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The electronics industry is expanding like never before. But every application is dependent on that tiny block called printed circuit board (PCB), which is totally hidden by wires and connected devices. The next time you start a project, why not design your own PCB, instead of getting someone else to do it for you? Here is how you can do it with DipTrace.

DipTrace is a PCB designing software that helps you design a neat and tidy board that works as per your needs. But when so many such software are available why should you choose to go with this specific tool? Let us try to find an answer to this question by looking at what the software offers for every stage of designing.

Easier sub-section design. While designing a circuit, it is always comfortable to make small parts that you know would work for sure and then piece these together to form the complete circuit. But this is not as easy as it seems, as there are complications with making sure the signals flow correctly and with ensuring common ground connections.

You will find this problem easier to handle in DipTrace, where each sub-section can be designed on a separate sheet. The first sheet becomes the face of your design, to which the others can be linked hierarchically using connectors between sheets.

Fig-1
Fig. 1: Make your PCB from scratch
Fig-2
Fig. 2: Convert your schematic to a PCB layout

For nodes like power supplies or repeated ones in the design, you simply have to connect the nets to the same net port. The nets are then automatically linked across sheets, without wires. You can simply use a bus connection for groups of wires that go together. Nets on different sheets are connected by names, while buses on different sheets have exclusive connectors.

Once the schematic is complete, DipTrace allows you to cross-check parameters you might have missed, like shorts, or to super-impose pins by an electrical rule check (ERC) that is flexible in allowing you to choose the features you want to verify.

Pick and place your layout. Moving from the schematic design to the PCB layout stage, you can take forward the same schematic rules or import design rules from an earlier project. On importing non-schematic rules, your PCB is ready with net classes, layers and design constraints.

One of the major issues in creating layouts is the size: whether it will fit within the board it has to be printed on. This process is smooth with DipTrace, which lets you first draw a board outline in the required shape, manually pick and place whatever parts need to be fixed and then auto-place the rest. You can then add connections and fiddle around with your design to get the right component-connected layout.

Make the most of a customisable auto-router. Before you can begin routing your design, layers, via styles and net classes need your attention. These form the foundation of your board design, and with DipTrace you can customise and group your settings. The tool gives you the freedom to decide what signals should pass through which layer, choose colours, specify hole dimensions and manage via styles and net classes.

You can then decide how the auto-router should work, thus exercising complete control over your design, effortlessly. At any stage, you may save the settings in a rules file to use in a future project.

If you are going with the auto-router for routing your wires, there are grid based and advanced shape based options. You can set it up to work the way you want and it will automatically take care of your requirements.

If you choose to do it manually, you can select from available modes and, as you route, the tool warns you of design consistency errors. Thus, you take care of the design errors as you move along. You can always edit your work and even move nets between layers.

Remaining free spaces can use the copper-pour facility for low-impedance connections and additional heat-sinking. DipTrace allows you to organise different copper pours on a single layer, as well as connecting copper polygons on different layers into a single net.

Fig-3
Fig. 3: Create a correct schematic with a rule check

Things you might want to know

A detailed procedure is available to verify the design. This includes checking for design rules and net connectivity. With errors shown at the exact location and different types marked in different colours, rectifying these becomes easy.

Relate the schematic and the layout. While completing your layout is important, it is as important to ensure that the schematic and the layout are in sync. There might be cases when you have to add components after the layout has been designed. With compare-to-schematic, renew-design-from-schematic and back-annotation features, this procedure is relatively simplified.

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