Looking for resources to help learn how to create PCBs


#1

I’m interested in learning how to make my own PCB, but I don’t know where to start. I have no engineering background, but I’ve very quick to learn pretty much any software.

Does anyone know of any guides/resources to help me get started?

It would just be for a personal project, as I have no interest in running a GB currently.

Pointers?


#2

I was curious a couple months back and came across this

Super helpful and detailed.

One note - while the libraries mentioned have a ton of pre-made part references they’re pretty general, if you needed a specific footprint, you might have to make it yourself; not hard, just extra time needed.

Once you get to the firmware, if you wanna prototype and figure out your switch matrix, it’s pretty simple to get an Arduino up and running with QMK.


#3

Thanks! I’ll read up.


#4

I’ve found this the day before yesterday: https://wiki.ai03.me/books/pcb-design/page/pcb-guide-part-1---preparations
It’s apparently intended as an updated replacement for ruiqimao’s guide sortofsleepy mentioned.
I’ve finished designing a large PCB based on it literally minutes ago (though I can’t tell yet if I did an acceptable job - I plan on posting it here and getting feedback; but first I need to finally catch some sleep).


#5

I think you are getting yourself ahead of things. I’d recommend to you to learn the basics of electronics first, then learning how to make PCBs. Things from Ohm’s Law to Boolean Algebra to understand basic digital electronics.

It’s not very difficult, although there is some maths required. And you can progress at your own pace. A good first PCB to make (in fact, it was the first I have ever made, 25 years ago) is an astable multivibrator, as it is quite simple to make. Just use the same values as recommended on this article I just googled, but there are tons of them for you to read. For NPN transistors, you can use a BC547 or a 2N2222.

EDIT: grammar. English is hard.


#6

Thanks for the tips. Appreciate it.


#7

hey, @VinnyCordeiro, that link doesn’t work for me. Do you have another one?


#8

That’s very weird. Anyway, this article goes even deeper in details, and Google shows a lot more.


#9

As Vinny said, some basic electronics and physics knowledge will go a long way toward making a decent PCB.

That being said, here are some specific things that make me sad on a lot of keyboards (in no particular order) that are easily avoidable by reading up on:

  1. Lack of ESD proctection
  2. Poor bypass cap layout
  3. Poor crystal layout
  4. incorrect crystal loading
  5. USB 2 over USB C missing the proper resistors to identify it as such when using a USB C to C cable

#10

Also snapeda can be a good resource for finding footprints for doing layout yourself.


#11

@sortofsleepy link have been super usefull for me to get started.
I discovered @joelproko link later on and also found it very instructive.

As @VinnyCordeiro said, doing a board with an integrated microcontroller may be very challenging if you never designed PCBs before:

  • Design is more complex.
  • Soldering on MCU pins needs a few tries before doing it right.
  • USB C connector is a bitch that need a hot air station to be soldered, also PCB stencils are very usefull to prevent unseen solder bridge.

I think you could safely start with a keyboard PCB with no MCU and pin holes for a pro micro for example.

You can also be ambitious and do the complicated stuff (integrated MCU) for your first try :wink:
But be prepared to have different revisions made before the first one work.
As Tony Stark said: sometimes you have to run before you can walk :rofl: