PCB Layout Review Checklist

Warning. This is a work in progress.

After many years of designing circuit boards, this is my working list when doing a final review of PCB layout. I design boards with microcontrollers so the list is skewed to that end.

See the Schematic Checklist

  • Proper layout of decoupling capacitors - add pictures

  • Optimize layout of oscillators

  • Minimize breaks in ground plane (especially from vias) - add pictures

  • No traces on ground plane breaks - add pictures

  • Extra clearance around high speed signals

  • Impedance on transmission lines

  • Add fiducials

  • Silkscreen clarity

  • Copyright on silkscreen

  • Version on silkscreen

  • Layer stackup

  • Terminate the USB shield

  • Ensure FETs are in a known state at startup (before firmware is driving them)

  • Leave 1mm of no copper on edges of board

  • Export 3D model and check for interferences

  • Review new footprint sizes and pinout against the datasheet

  • Tent all vias

  • Ground pour top and bottom

  • Add teardrops

  • Add ground via near signal via stubs

  • Check trace length matching for high speed signals

  • Minimize parallel run lengths between signals

    • Make signal spacing larger than the distance to the ground plane
    • Avoid mutual inductance and mutual capacitance
  • Minimizing reflection:

    • Use series termination resistor and place near the source point. The series termi-nation resistor should be placed within 1/6th wavelength of the switching speed of the driver.
  • Ringing driver and receiver distance > 1/4 the wavelength

  • What should the target signal rise/fall times be?

  • Prefer daisy chaining to trace branching

  • Proper terminating resistors at the source.

  • Sierra Circuits better DFM (protoexpress.com)

  • Place ferrite disks on top of high speed ICs. The disks are available with adhesive and are easy to add.

For 6 layers or more

  • Add ground via nears tracks that change ground reference planes

EMC Specific

  • Avoid overlapping clock harmonics
  • Decoupling Capacitors should be as close to the power pins as posssible using traces that are as short as possible.
  • The capacitor package size has a bigger impact on its ability to filter higher frequencies than the capacitance value

Use this:

Option A

Not that:

Option B

  • Routing of clock lines and high speed lines should be the shortest and most well-routed traces.

  • No T’s in high speed lines

  • Low speed lines going off the PCB should have ferrites for filtering

  • High speed traces must be on a layer adjacent to a plane

  • Recede the edges of the power plane by 20 times the distance to an adjacent ground plane

  • Avoid slots in power and ground planes

  • Series resistor terminate clock signals to slow rise/fall times

  • Place clocks and circuitry as far away from IO as possible

  • All I/O cables are antennas

  • Below 100KHz DC resistance dominates the return path

  • Above 100KHz current follows plane below trace. If the trace doesn’t have a plane, a loop antenna is created

  • Avoid parasitic coupling: ie routing a cable over an MCU

  • Power input connected shoud all have RF capacitors

  • Place all I/O connectors (including power) on the edge of the board

  • Aim for prototypes to be 6dB below spec to ensure all productions units are passing

  • FCC Measurements are made with a bandwidth in the range of 150 KHz

  • All traces whose length (in inches) is equal to or greater than the signal rise/fall time (in nanoseconds) must have provision for a series-terminating resistor (typically 33 ohms).

  • Above 25 MHz PCB’s should have two (or more) ground planes.

  • Traces as transmission lines

  • Traces as antennas

From http://hottconsultants.com/pdf_files/pcb_guide.pdf