If not tested properly, a printed circuit board may always contain short and open connections – due to mistakes. It may be because of how you designed the circuit. In this article, you will learn tips on how to test your “future” circuit, by starting from the planning and design stage. They do not require the physical alteration of the PCB. You just plan and design the circuit in a computer or using plain paper.
In this stage, you should have a specific problem that you want to solve. In a simple electronics hobby project, it may be just to light up some LEDs. In a more complicated one, it may be to light it up, if a presence of an object is detected.
With every problem, there is a solution. This is the importance of the planning stage. You should understand where you can get a schematic diagram for the projects that you will create. You should also comprehend the circuit and its components, and the underlying theories of how it works, and why it will work.
The Internet is your friend. Various Internet electronics blogs, sites and forums cater to that need, free of charge. You can also consult electronics cookbooks and academic books that specialize in electronics theories and circuit making.
You should also plan on your budget. Electronics parts can cost from a few dollars to a couple of hundreds. Complicated circuits could cost more. This is why a plan should be created: in order not to waste time and money. A tip here is to always start small, especially if you are just new to electronics printed circuit board making. You cannot create complicated sensor-based circuits if you cannot even light up a set of LEDs. It may be too late to return your purchased money if the complicated circuit components you purchased, did not even meet one of your objectives.
You will create the blueprint in this stage. The blueprint, or schematic diagram, must first be modified or tested for your specific use. You can use pen and paper to create the blueprint. You can also use an electronics simulation software to check whether the circuit really works, or not.
You must also use the breadboard to physically test the components and connections, after the schematic diagram is partially, or completely finalized. You then need to modify them, based on what knowledge or electronics components you have right now. You must consider this tip because a breadboard’s layout can also be your exact printed circuit board layout.
The design stage is needed to check if the circuit really meets your objectives. This is done through computer simulation and physical testing thru breadboard. It is possible that an electronics part can be obsolete or out of stock. A component can be replaced, if a compatible one is available. Some components you have bought, however, may not be compatible with the others. This is why you must first use a breadboard to check each component, even though everything appears to work in simulation. Take note that simulation is just based on available theories and computations. They are just ideal, and not real values.
You must also possess both the digital millimeter and its analog counterpart, the VOM. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. You must check the input voltage and their corresponding outputs using a voltmeter. You must also check for wrong resistance values, or short circuited components using an ohmmeter. You can also check for shorts in the connections by using the continuity function of the millimeter. There are many parameters to check, but these are the essentials.
You must thoroughly check if the designed circuit is actually working, before you completely assemble them to a printed circuit board. It can save you the regret of investing time and money in a circuit that is not working. A tip here is always use the breadboard.
Planning and designing should be done to save your precious time, money and effort. You do this at the start. Do not do this when your printed circuit board is already fixed.