Printed circuit board manufacturing is a process that involves several procedures. Each procedure is crucial in achieving a functional board. The first step in a PCB manufacturing process is PCB design. Also, the PCB design process is a critical stage in PCB manufacturing. For PCB design, there is a wide variety of software. These include PCBWeb Designer, EAGLE, and Proteus.
Professional PCB design software should comprise improved features for schematic design and PCB design. Proteus PCB design software is a good example of such software. Therefore, our major focus on this article is Proteus. We will provide more details on how to use Proteus to design printed circuit boards.
Types of PCB Based on PCB Design
In terms of PCB design, there are two types of PCBs. These are Layout PCBs and Dotted PCBs.
Dotted circuit boards feature dots on the surface. Also, you can insert components in these holes. After this, the PCB designer attaches the components with wires and solders them. Dotted PCBs can be very complex to design as they can have several errors.
Layout circuit boards are easier to design. The PCB designers make use software to design the layout of this circuit. After that, the designer etches the copper layer and then solders different components on the PCB. This type of PCB is very easy and simple to design as it has lesser chances of error. Also, it doesn’t take much time to fabricate.
What is Proteus?
Proteus PCB software is mainly designed for preparing schematics and designing circuit boards. This software integrates PCB layout modules and schematic capture to offer easy to use and powerful suite of tools for PCB design. This software makes PCB design very easy with the tools it features. Proteus is software that features a powerful and integrated development environment. The tools in Proteus are ideal for professional PCB design and schematic capture. Also, these tools are very easy to use.
This professional PCB design software features space based auto router. Also, there are other great features like interactive SPICE circuit stimulator, fully featured schematic capture, and highly configurable design rules. Proteus PCB design software offers extensive support for power planes and integrated 3D viewer.
Furthermore, this PCB design software is a great option for modern PCB layout. Proteus has more than 25 years of consistent innovation and development. Therefore, this PCB design software has been able to integrate more advanced tools. Proteus focuses on improving its functionality while maintaining an easy-to-use interface. Also, this software focuses on tight integration with PCB schematic design.
Proteus comprises two PCB layout software offerings which are Proteus ARES and Proteus ISI. Proteus ARES is primarily created to guide the routing of PCBs and the positioning of components. On the other hand, Proteus ISI focuses on the generation of schematic diagram and electric-based simulation conduction. Proteus is a professional solution for modern printed circuit board design.
Furthermore, Proteus design suite offers PCB design starter kit for beginners. The design tools in Proteus offers users with great flexibility.
Advanced Features and Capabilities of Proteus
Proteus comes with a lot of features for designing your circuit board. These features make circuit board design much easier for PCB designers. Also, the design tools offered by Proteus make it an ideal choice for board design.
The libraries cover a wide variety of through hole components. This includes the most common transistor, IC, and diode. Also, Proteus offers SMT footprints and full IEC libraries. This software includes the IPC-7351 and IPC-782 standard surface mount libraries.
Also, you can create new packages on the drawing if required. Proteus supports 2D drafting features. This software features a direct import tool for PADS ASCII layout format. Therefore, this allows you to bring in footprints from popular tools like Ultra-Librarian.
With the manual routing feature, you don’t need to begin from the ratsnest lines. Also, tracking can easily be places in any way you want. Proteus will help you get rid of ratsnest lines as the connections become complete. When placing tracks, the route will follow the mouse anywhere possible and will move around obstacles.
You can delete any section of a track or reroute when you are editing routes. Also, there are commands that help you change the layer of a section of tracking. If there are thick tracks between obstacles like IC pads, there will be automatic necking in the route. Therefore, this will help you maintain the design rules. Also, you can lay down curved tracks by simply pressing the CONTROL key and using your mouse to mark the route.
Templates and technology data
Proteus has a PCB layout module that comprises a detailed scheme for design re-use. Also, this scheme is in the form of technology data and board templates. As a user, you can design several templates that represent common projects. Also, you can start new layouts from the template. This will help you preload all the configured data.
A template file is a basic layout together with a technology data set. Also, this data features grids, design rules, and more. You can directly apply this data to other layouts.
This software includes ultimate power plane support. Also, there is a user placeable polygonal region in which there is a creation of inner boundaries around existing pads and tracking. The boundaries will be recomputed to ensure design rule clearances once you change the tracking and pads. Also, Proteus includes support for thermal relief. So, you can decide whether to fill or hatch every polygon.
All computation on Proteus is according to grid-less shape geometry. Also, this computation occurs in the background. This will prevent any interference in the placement of manual board for computationally intensive layouts. Placing several power planes for each layer is one of the advanced features set by Proteus. Also, you will need the Proteus PCB design Level 2 to achieve this.
Proteus ensures it checks every track and warns if there is any violation of design rules. Also, you can set rules by strategy or by layer to customize the board constraints. You can even design rules that control behavior between strategies. There is an indication of the board’s design rule and connectivity on the status bar at Proteus’ bottom.
