a list of Net connections for each connector pad/pin.
  • User would update the schematic.


My ideal is the possibility to just draw tracks to pads on the PCB, and then show ratsnest lines in the schematic. This is also ideal for reverse-engineering a PCB.

The WireIt plugin allows you to make arbitrary connections between pads while in pcbnew and then it can create a file listing the changes that you can manually enter into your schematic.

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