The Inspector allows you to see various attributes of your part in one easy to use and flexible interface. Select one or multiple parts in Part Browser and Inspector will show you the values. Inspector also allows you to change and set attribute values, but as said before you cannot change anything that is part of the PCB layout like the footprint itself, the value, etc. This must be done in EAGLE.
The Inspector is separated into sections. Each section can be collapsed and expanded by clicking on its title, it works the same as the sidebar in Finder.
This section is the first in the Part tab of the Inspector. It shows everything that is imported from EAGLE. As you can see every EAGLE part stores the name of the library and package as well as a value.
EAGLE does not have specific attributes for manufacturer and part number, but there is kind of a convention in the community (well, I am using it myself and have seen it in a few BOM management ULPs) that part numbers are stored as an attribute with name MPN, and manufacturers are stored as MANUFACTURER attribute. When loading the EAGLE board Copper will search for these two attributes.
The Dimension section just shows the dimension of the footprint. When calculating the dimension Copper does ignore text elements, as these are often very large considering the size of the actual part. The dimension values are in mm, as everything in Copper. It should help you find the correct part. If you are searching for a part in part sourcing mode you can quickly check if a part fits the footprint.
I made this mistake myself some time ago. I had a QFN 32 component, most of the components that use this package are using it in the 5mmx5mm configuration. So I added a QFN 32 footprint to my board and ordered them at OSHPark.com. I ordered the parts (just reading QFN 32 in the datasheet) and when I wanted to solder them, I saw that the part actually came in a QFN 32 4mm x 4mm configuration! Bummer! In Copper I would immediately see that the part dimensions in the datasheet do not match the dimensions Copper has calculated from the footprint.
This section shows the information attached from the Part Sourcing module. If you have been following this guide you should have attached a part number from a 1.0uf capacitor to the currently inspected C4 footprint on your board. You should see something like that:
All of these infos are provided by Octopart.com. They consolidate everything from different distributors and therefore have extensive knowledge of every part on this planet – well, most of the time.
SKU is the distributors part number. Following the tutorial you should have selected Digi-Key as part source. The SKU now points to the Digi-Key product page, the product number is the global part number of the manufacturer.
There are two checkbox that you can play with:
Hide from BOM:
Hides this part from the BOM. This is usefull for “parts” like logos, images or documentary text
You can activate this checkbox and it will show up in the Favorites part source when searching “real parts”. Using this option you can build your own personal library of preferred real parts without noting them anywhere else or searching for old orders to find your preferred part numbers.
If you have attached a part number this section will display technical specs for the part. This is just awesome, as you can immediately see for any part what the core specs are. There are parts that have more technical specs than others, as it depends on many things, but for common parts a lot of specs should show up.
This section shows on of Coppers strength: Data Management. Let’s dive into the theory first: If you are soldering your prototype board yourself this does not really matter, but if you want to get your board manufactured and assembled by a fab house, this is very important. If you get your board assembled i.e. in China, you typically let the board house buy the parts. The board house must know which parts to order and what to do if parts are more expansive than you thought or aren’t available anymore. Sometime there is a direct replacement part with the exact same specs. But sometimes it’s not. And in this case the board house must know what specs an alternative product must have that your design still works.
Using the features in this section you can make the correct decisions once, and you will not have to care about it again, no checklists, Excel files, notes, etc. Just use Coppers features for data management.
At the top of the section you can select one of three options:
Value and package
This option is the default and it does not specify the part beyond its footprint and value.
Exactly this part
Use this option to specify this part as crucial for your design. This is typically the case with micro controllers or very specific power supply units. If you set this option comment will be exported with the BOM that explicitly states that only exactly this part number should be ordered and assembled. If this part is not available the board house will have to come back to you to find a solution.
Specific technical specs
This is the most powerful options. Just select this option and click the check boxes for each technical specification that is crucial to your design. Make sure you only mark specs as important that really are. The more specification you provide the harder it is to find a replacement that has the same price or is cheaper and is in stock. Using this option the BOM export will add the crucial specifications to the list for each part.
For this section I will leave our guide now for a moment to keep it consistent with the next few sections. This section is really cool. It’s the part footprint rendered in 3D space, and if you have attached a 3D part it will also be rendered in this tiny little 3D view. You can rotate and move the part to see the footprint and 3D part from any angle. This makes it easy to setup 3D parts using the sections described next.
This is the reason why I have left the guide as a capacitor does not have any part customization options, this section would be empty. And I didn’t want to show a Package/Footprint screenshot that does not match this one.
There are an enormous number of parts and packages available. And there are just so many configurations. Think about a simple QFP IC. These exist with theoretically 8 to 400 pins. And there are LQFPs, TQFPs, MQFPs and many more. But they all share the same options: They have rectangular geometry, number of pins and a pitch that separates each pin from the other. They have height and a border, sometimes round. Perhaps they have a different body shape. Some of them with chamfer, some of them have the pins attached low to the body, others high.
When I started building Copper I downloaded ICs from various sources and converted them to Coppers model format. I thought: How many different ICs are common? I did that for my own designs, and I did it for a few Sparkfun and Adafruit designs. But it became clear that it’s impossible and not sensible to store a part for each configuration.
This is why we developed Procedural Parts. It’s a piece of software that exposes a few attributes that can be set in the Inspector and output a 3D model of the part. This is so cool, as it makes it possible to create any possible configuration of a IC. We have implemented Procedural Parts for QFPs, QFNs and SOICs. This is pretty much everything you need for ICs, as these are highly customizable.
As you can see there are quite a few options. Play around with them. It makes fun to build very fat, or very thin ICs. We have integrated part customization into our typical Part Library workflow. But instead of downloading a model file, we download settings from our cloud service and use the software to build the part. We created a lot of basic configurations to get you started.
And Copper will analyze your EAGLE footprint for the pitch and the number of pins. This way a Procedural Part like QFN and QFP will fit as soon as you have attached it. But you might have to adjust some attributes like chamfer (smooth borders) and border radius as well as the ICs height to really mimic the real part. If you have attached a part number before you can open the data sheet viewer with the package info on the main viewer and use Inspector to adjust the values.
All our 3D part models are aligned and positioned in the bottom center of the part. But it’s not guaranteed that your footprint parts are created the same. With 2 pin parts they are sometimes aligned vertically, sometimes horizontally. There must be a way to position the 3D part onto your 2D footprint.
This is done in this section and by previewing your settings in the Package/Footprint viewer. You can position, rotate and scale the model. We advise you not to use scale, instead search for the right part if possible, as it may not really match the real part and therefore any fittings done with the exported 3D model of the PCB in mechanical CAD could be wrong.