Printed circuit boards are small components that are used in our everyday electronics to help them function correctly. Without printed circuit boards, you couldn?t watch television, play your favorite video game, or even call or text your friends on your phone.
Although circuit boards are small, they play an important role. In this post, you will learn why the layout of a printed circuit board is important, why you should use a PCB software to layout your design, and a few good PCB layout software features as well as a few software options that are available for purchase now.
WHY YOUR LAYOUT IS IMPORTANT
PCBs are incredibly small and fragile. Because of this, there are a number of reasons why the layout of a PCB is so important.
Heat distribution is one of the most important aspects of PCB design. Printed circuit boards are a lot like the human nervous system. Signals are sent throughout the printed circuit board using electricity. When a PCB is poorly designed, it can lead to a number of heat distribution problems.
There are several problems that can lead to problems with overheating. First, if the lines or pathways are too small for the amount of energy being pushed through them, it can cause the PCB to overheat. This is because the PCB is forcing a lot of energy through a very small space.
Secondly, component placement can influence the heat distribution within the PCB. If one side of the PCB has a lot more components than the other side, a lot of energy is flowing to that side. This means that this side of the board is overloaded and can cause heating issues.
Heating issues are often solved by the inclusion of a fan to keep PCBs cool.
Wiring is another issue when it comes to the importance of PCB layout. Without properly laying out your components, it can be nearly impossible to have space to attach wires. That?s why creating a mock layout and laying out your components is so important. You don?t want to realize that you don?t have room for your wires when you?re halfway done placing and soldering your components.
Lastly, the signal integrity is an important reason why care should be taken in designing a PCB. What good is the circuit board if there are electrical problems that interfere with sending signals to the device?
Routing the traces in a certain way is important to avoiding this issue. Basically, traces should be routed parallel and close to one another. This reduces the amount of noise and interference, so the PCB can operate to its fullest potential.
Although these three are not the only reasons why PCB layout is important, they are among the most important reasons.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE A PCB LAYOUT SOFTWARE
Now that you know why PCB layout is so important to the integrity of the printed circuit board and the device it helps power; you need to know why a PCB layout software can be beneficial.
The first reason is that using a software can remove some human error that occurs during the design process. When you design something on your own, you have to rely on your own math and your own vision. Software can take the guesswork out of the process and can help to make sure that measurements and calculations are accurate.
Another reason is that the software can give you a schematic that you can work off of during the design process. This will give you a roadmap to creating a perfect printed circuit board.
Lastly, some design software can actually simulate what it would be like to have your design work in a certain environment. This can help you determine what changes you may need to make in order to create the best PCB for the device you?re making it for.
GOOD PCB LAYOUT SOFTWARE FEATURES AND SOME SUGGESTIONS
There are a ton of options out there when it comes to PCB layout software. The options are nearly limitless. That is why it is important to make sure that the design software that you purchase or use is one that has the following features:
? An easy-to-use interface: You don?t need to pay a ton of money for a software that has a difficult interface. Find one that is easy to use and won?t take long to understand.
? Contains a large library of components: As a technician, you don?t necessarily know what components a customer will need before they order. That is why your software should have the ability for you to add various components to your design. This can help you to know where the component should be soldered and how to best lay out the components for optimal heat distribution.
? Design automation: Sometimes, it helps to have an automated design that is available with the click of a button. This can take out a ton of work and can save you time. If need be, you should be able to move around these automated components in your software to fit your need.
? Cost effective: As you can imagine, software used to design anything can be pretty expensive. Software options available now range from free to nearly $7,000. You must compare the features and benefits of each software to determine what the best option is for you.
Now that you know some key features you should look for, here are some of the top PCB design software on the market and some of their specifications:
? DipTrace Full: Costs $995 and has no limits in what you can do.
? Eagle: Costs $65 a month or $500 a year and has no limits.
? Altium Designer: Costs $7,245 and has no limits. This one is often heralded as the best PCB design software available today.
? DipTrace Starter: Costs $75 and has a 300 pin and two signal layer limit.
? EasyEDA: This is a free software with no limits.
Now you know all you need to know about PCB layouts and the best layout software available!