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Circuit Design on a Budget

February 25, 2019, to March 01, 2019
Continuing Education Center

Charles J. Lord

Charles J. Lord, PE is an embedded systems consultant and trainer with over 40 years' experience in system design and development in medical, military, and industrial applications. For the last... More

Once we are ready to take our prototyped design to production, we are faced with the design and construction of a printed circuit board. There are many professional as well as maker-level tools for schematic capture and PCB layout, but not many are in the price level for a small start-up. In this weeklong class, we will look at two electronic design automation (EDA) programs that are low-cost yet surprisingly feature-rich: CircuitStudio and KiCad. CircuitStudio is a simplified version of the popular high-end Altium Designer program and can be purchased for as low as US$500. KiCad (pronounced "Key Cad") is an open source program that has been supported by some major companies including Digi-Key and is a bargain at its price (free). We will work through a simple microcontroller-based board design from sketch to finished PCB and look at the differences in the process between these two EDA tools and a full commercial tool such as Altium Designer. Participants will be encouraged to follow along with one or both of the tools and the project files will be shared as the class progresses.

March 1 – Day 5 – Our Finished Board

In our final class, we will compare our finished board to the criteria we set forth and also compare the steps we had to take and differences for our two EDA tools, as well as for Altium Designer. We will look at the pros and cons of our different tools and be ready to choose our tools for our next...
March 01, 2019 - 2:00pm EST

February 28 – Day 4 – Creating our PCB Layout

Now that we have our schematic completed, we will move the netlist in both tools to the layout editor and create our PCB. We will quickly touch on the placement, routing, and auto-routing steps for each tool. At the end of this penultimate class, we will have a full set of gerber drawings to send...
February 28, 2019 - 2:00pm EST

February 27 – Day 3 – Creating our Schematic

In our third class we will use the parts we selected to create the circuit for our product. Using the symbols from our selected bill of materials (BOM), we will lay out the schematic for our product. We will show the steps for both EDA tools (CircuitStudio and KiCad) and compare the process for...
February 27, 2019 - 2:00pm EST

February 26 – Day 2 – Starting at the Beginning

In our second class we will establish the parameters for our finished circuit. Based on the specifications that we laid out in the first class, we will start our component selection, checking our supplier for availability and deciding on our packaging. We will compare the packaging selections to...
February 26, 2019 - 2:00pm EST

February 25 – Day 1 – Introduction to EDA and the tools

In our first day, we will briefly look at the design process from concept to PCB and will introduce our class project. We will look at the process for getting and installing each of the tools on our computers. We will then set our goal -- getting a finished PCB manufactured from our week's work.
February 25, 2019 - 2:00pm EST
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