CAD programs provide a very effective tool for designing PCBs. Even with an effective program. A wide range of ideas/tips help you design your board efficiently.
Use Block Diagrams
A block diagram is a diagram of the overall system of your board where the main parts or functions are shown as blocks. Lines are used to connect the blocks to the relationships of the blocks. If you create a schematic drawing, you’ve only covered one part of your basic design. The schematic drawing should be able to be read by most electrical engineers. A block diagram doesn’t go into as much detail as the schematic – it isn’t intended to show every connection on your PCB. Adding a block diagram will not add a lot of time in your designing process. However, it will add clarity to anyone trying to understand and use your design. A good block diagram will provide overall reference points for all the components in your board.
Track your Activity
Always make notes about what you’re doing. Don’t presume that you will recall why you structured a board in a particular manner. Whatever you happen to be thinking about when you configure a board in a certain way may not come back to you when you’re reviewing or revising. And if you have other team members you’re working with, they will need to understand your rationale as well. So make detailed notes about everything; and keep the notes in a safe place. Don’t forget to include logic table settings, or configurations of power supplies. These are vital parts of your board structure.
Name Your Nets
If you’re designing a board, you will probably be aware of the details of each of the components, why you’ve used them in their locations, and how the board works as a whole. This overall awareness is great. However, at some stage you’re likely to need to review and possibly reconfigure what you’ve done. To achieve this, you will need to be able to recall how you designed each part of the board, and why you chose that configuration. If you name your nets, you (and anyone else involved in de-bugging your board) will be able to identify where functions are occurring and why you elected those locations in your board for the various functions. This will make validation a simulation runs a lot more simple.
Don’t Shortcut your Schematics
When you’re creating a board, make the flow obvious for yourself and for all readers. Don’t risk taking shortcuts on your schematics, even if your design takes many pages. There’s a risk that if you try to condense your plans, they may become hard to follow, and therefore hard to validate or re-create.
Use Clearly Visible Connectors
It may be stating the obvious, but make your connectors appear as connectors. A good schematic should keep all the pins in order, and have all connectors clearly drawn in. Remember, what is easy to identify is easy to follow.
Your software is an essential tool in designing your board. But so is ensuring that all your logic is visible, and easy to recall. Using these steps will help ensure that any potential design issues are easy to identify and resolve.