Proteus has a 3D visualization tool that helps you extrude a PCB layout. 3D visualization is one of the more advanced features provided by Proteus. Also, this feature enables you to view what the board would look like in the real world. This feature is very useful during PCB layout. Navigation is very intuitive and is controlled by mouse.
Also, the user can define a “height pane” that matches the board chassis. This will display as a box around the board, enabling a visual check for any protrusions. Also, Proteus features 3D footprints and support for designing custom 3D footprints. You can export files in these formats from most commercial MCAD packages and a wide range of free internet resource.
Stitching and shielding
Via stitching helps to tie larger copper traces together on various layers. Therefore, this helps to maintain short return paths and minimize noise on the circuit board. Also, planes can be automatically stitched through a simple context menu command. Therefore, this gives you control over via style.
You can include a picket fence or via shield around the planes’ border in the same way. Therefore, this will form a single row of vias around the zones’ perimeter. Also, this can help to prevent EMI with other equipment. This technique is ideal for high-speed routes to isolate signals on the board operating at various frequencies.
Benefits of Using Proteus PCB Design Software
PCB designing can be a difficult task if you don’t use the right software. The right software comprises advanced simulation features that help to achieve more sophisticated designs. Also, using the right PCB design software will help to reduce errors which can be costly. Proteus as a circuit board design software that offers a lot of benefits to users. These benefits include:
Software is vulnerable to bugs and circuit board design software isn’t an exception to this. Proteus offers dedicated software support to users. Also, there are several support features for users. Also, this software allows you to contact the developers and as well as offers a help feature when you have problems.
Great price and performance
Proteus is an affordable software that offers exceptional performance. PCB designers often consider the cost of acquiring PCB software, particularly when there is a budget. Although there are free design softwares online, their performance varies.
Ease of use
This is one of the benefits you will enjoy from Proteus. Proteus features an easy to use interface. Different persons like hobbyist, professional designers, and students can use this software. Also, the developers of this software reduces technicality of different aspects by using simpler graphics.
Updates and add-ons
Good circuit board design software should keep improving their features and capabilities. Also, Proteus keeps including more advanced features to enhance its capabilities.
Also, Proteus offers exceptional functionality as regards design elements. Most PCB software developers often include the most sophisticated functions at a fee. However, Proteus doesn’t only offer these sophisticated functions in their premium software.
How to Design a Printed Circuit Board Using Proteus
Virtual PCB Layout Design
For the designing process, click on the icon to run the program. You will see a new screen. After this, you will discover a grid-like workspace. There are available buttons that help to design the circuit board. Also, the circuit design will take place in the blue rectangle outline displayed on the screen.
Choose the entire component you need and they will be included to the devices list. Also, you can use rotate buttons to rotate the selected device. After this, you can position your component in the workspace. Place the cursor at the end of the component pin to draw connections.
Right click on the component if you intend to modify a component. After right-clicking, you will see a dropdown. Save and debug the file after completing the task.
PCB layout designing
You will need to design the PCB layout using the virtual circuit. Proteus features an integrated ARES designing suit. The first step is to open Proteus and choose Tools and click on netlist to Ares.
A window featuring components list will open. You can now use the 2D Graphics Box Mode to create a board edge. Then, choose select layer and then choose board edge. After this, create a box in the workspace. When you have done this, click again.
Click on the component and use the rotate buttons to rotate. After this, place it in your workspace. Ensure you arrange the components after including the entire components. Connect all the components. To change the track width you can click on C for Create or E for Edit. Once you select any of these buttons, a new window will open. Ensure you select your width based on the design of the PCB.
The next step is to connect components. If the design is a single layer PCB, place components on one side and then make connections present on the board’s other side. For double-layered boards, components and tracking should be on two sides. In multilayer boards, different colors represent different layers. For instance, the bottom layer can be blue while the inner layer can be in different colors.
Also, white arrows indicate the directions of component traces while green line show connections. The blue lines will show the tracks. Red circles indicate any errors in tracking.
Layout printing is the last step. To achieve this, click on the output option and choose print. You will see a print layout window. There are several options like rotation, mode, and more. There are 4 types of modes which are a drill plot, artwork, SMT mask, and a solder resist. Also, you can print the yellow colored module in the artwork mode.
The SMT mode is ideal for circuit that requires SMT module. Also, the drill plot layer helps to specify the drill hole size and the drill place. The solder resist layer helps to prevent short circuits.
The manufacturing of a functional printed circuit board begins with a good PCB design. Therefore, it is crucial to use efficient circuit board design software. This software helps with schematic capture and layout. Also, good PCB designing is one of the steps in producing a functional board. Proteus design suite has gained popularity in the PCB and electronics industry due to its features.