Thank you for your interest in PCB123. With all the curiosity in our software, we find that many of the questions we receive are about simple set up of a board. While we do have a manual on some of the more complicated issues and an online forum for general questions, there is no true walk through on using the software. The purpose of this document is to take the reader through a step by step set up of a board. For this tutorial we are going to be creating a simple battery operated LED light, with a switch to turn it on and off. This tutorial should work side by side with the manual, which I would very much recommend reading, and the online forum, which should always be consulted if you run in to problems. With that in mind I want to introduce you to the LED light board we will be making:
Clearly this is a very simple schematic of what one should look like. I just entered in LED simple schematic to Google and this was one of the first items to pop up. But for the purposes of this document it will be perfect. When a new customer calls in asking how to work the software I always recommend googling “simple schematic (Fill in the Blank),” then telling them to try to create that PCB in our software. Like any skill set, you need to master the basics before you should try anything more complex.
By the end of this tutorial you will have a board which we can fabricate in our facilities. You will have gone over creation of a schematic page and laying out the board on the layout page. Although I’m sure there will still be questions on more complex issues this should be a good starting point for those new to the software or PCBs in general.
Setting Up the Initial Board:
1. Open up PCB123
2. Close out of First Page (Esc Button/Clicking Done)
3. Close out of new board wizard (Esc Button/ Clicking Cancel)
4. File -> New
5. Name Board
a. Decide on Board Size, Layers, Netlist File, Silkscreen, Thickness, Finished Copper weight, and quantity.
i. Note: These can all be changed later if needed.
ii. For now let’s just leave it all as the defaults.
6. Then click the Ok button.
a. You’re now looking at a white rectangle on a black background. That is your PCB. Let’s add some things to it so it’ll be a working board.
7. At the bottom there are four tabs Layout, 3D View, Bill of Material and Main Schematic
a. Click on Main Schematic on the bottom.
Figure 2: Main Schematic Location
i. You should now be on a new page; it’ll be white with a blue grid background.
Designing Your Schematic
1. Click on the Button titled Add Part, up at the top, looks like a little capital D
Figure 3: Add Parts Location
a. This will then open a pop up window labeled ‘Select Part’
2. Enter into the Search Criteria the part you’re looking for ->
a. Click ok once you find the right part
3. Place Part where it goes on the schematic
4. Hit Esc button once part is placed
a. For our example, enter into the search bar “battery”. The search function will then pop up hundreds of parts but for this example just a generic one will work so click on the first one simply labeled “Battery” with the description “Generic Fuse”, then click OK. Place it on the schematic and hit the Esc button. Next we’ll need an LED light, so search “LED”. For this one choose the one named “598-8091-107F”, with a description of “LED Ingan Blu Water Clr 0603 SMD”, click Ok and add that to my schematic as well. Next up, after hitting Esc, we’ll want a switch, so that way the LED isn’t always on. Search the word switch_SPST (Which is the kind of switch we want) and add the first one that pops up, “Switch_SPST”. Click Ok and place that on my board. Finally we’ll need a resistor, so search resistor and grab the first one on the list “CRCW02011.00KFNED”. Place that on your board and then hit Esc twice. Below is what the parts will look like on the schematic page.
5. Repeat steps 8-10 until you find all the parts required
6. Hit Esc again to exit out of the Select Part screen (Or click Cancel)
7. Click on parts to drag them to their correct placement and then click again to place them
a. If parts need to be rotated hit the ‘R’ button when they are still selected
b. If they need to be flipped hit the ‘H’ button for a horizontal flip and ‘V’ for a vertical flip while they are still selected
i. With our example we want them to look like the schematic drawing on the opening page. So we should arrange them in a square with the parts going, in clockwise order, resistor, LED, switch, and then the battery.
One Helpful Hint: If you need to drag the screen around to see other parts of the schematic you can click and drag using the right mouse button. While a right click will display a pop up menu, the click and dragging of the right mouse button will move the screen. This holds true for the Layout Page as well.
8. After all parts are where you would like them to be, you can connect them by clicking on the small pins on the part. A line, representing a schematic network connection, will then appear which will follow your mouse until you click on the part you want to connect to.
a. Do this for all the parts you wish to connect (If you accidently click on a pin or have an extra line you can always hit the Esc button to exit out of the line)
b. If you happen to connect the wrong part and need to delete it simply hover the mouse over the wire and hit the Delete button on your keyboard.
9. Once all the parts are connected and the schematic looks like how you want it to look you can click on the layout button on the bottom.
Laying out your PCB
1. All the parts will be centered around the origin marker, which is the target looking shape near the middle. I would recommend you keep the parts near that mark so they will be easier to find later on.
2. If you want to arrange the parts, the easiest way to start would be to click on the Design tab at the top and then clicking on the AutoPlace button.
