Top 10 Efficient and Effective PCB Design Rules

Top 10 rules for Efficient and Effective PCB Design Flow

The importance of prototyping and product development in the PCB design flow is huge. In order for the PCB to function correctly and by manufactured effectively it requires the following:

Rule #1: Get the right grid. 

Find a grid spacing that suits as many of your components as possible and use it throughout.  Although multiple grids may seem appealing, a little additional thought at the early stages of the layout can avoid spacing difficulties and will maximize board use.  Many devices are available in different package sizes, so use that to your advantage. Furthermore, as the polygon is an important shape when adding copper to your board, and boards with multiple grids will often produce polygon-fill discrepancies, not standardizing on one grid can make your life tougher than necessary.

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Rule #2: Keep trace lengths as short and direct as possible

This rule applies even if it means going back over parts of the layout again to optimize track lengths. This applies particularly in analog and high-speed digital circuitry where impedance and parasitic effects will always play a part in limiting your system performance.

Rule #3: Whenever possible, use a power plane to manage the distribution of power lines and ground.  

Using pours on the power plane is a quick and easy option in most PCB design software.  It applies plenty of copper to common connections and helps ensure power flows as effectively as possible with minimal impedance or voltage drop, and that ground return paths are adequate.  If possible, run multiple supply lines in the same area of the board and remember that if the ground plane is run over a large section of one layer, it can have a positive impact on cross-talk between lines running above it on an adjacent layer.

Rule #4:  Group related components and test points together.  

For example, place the discrete components needed for an opamp close to that device so the bypass capacitors and resistors are co-located with it.  This helps with the track lengths in Rule #2, and it also makes testing and fault-finding easier.

Rule #5:  Panelize your PCB by replicating the board you need several times on a larger board. 

Using a size which best suits the equipment used by your manufacturer will improve the cost of prototypes and manufacturing.  Start by laying out the board as one panel.  Ask your board house what size panel they prefer.  Then, after your design rules have been corrected, do your best to step and repeat your design multiple times within the preferred panel size.
Rule #6:  Consolidate your component values.  

As a designer, you will have picked some discrete components that could be a higher or lower value and work just the same.  Consolidating on a smaller range of standard values makes the BOM simpler and probably less expensive.  It also makes stock decisions easier in the long run if you have a range of PCBs based on your preferred device values.

Rule #7:  Design rule check (DRC) as often as you can bear it.  

The DRC function on PCB software takes a little time, but checking as you go can save hours on more complex designs, and it is a good habit to adopt.  Every layout decision is important, but the DRC keeps the most important ones top-of-mind.

Rule #8:  Use the silkscreen wisely.  

The silkscreen can be used to portray a wealth of useful information to the board builder, as well as the service or test engineer, installer, or device operator.  Clear labels depicting functions and test points are obvious, but the orientation of components and connectors should also be considered wherever possible.  Even if annotation ends up under your components following board assembly, it’s still a good practice.  Full use of silk screening on both sides of the board streamlines production and can reduce re-work.

Rule #9:  Decoupling caps are not optional!  

Do not try and optimize your design by avoiding decoupling power lines and trusting the absolute limits of component data sheets.   Capacitors are inexpensive and robust; take the time to fit them in wherever possible and remember Rule #6 – use a range of standard values to keep the inventory neat.

Rule #10:  Generate your own PCB manufacturing data and verify it before sending it out to be fabricated.  

Most board houses will be happy to do this for you, but if you output your own Gerber files first and use a free viewer to verify it looks as you envisioned, then you can avoid misunderstanding.  You may even catch an error inadvertently included before it’s set forever in fiberglass, resin, and copper.

As circuit designs are more widely shared, and reference designs are relied upon more and more by in-house teams, we believe it’s important that basic rules like these remain in printed circuit design.  Keeping sight of the basics means developers retain the flexibility to add value to their products and extract the most from every board they make.  Finally, anyone new to board design will accelerate their learning-curve and confidence when the basics are “designed in.”

Originally posted by EDN Network

Isn’t it time you explored the 2020 Autodesk AEC Collection

The 2020 AEC Collection

The 2020 Autodesk AEC Collection (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) equips you to realise your best design ideas, and bring predictability to the building design process.

AEC Collection

The Autodesk Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Collection gives you access to all the tools you need – when you need them – to deliver higher quality, more predictable building and infrastructure projects. Design, engineer and construct with the most comprehensive set of proven software and innovative cloud technologies that put your project at the centre and your business in the lead.

Key Benefits

  1. Get all the right tools – Support all phases of the building lifecycle with design technologies that cover conceptual design through construction, including BIM and CAD – all in this single AEC Collection package.
  2. Connect your workflows – Support team collaboration and benefit from better data continuity with interoperable design tools purpose-built to meet the needs of all contributors to a building project.
  3. Put your project at the centre – Lead the way to the future of building with the latest innovative software and cloud technologies that give you unprecedented project insight into your design projects.

Discounts available now on AEC Collections – click here for a quote

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The 2020 Autodesk AEC Collection includes:

Revit – Built for BIM. Intelligent model-based software. Plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure projects.

Civil 3D  – Supporting BIM (Building Information Modelling) processes for enhanced Civil engineering design and construction documentation.

Infraworks – Empowers designers and civil engineers to plan and design infrastructure projects in the context of the real world.

AutoCAD  – Software for 2D and 3D CAD. Work with TrustedDWG technology. 

