How to start learning PCB designing ?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by shreeram, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. shreeram

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 29, 2012
    Hello all,
    I want to learn pcb Designing .So how should i begin with?like which software.??etc etc ...please help me with more details
  2. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    Search this forum for PCB / Eagle / DipTrace etc. You will get lots of hits and discussions on which is easiest to learn etc.

    Pick one (or two) and download the free evaluation edition. These will allow you to play with the package but have limitations on board size, number of holes, etc.

    Lay out a simple circuit. Take a look at the 555 timer schematics on this board and pick a simple LED flasher or something. Make a 2 sided board but keep it simple. DIP packages, through hole resistors etc. HINT: make sure when you pick from the various component layouts that you actually have a component that fits i.e. don't just pick a capacitor from the 50 in the library.. pick one that you have or can get.

    Visit a board manufacturer's site and see what they require for minimum hole size, trace width, etc. for a basic cheap board.

    Read and do the tutorial that comes with the layout package. Basic steps are:

    Create the schematic by using pre-built components and symbols in the standard library.

    Run the DRC and ERC (error checking) until it is happy. You will initially have lots of errors. Fixing these will help you learn the system.

    Lay out the board components by using component package patterns from the library. Don't forget things like mounting holes.

    Eagle (probably the others, too) will show 'air wires' i.e. point to point connections between the pins etc. Move things around to minimize crossings and to make a good flow.

    Route the board manually. Vertical traces on one side and horizontal traces on the other side. Vias to change directions.

    A good starting point is to run power around the perimeter on one side and ground on the perimeter on the other side.

    When the routing is done run the DRC (design rule check) to check for unconnected traces, spacing errors etc. Eagle's defaults are fine for a first go.

    Plot the board i.e. make Gerber files for the various layers. Every PCB package generates Gerbers, the standard PCB language. You'll also need to make an NC drill file.

    View the Gerber files using something like GC-Prevue. This is what your board will look like.

    Submit your Gerbers to the board house. I use as a check. Its very picky but will save your bacon.

    Lots of posters here etch their own boards. I've done that but now just send them off to You are in India so you'll probably want something closer etc.

    Those are the basics. Once you've done one, it comes down to a combination of engineering (no 10mil power busses, please) and functional art (which comes from experience and seeing how others do it).

    They don't call it 'artwork' for nothing.

    Once you pick a package and get started, you can ask for help here. Be sure to indicate which package you are using.

    Note: there are sites (ExpressPCB?) that have free on-line PCB / schematic editors. They are pretty good (I've heard) but you don't get to keep your own Gerbers and have to make the boards at their shop. Not unreasonable by any means if it fits your needs.

    Have fun.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
    shreeram likes this.
  3. nerdegutta


    Dec 15, 2009
    That's some good advice's!

    I'm learning a lot, looking at PCB's, when I'm ripping electronic stuff apart.
  4. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    What JohnInTX said, cept I use different tools.

    ExpressPCB is a company that makes inexpensive boards from their own software. However, their schematic drawing program is quite useful for someone learning as it has limited features so you have less to learn. Same goes for their PCB layout program, limited features but it only lets you layout boards they can build: there is a built in check test to see if you need to fix anything. If I post a simple schematic on this firum chances are I drew it in this program; it's the fastest from idea to done.

    As far as a full featured program goes you can't beat Kicad: I've used it when job shopping some boards in professional settings. It is completely free, completely unencumbered, and works well with no bugs I am aware of. You can even use an online autorouter with it fopr the cases where you have 1000 noncritical connections.

    Finally, our old friend Dave Jones wrote a very good PCB Design Tutorial he calls "PCB Design Tutorial." Dave covers many of the basics in some detail. Click for your very own copy.
    shreeram likes this.
  5. shreeram

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 29, 2012
    I have downloaded the free software "Design Spark PCB"... Its fyn Ryt?
  6. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    This is all excellent advice.

    I first started off with ExpressPCB, which is free but somewhat limited and in my opinion is not very neat. I moved on to the free version of Eagle, which--while it is also limited to a certain board size/number of layers and is a bit difficult to learn at first--is a professional software that I have grown accustomed to. I have designed several boards, all have turned out quite well using Eagle. Personally I didn't care much for FreePCB, KiCAD, Altium, or any of those. I tried about a dozen of them and Eagle just worked the best for me personally. I suggest you do the same--download several free ones and try them all, see which one you like best. It will vary from person to person.

    The only other thing you should do is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Eventually you'll get a feel for what components should go here, what traces should go there, and so on. Just start small, and when you're comfortable with that you can move up.

    Good luck!
  7. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    Please don't use text speak here.

    I have heard some good things about Design Spark PCB, and some bad things. When I tried downloading it myself they never sent me the confirmation email so that I could activate my account. I tried it twice and they never sent it, so I gave up on them.

    But as was mentioned before, try several design programs, not just one. You'll thank us for it.