As any PCB engineer would attest, creating a printed circuit board can be a tedious process. From the schematic design to fabrication, there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes, and a small oversight could send you back to the drawing board.
As with most technical projects, knowledge is the key to making the PCB design process easier and stress free. Here are the answers to three FAQs that can save you time and help you build an efficient, glitch-free printed circuit board:
1. What are the most common mistakes during component placement?
The proper placement of PCB components is essential for creating a durable board that functions properly. As such, it is helpful to know the common mistakes that novice designers make and how to avoid them.
Here are a few common oversights during the component placement phase of PCB design:
- Not leaving enough mounting hold clearance;
- Not placing series terminators close enough to the source;
- Not adjusting the through holes so they can be auto-assembled;
- Not leaving enough plane clearance to prevent shorts during soldering;
- Not checking that the socketed ICs have enough clearance, or that there is sufficient clearance for IC extraction tools;
- Not considering whether you will have to remove parts if you repair or replace components;
- Not checking the orientation of connectors;
- And not placing bypass capacitors next to the corresponding IC power pins and components.
Some of the most frustrating mistakes are the easiest to avoid. For example, as about tech explains, both professional and amateur PCB designers often forget to back up their work. This can cost you hours or days of wasted labor. Be sure to enable the auto-save function of your electronic design automation software, and back up your work on external hard drives in case a crash happens.
2. What should I look for in PCB design software?
The right electronic design automation software can help you avoid layout mistakes and easily edit your PCB before fabrication. However, not all EDA software offers the same features.
Try to find EDA software with:
A User-Friendly Schematic Capture: The schematic capture should make it easy to identify and edit layout problems. Your EDA software should let you test modifications instantly.
Feature-Rich PCB Editing: Your software should allow you to create rule-driven routing. It should have a built-in auto-router engine that offers 3D PCB visualization.
Comprehensive Content Library: There are more than 350,000 potential PCB components, and finding the right parts is essential for making your printed circuit board function correctly. You should look for EDA software that has a comprehensive content library and allows you to order parts easily. The best software offers real-time information about part availability and pricing.
Free Trial: It is not always easy to find PCB software with the necessary features. As such, you should look for software that offers a free trial so you don’t wind up wasting money.
Circuit Studio is a popular PCB design software that offers all of these features and a free 30 day trial. CLICK HERE to learn more about Circuit Studio’s free trial offer.
3. Should I ask another PCB engineer to review my printed circuit board?
Yes. Even if you are an experienced PCB developer, it never hurts to get the opinion of another engineer. You should ask for an evaluation at three stages of the development process:
- After you create the schematic and before you place components;
- After you complete the routing in hard copy;
- And after you assemble the data package and fabricate the PCB.
Creating a printed circuit board that functions properly is a satisfying accomplishment. You can make the process a lot less stressful by avoiding common mistakes, using the right EDA software, and getting a review during important milestones of PCB development. Don’t let your PCB get the best of you; follow these tips and enjoy the creative process.