How to Design a Printed Circuit Board: Schematic Design using EAGLE

LCD Keypad Shield Eagle Schematic

How to Design a Printed Circuit Board: Schematic Design using EAGLE

Are you an electronic engineer? Do you run an electronic company and would like to build your own boards? Are you an electronic student? Or do you just like to play with electronic components with breadboard for your prototypes? Sooner or later you will want to take those hand built on breadboard designs to a more robust and elegant Printed Circuit Board or PCB platform.

Figure 1: A Printed Circuit Board

In any electronic design, the Printed Circuit Board or PCB is one of the most crucial parts with its quality affecting the overall quality of all these devices.

In these tutorials series, we are going to learn how to design a schematic, layout your board, generate Gerber files, fabricate your PCB from a cheaper PCB manufacturing company and lastly solder your components on your PCB to complete your electronic project.

EAGLE Software

Any PCB Schematic design software can be used. In this tutorial we are using EAGLE due to its simplicity and free (the free version has some limitations but for simple 2 layer boards like this one, those limitations won’t affect most designs, except big complex designs). It also have a large community support, so if you need some help or a library for a specific part, there might be somebody there to assist you in the community.

You can download a free version of EAGLE software from Autodesk’s Free Download page. Choose your operating system (the software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux). If you are a student or an educator, you could get the Education license (same features as the Professional license) of EAGLE for free together with many other Autodesk software like Fusion 360, AutoCAD, Invertor and many more.

EAGLE installs just like any old program, it’ll self extract and then present you with a series of dialogs to configure the installation

PCB design in EAGLE is a two-step process. First we’re gonna design the schematic, then lay out the board based on the schematic, that’s what we are starting out with in this tutorial, designing the schematic, a simple Arduino LCD Keypad shield. You can read the full project and download the project files at:

Arduino Shield Tutorial – Make your Own LCD Keypad Shield

If you prefer to watch a video, please watch the video below, it will take you through all the steps from Schematic design to soldering your and testing your board.

Create a Project

Start a new EAGLE Project. Click on File menu and select Project.

Rename the Project to an meaningful name (We’re gonna rename ours: Arduino LCD Shield).

To add a schematic to a project folder, right-click your project folder, hover over “New” and select “Schematic”. A new schematic window will open with a blank work space. This is called the Schematic Editor where you can draw schematics of your design. It’s always good to save your work contemptuously, so Save the schematic file, it will save with .sch extension.

Adding Parts to a Schematic

After this, we have to add the necessary components which we are going to use in our schematic. First you have to add all of the parts to the schematic sheet, then wire those parts depending on your schematic requirements, but you could also intermix these steps by adding a few parts, wire them then add some more.

On the left hand side, we have all the tools we need, the ADD tool (or under the Edit menu) is what you’ll use to place every single component on the schematic. The ADD tool opens up a library navigator, where you can expand specific libraries and look at the parts it holds. With a part selected on the left side, the view on the right half should update to show both the schematic symbol of the part and its package

In the search button, type the name of the component you are looking for if you know the name, then select the component with the correct package size you need and click OK. To place the component, click with the left button of the mouse, if you want to rotate the component, right click. After placing the component on the schematic, press Esc to return to the component selection window.

Similarly, add the rest of the components required to complete the circuit. Additionally, add the +5V and GND symbols from the supply library.

If a part does not exist in the library, you can create it yourself or look online, there are plenty of these components freely available online. For example, we installed the Sparkfun EAGLE libraries, which has plenty components libraries you can use for your design for free, we got the Arduino board under Boards – SparkFun.

After placing all the components, rename the components with the RENAME Tool to something understandable, also change the values with the VALUE Tool like 10KΩ Resistor etc.

Use the MOVE Tool to move around the components to design your schematic, the COPY to duplicate components instead of going back to the library to grab them. Use the wheel of the mouse to zoom in or out.

Hover over the tools to get their function.

Connecting Components in Schematic

Next step is to connect these components. You have to use the NET option from the side tool bar and start making the connections.

After making all the connections, the final schematic will look something like the circuit in the following image. Save the schematic file.

In the next article, we will continue and learn how to convert this schematic into a Board Layout, then we’re gonna generate Gerber files to manufacture our PCBs.

For rapid prototyping or for commercial products it’s always a must to use specialized reputable PCB manufacturer instead of doing it yourself and luckily these days, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your boards manufactured professionally.

There are many PCB manufacturing companies in the world that can make you good quality boards, but to find a company that can produce cheap boards of high quality on small order because the first batch of any project will likely be of small quantity and only after you have tested successfully everything and you are happy it performs all its functions as required then you can order boards at high quantity at much small unit cost.

We recommend PCBWay is Chinese-based PCB manufacturer specializing in PCB prototyping, small volume production and PCB assembly service all under one roof with more than a decade of experience.

As they are specializing in prototyping and small orders, you can get PCBs even on small numbers for a relatively reasonable price for just $5 USD you can get 10 high quality PCBs (size: 100mm x 100mm or smaller). You can pick between these solder mask colours at no extra cost: Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, white and Black. You can also get the price instantly with the online Instant quote as shown on figure below:

PCBWay Home page

To learn more about their services and place an order online, please click on the link below:


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