Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are made from fiberglass reinforced plastic with the copper wiring in trace form. All the circuit board components are held in position by soldering the components into place after drilling holes in the demarcated areas on the board. The copper tracks which take the place of traditional wires are more effective and more resistant to damage. They link all the components together, forming a circuit on the board.
If you’re just starting down an electrical engineering path, here are some helpful tips & tricks to remember:
- Many people try to design PCBs with just a basic idea of the circuitry in their head; however it is important that you have a complete and accurate circuit board schematic diagram in order to avoid making mistakes.
- Always lay out your board design on a fixed grid or a snap grid so that the circuit board components and tracks will be able to “snap into place.” It is important to use the grid to make sure you have enough space on the board for all the components and it will allow you to have fluid copper tracks rather than bits and pieces all over the place.
- Always work from the top of the board. Imagine that your board is transparent and ensure that the components line up properly.
- Track sizes will vary depending on the type of board you are designing, the purpose of the board and how much conduction is necessary. It is always possible to use different sized tracks to allow for bridging or tightly spaced tracks.
- Place each route and each component in their grid off the board then when you are sure of its position, place them on the circuit board individually in order to maximize your efficiency and reduce your margin for errors.
- Always check the copper tracks to see if the conduction works and then do a design rule check and cross check it with your schematic after each step.
- Make sure someone else checks the board for you because having a fresh set of eyes will sometimes help to catch simple errors such as crossed tracks or missing soldering points.