Looking to get into PCB design.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by BCMusic, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. BCMusic

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
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    Well, I am very new to PCB design and for some reason I can't get my mind off of it... Just the thought excites me. So, my main ambition is to design motherboards and video cards. I am currently getting the feel of using certain software (freeware and purchased.) I have self-taught myself almost everything I know, but I think this one takes the cake.... I am well aware that it's not an overnight process, and I don't care. I just need to know what I have to do, where to go, what to read, etc... etc... I have (more than enough I assume) the following software:

    NI Design Suite Power Pro (major setback, but worth it)
    PCB123
    AVR studio v4

    So, as you can see, I'm not just talking nonsense... I am quite serious!

    Well, I am all ears (or eyes) and ready!!!
     
  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    Jump in. I did the same thing many years ago. You are reasonably set to get started, although having all the available information about the devices is quite important.

    My first layouts were done with a 2x template on paper. after the connections were drawn in, a sheet of acetate was taped over the penciled layout, and I used rubdown transfers for the pads and IC pins. Foil traces were tape and rubdown radiused corners.

    Have at it!
     
  3. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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  4. BCMusic

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
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    Thanks a lot guys... I appreciate the constructive responses...

    Hey beenthere, would you have any idea on how long it usually takes to create mobo's, video cards, sound cards, etc... etc...? Not that it matters to me, I've always wondered these things.

    SgtWookie, thanks for that!! Looks great, I'll have a look see...

    I think I want my first project to be a replication of either a video card or sound card.. Not a mobo yet... But before I do that, what are the restrictions, if any, on creating an exact (or close to) replica of a board, like patents, design, etc...??

    And where can I find components to peice these boards together. You know, transistors, capacitors, chips, so on and so forth?
     
  5. steinar96

    Active Member

    Apr 18, 2009
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    I can imagine the design work behind mobo's and sound cards being tremendous. Although i'm mostly guessing at it i'd assume it being a 2-3 months work or more,
     
  6. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    Both video and sound cards are full of ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit). I do not think schematics for sound or video cards are available on the internet. And IF you found a schematic you will not be able to buy most of the circuits. I suggest you start with something much more simple, and down to earth. Start with something simple you may need. Like power supply as one example
     
  7. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    A motherboard is not a beginner project. I've done a layout for a hand held using a 68HC11 plus a peripheral, and did not enjoy the experience (got paid for that). 32 and 64 bit buss traces are up there with the black arts to get working properly.

    None of these critters you mention work just by being put together, either. Each has a specialized processor or DSP chip that have to be pre-programmed to handle the data properly.

    As suggested, a power supply is a good start to start learning with. Some experimentation is always illuminating, so a dual supply might be very useful. Audio circuits teach noise control (another black art), and microcontrollers get you into digital, plus a healthy start in programming.
     
  8. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    A really useful device is a power supply with adjustable both voltage and current limiting. It can be a real saver for your component budget ;)
     
  9. BCMusic

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
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    Ok, that's it, my first project will be a power supply.... What type of power supply? Where to look for schematics and specifications? Is there any hands-on, step-by-step tutorials online anywhere? I have found schematics, but it all looks foreign to me, so is there a symbol legend anywhere, or a book that shows what they mean?

    Also, is it even possible for a single person to design, program and put together something like this? And has it ever been done? If so, by who?

    I guess what I'm getting at is, has there ever been any one person to do all the steps to make, essentially, a homemade (maybe not 100% homemade) ready to install video card, sound card, mobo, power supply, etc...

    Sorry if there's so many questions but I don't want to waste any time getting started. I don't even think I understand anywhere close to half of the design process from the very beginning to the very end...

    I understand that if you're making PC accessories, you need to write drivers... And that's another thing, I'm also learning programming... But how does one write drivers, and where are some resources on the subject?

    Again, sorry for all the questions but, a closed mouth does not get fed... Thanks again for your help!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  10. BMorse

    Senior Member

    Sep 26, 2009
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    What experience do you have in electronics? If you can not even read a schematic, you are a long way away from designing a Mobo or even a simple power supply..... You can not design something you do not understand......

    First off take some classes or learn the basics of electronics first, do circuits on a breadboard to learn how they all connect together, then once the circuit is tested, (programmed, etc.) then you can go and design a PCB for it...... baby steps is what is required, you can not go from not knowing anything to designing multilayer PCB's for mobo's, sound cards, etc....


    And yes it is possible for one person to do all of those things.... I do it all the time for a myriad of things from basic power supplies, to full on automation software and electronics..... + more!
    My .02
     
  11. BCMusic

    Thread Starter New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
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    How in-depth are the videos and chapters on this site? Where should I go for more information? It won't be until about 1½ - 2 years from now until I'm able to go to school for it so I want to soak in as much knowledge as I can before anything...
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  12. harishreddy51

    New Member

    Sep 24, 2008
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    hey guys can u help me design the pcb..... as im new to this field
     
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