First, a layout is how components of something get arranged or how materials get set. The same is true when it comes to PCBs. A PCB layout is a broad term indicating several processes required in designing a PCB. It involves making traces, mounting holes cutouts, labeling, and specifying component locations, among others.
What is PCB layout?
PCB layout design is a unique skill that demands the comprehension of both the PCB CAD system and PCB design software. The following are some of the essential aspects here:
The principle of the original layout
Almost all PCB design software has the option of “auto-router,” and most of the time, many designers would immediately take the chance of using it. The reason is that it’s an easy way of routing a PCB. But to be on the safe side, it’s advisable never to use it. The reason is that it’s not as precise and symmetrical as it should be.
Original layout direction
Before you can begin placing components, you need to consult your producer first. You may have to listen to any demands that he may have, such as the number of layers they can handle. Other requirements may include things such as minimum trace widths and trace spacing, among others.
The spacing of originals in the layout
When electricity passes through the copper traces, it will generate heat. But such is avoidable by controlling the spacing of the marks. Their width needs management. Of importance to note is that more comprehensive traces mean less resistance that the current encounters as it passes through the circuit.
Avoid using a 90-degree angle
It’s advisable to avoid the use of a 90-degree tracing angle but instead to use 45 degrees. But what’s the reason for this? 45 degree tracing aspects prevent short circuits. 90-degrees angles may also not etch fully, and this may cause short courses.
Always create a plane
It would help if you always had a common ground terminal in the circuit schematics. Such is essential for a PCB layout as it provides traces with a standard reference aimed at measuring voltages. Problems arise when you attempt utilizing marks as opposed to ground planes for routing.
Finally, at all costs, ensure that you avoid issues to do with overlapping when it comes to PCB layouts. Such can make the entire line even more complicated.
PCB layout guidelines for beginners
While PCB layout may seem like a piece of art, it’s essential to start in an organized manner. To come up with the best design, you need to adhere to the following necessary three steps.
Step 1: First, you need to turn your schematics into a form of PCB layout.
Step 2: Secondly, you need to add and subsequently rotate the components to reduce the lengths and crossing of the air wires.
Step 3: Finally, adjust the layout size for routing.
What are the software for PCB layout beginners?
The following are some of the most common PCB layout software:
- Autodesk Eagle – this is one of the well-known schematics and PCB design software so far. It contains a schematic editor aimed at designing diagrams and a PCB layout editor.
- KiCAD – this is a cross-platform and open-source electronics automation suite. It includes a PCB editor for producing professional PCBs and a schematic editor for editing and creating schematic designs.
- Fritzing – this is the same as KiCAD. It includes a schematic, a breadboard layout, and a PCB view.
- DesignSpark PCB – this one provides an easy-to-learn environment consisting of schematics capture and a PCB layouts tool.
- EasyEDA – this one provides one of the most potent schematics captures and consists of a library designer, a PCB editor, and a project management tool.
- UpVerter – this is the same as EasyEDA. It enables hardware engineers to create, share, and review PCBs and schematics.
- PCBWeb Designer – this is a free CAD application aimed at designing and producing electronics. It consists of schematic capture and an integrated arrow parts catalog.
- ExpressPCB Plus – this is an EDA software aimed at creating and subsequently designing electronics circuitry.
- TinyCAD – this is an open-source software project that supports custom and standard symbol libraries. It supports PCB layout programs consisting of several formats.
- Osmond PCB – this is an only MAC-based EDA tool that supports schematic capture and PCB layout design.
Free PCB layout software
From the above list, the following are the free PCB layout software: