When designing a printed circuit board (or PCB) there are many potential mistakes which can be made. Fixing these during manufacture can be costly and time-consuming so you will want to ensure that you are confident in your design before signing off on it. Here are some of the steps you can take to make sure it is the best it can be before it is manufactured.
Even before you begin to design your PCB, you will want to make sure that you are using the best possible layout technique. PCBs are becoming increasingly more complex as technology advances so even a board for a child’s toy may be quite sophisticated. You are more likely to be able to spot a mistake if you have the right layout.
Keep It Simple
Another way to allow yourself the chance to see any mistakes you have made is by keeping the overall design simple and easy for you to read. Although the PCB may be for a sophisticated function, there will be a way for you to lay it out which best allows you to see it as simply as possible. This can help reduce problems like a schematic imbalance and is crucial in helping you become an overall better designer.
Keep the Team Together
If there are multiple people all working on the same project, you must keep direction open and clear at all times. This will help to stop anyone from going off-track and accidentally including something unnecessary or unrelated to the final design.
Using some sort of BOM Management (ActiveBOM) will ensure that everyone in the team is aware of what is needed for the design as well as what components are available to be used with the PCB. This will allow the PCB to be perfectly ready to go come manufacturing.
Use Any Saved Templates
If you have access to any saved templates from previous projects, be sure to utilise them to the best of your abilities. These are all PCB designs which worked and may be able to point you towards where the current project is failing. Being able to compare the successful board with your work-in-progress directly might flag up inconsistencies and mistakes. Be sure to also back-up every stage of your design so you can potentially backtrack and find exactly where you may have gone wrong.
Know the Little Things
There is a whole host of mistakes which will cause problems with your PCB. Knowing these mistakes and how to recognise them will save you invaluable time when you are trying to diagnose a problem with your design.
It could be as small as an improper thickness of copper in the plating to the decoupling capacitors being placed incorrectly in the design. These mistakes are so simple but they are made by even the top designers because they can enter your design so easily. Knowing how to recognise them and fix them will undoubtedly help you become a better PCB designer.