Where You Can Learn PCB Design Online

Zachariah Peterson
|  December 13, 2020
learn pcb design online

Thanks to the internet, online learning and remote work have gone mainstream. Sites like Khan Academy and Youtube give access to free courses on just about any topic you can imagine, including advanced STEM topics like electronics engineering and PCB design. More advanced courses that offer certifications usually cost money, but free online resources are a great way to dive head-first into a new field and prepare for a professional certification.

There aren’t many PCB design courses in traditional education programs, so many new circuit board designers are forced to go online to find educational resources. The same goes for design software, which can range in cost from a monthly subscription to free programs with limited features. If you’re an electronics engineering student, or you want to expand your engineering skills into a new area, here are some resources where you can learn PCB design online.

What to Expect in an Online PCB Design Course

Take a look on the internet and you’ll find plenty of resources about circuit design, PCB layout, and using PCB design software programs. Circuit boards are works of art that are governed by well-understood design rules, but finding reliable resources to guide new designers can be difficult.

Online PCB design courses can fill the gap by providing a comprehensive set of learning resources. Any online PCB design should cover, at minimum, the following three areas.

Schematic Design

All new PCBs start with schematics, and PCB designers should understand how to build and read these documents. In the past this area of electronics design was handled by circuit designers and electrical engineers, but today’s PCB designers also need to know how to design and evaluate circuits. Schematic design courses focus on the following tasks in PCB design software:

Creating organized schematics

  • Creating organized schematics: Designers should know how to structure a schematic properly so that it is organized and error-free.
  • Working with parts libraries: Finding and placing components, locating ECAD models, and understanding sourcing information need to be done early in a new design.
  • Circuit simulations: Many PCB design programs include a SPICE simulator for evaluating circuits in schematics.

PCB Layout

Once schematics are finished, they are imported into a blank PCB layout, and a CAD drawing of the circuit board needs to be created. This is usually the most time-consuming part of PCB design, but it’s the most important step to ensuring a finished circuit board will function correctly. Online lessons on PCB layout should give you an in-depth view of using PCB design software for circuit board layout.

  • Using CAD tools for PCB design: CAD tools have some basic viewing and navigation functions that help designers create a PCB layout.
  • The anatomy of a circuit board: It’s important to understand how a circuit board is constructed and what features are placed in different circuit boards.
  • Component placement and routing: The components in your schematics need to be placed around the board, and electrical connections need to be routed between them.
online pcb design course
Learn how to create this type of CAD layout in an online PCB design course.

PCB Fabrication and Assembly

Designers don’t need to know how to set up a PCB manufacturing facility, but it helps to know how the fabrication process works and how it relates to design choices in a PCB layout. Learning more about the manufacturing process helps designers determine when a circuit board might fail during fabrication and assembly. Learning more about these areas can help designers make smart design choices and get through manufacturing successfully.

  • PCB fabrication processes: Understanding how PCBs are fabricated at a high level, as well as what creates board failures and what to expect when a production order is placed.
  • PCB assembly: Automated and manual assembly procedures are one of the final steps in circuit board production, and boards need to be designed to ensure accurate assembly.
  • Manufacturing documentation: Getting a board into manufacturing requires converting CAD files into manufacturing files, which a fabricator will use to create a real PCB.

Where to Find Programs for Learning PCB Design Online

An important part of learning circuit board design is understanding how to use PCB design software. When you’re ready to start learning PCB design online, where can you find design software to help you get started? Commercial design tools can be expensive and have a steep learning curve. Fortunately, there are online PCB design platforms that are an ideal part of an online PCB design course.

Upverter provides a complete suite of online PCB design tools that help you design a complete circuit board and prepare it for manufacturing. This unique online platform is an ideal choice for new designers who want to learn PCB design through an online course, and for instructors looking for educational resources. As part of an engineering course or self-directed learning, you can access professional design tools in a browser-based interface through Upverter’s online platform.

If you’re looking for a place to learn PCB design online, look no further than the Upverter Education Engineering Essentials course. This course covers all the areas above and much more. It’s free to sign up and you can complete course modules at your own pace. Enroll today to jumpstart your career.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to electronics companies. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University. He conducted his Physics M.S. research on chemisorptive gas sensors and his Applied Physics Ph.D. research on random laser theory and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensing and monitoring systems, and financial analytics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written hundreds of technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. Zachariah currently works with other companies in the electronics industry providing design, research, and marketing services. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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