By some stroke of genius, you decided to make your own printed circuit board. Unfortunately, you have not studied to be an electronics expert. Don’t despair for all is not lost! Here are some pointers to make your very own PCB:
1.Look for CAD software. CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design. CAD software is used in supporting a designer in drawing, adjusting, analyzing, and organizing a design. Using CAD software ensures quality and efficient designs. CAD output is frequently in the form of electronic files that needed to be interpreted manufacturing operations. For beginners, follow-up questions like the following should also be asked when looking for the perfect CAD software:
- Are there many people using this software? High number of people using the software means that it is reliable. Also, these people could help in answering queries about the use of the software.
- Is it easy to use? If the instructions that come with the software package are hard to understand, chances are you will have a harder time using the software to design your printed circuit board.
- Is it free? For beginners, it is more convenient to use the free CAD software package. In addition, free CAD software tends to be easier to understand than software that needed updates.
2.Review others’ works. In looking at other people’s designs and layouts, you will get ideas on how to start and how to go about your design. Research extensively first before starting anything. It is also better if you could talk to people who could guide you in your design.
3.Practice makes perfect. Doing your own very first printed circuit board might not come out as you expected but there’s a first time for everything. Expect lots of problems do not have high expectations. Repetition and practice will improve your PCB making skills.
4.Plan and have good schematics. Planning ahead and designing with good schematics will save lots of time and will also make your work more organized.
5.Schedule. Set a designated schedule in which you will have to finish a part of the circuit board. Putting the element of time pressure in your work will ensure you to finish what you started.
6.Have enough money. Making a printed circuit board is not cheap. Some materials and tools for making PCBs are expensive. This is definitely not a hobby for people who should be saving up for more important expenses and investments.
7.Consider safety and toxic substances. In making PCBs, you also need a working area reserved only for the purpose of making PCBs. Make this area children-proof and properly ventilated (some reagents produce toxic fumes). Also, have a suitable waste disposal system. Take into mind also the existing laws in your area (in some places in Europe, permit is needed before making PCBs).
Designing and making PCBs is not for the feint-hearted. It takes lots of patience to understand terms and mechanisms of each part of a PCB. Tons of energy and brain neurons need to work to be able to come up with a perfectly working circuit board. Expect it to be frustrating and worthless in the first few tries but once you get the hang of it, making circuits is a pretty rewarding hobby. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your PCB powering a gadget. After practicing about a hundred times, you will probably produce a genuine PCB and who knows, you will have your lucky break! If your design turns out to be popular, you could commercialize it and it could be the start of your electronic empire! Well, one could dream, that is.