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PCB Tutorial

This material was prepared for a tutorial on PCB design hosted at Metrix CreateSpace in Seattle.  It is an evolutionary work, growing and changing in response and feedback from participants.  I hope you'll find it useful.  If you'd like to use this material for presentation at a tutorial of your own, please contact me for permission,

Demo Board

The tutorial includes a hand-out printed circuit board showing representative packages, hole sizes, trace widths and other features to aid in printed circuit board design and to help designers avoid some of the mistakes I have made in the past.  If mistakes lead to experience, I have plenty!  The demo board is almost a class in itself that fits in your hand.

      Demo-Board Mini-tutorial

PCB Tutorial Power Point Presentations

 The Point Point presentations are here for review and amplification of topics. 

    Session 1 Slide Show

        Session 2 Slide Show

       Session 2 Power Point Presentation in PDF format

Links and Additional Information

The design tutorial is based on using EagleCAD, which is a very popular PCB layout tool.  A free version is available for non-commercial use and licensing options are available at reasonable prices.  EagleCAD for PC, Mac and Linux may be downloaded here.  The same version is downloaded regardless of licensing option.

      EagleCAD Download Page

Gerber Viewers

The end product of EagleCAD is a set of Gerber files that can be sent to virtually any printed circuit board fabrication house to have board made.  Pentalogix ViewMate is a free tool that allows you to view the Gerber files prior to submission.  It's highly recommended.  PC only.

        Pentalogix ViewMate

Another option I just found is DFM Now!  It has a slew of features.

        DFM Now!

For Linux users. this looks like a decent viewer.

        gerbv - A Free/Open Source Gerber Viewer

For Apple users, there don't seem to be many choices in Gerber viewers which is surprising.  One option I found is:

        Free Gerber Viewer

On-line Gerber Check

Advanced Circuits, a US board fabricator, offers a free on-line DFM check.  You send the Gerber files to them and a few minutes later, an email reply will let you know if there are any serious issues with your files.  This service has saved me a number of times from problems like having some of the layers mirrored.  Using the service will also provide a quote to have the boards made.  Highly recommended and a step I always take before ordering boards.  PPDFs of each board layer are provided so this is an alternative to a Gerber Viewer as well.


PCB Fab House Recommendations

Low-cost printed circuit boards are what makes a design course such as this useful.  Custom boards can now be made at astonishing low cost.  Here are some sources that I have used or that have an excellent reputation.  Scroll to the end of the article for updated information.

        PCB Fabrication Sources

PCB References

An excellent PCB design reference has been written by David Jones, host of the EEV Blog.  Dave is the Andy Rooney of the technical scene and his video blog is well worth watching.  The EEV Blog forum is a great place to find technical information and ask questions. He covers the design aspects of a board, rather than the mechanics of creating the design.  Definitely recommended.

        PCB Design Tutorial - David L. Jones

A handy reference to check package dimensions against PCB footprints.  Different manufacturers use different terminology so it is always wise to check if the dimensions of the "XYZ" packaged part agree with the "XYZ" footprint in your layout software.

         Package Specification - Microchip

EEWeb has an excellent collection of on-line tools including trace width calculations, trace resistance calculations and other circuit board parameters.  The page also includes extremely handy charts of the standard resistor value series.  PDFs of graph paper in various formats are available too.

        EEWeb Electrical Engineering Toolbox

ITead Studios provides DRC (design rule check) and Gerber/Excellon CAM files that will work well for files submitted to either ITead or Seeed.

        Eagle DRC file

        Eagle CAM files

Files For The Tutorial

The following files are for the PCB Design Tutorial and may not feature recommended upgrades.  Before having boards built using these files, contact me regarding updates.

        Demo Board Eagle .brd File

        TAP-20-USB Eagle .brd File

Bitmap to Eagle - program by Jesper Hensen to convert a black & white image to an Eagle script


Some Useful Tools

Here are some free programs I find useful.

TinyCAD - open source schematic capture program

Irfan View - graphics manipulation program.  Allows editing, resizing, various transformations of many raster and vector image types.

more later.....