All You Need to Know About How to Make a Custom PCB Board

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PCB is the hub of any electronic component. Without a PCB, no electronic device would be able to function correctly. PCB provides the machine with current and pathways to work. All of you might have seen the motherboard in your computer systems. Well, it is the PCB board of your computer system. Now you might be wondering how to make a custom PCB board.

Making a PCB board on your own will not be an easy journey. You will have to go deep down in every single phase first. In further detail, we will discuss how to make a custom PCB board.

Rules for PCB design layout you need to know about

Here are the ten rules that you need to follow while designing your PCB layout:

  • Try to use grid spacing while creating your PCB board layout
  • The paths between the components that you will install on the PCB have to be shortest and direct
  • To manage ground lines and power lines, use the power layer
  • Keep group-related components together
  • First, try copying the required circuit board on another more giant circuit board before you finally get the needed layout on your board of circuits.
  • Consider components with the same functionality but lower costs
  • Do DRC (design rule checks) as many times as you can
  • Mark useful informational points on the circuit board while using screen printing flexibility
  • Select decoupling capacitors

Go through all the above steps, and check PCB manufacturing parameters before you finally start with the PCB board's production phase.

Step-by-step guide for how to design a custom PCB board?

We have discussed the ten golden rules that will help you design your custom PCB board. You might be looking for an answer on how to make a custom PCB board. Creating a custom PCB board is not going to be easy.

So, let's discuss the whole process of designing a PCB board in detail:

Basic electrical parameter knowledge

Before you start designing a custom PCB board, it would be best to get a little basic information about the electric parameters you will set for your PBC board. Here is a list of all the electric parameters that you should know about before you jump onto the next step:

  • Signal types
  • Capacitance limitations
  • Current maximums
  • Voltages
  • Shielding considerations
  • Impedance characteristics
  • Net wire listing and schematic
  • Component’s locations

Design a schematic

Once you learn about the electric parameters, it is time to design a schematic of your PCB board. This file consists of the board's design and how the electric components will function.

Create PCB layout

You can use software to design the layout of your PCB board. When you enter your schematic file into the software, it will automatically prepare the PCB layout.

PCB stack-up design

The next step is PCB stack-up design. This step consists of the details of how fast the electricity needs to travel on the PCB board.

Rules and regulations criteria

While designing your custom PCB, you must keep IPC standards in mind. Yes, some measures will help you design and manufacture your PCB board.

Components placement

Once you are done with the layout designing, the actual work gets started. Now it is time to place the components on the PCB board design.

Drill holes and design routes

How will you place the electric components on the PCB board? The answer is quite evident you will have to drill holes first. After drilling holes and seating components, design a route between them.

Identifiers and labels

Labeling and putting identifiers on the electronic components will help you make your dream a reality. Yes, you won't get lost in placing the components in their proper place when you already have markings on the board.

Generate layout

Now it is time to get a layout of your design, so you will be able to jump onto the next step of manufacturing the custom PCB board.

PCB

Step-by-step guide on how to make custom PCB board

We have talked about how to design a PCB board, and now we are going to talk about how to make a custom PCB board:

Circuit board printout

If you want to make your custom PCB board, you must design it first. At the same time, you are using decent software with all the features and tools you can create a PCB board. Once you are done designing now, it is time to get a print of the PCB board design on a copper plate.

First, get a print of your design on photo paper or any other paper that would work fine for this process. Once you get the design layout, bring it on a copper plate. Place the design on the copper plate and press it with a hot iron. The print will transfer from the paper to the copper plate.

Be very careful while you are doing this step. You can use iron on a high setting if the paper is thick. Otherwise, if the paper is thin, you need to use the iron in a medium setting. This way, you will get the print on your board.

PCB etching

It would help if you had a clear pattern on the copper plate before installing electronic components. The next step in making a custom PCB board is etching. You need to perform PCB etching to remove the excess copper and achieve your desired pattern on the PCB board.

One commonly used method of PCB etching is using a ferric chloride solution. Don't worry. The solution will not cause any damage to your PCB board. It would help if you prepared a ferric chloride solution and put it in a plastic container. You can dip the PCB board in the solution for about 30-45 minutes.

Rinse PCB board

Once PCB etching is done, you will find an etching solution on the board. You will have to clean the board from any etching solution. Rinse the PCB board with tap water. You need to wear gloves and use plastic tweezers to clean the etching solution from the board.

You will have to use laundry soap to clear the PCB board. Be very gentle while rubbing the board with laundry soap. If you apply force, you might end up ruining the board, and you will have to start from scratch again.

You need to expose the copper part, which is why you can use a little sandpaper to give the board a shiny finish.

Time to drill holes

Now that you have the print of your PCB board, it is time to drill holes. You can use a mini drill for drilling holes on the board. After drilling holes, you need to rinse the board once again to get a clear view of your work so far.

Be very careful while drilling the holes and drill the holes on the copper side. Once you have drilled the holes on the board, you are done with the job.

Mistakes to avoid while making a PCB board

Here are a few mistakes that you need to avoid while making a PCB board:

  • You must know what design you would like to have on your PCB board because the wrong geometry might make you do all the designing work again from the scratch
  • The layout has to be perfect because an insufficient design might cause problems later
  • Be very careful while placing decoupling capacitors because if you put them in the wrong place, your PCB board won't be able to function
  • Always try to have more area as compared to the actual requirement to make sure that the PCB layout would fit on the board
  • The trace length needs to be as short as possible, and if you don't do this, then an error might take place while you will be manufacturing the PCB board
  • Try to have as many revisions as possible for the project before you start making the PCB board

Can you make your PCB board?

Yes, you can make your PCB board. You have to use decent and easy PCB designing software. We have talked about the steps of creating a PCB board above. If you can manage the designing and manufacturing process, you can make your custom PCB board on your own.

Most accessible software to use for designing your PCB board

Fritzing is one of the most accessible software with easy-to-use functions that will help you design your custom PCB board. It also supports simple circuits with tools that help translate the PCB designs.

The final words:

Now you know how to make a custom PCB board. You have to follow all the steps that we have discussed above. If you manage everything we have mentioned above, then there is an excellent possibility that you will make your custom PCB board. Studying the whole PCB board-making process first is better and then jumping into the PCB design and manufacturing phase. We have also mentioned the mistakes you must avoid while making your custom PCB board.

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