Things to Know Before Designing a Printed Circuit Board

Things to Know Before Designing a Printed Circuit Board

Designing a printed circuit board (PCB) isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. You’ll need a decent level of technical and electrical knowledge, as well as the ability to use specialized software to design the layout of the board.

However, with a bit of practice and research most techies, entrepreneurs, and electronics specialists can figure out how to design a board of their own, whether it’s for experimental purposes or the invention of a new Internet of Things (IoT) device that you plan on bringing to the market.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you get started:

  • Schematics are Always the Foundation

If you’ve been researching PCB design, then you’ve probably realized that you’ll be learning how to use a software to create the layout schematic before constructing the physical board itself. The importance and difficulty of this initial step should not be overlooked, as it will usually be the most challenging part in the whole process.

Fortunately, PCB design software providers like Altium are usually good about providing detailed support, so if you run into any problems along the way it should be easy to obtain the necessary guidance.

  • Start with Quality Materials

When you’re designing your first board it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest PCB materials you can find. After all, you don’t want to be wasting money on resources when there’s a good possibility you might be wasting some due to mistakes caused by inexperience.

However, arriving at a quality finished product should be your primary concern, so don’t be afraid to splurge on the best PCB materials while building your prototype.

  • Make Sure the Board Will Fit Into its Designated Spot

Since most PCBs are inserted into technological devices and concealed within compartments of their own, it’s important to make sure you’re designing the board with the right size dimensions.

This is a common mistake made by novice PCB design software users, but it can be easily avoided by considering the space consumed by the additional components attached to the board.

A good way to do this is to print a copy of your PCB layout and then place each component on the printout to simulate the amount of space that will be used.

  • Trying Out Multiple Manufacturers Before Choosing One

Finally, once you’ve successfully designed a working prototype the next step will be to have it produced en masse by the manufacturer of your choice. Don’t make the mistake of settling on the first manufacturer that provides a satisfactory product.

Instead, be sure to build a list of the top 5-10 options and then order a sample from all of them to see which one offers the best overall experience in terms of price, delivery time, and product quality.

  • Your First Board Will Be a Learning Process

If you’re preparing to tackle your first PCB design you should expect there to be some obstacles and mishaps along the way, particularly if you’re attempting a complex configuration.

Thus, it’s a good idea to start with a small and simple project that offers a high chance of success, rather than trying to produce an extraordinary board the first time around.

Editorial Team
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