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6 Steps for Creating an Electronic Design Schematic

Electronics design engineers perform many different tasks to take their ideas from the breadboard to the PCB assembly house. But one of the most important tasks they need to do is to create a schematic drawing.

A schematic drawing is as important as the electronic design itself. The schematic will be read by other engineers and PCB manufacturing specialists so it must be clear, concise and accurate. A professionally produced schematic easily communicates the purpose, function and objectives of the design. To develop a schematic that will assist others in understanding and manufacturing your PCB, follow these steps:

1. Create Block Diagrams to Overview Your Design
A block diagram is a good way to introduce your electronic design to a reader. It functions as a simple overview of the design architecture and gives the reader a frame of reference for understanding what your design does. It should summarize the systems and sub-systems of your hardware design. Block diagrams are easy to produce. To help the reader, ensure that each section of the block diagram has a page number that goes to the appropriate section of the schematic drawing.

2. Label Every Net
A schematic drawing is not only a visual presentation of your electronic design, it is also a tool that you and others will use for debugging and simulation runs. To perform these important tasks, the schematic must have all the nets labeled. While this appears to be a time-consuming task, it will prove beneficial down the road. Each net must be labeled with its purpose. While some engineers may feel that labeling the nets are optional, this task will save you and others a lot of time.

3. Make Your Schematic as Informative as You Can
Do not oversimplify your schematic drawing. Rather, be as detailed as possible. Oversimplified and abbreviated schematics are difficult to follow. If another engineer or the PCB assembly house cannot follow your schematic, they may not be able to reproduce your electronic design. If your schematic covers many pages, that is fine. The overall schematic should flow from page to page in an organized, easy-to-read way, including block diagrams.

4. Identify All Pins and Connectors
A schematic drawing is a dense with information. It has components, connectors, pins and more. Ensure the reader can differentiate between a pin and a connector. The connectors should be labeled and the pins should be placed in order. Remember, you know your design inside and out. But other people will use your schematic to perform their jobs. So, make it simple, clear and easy to understand.

5. Keep a Record of Your Electronic Design Notes
Design notes are useful for your readers to master your design. You should maintain a record of your notes. In fact, the important ones should be annotated as footnotes on your schematic or in a standalone document that's included with the schematic. What notes should be included in a schematic drawing? Component choices, logic table settings, power supply considerations and more.

A schematic drawing should clearly indicate the purpose and intent of an electronic design. It should be easy for the reader to follow. If you produce a professional schematic drawing, your design will be easier to reproduce, comprehend, simulate and debug.

6. Use the Right Schematic Design Tools
Schematics for basic electronic designs can be hand drawn. But when you have a complex design that uses many parts or surface mount components, it is beneficial to have a professionally done schematic. Not all PCB design software has the capability of producing schematics. So, make sure your PCB design software has the capability of producing a professional schematic drawing.
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