Quote from abishur on October 30, 2011, 04:23
Thanks for the tips, does anyone know a good resource for learning how to look at a circuit schematic and turn that into a PCB design?
While I would love to be proven wrong, my suspicion is that you won't find any, assuming you are talking about *any* schematic in the general case.
In many cases you'd need a detailed understanding of the inner workings of a schematic, combined with the fundamentals of electronics, in order to successfully design a suitable PCB. While the details may not be critical in many cases, the trick is to recognize when they are, and that you may need to consider one or more of: Trace inductance, capacitance, resistance and coupling, heat dissipated (where, how, how much, how hot), enclosed loop areas, track currents, noise (coupling of same/prevention of/sensitivity to), grounding, on top of all the parameters I am probably forgetting right now.
Some schematics won't even have a direct and simple 'translation', because the PCB layout is the secret sauce in itself. The most infamous example is probably very high frequency radio equipment, like satellite receivers. Here circuit elements like coils, capacitors and filters are directly fabricated from the copper foil on the PCB through carefully designed artwork in the copper traces. Designing those types of PCBs is anything but a trivial, home exercise in many cases. Even if you had a detailed schematic with components values, it would get you absolutely nowhere. You'd need the means through some heavy computations to turn those numbers into actual PCB traces and artwork.
All of this boils down to why many hobby electronics enthusiasts tend to run into trouble sooner or later, once they go beyond the basics. Many simple and low speed/low power gadgets can easily be fabricated through various methods. Yet at some point *all* the simple fabrication methods and rules of thumb break down, and the constructor *has* to have at least some understanding of the fundamentals of electronics to succeed. Unless, that is, the constructor is satisfied with only copying designs from the hands of others.
Which is why giving one of those nylon breadboards to a buddying electronics enthusiasts is probably one of the most evil things you could do to him/her.
Sorry if this got a bit far afield. No easy translation from schematics to PCBs in many cases I'm afraid.