Creating PCB artwork
This page will help you create suitable circuit artwork for single or double sided prototype circuit boards to use with your projects.
I use Altium Designer for all my projects as it makes it possible to follow the design from an idea through to a working prototype. The process has few basic steps: Initial Idea -> Schematic Capture and Code development -> PCB layout and routing -> Manufacture.
Once you have created a schematic diagram of your project you are ready to export Netlist in to a PCB document. Doing so will automatically create all necessary component footprints and logical connections on a blank PCB document (refer to the picture on left). The next step is to move the component footprints around to comply with your PCB size and shape making sure component heights have no contentions. In the picture to the left most components are underneath the LCD. This process is called PCB Layout.
Most PCB routing software can allow multiple routing layers, some up to 16. However creating a multi layer PCB of more than 2 layers is not possible without professional gear. For home made prototypes 1 or 2 layer PCB will suffice. You need to tell the software that the PCB is a 1 or 2 layer PCB.
Next you need to define some rules which the routing software will follow. The values in the pictures on the left are minimum values that will produce an artwork which is easily transferable on to PCB. If you decide to use smaller sizes and clearances you may run in to problems of broken tracks or tracks shorting during the transfer process. This step is the most important one for successful and hustle free PCB manufacture. You may experiment with different values if you need to adjust clearances and sizes on some projects but I would try to stick as close to these values as possible. If the PCB size allows greater sizes and widths then feel free to adjust as needed. I tend to make my POWER tracks (GND and V+) thicker than signal tracks.
Step 5 - Routing and Cleanup.
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