Designing Unique Printed Circuit Boards

Years ago, creating a custom printed circuit board was a very long and very tedious process. There were a variety of products and tools needed to get the design down such as Dalo markers, drafting film and light boxes. Click here for more information about custom printed circuit boards.

Recently, there have been many advancements that make it a whole lot easier to create a custom printed circuit board. There are dozens of free or low-cost PCB design software packages available to hobbyists and pros alike.

Most are CAD software programs that enable you to design, layout, and capture your schematics right in the software. Your design can then be uploaded to a custom printed circuit board manufacturer.

Steps to Designing a Custom Printed Circuit Board

Although different manufacturers follow different procedures, this is typically how custom PCBs are constructed.

1. Schematic Capture

In this step, every board component is sketched out and connected to one another. This doesn't need to be anything more than a pencil drawing of the circuit and its components. Going directly to your design software without this step will make the electronic design much harder. Draw as much detail as possible to make it easier on yourself when designing electronically.

2. Choose Your Design Software

There are quite a few options available for hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers. Search for the term "PCB Design Software" on Google and it should turn back a handful of solutions to choose from. Choose a program that is both easy to use and capable of handling the complexities of designing a custom printed circuit board

3. Drawing Schematics with Software

Once you have picked a design software program, you can start transferring your drawings and notes into the program. Again, each component and how they are connected must be accounted for. During this step you will also create the component footprints and establish the board's outline. To learn more about custom printed circuit boards, click here.

4. Design Rule Creation

Of the many rules to track during this step, the most critical are the use of fixed grids, shortening nets, and keeping tracks a safe distance from one another. If your design can be simplified in any way, do it. You shouldn't be designing the board to the tolerance of the manufacturer simply because you can.

5. Placing the Route Traces and Components

Similar to a jig saw puzzle, all components need to be set on the board and all routes need to be traced to connect them. PCB design software programs should be able to tackle both the manual and automatic placement of board components.

6. Catch Any Mistakes With Design Rule Checkers

An automated rule checker is a staple in most PCB design software programs. It works similar to a spell check and points out areas on the custom printed circuit board where there are mistakes.

7. Output Gerber Files

Once the board is free of any errors it is to be output to Gerber files. Gerber files are a file format that are approved by the majority of printed circuit board manufacturers.

You can save yourself a lot of time and effort just by reading the software instruction manual. Click here for more custom printed circuit board information.


Post a Comment