6 Replies Latest reply on May 24, 2010 8:41 PM by yishayz1

    How to start from the basics??


      I am a electronics technician with over 15 years experience.

      Recently I was laid off and the job offers just don't knock on the door.

      I was thinking to use the UI period to learn PCB layout and design. I think PADS would be a good starting point. (?!?!)


      From what I found so far, Mentors training classes are for people with previous experience.

      So, how one like me, without any previous experience start from the basics???





        • 1. Re: How to start from the basics??

          To learn the basis; there is a book called "comoplete PCB design using Orcad capture and PCB editor"


          do a google search and you will find it.


          I use PADS Layout tools but this book will get you going.

          It will have you laying out a board in the first 30 minutes of reading the book.


          I gave this book to a friend, and he was up and running.


          If you plan to use PADS tools - stay away from DxDesginer to start with. Use their "Logic" schematic capture program.

          It is a lot like OrCAD; easy to use.

          DxDesigner is not straight forward (mostly in the setup).

          I haven't tried it in the last year; so maybe they have this fixed (easy setup and install).

          I used the older DxDesigner2005 (and loved it) and when they switched to DxDesigner2007; I had problems, so I went back to DX2005 and OrCAD


          Also go to the Analog Devices web site and go into the Sharc DSP area.

          They have a lot of Ref Designs that will give you something to play with (PADS format).

          Intel also has some great Ref Designs, but you will have to register and get access.


          if you find any other web site with good ref designs - let me know.

          I try to let other people know about them.


          Good luck.

          • 2. Re: How to start from the basics??

            Thank you John for your thorough answer. It seems to me that PADS is a whole program with easy

            interaction to other related programs.


            My impression is that you learned everything by yourself but I want to use the "benefits" of being unemployed and learn in a class while uncle Sam pays the bill. At the same time since I'm unemployed I have no access to any of the mentioned software. I don't think that a 3-4 days Mentor seminar is what I need. Maybe some kind of internship.


            Thank you again,



            • 3. Re: How to start from the basics??

              Good day Yishay:


              I guess that the uneasy question to ask is what kind of PCB designer that you want to be?  Are you going push what ever button the software has until there is a trace between two pins or are you going to understand why the trace is located where it is and what the surrounding PCB layers need to look like in order for the signal to move down the trace and be useful at the other end?  The latter has an expanding future and the prior is seeing few job openings.  You don't need to be a EE to be able to do a good job but to do this work right you need to be more than a technician.  Do you enjoy solving 3D puzzles?  Did you know that No one’s ideas, information, datasheets or drawings have to be correct when received by the PCB designer but everything must be PERFECT in form and format when it leaves the PCB designer.  Your databases will drive everything downstream and you will be the first in line when anything goes wrong.


              You should be able to download an evaluation copy of PADS to learn the software.  I carry a license for PADS but I prefer to use Expedition myself.  But there are more PADS jobs.  Download and read:


              Lee Ritchey's course manual 'Right The First Time' is available for download at http://www.thehighspeeddesignbook.com/index.php
              I have not read his book but I have been to his lectures and he is very good at high speed design. The electrical current models that he uses for training are the same as most courses provide. Read the book before you pay any money for another course.


              Download Joseph Fjelstad's book 'Flexible Circuit Technology' at http://www.flexiblecircuittechnology.com/

              Download Happy Holden's book 'The HDI Handbook' at

              Go to the major PCB trade conference web sites and download the presentation papers.


              If you might want to spend some money then try: PRINTED CIRCUITS HANDBOOK by Clyde Coombs, Jr., 5th edition, McGraw Hill


              Good luck




              • 4. Re: How to start from the basics??

                Oh my! This is getting better by the day. With all this info maybe I'll just skip the learning and start looking for a job! (-:)


                .... what kind of PCB designer that you want to be?


                I'll probably always be an R&D EE assistant, and not because I don't trust my ability it's because

                I don't have many years left to retirement.


                .... datasheets or drawings have to be correct when received by the PCB designer but everything must be PERFECT in form and format when it leaves the PCB designer.


                With all the respect, the one that eventually makes it perfect is the Engineering Technician.

                I worked 3-4 years in a R&D PCB department. MIL Spec, 8-10 layers. All the first versions and most of the second prototypes had problems. Traces going everywhere and nowhere (Been a while since then and I'm sure its much better these days). So, I hanged the layers film on a window, found a place that only the dislocated traces passed, transferred the location to the PCB and drilled thru to disconnect the trace. now all it took is to put a jumper. Actually, I think I have an advantage with my background!


                Thanks Dwain for your valuable info,




                • 5. Re: How to start from the basics??

                  The only way to learn PCB layout is to do PCB Layout.

                  Times have changed since the tape and film way of doing PCB Layout.

                  Before my time.

                  There is so much to know, even when doing basic board layout;

                  - stackup

                  - trace width and space

                  - impedance

                  - data to relay to board and assembly house

                  - create schematic symbols and layout footprints


                  Today the Layout will match the schemetic unless you make an ECO.

                  Even ECO changes can to moved into the schematic or layout.

                  Having errors like the onces you talked about are not acceptable today.


                  I have been a BSEE for many years and doing FPGA PCB design and layout for the past two years.

                  I'm still in a learning curve when it comes to Highspeed PCB Layout.


                  I still recommend you get the book I talked about, and work with it for the next month.

                  You get a demo version of Orcad with the book (also available from web site)

                  Do all the examples in the books.

                  Then get the PADS demo version and redo the examples.

                  It would be nice if Mentor PADS had a book like this one, but there isn't.


                  Once this is done, you will be able to ask some very good questions when you take a class or talk to other PCB layout designers.

                  The only problem with a class - there is two types.

                  1 - EDA vendors class to teach the tool itself - not PCB design

                  2 - PCB design overview class - the problem there are not many around - the only one I know about is in San Jose, CA

                  This subject is not taught today.


                  If I was a Technication today and was new to PCB design;   I would get good and creating Schematic symbols and Layout footprints.

                  I would review as many Ref Designs as possible and try doing them myself.


                  I would also go out to the IPC web site.

                  I'm an IPC CID (I took a test on my PCB knowledge), and plan to get my CID+ test done later this year.

                  I would get the materials for the CID test and study them.

                  It will give you a good foundation and  vocabulary of the PCB industry.


                  Join your local IPC users group.


                  Build a strong foundation

                  • 6. Re: How to start from the basics??

                    Well, it looks like my post turned into a valuable source of information. (264 views)


                    I have all the books mentioned, demo version of Orcad instaled and working.

                    It would be helpfull some links to Ref Designs.

                    I hope that EDA vendors site is this one:  http://www.edadesignline.com/

                    I still have a problem getting the materials for the CID test to study them.


                    Otherwise, thanks for your time, efort and all the info.