AutoCAD Architecture  – Speed architectural design and drafting with an industry-specific toolset that includes intelligent objects and styles. Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Electrical – Efficiently create, modify and document electrical control systems with an industry-specific toolset for electrical design. 
Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Map 3D – Incorporate geographic information systems and CAD data with an industry-specific toolset for GIS and 3D mapping. 
Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD MEP – Draft, design and document building systems with an industry-specific toolset for MEP. 
Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Plant 3D – Use an industry-specific toolset for plant design and engineering to create P&IDs and integrate them into a 3D plant design model. 
Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Raster Design – Use raster design tools in a specialised toolset to edit scanned drawings and convert raster images to DWG objects. 
Included with AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Mobile App – Drawing and drafting tool that lets you view, create, edit and share AutoCAD drawings on mobile devices.
Advance Steel – Built on the AutoCAD platform for structural engineering professionals to accelerate design, steel detailing, steel fabrication and steel construction. 
Cloud Storage – An additional 25GB of storage for your account. 
Dynamo Studio – Dynamo Studio is a standalone programming environment that enables designers to create visual logic to explore parametric conceptual designs and automate tasks. 
Fabrication CADmep – CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct software use manufacturer specific content to create more accurate detailed models, generate better estimates and help drive MEP fabrication.
FormIt Pro – Enables architects to sketch, collaborate, analyse and share early-stage design concepts.
Navisworks Manage – Project review software empowering architecture, engineering and construction professionals to review integrated models and data, driving better outcomes.
ReCap Pro – Use ReCap reality capture to convert reality into a 3D model or 2D drawing that is ready for further design. 
Autodesk Rendering – With cloud rendering, you can take advantage of virtually infinite computing power to create photrealistic and high resolution images in less time. 
Revit Live – Revit Live cloud service turns Revit and Revit LT models into an immersive experience in one click, helping architects understand, explore and share their designs. 
3ds Max – 3D modelling and rendering software. Create stunning scenes for design visualisation and engaging virtual reality experiences. 
Structural Analysis for Revit – Analyse your model in the cloud and explore the results from within Revit. 
Structural Bridge Design – Perform integrated loading, analysis and code checking of small to medium-span bridges. 
Vehicle Tracking – Transportation analysis and design software, built for vehicle swept path analysis. Engineers, designers and planners can evaluate vehicle movements on transportation or site design projects. 

For more information about the AEC Collection click here to contact us or get a quote

Autodesk Inventor 2020 What’s New

Autodesk Inventor 2020  – What’s New – A fresh new look and feel, continued customer-driven enhancements, and professional-grade functionality.

Originally Posted by Autodesk

Over the next few weeks, customers across the globe will start to see Inventor 2020 available for download in their Autodesk Accounts and the Autodesk Desktop App. Calendar year 2019 marks 20 years of Inventor in the market, and Inventor 2020 delivers enhanced user interface and workflows, more professional grade functionality and even more customer-driven improvements.  We wanted to get you ready for what you will see after installing Inventor 2020.

The Inventor 2020 User Experience

Inventor 2020 delivers a new light theme interface that adds additional functionality and improves your productivity right from the start. We enhanced lighting styles, command icons, and added graphic presets so you can change multiple view settings based on Performance, Quality, or Balanced. Inventor 2020 also supports multi-monitor workflows so you can dock multiple Inventor files on different screens while working in a single Inventor session.

The Extrude, Sweep, Revolve and Thread commands have all been refreshed with the new property panel experience. Not only did we move these commands to panels (similar to Measure and Hole in Inventor 2018 & 2019), but we added functionality that you have been asking for. Sketching was also enhanced to allow for more complex region and loop selection for your designs.

All of these improvements were driven by countless hours of research and analysis from our user experience team. There are a lot of details on how we are continuing to improve the overall Inventor Experience and we will have another blog post dedicated to that in the upcoming weeks.

Professional Grade Enhancements

Enhancements were made from sketching to complex modelling to give you new functionality to your core design tools and workflows. The Sweep command was enhanced to add the ability to sweep a tool body. We worked with many of you to ensure we implemented this in a way that addressed your modelling needs. The tool body itself can be any shape, and the sweep can both remove and add geometry.

Brand new commands like Unwrap have been added. With Inventor 2020, you can use Unwrap to flatten nearly any set of faces into a flat surface. You can show this surface in a drawing or export it if needed. Many of you designing soft goods and stamped parts have been asking for this type of functionality.

Inventor 2020 continues to improve Frame Generator. You may have noticed we started improving Frame Generator quite a bit with the Inventor 2019 updates. This latest release moves many of the Frame Generator commands to the property panels. End Cap functionality was added and your Notch, Miter, and Insert Frame workflows have all been improved.

User-Driven Enhancements with Inventor Ideas

Many of the user-driven enhancements to Inventor 2020 come from your submissions through the Inventor Ideas page . This is a great way for you to see what your fellow users are asking for, vote for their ideas, or submit one of your own. In addition to the Ideas page, the Inventor team has direct customer engagements throughout the year. We visit customers at their location and have sessions where we invite customers to come to Autodesk offices. This type of engagement with you, Inventor users, helped define over 35 customer-driven enhancements into this release.

These enhancements vary from many of the Frame Generator improvements to Tube & Pipe file naming and performance to showing Sketch Blocks in the Relationships search.

Here is a great video showing many of the customer-driven enhancements in Inventor 2020

Over the next few weeks, the Inventor team will be posting more detailed articles on the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection, Factory Design Utilities, and more.

A huge “Thank you” to all of you who use Inventor and continue to provide feedback. Be sure to keep an eye on the Inventor blog for a lot of new topics on Inventor 2020.


For more information about Autodesk Inventor and it’s features contact us

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