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Common CAD Mistakes in PCB Design

When working on your PCB design, you always need to make sure you are not making careless mistakes at any stage of the process. What might be a simple mistake could lead to some costly ramifications as you attempt to fix it. Knowing how to avoid simple mistakes in earlier stages like CAD design will benefit you much later on. Here are some of the most common mistakes you can make.

Not Thinking About Manufacturing

At some point, your PCB is going to have to go through a manufacturing process. As part of this, you need to consider how best to place your components from a manufacturing point of view. This is not just about placing components correctly but about making sure that everything will connect properly when your PCB is placed in the solder oven.

If taller components are placed in front of smaller ones, you are likely to receive a PCB back with poorly connected solders. This will obviously result in a substandard PCB and poor performance overall.

Incorrect Layout

Any PCB CAD software you use is likely to have some sort of software to help you choose the right layout for your PCB. As the technologies themselves become more sophisticated, so are the PCBs. You always need to make sure that you are choosing exactly the right layout needed for your design. Make sure to use the auto-router of your CAD program; this is likely to help.

Not Drawing on Past Experience

You should have a bank of all your past projects available that you can draw on. If you are working on something which has a similar layout or design as a previous project, you might be able to take parts of the old design and incorporate it into the new.

Routing Issues

Some designers can run into issues where the components are too close together. While this is great for saving space, it can cause a whole host of issues when it is time to start routing. Space saving is important but you need to be able to allow the components to function properly too.

Finding the right balance between saving space and allowing enough rooms for the components is an art which will take you some time to perfect. Take your time and you will be making top-notch PCBs before you know it.

Decoupling Capacitors are Incorrectly Placed

Your decoupling capacitors are one of the most helpful components on the board. However, they do need to be placed exactly right. Try to put them as close to the pin needing stable voltage as possible to do so. You will also need to learn how to balance the components around it.

These are just five of the problems you might face while designing your PCB. Don’t be disheartened if your first few need some serious redesigns. Every board you design will help to build your skill, even the bad ones, and before you know it, nearly every PCB you turn out will be top-quality.

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My name is Gary, a 31 year old Tech Loving marketer passionate about home tech and coffee.

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