Tutorial 4 – Shifting gears

So far we’ve covered basic schematic drawing operations – creating devices, connecting etc. But connectCAD is faster and more flexible than that. We have tools to help you create devices even quicker and connect them up rapidly.

The Matrix tool


Deep down all devices are much the same – a black box with various inputs and outputs.

The Matrix tool gives you a quick way to create a basic device with same signal inputs and outputs. This is how it works:

  1. Select the Matrix tool
  2. Click in the drawing a the point where the top / left corner of the device will be.
  3. Fill in the device details and click OK

Matrix asks you for the device Name and Tag, the signal type and connector type, and the number on inputs and outputs to create.

Here is the result


I just made a simple device with 8 inputs on the left and 6 outputs on the right, all with the same connector type. If I need to add more sockets I just take a Socket tool and click to place them.

Matrix gives you the starting point for all kinds of broadcast and audio-visual devices: routers, vision mixers, multiviewers, display processors… Just begin with a matrix with the basic inputs and outputs and then add the details.

By using the simple straightforward tools of connectCAD you can create any device in a matter of seconds. And no decision you make is cast in stone. You can come back and change a device whenever you need to and everything updates.

More specific devices – Distribution Amplifiers


Distribution amps are used a lot in broadcast systems to split signals to multiple destinations. Since they are so common we have a special tool to create them. Here’s the way it works:

  1. Select the VDA tool
  2. Click in the drawing at the point where the first DA should be placed
  3. Set the make and model, where to starting DA numbering (i.e. VDA01), the number of outputs and number of DA’s to create sequentially
  4. DA’s are created in a column top to bottom with one grid unit spacing.

For audio DA’s (ADA’s) there’s a separate tool right next to the VDA tool. The DA tools are highly customisable and let you create your own equipment types. Check out the User Guide and our How-to articles to learn more.

Jackfields aka. Patch Panels


Most systems have a patch panel somewhere, so we have a special set of tools to make these easy to manage. The process is very similar.

  1. Select the VJF (video jackfield) tool
  2. Click in the drawing at the point where the first jack should be placed
  3. Set the row designation letter, the number of the first jack, number of jacks to create sequentially
  4. Jacks are created in a column top to bottom with one grid unit spacing.

Because jackfields use special naming conventions, you use the same tool to create and edit jacks.

There is a whole family of these kind of tools to let you place video, audio, optical and data jacks on your drawing. Just like the socket tools you click and hold to reveal the other tools. Just to the right in the palette are a similar set of tools for placing term panels (aka. demarc panels). All the tools work in the same manner. The User Guide has all the details.

But now let’s see how we can speed up connection.



Connecting our Matrix to the patch panel one Circuit at a time would be rather boring, so we’ve created a shortcut. MultiConnect lets you connect up the selected devices in the obvious way.

If you right-click in the drawing a menu comes up. Select MultiConnect and immediately the selected devices are connected up.

MultiConnect works in a simplistic way – it doesn’t read your mind, it just connects outputs to the input immediately opposite. A fast, predicable time-saver.

Collecting connections into a bus

Coming back to our previous drawing – the MATRIX is wired one-to-one with the patch panel so we can treat these circuits as a bus.

I’ve re-drawn the first circuit as a rounded polyline. Now let’s see how to make the other circuits follow that route.

  1. Select the circuits you want to re-route
  2. Right-click in the document and select the ReRoute command
  3. In re-route mode move the cursor over the circuit whose route you want to follow.
  4. As you hover over the circuit it highlights red to confirm – click it
  5. Selected circuits are reshaped to follow the red highlighted circuit.

Shaping circuits into a fan-out

Here’s another use for ReRoute. You can create these kind of fan-in and fan-out shapes. Exactly the same steps as before but this time a different result. When the “guide” circuit has only 4 points in its line you get the fan-in/out effect.

More Reshape tricks

The Vectorworks Reshape tool lets you edit groups of vertices in multiple objects – what do I mean by that?

Here we have four circuits selected and the Reshape tool active. I’ve drawn a rectangle to surround a group of 4 vertices. If I click in the dotted rectangle and move the cursor, I can move all four vertices at once.


I don’t know about you but I’m ready for a break now. We just covered quite a lot of ground and it’s worth taking the time to try this stuff out and let it sink in a bit before forging on ahead. To recap then, we saw:

  • quick device creation based on the Matrix device
  • DA’s and the special tools that create them
  • connector panels of various type and their tools
  • techniques for making multiple connections and routing them efficiently

In the next tutorial we’ll discuss the key aspect of connectCAD, the Duplicate – Modify workflow.

Leave a Reply