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A PCB, otherwise known as a printed circuit board, is an electronic component that joins other electronic components together. Designing and building your own PCB can be a difficult and time-consuming process that requires a lot of effort and precision to get right. If you’re thinking of designing your own PCB, then make sure you avoid some of the following mistakes:

1.     Wrong Thickness of Copper

In order to make sure your PCB is successful, you will need to spend some time working out what thickness of copper is needed for your design. While one ounce of copper is often chosen by designers as a finished thickness, it doesn’t always work well. For most circuit boards, it’s advisable to choose copper that has a finished thickness of between 1 and 2 ounces per square foot.

2.     Installing the Wrong Switches

The switches on PCBs are used to close electrical circuits. Installing the wrong type of switch on your PCB can have a huge impact on the success of your project. You can find tactile switches at sites like Octopart, and they are a brilliant option for PCBs. Not only are they small and convenient, but they’re also suitable for almost any project.

3.     The Layout of the Antenna

Designers who want their finished product to have wireless functionality will need to take the layout of the antenna into consideration when designing their PCB. Unfortunately, this is harder than you’d think. In fact, it is one of the most common PCB design mistakes in the U.S. If you want to achieve maximum power transfer between the antenna and transceiver, you will need to make sure their impedance is matched.

4.     Incorrect Placing of Decoupling Capacitors

All components of a PCB need a stable, clean voltage source. Decoupling capacitors are placed on the power supply to help achieve this.

However, in order for them to work to the best of their ability, they need to be placed as close as possible to the pin that needs the stable voltage. It’s also critical to place the power supply output capacitor as near as possible to the output pin of the regulator.

5.     Incorrect Landing Pattern

All PCB design software tools have a library that includes a list of the most commonly used electrical components. This is brilliant, as long as you use the components suggested in these libraries.

Problems often start occurring if you choose to use alternative components that aren’t included in the libraries. If you choose to use alternative components, the engineer of your PCB will have to manually draw both the PCB landing pattern and schematic symbol.

While this can be done, it’s much more difficult and mistakes are much more likely to occur. For example, if you accidentally get the pin-pin spacing off by a millimeter, you will be unable to solder this part of the board.

When it comes to PCB design, there are numerous reasons for mistakes. Making sure you know what the most common mistakes are and trying to avoid them will help you to build a working PCB. Why not give it a go?

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

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