Figure 9: Autoplace Location
Another Helpful Hint: During arrangement of the components it can be difficult to move a part without accidently grabbing the name or outline so I would recommend going to the right hand side and clicking on the red button towards the top, this will disable the ability to click on anything. Then click on the little part button underneath the red button you just pressed to re-enable clicking on parts (this is important because if this is not clicked on you will not be able to move any parts). By doing this you won’t accidently change the pins or outline or some part of the silkscreen.
Helpful Hint Part 2: If in the future you don’t want to just randomly click on parts and want to move a specific part you can always hit the ‘F’ button which will bring up the Find search window, which will enable you to locate one specific part. Since our tutorial is fairly simple we won’t need to use this.
3. Drag your components to where they should be on your board
a. If parts need to be rotated hit the ‘R’ button when they are still selected
b. If they need to be flipped hit the ‘O’ button while they are still selected, note that pressing ‘O’ also moves the part to the bottom side of the board
4. At any point that you need to change the outline you can click on the outline anywhere to move it. (I would recommend clicking on the corners if you want to make sure it stays a square/rectangle). By click on the outline anywhere else this will create a new corner at that spot, which would be needed if you want to create a complex polygon, which we don’t need to for this example.
a. If you click on the red button, as mentioned in the helpful hint above, you will need to click on the outline (or polygon) button to enable you to click on the outline. This is the polygon shaped button two buttons down from the red button.
b. If you have some exact measurement that you need your board to be you can measure that by changing the grid size (Hitting the ‘G’ button on your keyboard).
Figure 11: Select Polygons Location
c. Helpful Hint: If you wanted to create a circular board simply right click on any corner of the outline and click on the option “Convert Corner to Arc”. Or by hovering your mouse over the corner and pressing the ‘A’ key will also accomplish this.
5. Once all parts and outlines look how you want the board to look, you can begin placing the routes. The easiest thing to do would be to auto route everything. To do this click on the Design tab at the top and then clicking Autoroute
Figure 12: Autoroute Location
a. If you want to route everything by hand go to the top and click on Free Style Routing button and then clicking on the pin you wish to start routing, a line will then appear which will follow your mouse until you either connect it to another pin or you hit the Esc button.
b. Again, if you hit the Red button from the Helpful Hint, you will need to click on the Routing button if you wish to move any of the lines. It will be the Routing looking button underneath the Red button on the right hand side, fifth one down.
Figure 13: Select Traces Location
Fun Tip: If you need to be more precise with the autorouting in the future, for example you had a four layer board and you want the autorouter to ignore the 3rd layer, you can go and change the preferences for the autorouter. To do this go to View-> User Preferences-> Routing and Spacing Rules. From there you can change things like the autoroute grid or the layer preference.
6. After everything has been routed you can check to make sure the board will work by hitting the DRC button at the top (the big green check button)
Figure 15: DRC Location
7. If there are any problems a screen will pop up listing them all. After you click ok the left side of the screen will change and show the DRC Violations. You can go through all of these correcting anything you want. Some errors may pop up but you might be able to build it anyways, you should check all the errors to see which one will work and which won’t.
One last thing that might be helpful, the Edit Panel.
Creating a Via
• One last item that should be mentioned, although this simple board didn’t need it, is the creation of a Via
1. Select the pin button at the top of the page.
2. If needed hole and pad size can be changed on the left hand side of the screen. Pad shape can also be changed from round to square or oval. If oval or square is selected you can then change the pad height as well.
3. In PCB123 you can have your Pins be non-plated, thermal,
tented or slots, all of which are options on the left hand side.
4. Place the pin on your board in a location it is needed.
5. You can now run traces through this pin onto different layers.
6. For our example, delete the trace connecting the resistor and the LED.
a. Next place two pins around where that trace was, between
the two components.
b. You can autoroute the traces now, but for practice we’ll do it
by hand. To do this click on the trace button, next to the pin
button, and then click on the resistor where the previously
deleted trace started. Then click on the pin you just placed, this
should have dragged a red trace to that trace.
c. To place a trace on the bottom layer hit the “L” button on your
key board. A new box will pop up, click on the bottom layer button,
then the Ok button. Now click on the pin where you left off and create a trace to the next pin. This trace should be blue.
d. Now press “L” again and this time click on Top Layer and then Ok. This last trace should be red.
e. Now click on the second pin again and create a trace to the LED component.
Ordering the Board:
1. Once the board is to your satisfaction and you wish to order them click on the big red ORDER button on the left hand side. The program will then have you log onto your Sunstone.com account, if you don’t have one click on the New Account button to set one up.
2. Once logged on it will confirm the board type information and ask for quantity click ok if everything looks right
3. The next page will be any additional testing, assembly, or expedite you want for the board, click ok when done with that
4. The next page will upload the board to the website for ordering once the Transfer button is clicked
5. Provide Shipping Info, Click Next
6. Provide payment type, PO Number(if any), Coupon Code (If any), Click Next
7. Look through the order confirmation; anything looks wrong hit the Previous button or the Cancel button on the bottom. If correct click on the Submit order button. Write down order confirmation! This could be useful later (Like if you need to change something)