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PCB Design Phase

By Applied Electronics - Monday, June 9, 2014 No Comments
A usual electronics design process involves specification phase, schematic design phase, simulation of circuit phase, PCB design phase, manufacturing, assembling parts onto the PCB board phase and testing phase. Within these stages repeated simulation, testing are required.

The PCB design phase involves imprinting thin conducting wires on a fiberglass, epoxy or laminate material board. The thin conducting on the board are copper traces that connects different electronics components, inputs and outputs ports. The PCB are designed using PCB design software. Some popular PCB design software are Cadsoft Eagle Free one, Orcad PCB Software and Altium Designer.

The schematic design and simulation stage precedes PCB design phase. A schematic design is a electronics interconnection drawing showing how the various parts are interconnected. This drawing is later on transferred to the PCB layout editor. This transfer process requires generation of netlist file which contains information about the interconnection of components with net labels. Also required information in this transferring process is the PCB footprints for each components. These PCB footprints information are associated with each parts in the schematic design. The transferring process transfers these information to the PCB editor.

Almost all free or commercial electronics design automation software have schematic design and PCB design editor. Simulation editor may or may not be available. Commercial do have this simulation editor. Most of the simulation editor are based on spice model or variant of spice simulation concept.

The PCB design phase involves the following usual editing steps-

1. Creating the board size, specifying the board material, specifying the number of layers
2. Specifying the various design rules
i. trace width
ii. spacing rules between the components, spacing between traces, height of components, spacing rules between via and traces, via and components
iii. via holes size rules
iv. rules for different layers
v. rules regarding electrical
vi. rules for different masking, pads
2. Placing components on the PCB board
3. Interconnecting the routes(manual or interactive or auto-routing)
4. DRC Rule check
5. Correcting any errors
6. Creating PCB manufacturing files(Gerber, NC drill etc)

The different design rules are usually dependent on the PCB manufacturers. In other words the design process is also dependent on the capabilities of PCB manufacturer, their tools. So one should check what widths and other pcb design rules are required to be adhered. Also the aforementioned pcb layout editing steps are not necessarily required to be followed exactly. Meaning that any steps may proceed over the others or performed after another depending on the design situation.

For example the PCB trace width can be adjusted during the trace or track routing step according to ones need. This is usual in the PCB layout design phase.

As outline above the end aim of the PCB design phase is the producing PCB design files required for manufacturing.

Altium designer is a widely used PCB design software, see more about how to design a PCB in Altium Designer Tutorials.






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