DIY PCB

pcb layout software

Do-it-yourself printed circuit boards are a relatively new undertaking. There was a time not long ago when the idea of someone constructing their own computer was ridiculous. Parts were unprocurable, costs were prohibitive, and the knowledge, the how-to, was not readily available.



Instructions and Information on Building Computers Is Everywhere

Of course, that information is everywhere now. Magazine shelves at local bookstores are replete with home-technology monthlies and quarterlies. Thousands of books published on the subject lie just a few yards beyond these. The internet contains innumerable sites with thorough instruction and troubleshooting tips. YouTube hosts a horde of detailed videos showing exactly where to solder, what to connect, and how to build a personal computer.

pcb layout software

Anyone wanting to build their own personal computer entirely from scratch will have to begin with the guts. Many hobbyists and less-technical creators use motherboards, graphics cards, sound cards, and other PCBs that come pre-assembled. All of the traces, circuits, and components have been placed. The solder and lacquer have been laid.



Building a PCB Is More Complicated

There are those PC architects, however, that choose to build their own printed circuit board. This can be an incredibly versatile skill to learn, as PCBs are used in just about all but the simplest electronic devices. Some DIY-ers customize their own PC boards to use in photography and video, robotics, home energy solutions, or even household kitchen appliances.



pcb layout software

The final product’s function or operation will hold some sway over the design of the PC board, but for the most part, the following considerations need to be taken into account:



1. Form/Shape. The dimensions and shape of a PCB will vary depending on the devices final form. Inputs and outputs, traces, power routing – these can all change position based on the device shape.

2. Schematic Layout. A clean and organized draft of where components will be placed, and where traces will run, will help any would-be builder.

3. Layers. When building a printed circuit board, the number of layers that will be used will determine the number of components that can be used.

Finally, when the enterprising engineer is ready, he or she should invest their time in learning how to use good PCB layout software. Efficient PCB layout software is usually a computer-aided design (CAD) program that assists users in drafting the architecture of computer parts and components.



pcb layout software

Many newer CAD programs for building PC boards provide very detailed, nanometer levels of resolution – giving users a professional level of precision. Some of the other qualities found in pro-level pcb layout software include: design capacity for over 800 pins, autorouters, options for many layers, schematic capture, 3D viewing, and the generation of manufacturing files.



Shareware and free versions of such software is available, but dedicated builders would do well to learn the ins and outs of the more technical programs. The possibilities of a printed circuit board are endless. Personal computers are just the beginning. Before someone ever turns on a device, though, it all begins with proper drawing, planning, and layout.