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32 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2023 for you to use a DIY prototyping technique? Or is your board design complex enough to require a full menu of prototyping services? Iterative Prototyping Prototyping oen takes multiple iterations. Your first design and your first PCB may fail or not operate to specifications. With itera- tive prototyping, you lay out your physical components to make sure your design actu- ally does what you want. If it doesn't work as desired, adjust the design and repeat the process. You will use actual ICs and compo- nents and try various designs until a proto- type finally works. When you have a working prototype, you can copy the modified design back into your CAD soware. Today, most small projects start off with something like an Arduino, a handful of components and j u m p e r w i r e s , and a solderless breadboard. e resulting rat's nest can be difficult to turn into a PCB design, however, which is why you will want to quickly move to something closer to a finished PCB. DIY: Doing It Yourself Solderable prototyping boards are perfect for your early DIY prototype. ey come in both set form factors and perforated sheets that allow you to pick a custom size for your prototype board. You can find good walk- throughs for planning IC and component lay- out for your first prototype using a blank board and Kynar wire. If you're in the mood for really taking your DIY prototype to the next level, you can always try making your own PCB at home. is requires getting a blank PCB, special transfer paper, etching chemicals, a power drill, and a lot of patience and careful work. You can also create your own PCB at home with a CNC mill, which lets you skip the chemical etching step. Pro Tip If you do decide to make your PCB at home, just be careful with the chemicals. ey require special handling and disposal, meaning you can't just pour them down the drain and hope they don't eat a hole in your pipes. You'll end up subject to massive fines and find yourself in desperate need of a plumber. Fabricated PCB Prototypes When your design has progressed far enough, it's time to turn your design into a professionally fabricated PCB. When prepar- ing your design for printing, you will need to understand that every manufacturer has dif- ferent capabilities, requirements, and turn- around time. You'll need to take all these into account to manage your proj- ect efficiently. If you already have your m a n u f a c t u r e r identified, keep all this in mind from the very beginning of the d e s i g n p r o c e s s . You don't want to get to the fabrication stage of prototyp- ing and realize at the last minute you've overstepped your manufac- turer's limitations. Picking the Right Partner or Service If your project is complex, especially if it is a brand-new design, you will want to consider expert help. Consult with your manufacturing partner for help with layout review. Rapid prototyping fabrication services can help shorten the turnaround on complicated designs, which saves money during production while helping you stay on schedule. However, just because you can get boards quickly from a manufacturer doesn't mean you always should. Solderable prototyping boards are perfect for your early DIY prototype.

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