Designing a new electronic device from scratch is no easy task. The process can seem overwhelming at first, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or startup with little to no experience of electronics design or engineering.
But don’t let that put you off creating your dream product. By breaking the process down into a few simple steps you can easily create a functional prototype which can then be used to raise additional funds or venture capital.
So in this blog, we want to share with you our five-step process for creating a prototype electronics device.
1. Create the circuit schematic
The first step is to create a circuit schematic for your device. This is effectively the blueprint for your product. At this stage, you will need to make decisions about which topology to use and select relevant components. If you don’t have any experience with electronics design you can outsource this step to an electronics engineer.
If you do have some electronics engineering experience, you may want to create your own schematic. There are several software packages available for this but for smaller projects we recommend DipTrace. This is a low-cost software suite which is easy to learn, but still capable of creating and simulating complex schematics.
2. Design the PCB layout
With the schematic designed, it’s time to create the PCB layout. You can do this in DipTrace as well. Alternatively, your PCB manufacturer will be able to design the layout from your schematic.
If creating the PCB design yourself, you will need to obtain a specifications sheet from your PCB manufacturer. Each manufacturer uses different specifications for trace spacings and wire widths etc. So these will need to be accounted for in your final PCB design.
3. Evaluate and debug
Once your PCB has been designed you can create a prototype board. This will allow you to evaluate and debug the product in its most basic form. You will usually find a couple of issues at this stage, but don’t worry this is a normal part of the development process. Just work through the problems one by one until you are happy.
4. Program the microcontroller
Most devices these days have a microcontroller which acts as the brains of the device. This is usually programmed in ‘C’, but if you have a device which needs to be super-efficient you may want to consider Assembly language. Once again you can outsource this step if you don’t have any programming experience.
5. Create a prototype
Now it’s time to create a working prototype. Start by creating a 3D model of the device using CAD software. This will show you how the final design will look and help you create accurate costings.
Most prototypes are made using 3D printing technology these days. But if you outsource this step to an industrial designer, choose one with experience of both injection moulding and 3D printing techniques. It is quite common for inexperienced designers to create 3D models which are suitable for 3D printing but which cannot be injection moulded.
While this is just a quick overview of the electronics manufacturing and design process, you can clearly see that in just a few simple steps you can easily go from idea to working prototype.
If you would like help bringing your idea to market, get in touch with the electronics experts at Hetech. We can help you create circuit schematics and PCB designs or we can provide complete turnkey product development and manufacturing services to help bring your product to market quickly.
Give us a call on 07 3297 9700 or complete the form here.