Designing circuit boards is an integral part of computer manufacturing, both on a large scale and on a DIY basis for hobbyists and independent professionals. Of course, without the circuit board, the computer won’t function, so it makes sense that printed circuit board (PCB) design is one of the most important aspects of constructing a new technological device. While tech is advancing expeditiously in terms of how much processing power can be crammed into a designated amount of space, conventional circuit boards are still widely used in the construction of “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices due to the fact that larger components are easier to work within a non-factory environment. Smaller boards are popular with device manufacturer’s, but the additional space provided on a larger PCB makes it easier for the average designer. With that said, here are some tips to consider when designing a PCB:
1. Schematics are the First Step
First and foremost, don’t try to design a circuit board with a paper and pencil. Although it’s possible, it would be an impressive feat, to say the least, and you’d be wasting quite a bit of time. You’re probably aware that you’ll need to start by choosing a PCB design software that can help you create schematics, so start by learning how to use that kind of software.
2. Become Familiar with Circuit Board Design Guidelines
All electronics are built using specific formulas and processes, and the same can be said for printed circuit boards. As a PCB designer, you’re essentially a digital artist, drawing and painting tiny circuits that uphold the core functionality of the final piece of art – the finished device. Thus, once you’ve decided on a robust PCD design app, the next step is to become familiar with the sweet science of PCB artwork.
3. Follow Several Example Layouts
Other than simply reading the guidelines for PCB design, it’s a good idea to get some hands-on experience by re-creating simple PCB layouts found online. If you can replicate existing PCBs reliably then you should be able to make a few modifications and call it your own. Or if you’re lucky you might learn enough about how the boards work to then formulate a completely new concept.
4. Refining the Design for Improved Performance
Finally, once you have a good prototype of your PCB, be prepared to have to make some changes in order to iron out the bugs. It’s a good idea to purchase surplus circuit boards so you’ll have plenty of materials at your disposal during the creative process. After all, all software and hardware inventions start out in the beta phase.
Taking it Slow and Experimenting with Variations
In closing, although the above tips will start you on the right track, it’s imperative that you don’t take off from the starting line too quickly, as that may cause you to overlook faults and inefficiencies in your design. Remember that creating a working PCB is only the first step, and there really is no final step because you may find yourself redesigning new versions of the board over time.