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Schematic Design Phase

By Applied Electronics - Tuesday, June 10, 2014 No Comments
Schematic Design Phase is usually the second stage after the Design Specification Phase in the electronic product design flow. In the schematic design phase a circuit implementation diagram is drawn that shows and consist of electronics components interconnected with wires. The electronics components are resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, power supplies, ICs, microprocessors etc are interconnected with wires as per the required operation of the circuit.

The schematic design phase is dependent on the first step which is the Design Specification because the question of what the design has to accomplish is provided by the specification. With the specification designers can make a plan how to achieve the design goal. It gives them idea of complexity, how large the design is and other essential requirements. One thing the designer has to select is the electronics design software to accomplish the design project and because electronics design software have different capabilities, the schematic design phase is dependent on Design Specification.

What works and tools are used for Schematic Design?

 In early days, electronics circuit schematic were drawn by hands in papers. Nowadays electronics design software are used for the schematics design. There exists number of schematic design software, both free and commercial. These software have huge library of electronics components that can be searched, selected and dropped onto the schematic sheet. Afterwards the components on the schematic sheet are connected with wires representing the actual electrical connection. After the required schematic is captured it is simulated to check whether the circuit would work in the final implementation. This only gives theoritical indication of whether the circuit would work in real physical implementation. Experience with software and actual electronics component is required to get the schematic design close to required design.

An example of a schematic design drawn in Proteus is shown below-


In the above schematic design, two microcontrollers have been used as transmitter and receiver. The external circuitry required to operate the microcontroller consists of push buttoms, resistors, transistors, LED.

The schematic design phase servers multiple purposes-
1. It gives overall architecture view of electronics circuit interconnection
2. It provides a basis for checking the theoretical correctness and working prototype of the design through simulation
3. It serves as the basis for the PCB design

Some example of schematic design software are Proteus, Altium Designer and Orcad capture(Cadence).

Although Proteus can be used in all design stages it is essentially useful in microcontroller based projects. The interactive simulation feature with firmware development makes Proteus a distinguished electronics design software.

Altium Designer like Proteus can also be used in all design stages but the PCB design editor is very much enhanced. See the best PCB design software post where some of the essential pcb design features and capabilities are described. The other great capability of altium designer is the creation of true 3D prototype model of the end product. This is important because today competitive market requires visualization of end product design.

Cadence is another great electronics design product. It also does all the tools required for all design phases. Orcad capture is used for schematic design and Allegro is used for PCB design. Besides these Cadence has great simulation tool that stimulates analog, digital and mixed type circuits.

Any of these aforementioned software can be used for schematic design. Once the schematic Design Phase is completed, the Simulation Phase and then PCB Design Phase follows.

There are number of tutorials and project that shows how to use these design tools.

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