Excited about your new board? Us too!
Before you place your order though, it’s a good idea to carefully run through a few steps to make sure everything turns out perfectly.
Verify your schematic
Check Component Footprints
Prepping for fabrication is a good time to verify your component footprints against the datasheet.
Among the more common errors are IC numbering, transistor and voltage regulator pinouts, and reversing the “marking” on diodes or polarized capacitors.
Run Electrical Rule Check
For tools with an ERC or “Electrical rule check”, this will warn you of signals you forgot about, didn’t correctly attach to component symbols, or forgot to apply power to.
For other tools, simply pay close attention and double-check to make sure you didn’t make the above mistakes.
Check Component Selection
Make sure your components are available! If you don’t already have the parts in hand to build your PCB, put them in a shopping cart before ordering.
In some cases, you might find that a part is not available, or only available in huge quantities. In such cases, you may need to quickly swap a component and adjust some portion of your PCB.
A closely related issue is to make sure that the “package” you order matches the “footprint” you’re using on your PCB. You don’t want to try to place 0402 resistors on a footprint for 1206!
Verify your PCB Layout
Verify the DRC Rules
Consistent, correct fabrication requires that your design meets our fabrication guidelines, known as DRC rules.
The best place to find our detailed DRC rules are on our Service Page for the service you plan to use. Our Design Tool Help pages also contain some tips on how to enter these rules into many design tools.
Check Ground Planes
Different tools handle ground planes and copper pours differently. Some design tools require you to explicitly update them before the DRC checks and manufacturing outputs are valid!
Our Design Tool Help pages usually indicate when a tool may have problematic ground planes. Even if it’s not listed though, it’s always worth verifying. Let us know if we missed one!
Check all connections
It’s helpful to double-check all connections on your board.
Most tools have a concept of an “air-wire” or “connection line”, which provides a visual guide between two signals that should be connected, but aren’t. These are generally kept up to date via the DRC tool, or a dedicated “rats-nest” tool. While some designs will have 1-2 air wires where a jumper is expected, most designs should not have air-wires on a completed layout. If you see one, make sure to verify it, and connect it if possible.
If your tool doesn’t have “air-wires”, just pay close attention to your connections, and verify everything looks right and connects how you expect.
A date or version number will help you keep track of visually minor but electrically significant changes as your design evolves. If you already have one, make sure to update it!
Check for traps
Every design tool has its own way of doing things. In some cases, the tools way of doing things may go against logical, expected behavior.
Since these depend heavily on the specific design tool, we recommend checking our Design Tool Help for unexpected traps. We’ve documented a number of traps that have affected our customers in the past.
Prepare manufacturing files
For Kicad and Eagle users, good news! You can usually skip this step, and upload the
.brd file directly.
Otherwise, you need to prepare the manufacturing files, commonly known as “gerbers”. This also depends heavily on the specific tool you’re using, so our Design Tool Help for your tool will be helpful. This is especially helpful for the Board Outline and Drill files, which are consistent issues.
For many tools, this step is a painful and error prone process. If something seems unusual, double check your settings, and try creating a new set of files.
Verify the Manufacturing Files
We generate previews for every file uploaded to our system. For many designs, these previews are sufficient to ensure that we’ve understood your design correctly, and that the design itself is correct.
For larger or more complex designs, we recommend using a gerber viewer to closely examine the gerber files. We highly suggest Gerbv, which is free, cross platform, and sees the files in a way that’s very similar to how our process does.
If your stuck, feel free to contact us at [email protected], and we’ll help you get things fixed.
Place Your Order!
At this point, head over to OSHPark.com and place your order!
Ordering your board is great, but that’s not the end quite yet!
Version Control + Backup
Inevitably, you’ll want to make improvements to your project. But, you’ll still need to work with with the board you just ordered. Consider how you’re planning to make it easy to access both the updated and the current version of your design.
While you’re at it, make sure your design is backed up somewhere safe, so you don’t have to repeat all this work!
Make a Personal Checklist
This list is great, but everyone has their own workflow. Keep track of anything else that surprised you, you almost forgot, or (if need be) actually forgot.