Arduino, Raspberry Pi,
and similar platforms have certainly changed the DIY landscape forever. There
are now more advanced projects based on existing boards like Arduino. The IDEs
and flexibility of these base platforms also make them suitable for engineers
looking to develop hardware-based solutions.
Ready-made boards and
starter kits, however, aren’t the only way you can develop hardware in DIY
projects. In fact, many DIY enthusiasts are now making their own PCBs and creating
custom hardware for their projects. If you are interested in designing and
making your own boards, these next several tips and tricks are certainly handy.
However, the best
tools are the ones that offer all the features you need in one software. Altium
Designer is a leader in this space, offering features that will help you
design, model, simulate, and test circuit boards without using multiple tools
to do so.
PCB design suites help
shorten the time needed to develop a custom board. Since you can test component
clearance and simulate whether the routes work properly inside the same
environment, less trial and error is needed.
Routing is perhaps the
most challenging part of developing a custom board. You cannot just make a
random route to connect components; there is a bit of planning to be done in
order to create an efficient and effective PCB.
Remember that traces
have resistance and that you need to manage that resistance when designing the
board. Keep loops small and make sure you organize the layout of the board for maximum efficiency.
As mentioned before,
you can test these things when working with design tools like Altium. Virtual
testing lets you anticipate bottlenecks and potential issues with the board
even before you print your first one. Even complex boards can be created
One thing that many
DIY enthusiasts often forget when creating custom boards is the importance of
managing noise. You have to make sure that the board has sufficient grounding,
and that routes are made to be as efficient as possible.
At the same time,
consider using heatsinks and thermal vias to effectively transfer heat.
Components operating in higher temperatures will produce more noise and aren’t
always operating at their optimum capacity.
As an added step, be
mindful of how components are organized and spaced. You want heat-generating
components to be on different sides of the board so that you don’t end up with
a PCB that gets really hot really quickly. Heat-sensitive components must also
be placed far away from those that generate a lot of heat.
These are simple tips
that can be implemented right away when you are designing a custom board for
your DIY project. Whether you are creating an add-on for Raspberry Pi, building
a custom module for Arduino, or creating something new entirely, these tips are
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