PCB Design for a Single Board Computer

Thread Starter

Elmabrouki anass

Joined Nov 17, 2020
13
hello,
I'm interested in designing a SBC, I would like to know your opinions and some links for examples or advices and steps for those that already did something similar ??
 

Deleted member 115935

Joined Dec 31, 1969
0
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Thread Starter

Elmabrouki anass

Joined Nov 17, 2020
13

Deleted member 115935

Joined Dec 31, 1969
0
That's quiet a complicated board your showing as an example your after designing. Lots of high speed matched impedance tracks, signal termination et all.

IMHO,
your asking a basic question, where as a to design this sort of board is far from basic,

QED. Dont try till you have a few more years under your belt of designing
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
13,574
I'm interested in designing a SBC
IMO, it's not worth the bother. For $5, you can have a Raspberry Pi Zero. If you want something more capable, you can have an a Raspberry Pi 4 for less than it would cost you to have a PCB made for an original design.

Doing a hardware design is straightforward. Building an OS is a huge amount of work. Porting a Linux distro is still a lot of work.

I bought a single board computer from a Kickstarter project for $9. To sell at that price, they had to make 10's of thousands of units and they needed some help to do some of the heavy lifting.

If this is an intellectual exercise, study the Raspberry Pi designs. Even with all of their documentation, it'd still cost you hundreds of dollars to make one.
 

bug13

Joined Feb 13, 2012
1,996
This is a good read, I really enjoy it. It shows you how to design a embedded linux system from a few Manufactures, from PCB design to building a distro with Buildroot, I am hoping to do one of these one day myself.

If you did do any of these, do report back on how you went.

SO YOU WANT TO BUILD AN EMBEDDED LINUX SYSTEM?
https://jaycarlson.net/embedded-linux/
 
Last edited:

Thread Starter

Elmabrouki anass

Joined Nov 17, 2020
13
That's quiet a complicated board your showing as an example your after designing. Lots of high speed matched impedance tracks, signal termination et all.

IMHO,
your asking a basic question, where as a to design this sort of board is far from basic,

QED. Dont try till you have a few more years under your belt of designing
Thank you so much for your reply, I appreciate it
 

Thread Starter

Elmabrouki anass

Joined Nov 17, 2020
13
IMO, it's not worth the bother. For $5, you can have a Raspberry Pi Zero. If you want something more capable, you can have an a Raspberry Pi 4 for less than it would cost you to have a PCB made for an original design.

Doing a hardware design is straightforward. Building an OS is a huge amount of work. Porting a Linux distro is still a lot of work.

I bought a single board computer from a Kickstarter project for $9. To sell at that price, they had to make 10's of thousands of units and they needed some help to do some of the heavy lifting.

If this is an intellectual exercise, study the Raspberry Pi designs. Even with all of their documentation, it'd still cost you hundreds of dollars to make one.
Yes, I got your point, thank you so much for your reply.
 

bloguetronica

Joined Apr 27, 2007
1,467
If you are doing your design just for fun, then I think you should proceed. Be prepared to spend some money, and also take some lessons in PCB design , especially the ones concerning signal integrity and controlled impedance, differential pairs, USB, etc. At a beginner lever, I wouldn't touch DDR.

In fact, I'm aiming to design my own motherboard myself, using an SP7021-IF from SunPlus (search for Tibbo or Plus1). It is a QFP chip with internal RAM, so I will not need to touch anything DDR. Also, by not being a BGA, it is much easier to route. I will have to route USB lines, but I have experience with that (even designed a few boards with USB 3.0 and they worked, first time).

If you need help, there are good tools for impedance control. Saturn PCB Toolkit is one of them. Of course I'm rowing against the tide, but designing your own SBC could be a good experience and you will learn so much. Robert Feranec and others have done plenty of videos about controlled impedance, USB routing , and even DDR routing (which, again, I wouldn't touch, because it is a completely different ball game).

And yet, you should design simpler projects first, if you are absolutely new, and I would strongly suggest that course of action. Refining PCB design takes years. I would suggest 5 years of trial and error on diverse projects, from the most simple to the most complicated. For what you want, you will learn a lot by designing with the Parallax Propeller P8X32A. The Arduino approach is a beaten track, and the P8X32A obligates you to use an external I2C EEPROM and a USB to UART brigde, so it teaches you about serious PCB design.
 

Thread Starter

Elmabrouki anass

Joined Nov 17, 2020
13
If you are doing your design just for fun, then I think you should proceed. Be prepared to spend some money, and also take some lessons in PCB design , especially the ones concerning signal integrity and controlled impedance, differential pairs, USB, etc. At a beginner lever, I wouldn't touch DDR.

In fact, I'm aiming to design my own motherboard myself, using an SP7021-IF from SunPlus (search for Tibbo or Plus1). It is a QFP chip with internal RAM, so I will not need to touch anything DDR. Also, by not being a BGA, it is much easier to route. I will have to route USB lines, but I have experience with that (even designed a few boards with USB 3.0 and they worked, first time).

If you need help, there are good tools for impedance control. Saturn PCB Toolkit is one of them. Of course I'm rowing against the tide, but designing your own SBC could be a good experience and you will learn so much. Robert Feranec and others have done plenty of videos about controlled impedance, USB routing , and even DDR routing (which, again, I wouldn't touch, because it is a completely different ball game).

And yet, you should design simpler projects first, if you are absolutely new, and I would strongly suggest that course of action. Refining PCB design takes years. I would suggest 5 years of trial and error on diverse projects, from the most simple to the most complicated. For what you want, you will learn a lot by designing with the Parallax Propeller P8X32A. The Arduino approach is a beaten track, and the P8X32A obligates you to use an external I2C EEPROM and a USB to UART brigde, so it teaches you about serious PCB design.
Thank you for your kind response and advices !!
 

ksandford

Joined Jan 9, 2019
1
There is a lot that goes into a good computer board design, especially on with on board DDR memory as stated above. There are many low cost boards and suppliers available that provide custom boards. My company purchases a SBC with only the connects needed or that will not add costs and were able to drop the "standard cost" by doing so. They also test and made sure that the full up board works across a wide temperature range. The other advantage is that BIOS setting where tweaked with their help.
Good Luck designing your own.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
24,651
For my own SBC I simply buy an MCU chip from almost any manufacturer and just slap it on to a PCB.
You can't get much simpler than that except go out and pay for someone else's ready-made board.
 

bloguetronica

Joined Apr 27, 2007
1,467
Thank you for your kind response and advices !!
No problem! You should try designing a SBC of sorts using the P8X32A, before thinking about doing a proper SBC. In fact, there are software projects for it, including very basic operating systems. That will teach you many things. In the end, you should have a bootable MCU project, that can be programmed via USB. If you can do that, then you should have the confidence to start designing your own SBC.
 

Deleted member 115935

Joined Dec 31, 1969
0
For my own SBC I simply buy an MCU chip from almost any manufacturer and just slap it on to a PCB.
You can't get much simpler than that except go out and pay for someone else's ready-made board.
I would ask @MrChips

Are these MCU's that you "slap it on a PCB" having DDR memory interfaces as the OP has stated ?
or small PIC type items with limited external peripherals.
 
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