Designing a printed circuit board, or PCB, is more challenging than ever before. With electronics becoming smaller and smaller, many boards are no bigger than a quarter, and some are even smaller than that! However, many of the most common mistakes in the design process are the same no matter how large or small the eventual PCB will be. If you are new to the world of PCB design, don’t get ahead of yourself. Begin with a list of mistakes to avoid! You’ll be thankful you did when you learn what they are.
Wrong Choice of Design Tools
In the past, you’d think of a designer as a person who sits at a draftsman table to literally draw out a design for the board. Fortunately, those days are long gone with the advent of Computer Aided Design, or CAD, software. Today, it only takes the right software and a computer. However, the software you choose is of vital importance, and if you are using programs distributed by various companies, you may run across incompatibilities. Choosing a complete set of software tools can eliminate the frustrations that come with incompatibilities that you will spend countless hours finding!
This is the second most common mistake in PCB design many new designers fall prey to. An inaccurate pc board layout can cause a whole host of issues. Copper paths etched too close together can trigger a short, and components placed incorrectly just may not work. For example, the placement of decoupling capacitors in your PCB layout can render them useless. They must be placed extremely close to the pin requiring voltage to be stable. Some new designers are unaware of this issue and place them at a distance in which they are unable to maintain stable voltage.
Failure to Obtain Review
You may be perfectly pleased with the end result of your design and deem it ready to go into production, but in this case, two heads are always better than one. Collaboration is a vital step prior to sending your work to prototype or production. Have your design reviewed by other members of your team, and if there aren’t any, seek professionals you can trust to give you honest feedback. One small modification can add layers of functionality to your PC board, and when it’s a PC board layout issue, this can be easily corrected in the design suite you’ve chosen.
Oddly, everything seems to lead back to that software you are using in the design process. This leads to one more mistake you are likely to make after a long day of concentration. You may feel like you are brain dead, but how will you feel if you come in to work in the morning only to learn your amazing design is lost in cyberspace? Never forget that no matter how tired you are, you need to back up your work. Even so, the right software can be set to autosave, so again, the right software should be your key focus when seeking to avoid the most common mistakes in PCB design.