PCB board printed circuit boardHave you ever been left feeling hopeless when you realise your board has some major flaw after sending it off to be manufactured? Or worse yet, after you receive the board? Well, nothing can prevent that 100% of the time, but with these tips, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of that happening!
First, check your schematic! Most of your problems will come from here. Things like wrongly naming nets (once, I named a segment “BIN” instead of “VIN” by accident, causing some stress…), not placing junctions, etc. can undermine your entire board. Make sure your schematic is well laid-out, and easy to read. I usually avoid crossing wires, to prevent any confusion. If wires do cross, I place a clear junction if they’re meant to be connected.
Second, make sure you have no unrouted traces. A great way to do this is to turn off all layers except the unrouted layer, then have a look around for any airwires.
Third, make sure everything is connected. Despite doing the above checks, it’s still possible to miss a connection here and there, or to have unwanted junctions. To do this, make a list of all the connections that need to be made. Then use the “Show” tool to highlight your traces, checking them off the list if they’re alright. If you’re really paranoid, you can print out two copies of a magnified version of your layout – one for the top layer, one for the bottom. Follow the traces with your finger, and tick off connections from the list.
Finally, print a 1:1 scale copy of your board and make sure everything fits. This is especially important if you are using your own untested library parts. If you have the components with you, put them on the paper, and see if it looks good! A 1:1 scale printout also helps you spot component placement errors, like parts being soldered over important text.