How to make a PCB – an ExpressPCB Tutorial (Part 1)
Hello ! Not been able to post for a while,coz i’ve been very busy with my minor project and stuff. Today lets see how we can use a software for making custom made PCB’s (printed circuit boards).
i’m going to concentrate on ExpressPCB ,because its easy and free. You can download it from here. After that,install and start it up. Express PCB has 2 main parts – Express SCH which you will use to draw your circuit diagrams ( if you have used Multisim ,this should be pretty easy) & Express PCB where in you will make your own PCB layout.
Part 1: Making The Schematic
Since it is difficult to make a layout without having a circuit diagram, constructing a circuit diagram in ExpressSCH is strongly recommended. Follow these steps :
- Fire up ExpressSCH.
- You will see a ‘Welcome to ExpressPCB …..’ screen. You may go through the quick start guide ,but if you are reading this,that won’t be necessary :-) i’m your turbo start.
- Click ‘Ok’
- We’ll first need to place some components.Say we want to make a Voltage Regulator circuit.
- Lets get familiar with the layout first. Check out the pic below.
- Here is the circuit diagram
- Click on the ‘component and symbol manager’ ie. the button to which i have shown an arrow pointing to in the pic of the interface.
- You’ll see the above window. Click Find–> Then key in ‘lm7805′. Once you find it,select it and click —>Insert into schematic.
- Again click on ‘Component and symbol manager’ and select the 2 capacitors.
- Now to connect the components together,click on ‘Place a wire’ (the option marked in the above pic). Click once on an end of one component,then another time on an end of another component to connect the them together. Use ‘Insert corner in a wire’ option (directly below ‘Place wire’ ) to bend the wire into a neater right angle. It doesn’t really matter whether you do this or not.
- Please note than ground,Vcc etc. will be found in —>Component and symbol manager—>Library Symbols.
- This was all fine because all components you needed were available in the component manager. If that is not the case,then you have to make your own custom component. Pic below specifies the options you can click to do so.
- Select whatever shape you want .Suppose you want to make a 20 pin IC. So select a rectangle. Then click on ‘Place pin’ option (the 4th of the above marked options).
- Go on placing 20 dots in a line. Then click on the ‘Add New line’ option (highlighted in the pic below) to complete the 20 pins. Please NOTE : do not use wires to connect the dots to the rectangle.
- Next,select ALL the pins and the rectangle using the ‘Select’ arrow (uppermost option on left). Click —>Component—-> Group to make component—>Ok from the menu bar on top.
- Now the most important part. Each component must have a unique Label by which it is referred. To assign this,double click on each component and assign a unique ‘Part ID ‘ to each.
- Then click—->File—-> Check component for Netlist errors. If errors are 0,then save the file. If not,then check your schematic as per the error indicated. Mostly it will be some component naming error(2 components having the same label) To resolve that,assign them unique part id as indicated above.
- If you are using a transistor,you are bound to get this error:-
- To resolve it,click on the transistor. Then click —->Component—->Ungroup Component. Now click on each ‘dot’ of the 3 legs of the transistor. Assign a number to each (Part ID). Then select the whole component (dots,lines everything making the transistor). Click —->Component—->Group to make component.
- Check for Netlist errors again.
- Finally our schematic that looks like the pic below. You file will be saved as name.sch. Very goood ! Lets move on to making the layout tomorrow…Good Night for now ! But before i wind up,the Mover and Shaker of the Day- see the video below