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Thread: Circuit Board Design

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Circuit Board Design

    Hi, I have been working on a fun teensy drum machine project. I have almost everything working on a breadboard and want to build a prototype. I've downloaded KiCad and creating the schematic is something I can do but taking that to a PCB is a challenge. Does anyone have any tips on how to accomplish that?

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcon View Post
    Hi, I have been working on a fun teensy drum machine project. I have almost everything working on a breadboard and want to build a prototype. I've downloaded KiCad and creating the schematic is something I can do but taking that to a PCB is a challenge. Does anyone have any tips on how to accomplish that?
    @rcon:

    Sometime back in 2018, I wrote a "KiCAD / freeRouting / OshPark" walk-thru document for the benefit of my fellow radio club members who wanted to dabble in PCB design & fabrication, but had no prior experience. The document topped out at 100 pages, so it was more than a little frightening to some !! Its large size was primarily due to the high number of screen captures (to "show" each step, as well as "describing" each step) which artificially caused the page count to grow so high.

    Here's a link to the PDF version of that old document (titled "20181104 - A Walk-Thru Tutorial on Creating a Printed Circuit Board From Scratch.pdf") as shared on my Google Drive, in case it might be of some use to you:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=18S...pesVqcAGVJegG_

    Now, since the document is showing its age, there have been many improvements to KiCAD since then. One of the most significant improvements is that a routing engine is now built into KiCAD, so it is no longer necessary to use the external "freeRouting" engine, although I still use it occasionally for some of my more complex board layouts. Hope this helps . . .

    Mark J Culross
    KD5RXT

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2021
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    Thanks Mark and UHF I will check both out!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by rcon View Post
    Hi, I have been working on a fun teensy drum machine project. I have almost everything working on a breadboard and want to build a prototype. I've downloaded KiCad and creating the schematic is something I can do but taking that to a PCB is a challenge. Does anyone have any tips on how to accomplish that?
    Hey rcon, self-taught PCB layout is a bit of a challenge. I have been doing occasional boards for over 10 years now and each time I learn something new. The first time things blew up (the footprint for the transistors were all backwards), by the third time things worked.

    My suggestions would be:

    - start with the outline for whatever space requirements you have of the PCB. give yourself lots if you can, getting a working first board is the most important thing here.. shrinking it down can be done later.
    - make sure every footprint matches up with what you're using for that component.
    - place jacks/switches/pots where you want them first and lock those in place.
    - place IC's in logical positions near the components they connect to.. keep in mind any flow of signal left to right, etc.
    - if stuff is being too hard, rip out the traces and move components around and start again.
    - look at some real PCBs for inspiration.
    - if the routing and space requirements are hard, don't be afraid to increase the layers to 4. I learned this recently... 4-layer boards are now cheaper than your effort required to route a difficult board onto 2-layers.

    Lastly:

    - change the default colours of KiCAD as soon as you start. Make the background darkish grey, make those ratsnest lines a light grey... try to make the contrast and colours such that they don't burn an image into your brain until the end of time and haunt your dreams.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2021
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    Thanks for the tips gatheround! I really like the idea of laying out everything on a larger space and using 4 layers to make it easy!

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