The Printed Circuit Board: Making Advanced Electronic Devices Possible

One technological innovation that probably most people possess, yet are very likely to be oblivious of is the printed circuit board. Indeed, various devices people use every day, including phones, washing machines, cars, television sets, remote control units, and of course, computers and handheld connectivity devices, use some kind of printed circuit board to make everything work together.

Perhaps, people would be less perplexed if they came across the term “mother board,” since they know somehow that laptop and desktop computers have these things.

Printed circuit board

Major Components Of Printed Circuit Board Are As Follows:

However, do they know what a mother board is, and what it does?After removing a few screws and popping open their own computers, anyone can easily have a look at one of these circuit boards and realize that it is the rectangular plate made of resin or some such material upon which all the major PCB components of the computer are attached.

It will be easy to locate the main processing chip and see how it is attached to the board, and how various connectors on the board link the system up with hard drives, optical drives, data and network ports, speakers, video circuits, power supplies, and just about everything else the computer needs to make the entire system function as a single unit.

A closer inspection of this board will show that it does more than mount all the components, as it also allows them to interact with each other electronically. A circuit pattern traced in a conductive material like copper runs throughout the board, connecting each device and electronic components like capacitors, resistors, transformers, diodes, microchips and transistors, switches, and others in a purposively designed layout.

In fact, this printed circuit board is like a miniature counterpart of a wiring layout of a large city, with the thin copper surface serving the same purpose as wires; thus, one soon realizes that the fast and simple answer to the technical specifications of an electronic device, such as “dual core” or “i7 processor”, only describes the power and capability of the central processing unit or main chip of the device, but does not do justice to the design of the device, itself.

The design challenge of using the processor efficiently and effectively, with greater reliability and lower failure rate and with the best power usage and cooling configuration, is incumbent on the design layout of the printed circuit board created for the specific device.

Strictly speaking, anyone with some rudimentary understanding of electronics might be able to take pen and paper, and design a circuit diagram for mounting a few transistors and accompanying components on a board to build a simple audio amplifier device. He can then draw or transfer this design with a masking pen on the copper-covered side of a piece of store-bought copper clad board, etch the copper away with the use of an appropriate solvent like ferric chloride, remove the masking to expose the copper, and have his very own custom-designed circuit board.

After drilling holes in the specified spots, he can then mount and solder in all the necessary components and proudly show off his own home-built amplifier. The complexity in design required in highly advanced electronic devices like computers and smart phones, however, make it virtually impossible to design circuit diagrams for the microprocessors employed in such devices without the aid of dedicated layout software and specialized electronic design automation tools.

Printed circuit boards

Actual production of these boards also involves extremely complicated and costly industrial processes that are far beyond the reach of the home hobbyist of yesteryear. This is the reason why the creation of printed circuit boards for the highly demanding technology of today becomes the exclusive province of large electronics manufacturing companies and contract manufacturing firms that specialize in these processes.

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Written by Sherri Melton