Getting Started with a Circuit Board Design

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Circuit board design is often deemed to be an arduous job. The length of this type of project and all the individual tasks that arise along the way, from the micromanagement of copper to dealing with through-hole technology, is, more often than not, what puts people off from giving it a go.

Circuit Board Design

However, if designing a circuit board interests you, you shouldn’t be afraid of attempting it based on a preconceived misconception that it is tough. Of course, it isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s not as hard as you probably think it is.

To get you past the first hurdle, get started with your circuit board design, and check out the following advice.

Choose a license that suits your design needs.

The license you choose will make your quest to design a circuit board a lot easier or make it ten times harder. Suppose you opt for one that cannot work without an Internet connection, for instance. In that case, you will limit yourself regarding when, where, and how you work — if you’re the type of designer that would much prefer to work on the move, then you should opt to activate the Circuit Studio license. By doing so, your work will be saved, copied, and backed up at regular intervals; you will be handed access to critical updates to ensure that your work process remains productive and efficient. You will be granted access to the Altium Vault.

Check out other people’s work.

One of the best things you can do to get going with your circuit board design is to check out what other people have done before you. This will help you to understand how layering works, how circuits are laid out, how holes are drilled and routed, and so on. Using Open Source Hardware will make checking out community projects easy.

Know how to read schematics

The schematics you choose will be the map you follow as you seek to create a fully-functioning circuit board. They will help you to build and troubleshoot your circuit until you feel ready to roll it out to the world. Knowing how to read and understand schematics, then, is absolutely essential.

Generate a blank PCB document

You must first generate a blank PCB document to start creating your board. This is easily done, especially when you make use of the Altium as mentioned above Vault:

File > New > PCB

Your document will automatically be saved as PcbDoc. Before placing the components of your paper, however, you need to define its layer stack.

As an inexperienced designer, you will encounter many problems when you first set out on your bid to create a circuit board. Your board probably won’t do the job you ask for right away. You shouldn’t let this dishearten you, though. In this instance, it is advisable to maintain low expectations while putting the above advice into practice. Fear not, however, because your 20th design is guaranteed to be better than your first!

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