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Topic: Any paper books on PCB design? (Read 3592 times) previous topic - next topic


I'm a self-taught PCB designer. As I enjoy some success, I'm interested in improving my overall skills and understanding of the art and science of PCB design to eventually measure up to a B.S. graduate in E.C.E. I'm designing simple boards with through-hole parts. I want to eventually design more complex boards with all surface mount components and solder them or have them made. Is there a good English textbook on PCB design? I'm confident that I have enough background for a class like this but the local school offers no such class. Students I talked to told me they just learn PCB design with online videos  :smiley-sweat:

Any suggestions on a book or two is highly appreciated!


What makes you think a B.S. graduate in ECE understands the art and science of PCB design? ;)     A lot is learned through work experience, since ECE programs tend to be fairly theoretical and PCB design is considered "technician work".

There are lots of nice links here: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Practical_Electronics/PCB_Layout

You might also find some more "official" textbook suggestions from the Surface-Mount Technology Association (smta.org) bookstore:


The Rugged Motor Driver: two H-bridges, more power than an L298, fully protected


Thanks RuggedCircuits!

Say if you are a fresh ECE graduate, you sit in a corporate cubical and someone hands you a project to design a circuit, what do you do if all you learned in school was theory? :smiley-roll:


Nobody hands you a project to design a circuit as a fresh ECE graduate.

You start by doing repair work, troubleshooting, documentation, maybe graduate to doing some basic fixes to a schematic by changing part numbers for obsolete devices, changing footprints on PCB's for devices that have changed, etc. etc.

Eventually you get to design a small sub-circuit for some unimportant internal project, like an end-of-line tester. Then, it goes from there....bigger circuits, more responsibility, etc. Eventually you get your own design.

There is a lot of apprenticeship that goes on. At least that's been my experience.

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Hi liudr,

here is a little tutorial from Dave L. Jones, it is a very handy brief tutorial to get to know a little bit about the art of PCB design. It goes through the very basics from layout to the things you need to know for fabrication. It doesn't go into fancy stuff like signal integrity, impedance control, EMI, ...




Thanks for the explanation. I didn't know circuit board design was NOT part of the skill set to start a career in ECE. In some fields, you get tested to show your skill levels and may demand more pay on certified skills. In finance and accounting, there's tons of these tests and levels, each costing a good fortune to pass (books and tests) and demand annual fee to maintain membership. I wonder if there's any tests on PCB designs and associated books. I would imagine these engineers are paid well, commensurate to their skills. They would have no problem shelling out big bucks to advance their careers with these stuff.


Thank you! I downloaded the book. Will read through it!


I wonder if there's any tests on PCB designs and associated books.

The only ones I know of are IPC certifications, and those are more for PCB assembly/rework than design:


I would imagine these engineers are paid well, commensurate to their skills.

Some are, some aren't. The best-paid PCB layout engineers are those that have specialized skills in high-frequency/RF design, know how to intelligently use signal integrity simulators, know how to do thermal calculations/simulations on PCB's, and know how to use the industry tools effectively to incorporate the latest technologies (like passives embedded in the PCB). I don't know of any certifications for those skills. Everybody else....I don't think they're any better paid than regular engineers, and as I mentioned before sometimes they are considered technician-level positions and actually paid a bit less than "circuit designers".

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one of the famous pcb design book is "Kraig Mitzner Complete PCB Design Using OrCad Capture and Layout 2007", download it there for free. It uses cadence orcad software.


PCB design is the end result of the electrical design process. Where I came from the Electrical Engineer in charge of the design came up with the schematics for the design, and we wrote up requirements on how it was to be layed out & routed.
- the PCB stackup (defines # of layers, thickness of the boards used and the copper on the layers, inter-layer glue to be used)
- what went on each layer (16 layer board for example -which were power, Gnd, whether traces could be used on outer layers)
- where the parts went, and if any placements were critical (such as decoupling caps being near Vcc pins, or bus termination resistors)
- requirements on trace widths
- what signals were critical and had to be routed first
- any limits on # of vias any particular signal could have
- any limits on which signals could be paralleled with others, or for how long (on same layer and on parallel layers)
- etc.
The PCB design shop would then enter all the design rules into the tool, and place the components. An EE would then check the placements, make sure the proper footprints were being used, an ME would confirm the backplane connector(s) placements, and the PCB design shop would then continue with routing. The ME would work with the EE to understand the power dissipations and run a simulation of all cards in a box to make sure adequate cooling would be provided.
When all done, an EE would review the routing again, make sure the critical traces were acceptable, make sure no traces had been made ridicuously long.  So the EE was the driver behind the whole thing, not the technician who entered the data into the tool and implemented the requriements.
And even then designs could be screwed up elsewhere. I once completed a design thru the review process and we released it for PCBs and assembly, then went on my honeymoon. Came back to check out the completed cards. The cards would work, then fail with an open. We'd add a jumper, it would work again and then another trace would fail. After going thru this process too many times, the cards were sent out for x-ray and dissection - turned out the PCB house had rushed assembly, and some of the inner layers were skewed and failing at the vias and plated through holes.  My design itself was not a problem.
You can be certified if you want in running a tool (Eagle, whatever), it's the EE design knowledge that really makes the design work.
No disrespect to all the self-taught designers out there.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.


You can be certified if you want in running a tool (Eagle, whatever), it's the EE design knowledge that really makes the design work.


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