Problem – Extremely Small Components on Schematic Page in OrCAD Capture 17.2 (Pin-to-Pin Spacing)

It’s just another beautiful day (or night) and suddenly you have a rare situation, when you make a new schematic you have small components on the schematic page whenever you place parts (picture below)….

Schematic of Buck-Boost Maximum Power Point Tracking circuit components in OrCAD Capture 17.2 scaled at 0.010 inch pin-to-pin spacing
Tiny parts on the OrCAD Capture Schematic viewer

This is something you may have never seen before or may never see, because normally OrCAD 17.2 defaults to your parts looking like this:

Schematic of Buck-Boost Maximum Power Point Tracking circuit components in OrCAD Capture 17.2 Scaled at 0.10 inch pin-to-pin spacing
Properly scaled parts on OrCAD Capture schematic viewer

So how can the situation in the first picture happen? The parts show up completely tiny, and no matter what you do, you can’t fix it. Here’s the source of the problem and how to fix it.

Setting the Design Template

To change the pin-to-pin spacing (and therefore the scale), go to menu Options – Design Template – Page Size. Then you will see the Pin-to-Pin Spacing Option. You can set that spacing to whatever you want and that will change the scale of any new design you create.

Then you can copy pre-existing schematics to that new design. This is not the only way to fix the problem, though. You can use a second method to set the default pin-to-pin spacing for a new schematic page, without having to create a whole new design (.DSN).

Set Pin-to-Pin Spacing on Page Creation

OrCAD Capture gives you the option to customize your schematic page whenever you create a new page within a design. However, this option is not enabled by default. In Capture, you have to go to Tools – Utilities – Customize Page (On Creation)

OrCAD Capture 17.2 menu Tools - Utilities - Customize Page (On Creation) option
Menu selection in OrCAD Capture 17.2 to Customize Page (On Creation)

Once you get the new window, you turn the option on with a check mark

OrCAD Capture 17.2 Page Customization Window
Page Customization Option – set to Enable (not the default)

Click OK, then whenever you create a new schematic page, by right clicking your schematic folder and choosing New Page:

Creating a new schematic page in OrCAD Capture 17.2
Making a new page within a schematic in OrCAD Capture 17.2

you get options to set the Units, Page Size and most importantly, the Pin-to-Pin Spacing.

OrCAD Capture 17.2 Design Template from New Page Creation Customize Option
Design Template from New Page creation

OrCAD Capture sets the Pin-to-Pin Spacing to 0.10 inches by default. But if you set it to something like 0.010 for instance, that will scale everything to a 10% smaller view.

OrCAD Capture 17.2 0.010 Pin-to-Pin Spacing on Schematic Page
Result from scaling to 0.010 pin spacing

Pre-scaling is permanent

Unfortunately, it seems you have to make a new page if you want a different scale (pin-to-pin spacing) instead of adjusting current pages automatically. In previous software, like PSPICE Schematics, you could customize a page any time you wanted. Now in OrCAD 17.2, you need to commit 100% on that Pin-to-Pin spacing for a new design or page.

Where to View Page Settings After Page Creation

If you want to check your page settings for pre-existing pages, you can always go to the Capture menu in Options – Schematic Page Properties. There you will see the Schematic Page Properties and can change the Page Size, Units, and Grid Reference, but not the Pin-to-Pin Spacing

Schematic Page Properties window in OrCAD Capture 17.2. View Page Size, Pin-to-Pin Spacing
Schematic Page Properties in OrCAD Capture 17.2

Benefits of Smaller Pin-to-Pin Spacing

So the next time you want to have extremely small components taking up less space on your schematic page, you can use the above methods. This comes in handy when working with massive designs that have to be printed on a limited paper size. You can especially make use of this scaling option to create compact-printed panelization and wiring diagrams. This method is also better than playing with scaling during print time in the print settings.

OrCAD Capture Has Interesting Hidden Tools and Options

OrCAD Capture has a lot of features under the hood, so take a look at the menu Tools – Utilities option to find some interesting extras. Also look at menu Options – Extended Preferences for even more options (like how to remove the line under a hand-written Reference Designator).

For more information

If you would like to learn more about OrCAD Capture 17.2, be sure to check out the documentation under the Help menu. Everything you can possibly imagine is in that documentation. If you would like to learn more handy tips and tricks, check out the Free Tutorials page on this website. Finally, if you don’t use OrCAD, you can download the Trial version of OrCAD from EMA Design Automation.

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