Designing Your Own Printed Circuit Board

Making your own printed circuit board can be fun and extremely satisfying. And it isn’t hard—you only need to follow a few steps and you are done. There isn’t much experience needed either.

What Is A Printed Circuit Board?

A printed circuit board (or PCB) is a bare board that is used to support and connect tiny electronic components via conductive tracks, pathways, and signal traces that are often etched from copper sheets laminated on non-conductive substrates.

Without these boards, a broad range of electronic devices that we use today wouldn’t exist. These boards are used in computers, radios, printers, television sets, signage, appliances, mobile devices, digital clocks, amplifiers, musical instruments, synthesizers, and other home appliances. In truth, the list of areas where PCBs can be used is nearly endless. These boards support appliances and technology in every industry you can imagine.

What is the difference between PCB and PCBA?

Generally, printed circuit board assembly (or PCBA) passes unpopulated PCB through surface mounted technology assembly and plated through hole. Some of the most common PCBA processes include:

• Solder paste printing
• QC inspection
• Hand, reflow and wave soldering
• Soldering and placement of components to blank printed circuit board

In other words, a PCB is an un-assembled printed circuit board comprising of base material, etched conductive pathways, metal coating, and patterns. On the other hand, a PCBA incorporates assembly, finishing, and testing. This implies that a PCBA can undergo:

• Power on circuit and functionality testing
• Power off inspection
• Power off automated optical inspection via analog signature analysis.

Designing your own PCB

For simple circuits, you can create your design right on the board and all you need is a resist pen for rubbing off the resist transfers. It is that simple!

However, most designs tend to be more complex than that and you may need to make schematic using sophisticated circuit board software. Here are some tips that you can follow for the latter case:

• Plan: Sketch your circuit design on paper and plan how you components will run
• Test the Prototype: You can test your prototype using a breadboard to lay out the circuit and ensue that it is performing optimally. Using breadboards is highly recommended for beginners as there is no soldering work required—all you need is to plug and play.
• Design the Circuit with A Schematic Editor: There are a wide range of PCB schematic editors that you can use, including FREE PCB and Express PCB among others. You can also use web-based options like For more sophisticated printed circuit boards, it is advisable to go for paid solutions since they have more functionality.

As you can see, designing your own printed circuit board isn’t hard. If you want to master the steps or design complex printed circuit boards, you can do more research over the internet. There are a lot of websites with comprehensive information on how to create a printed circuit board and then you can go to a company like to have it made. If you are not a fun of reading, you can head to YouTube for videos of all the steps you need to follow.