Every high-tech electronic device began with a solid design. Not only does the design process allow engineers to flesh out their many options, but the completed schematic acts as the blueprint for the manufacture of a device, and provides valuable insight for those who must troubleshoot or repair a unit down the road. Because of this, it's extremely important that your board designs are thorough and easy for others in the electronic engineering field to understand and make sense of - especially in cases where you plan to outsource the assembly and manufacture process. To ensure that your project goes off without a hitch, we've written this post to explore the importance of proper electronics board design and how to guarantee that the job is done right.
The Value of Excellence in Board Design
As an electronics company, your primary goal is to have your boards manufactured to your client's exact specifications. Regardless of whether you're creating the schematics in-house or subbing the work out to a third-party service, you need to have a solid grasp of what superior board design looks like. Those drawing up their own plans will need to ensure that the designs are easy for a contract manufacturer to assess for possible improvements and efficiently assemble each board. Those relying on contracted partners to create schematics will need to be able to evaluate plans to ensure that they live up to project expectations.
5 Easy Tips for Electronics Board Design
By following these five simple tips, you can successfully convey the objectives of your design and develop sophisticated electronics that meet client demands.
Tip #1 - Begin With a Block Diagram
You should always begin the design process with a block diagram that shows the hardware design. Think of this process as similar to putting an outline together for a term paper. This provides a 'bare essentials' overview of your architecture. Not only is the beneficial to you as you move forward with the design process, but it also provides your readers with a reference. The best block diagrams will also include page numbers linking certain parts with specific schematic sections.
Tip #2 - Name Each Net
Some designers might tell you that naming your board's nets isn't necessary, but this isn't the case. Time consuming as it may be, naming the nets and stating their purposes will actually simplify the process of debugging your program and allowing for simulation runs.
Tip #3 - Maintain a Sense of Flow
One of the biggest problems that designers make is in overlooking the fact that people besides themselves will need to be able to interpret their schematics. As you go about the process, take a step back and look at your work from an outsider's point-of-view. Does everything make logical sense? Does it flow? Creating user-friendly schematics means avoiding shortcuts and shorthands that are difficult for others to follow, and carefully showing how the design is laid out and organized.
Tip #4 - Clear Connectors
Connectors should stand out and be clear to readers. The easier that these connectors are to identify, the easier that they are to follow. One of the best ways to emphasize these points is by ordering pins at these points and clearly identifying each so that, when referenced, readers know exactly which one you are looking for.
Tip #5 - Keep Thorough Notes
Never throw out your notes when designing an electronics board. As readers review your plans down the line, you'll need to be able to provide them with information related to your thoughts as you created your design. As an example, they might need insights about why you included a certain component, or why another was excluded. Without thorough notes, you might not be able to answer these questions which could slow down the manufacture of your boards.
Don't let an inadequate board design hold up your project. Care and precision will pay off in the long-run.