A Complete Guide on How to Make a PCB?

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How to make a PCB? Well, designing a PCB is not going to be an easy job. The whole process of building a PCB consists of several steps. You need to pay heed to every single detail of every single step. Otherwise, you might end up starting from scratch. Hopefully, this doesn't happen, and you get all the information right. So, in further detail, we are going to talk about how to make a PCB, step by step:

Why do you have to design a PCB first?

Before diving into the primary procedure, it is necessary to know more basic information about PCB and how you need to build it. Otherwise, you might make a mistake while doing the actual job.

A Printed Circuit Board is an insulation base, or you can call it a flat plate that consists of patterns of conduction components. Some PCB projects can be complex, but it all depends on what reason you are designing that PCB.

Most of the time, people think that doesn't have much experience working in this field, so why is it necessary to design a PCB first? You can jump on the primary process of building a PCB. Then why create first?

The answer is simple and plain. If you don't design the PCB first, it will also cost you a fortune and time. Designing is the first step for a complex or a simple PCB for both. You should know where you are going to place all the components. If you don't prepare a design and just work on the main project, you won't be able to complete it on time.

Guideline on how to make a PCB?

You are going to need a guideline to start on your PCB project. So, here is a step-to-step guide on How to make a PCB?

Knowledge of electrical parameter

You must know them and understand the electrical parameter of the PCB you are about to start designing. The electrical parameter includes:

  • Signal types
  • Voltages
  • Current maximums
  • Impedance characteristics
  • Capacitance limitations
  • Type of circuit components and connectors
  • Location of circuit components and connectors
  • List of net wiring

Now, lets move to the next point

Schematic file

Before you jump onto the next step of How to make a PCB, you need to follow the nine electrical parameters that we have mentioned above. First, you need to sort out these details. Only then you'll be able to hop on to the schematic file step.

Preparing a schematic

There are software and tools that will help you to create a schematic. A schematic is not any mechanical representation of How to make a PCB process. A schematic consists of the design details of the PCB. What type of board are you going to build and for which equipment?  

You need to mention all the details in this file. It also shows the board's function and purpose, as we already said this point before. It will be a prototype of the PCB you will start building after one or two more basic steps. Let's make this step a bit easier for you. Following are the three essential information points that you need to mention in this file:

  • Which electrical components are you going to use on the PCB?
  • How are you going to connect all the components?
  • What would be the relation between the components in different schematics

Now, we will go to the next step.

PCB

PCB layout

Once your schematic file is created, it is time to use the schematic capture tool in Altium designer. It helps in importing components of your schematic file into your black PCB. First, you need to create a black PCB document, and it finally makes a PcbDoc file. If you have already determined the PCB dimensions, shape and layer stack up, you can set them now.

This compilation step consists of verifying the PCB design and several project document generations.

Design a PCB stack up

When you finally transfer your information from the schematic to the PcbDoc, the component's footprints are shown on the board outline. This step consists of placing components and defining your PCH layout

If you are designing a PCB board for the first time, then most modern PCB design concepts start with a 4-layer board on FR4. You don't need to have to with the four-layer design only. It depends on the requirement of the project. Define PCB DFM requirements & design rules

There are several rules for designing a PCB board. You need to know all of them. So, let's talk about them:

  • Objects clearances in the PCB layout, for example, the clearances between pads and traces

  • The size limits of copper or solder masks, for example, solder mask silvers and holes

  • Width and length limitations of routing rules

  • Signal limits and high-speed

  • Limits of board fabrication and clearances

Now, we can move to components part.

Time to place components

Finally, it is time to place components on the PCB now. Now you have two options whether you want to put all the elements manually or automatically on the board. It will take more time if you go for the manual option. You can also use both methods. With the automatic method, the work gets done within no time. After that, check the components' placement manually according to a good guideline for designing a PCB.

Drill holes

Now is the time to drill holes. If you think your PCB's design is complex, try to get rid of a few complexities. Try to make the design a bit easier to understand.

Route traces

After placing the components on the PCB and other mechanical elements, it is time to route your traces. Once you start routing your board, you should devise a strategy to finish all the essential routes. Now fill in the gaps, and you should also know some of your necessary routes, including your power nets, noise-sensitive nets, and impedance-controlled nets.

Component identifiers and labels

If you are done with all the steps of How to make a PCB we mentioned above, now it is time to go for the final stages. You have a layout of the PCB board you will be building later. First, you must identify the components on the board first. The identifiers and labels will help you know where you will be placing the pieces.

This step will assist you in assembling PCB with reference designators of all the board components.

All the indicators have to be prominent so you don't end up placing any indicator in the wrong place. If you place components wrongly, you might have to start the whole process again from scratch. So it would help if you had all the labels and identifiers of elements on the layout of your PCB.

This step would sort you out if you ever try to debug your PCB while testing it. You

will have this file, and you will know whether you have placed all the components in their proper place or you need to make some changes.

While putting labels, you can also add a logo of the company you are designing the PCB for. You can miss this detail if you plan to design the PCB for any of your projects.

Make an output file

The last step of the How to make a PCB guide. Before you make orders for the PCB components, it is wise to verify the details first. There is a possibility that you might have made a mistake while working on the steps we have mentioned above. If you are using an Altium designer for this whole process, it will automatically verify the details in the file.

After verifying the details and having passed the final DRC, it is time to generate the design file. Whether you are going to assemble the PCB yourself or you are going to give this project to any manufacturers. You can keep this file as a reference or send it to the manufacturer, including all the special notes and requirements.

Time to get started

The guideline on How to make a PCB has been completed. It consists of 10 steps. Make sure you read all the steps carefully. Otherwise, you might end up making a mistake while designing the PCB.

Whether you are going to do the main job for yourself or you are going to hire someone to make the PCB. Share the file we have prepared above and keep a record of it in your system. It will help you to check whether everything is done right or not at the end.

Final words:

We have explained all the steps of How to make a PCB above. You have to follow the lead and work step by step. You cannot make any mistakes if you follow every step and don't miss any detail. Otherwise, you might have to start all over again. It will cost you both money and time. So, be wise and follow the guidelines. You can complete the project yourself or ask someone to create PCB for you by sharing the details of your PCB design.

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