Oh man! When I made my first printed circuit board, I was so thrilled!
It was extremely satisfying to be able to touch my own circuit board design. And today it’s time you learn it too.
And the truth is that the process isn’t that hard. There are just a few steps you need to go through. And anyone can do it – even if you have no experience from before.
What is a Printed Circuit Board?
Would you like to make your own cell phone? Or computer? Or robot? Or flying saucer?
Well, then you would want to make a printed circuit board. So you see, a printed circuit board is really fun!
A printed circuit board is made out of a specialglass-reinforced epoxy laminatematerial. And usually, it is green. But it can come in other colours too.
On the board, there are components. Well, at first there are no components. But you solder the components onto the board. THEN there are components on the board.
When you see the board in the picture above, do you believe that you can do the same?
Many people would answer “no”. So would I a few years ago. It seemed like a really complex task.. But is it really?
How To Make Your Own Printed Circuit Boards?
To make a printed circuit board you need to:
Draw the circuit board layout
Get the board made
The first step is to make the schematics. You can either find a schematic diagram that someone else has designed, or you can create your own from scratch.
Usually you start with a drawing of the circuit. Then you have to draw this circuit into a design tool, such as Cadsoft Eagle.
Draw Circuit Board Layout
So, you have your schematics drawn in your design tool. Now you need to draw the circuit board. You need to draw the wires that connect the different components.
This is kind of like the “connect-the-dots” game you might have played when you were a kid. When you drew the circuit diagram in the previous step, you told the program which components are going to be connected. Now you connect everything by drawing lines, and the program will tell you if you did it correctly.
Get the Board Made
With the board design finished, you are ready to get your board made. This can be done in a few different ways.
You can etch a board at home. The advantage with this is that you get your board made right away. The drawbacks are that you need to buy all this different chemicals and equipment. It takes time to place vias, and the precision is not that good.
You can get a board made by a CNC router. This also has the advantage that you get the board made right away. But such a CNC router is often expensive. And you still need to place vias manually.
The most simple and best way – at least in my opinion – is to get your printed circuit board made by a manufacturer. This is not hard and not expensive. You can get a board for as low as $1 per board!