The more experienced you become, the better your circuit design is likely to become. You learn as you go. However, there are some tips that you can keep in mind when you’ve just started designing circuits that can help you to ensure the best possible design. The tips below can even serve as reminders for those who have been designing for years and who might need a little refresher.
Use Quality Software for the Design
Using PCB Artist or similar software will help to make the design process much easier. It will be easier to keep track of all of the different elements and components that you need for the design. The software makes it possible to see the design in a new light and to quickly make changes, rename elements, and test to see whether it will work. While the software won’t do all of the work for you, it will help to make the process smoother and faster.
Double Check Spacing
Many designers like the idea of making their circuits as small as possible. It will help to reduce space, but it’s not always the best solution. You still need to be sure that you have enough space between the components that it will be possible to solder and assemble the board. Quality software will often make it easier for you to virtually see where the components will be. Add enough space to work on the board if needed, but still keep it relatively small. SMT helps make it possible to reduce the size without the need to cram all of the components tightly together.
No Right Angle Traces
Another tip to keep in mind for your circuit designs is to beware of how you are placing traces. If they are placed at 90-degrees or right angles, it will often be hard for designers to ensure they are uniformly wide. Instead, it tends to be a better option to use 45-degree angles. These are a better width, and you’ll find that they won’t overcrowd the circuit design.
Make the Loops Small
Loops in your circuit design should always be as small as possible. This is particularly true when it comes to high-frequency loops. When you have smaller loops, it means that you have lower resistance and inductance. When you place the groups over a ground plan, it will help to reduce the inductance even more.
Smaller loops work well to reduce voltage spikes, prevent noise from being coupled into the circuit, and reduce signals that could cause problems with the overall design.
Placing Decoupling Capacitors
Another thing to keep in mind with circuit designs is where you’re placing decoupling capacitors. Typically, they should be as close to the power and ground pins of integrated circuits as possible. Doing this will help to improve the efficiency of the decoupling capacitor. When they are placed too far away, there’s a chance that it will add stray inductance.
Identify Heat Generating Areas
With many circuit designs, certain areas will produce a lot of heat. When a circuit has to handle a large amount of heat, there is the potential for that heat to damage the PCB. One of the easiest ways to help dissipate the heat is by adding heat sinks or coolers. This can help to keep the board cooler.
Additionally, when designing the board, it’s a good idea to move any of the crucial PCB elements away from heat sources. Keep in mind that the circuit might not be the only part of the device that’s generating heat. Consider where the circuit will be placed in the device and be sure that it’s not going to be too close to other heat-generating locations.
Remember the Importance of Prototyping
You might start your design by making a prototyping board or breadboard. This can be a good way to start, but even after you’ve completed your initial design, you need to make sure it will work in the real world. By using software like PCB Artist, mentioned above, and then getting an engineering file review, you’ll have a better idea of the viability of your circuit design.
However, you can’t — or at least you shouldn’t — start production quite yet. Instead, you’ll want to place a small order of PCBs that you can use as practical prototypes. These are boards that you can use on your devices to see how well they work in the real world. Sometimes, you’ll find that all of your work has paid off and it works well. Other times, you might notice some things that you can change to make the PCB even better.
Perhaps you can find a way to make the circuit design more effective and have less latency, for example. Maybe you find that you need to add a different component to meet the actual needs the device will face when it’s in use by one of your customers.
You might have to rework your circuit design, or you might find that it’s already in good shape. Once you feel it’s as good as it can be, you can then talk with Advanced Circuits about production.
These are just some of the ways to help improve your circuit designs. The more you learn about designing circuits, the easier it will become to create better and better PCBs.
Why Choose Advanced Circuits?
What makes us a good choice for your PCBs? We have a lot of experience in the field and are the third-largest PCB manufacturer in the country. Advanced Circuits prides itself on being able to meet the needs of customers and exceed their expectations. Whether you need only a small number of PCBs or you need to have thousands of them, we can help. We have a large facility that can provide for all your manufacturing needs, large or small.
We have a fast turnaround time, so you can get the PCBs you need in a matter of days. Whether you are looking to go into production or you just want some workable prototypes that you can test, it’s easy to get what you need with Advanced Circuits.