You could spend decades creating printed circuit boards, and you’d still learn something new almost every time you develop a PCB.
The architecture is constantly evolving, and engineers are always pushing the boundaries to make PCBs more durable and efficient.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to PCB development, the best way to advance your skills is to ask questions and research the latest design techniques. The answers to these three FAQs can help you avoid common mistakes, save time and make the design process far less tedious:
1. What should I look for when purchasing EDA software?
Electronic design automation software can cut your design time by hours – if not days. This software makes it easy to develop, edit and test PCBs before going to fabrication.
However, not all EDA software offers the same features. Here are a few points to look for when comparing the options:
- Easy-to-Edit Schematic Capture: The best EDA software has a schematic capture that makes it easy to notice and fix layout problems. The program should also allow you to test changes to your schematic instantly.
- User-Friendly PCB Editing: Beyond the schematic capture, your EDA software should have editing features that make it easy to route traces and place components.
- Expansive Component Library: With more than 350,000 PCB components available, it’s easy for engineers to feel overwhelmed. Your EDA software should have a well-organized and expansive component library. The best programs provide real-time inventory information from component vendors.
- Free Trial: You don’t want to be stuck using EDA software that doesn’t fulfill your needs. Make sure the program you choose offers a free trial.
Pro Tip: The EDA software from Circuit Studio has all of these features, and it’s a popular choice among both novice and experienced PCB engineers.
2. What are the most common mistakes during PCB design?
After countless hours, days and weeks of labor, you discover a fundamental mistake that sends you back to the schematic. If you’ve found yourself in this position, then you’re familiar with how frustrating PCB design can be.
Fortunately, the most common PCB development mistakes are easy to avoid:
- Mistake #1: Not Leaving Space to Add Components: The routing is perfect, the component placement impeccable, and it’s time to go to fabrication. But wait! Before you take that final step, make sure you have room to add components if necessary. Venture Outsource recommends that you create space by adding extra components that you can remove without affecting the PCB’s functionality.
- Mistake #2: Not Keeping a Backup of Your Work: Building a printed circuit board is a time-consuming endeavor. Creating the schematic, routing traces and placing components can take days – if not weeks – to finish. But all that hard work will be wasted if your hard drive crashes. For this reason, about tech recommends that PCB engineers always keep a backup.
- Mistake #3: Using Insufficient Edge Tolerances: If you do not incorporate the appropriate edge tolerances, then there could be a short with the metal chassis and cases. Try to place your ground plates and traces so they end 0.01 inches from the board’s edges.
3. At what stages of development should I ask other PCB engineers to review my work?
You might be the bee’s knees in the PCB design world – or even the cat’s pajamas – but no matter how experienced you are, it never hurts to let another developer review your work. In fact, it can save you a lot of time, and it will help you avoid disappointing clients if you were hired to build their PCB.
In particular, you should request a review during these three stages of the design process:
- Following the creation of the schematic and before component placement;
- Following the completion of routing in hard copy;
- And after you assemble the data package and manufacture the printed circuit board.
Building a PCB that functions correctly is a satisfying feat. You can make the process a whole lot easier by using the appropriate EDA software, avoiding common mistakes, and asking engineers to review your PCB at certain milestones of development.