Developing a new electronics product is often a long and difficult process, however, by taking some simple steps beforehand, and approaching the project in the right way, you can make it a fun and rewarding process.

Pre-Design

One of the most common mistakes that electronics designers make when starting a new project is to dive straight into producing schematic circuit diagrams, however, this is a mistake. Schematic diagrams can definitely be useful, but they should come after an initial pre-planning phase. During this phase, you should sketch out a design of the final product which includes all the key details but isn’t overly detailed.

Later on, you can formulate a more detailed design and then worry about the in-depth, more technical aspects of design. For example, at this early stage of the design process, it isn’t important to establish exactly how all the various components within the device are going to connect to one another. For now, it is fine to simply note the relevant interfaces and protocols.

Schematic Circuit Diagram

Once you have been through the pre-design stage and have a reasonable idea of what your final product will look like, it is then time to put together a schematic circuit diagram. These diagrams can be thought of like blueprints, they lay out the precise architecture of the final product, including any components and the connections that link them together.

Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

Most of the software packages which are commonly used for designing the schematic diagram of your product will also have functions to assist in the production of your printed circuit boards. Another function of the software used here is that it is capable of checking and verifying the validity of your schematic configuration.

Design software will not only check that the proposed design meets all the specified requirements, it will also verify that physical features such as the trace spacings, trace widths, and hole diameters, are all correctly set.

The better the PCB design software you have, the easier you will find this stage of the process. Quality design software is essential for identifying mistakes before you embark upon the production phase. Companies such as Altium provide protel PCB design software with features such as Smart grid insert to automatically insert component pin data, which can help minimize mistakes.

Ordering Your Circuit Boards

Once you have verified your schematic designs, you are then ready to order the boards themselves. You will need to find a PCB manufacturer to work with in order to have your circuit boards produced. The production follows the following order: first of all, empty circuit boards are printed after these have been produced the components are then soldered on. Machines, known as automatic placing machines, are used to place the components on the board with the necessary precision and allow for greater control than attainable with a human.

Microcontroller Programming

This is the final stage of the production process. Microcontrollers are essentially the brain of the products, with the components being the organs. The microprocessor tells everything else how to behave.

By following the above sequence of steps in bringing an electronics product from concept to reality, the process can be achieved quickly and efficiently.