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The Living PCB Design Thread

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Let's get it started. I'd like to make this a community-written knowledge base about designing PCBs

Share anything you know about designing electronics: software, tutorials, theory, etc.

Short dictionary

Schematic design

* pin - a dash on the schematic which represents an electrical connector in a component, which can be connected to a different pin
* net - a line representing an electrical connection between 2 or more pins
* bus - a thicker line representing a logical group of nets
* label - a name for a net, in EDA software, 2 nets with the same label will usually be treated as connected together, though various types of labels exist in various software (global, hierarchical, sheet labels, etc
* ... add more by replying to this thread!PCB design

* PCB (Printed Circuit Board) - a sheet of sturdy laminate (usually FR-4) with electrical connections made of copper, which are used to conduct current between different components on the board
* pad - 1. a hole in the PCB surrounded with a copper ring used to mount THT components by putting a pin inside the hole and soldering it to the ring; 2. a shape (usually rectangular) made of copper used to solder pins of SMD components
* THT (Through-Hole Technology) - a technique of mounting components based on inserting the pins into holes and usually soldering them on the other side of the board than the one of the component
* PTH (Plated Through Hole) - a pad on both sides of the PCB with the cylindrical surface between them plated with metal
* SMT (Surface-Mount Technology) - a technique of mounting components based on soldering their pins onto the surface of the board, on the same side as the component
* SMD (Surface Mounted Devices) - devices soldered using SMT
* ... add more by replying to this thread!Free EDA software:

* KiCad (
* Eagle (free for up to 100 x 80 mm boards, 2 layers, one schematic sheet)
* ... write a post to add more, if you've used it and and you like it!KiCad
KiCad consists of 2 basic components: eeschema and pcbnew. Eeschema is used to design the schematic which defines how the components are connected. Pcbnew allows you to transform the schematic into the PCB layout.
The basic workflow looks like this:

* The schematic is designed in eeschema. During this process it might be necessary to design schematic parts for components for which the eeschema parts are not available.
* The schematic is exported to a netlist (a file which describes which pins are connected together).
* A helper program called Cvpcb is used to assign footprints (modules in KiCad's terminology) to components. Footprints are the graphical representation of physical components. They contain the exact positions of pads, so that after making the board, the components will fit it.
* The netlist is imported to Pcbnew, parts are moved to their positions and wires are routed between pins.
* The missing footprints are designed inside Pcbnew's module editor.
* Steps 1-5 are repeated until the design is satisfactory. Every change in the schematic is reflected properly in the PCB editor which keeps track of changes by comparing the PCB contents with the new version of netlist.Eagle
... anybody wants to write a short description?

Using KiCad


* Tutorials on the official page -, anyone willing to review them and check the quality and completeness?
* Regack's tutorial -
* Getting To Blinky KiCad Tutorial Series by Contextual Electronis -
* Designing keyboard PCBs in KiCad -
* Exporting gerbers from kicad - & Tricks

* Designing PCB artwork - (my own article)
* ... more to comeUsing Eagle



komar007: parts library for KiCad

We have a github organization! Check it out:
There is one repository there, so far:
If you want to be an admin and need write access, let me know!
For regular contributors: please fork the repository on github, make your commits and send a pull request.

General electronics design materials

* How to make a keyboard:,
* designing keyboard PCBs in KiCad:

yay! thanks komar!


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