Circuit Design: 10 Steps on Getting Started

A circuit design is an indispensable part of the electronics industry. It helps to build the base for electronic devices. These circuits are embedded in the devices to make them functional. Designing an efficient circuit is a tedious job and it can be only mastered if you are familiar with the basics of circuit design. To get started with circuit design, refer to the following steps which has been vetted by a popular company called TronicsZone who are experts in the field. These steps will help you understand the essential terms and procedure used in circuit design.

Circuit Design: 10 Steps on Getting Started

Step 1: Learn about Closed Loop

The foremost step towards learning circuit design is to have an understanding of open-loop and closed-loop in a circuit. When a circuit is connected with all the nodes of the circuit, then it is a closed-loop, whereas if any node is left unconnected, then it forms an open-loop circuit. It is important to understand that if the circuit does not form a closed loop, then it will be unable to supply current or voltage to all the nodes and components present in the circuit. So, it is prerequisite that every node and component should be connected in a circuit diagram to form a closed loop to make the circuit operable.

Step 2: Understand the basic concepts of voltage, resistance and current 

In electronics, it is important to get familiar with some basic terminologies that are used in circuit design. The relationship between voltage, resistance and current play a vital role in the circuit. The definition of Ohm’s law states that voltage is directly proportional to current and resistance, so any increase/decrease in the values of current and resistance affects the value of voltage. In a circuit, the voltage source creates energy that causes charge carriers to flow uniformly between two points in a form of current, whereas resistance provides obstruction to the flow of current in a circuit. 

Every component works on a specific range of voltage and current and the connection must be maintained throughout the circuit. So, understanding the concept of current flow and voltage division among different components in a circuit will help you create a working circuit.

Step 3: Understand the working of every component

Various electronic components are used in circuit design. The commonly used components used in a circuit as resistors, transistors, capacitors, diodes, battery and voltage/current source. To start building your circuits, you must learn the functions of these components and the way of connecting these components to form an operable circuit. The understanding of using these components will help not only create a proper circuit but also to notice any defects in your circuit diagram. So, it is important to learn the basic components of circuit design before building your circuit.

Step 4: Learn to realize the schematics of the circuits

Every device has an embedded circuit diagram that makes it functional. To understand the process of circuit design, you need to learn to realise a circuit from seeing the connection made in circuit diagrams. Realising the schematic drawing of a circuit diagram helps to understand the procedure of how connections are made with other components and how they are connected. The position of the components becomes a deciding factor whether the circuit will operate or not. Hence, learning to realize the schematics of circuit diagram aids in understanding the positive and negative nodes of the components and the way they should be connected in a circuit and it can be perfected only if you practice realising circuits. 

Step 5: Understand the working of a transistor

Transistors are the three-terminal semiconductor device that helps in amplifying or switching electrical or electronic signals. It is one of the most important components used in circuits. The transistor can be used for two different purposes in a circuit: as an amplifier and as a switch. As an amplifier, it amplifies the electrical or electronic signals, whereas transistors as a switch are used to switch between the opening and closing operation of a circuit. Moreover, the working of the transistor can be only useful if you have knowledge about its terminal, i.e., base, collector and emitter and how they work in NPN and PNP states. There are also other types of transistors like the Field Effect Transistors (FET) which have taken over the modern circuits, especially the digital circuits & is commonly found in almost all logic gates & memory components. Though transistors are used in many of the important circuits, however, it is also important to learn about its basic concepts to get a proper understanding of its working process.

Step 6: Learn the procedure of soldering

In the circuit designing process, the circuit diagram is designed with the help of components on breadboards. Building a prototype of a circuit can be easy and quick, however, the connected components can fall out easily if they are not attached properly. To ensure the connections remain intact for a long time, you need to learn to solder. The process of soldering involves joining the two or more components to the breadboard using a molten soldering iron. It is a simple process that helps the components to retain their connection in a circuit. Soldering is often a skill that can be mastered through some practice. Initially, it may seem difficult. But with enough practice one can gain the confidence needed to build the circuits for testing.

Step 7: Learn to build circuit diagrams with integrated circuits

Designing a circuit using two or more components can be done easily, however, when it comes to designing advanced digital circuits, then the integrated circuit chips come into play. The integrated circuit (IC) chips are fabricated with millions of resistors, capacitors and transistors in them that helps to create complex circuits. These chips can act as timer, oscillator, microprocessor, amplifier and computer memory and these functions help to create many circuit diagrams that can be used as a base for various electronic projects. Hence, it is important to learn about the basics of ICs along with their different types and usages to design advanced circuits for any projects. There are several types of ICs such as analog, digital & mixed signal. Analog ICs are regulators, operational amplifiers, other linear circuits. Most commonly used digital ICs are logic gates, multivibrators, flip flops, counters & memories. Mixed signal ICs are mostly used in embedded systems, examples being Microcontrollers & Digital Signal Processors (DSP)s that contain both digital & analog parts within them.

Step 8: Using proper design tools

The success to designing circuits often boils down to choosing & using the right tools. Most of the modern design processes involve using software tools to achieve a design. There are tools that can help in component selection. Then there are tools that can help in circuit design through schematic entry. Schematic entry tools also include Electrical Rule Checker (ERC) which can verify that the connections have been made logically & can trap common errors. The next step after schematic design is to verify whether the design works correctly. This can be readily done using simulation tools. Rather than rig up a circuit on a breadboard to verify its working, its often faster to try it first on a simulator. Simulator allows for rapid changes to be performed to the circuit and re-tested without spending a lot of time in soldering or breadboarding. This also avoids damage to components due to mistakes in the design or due to wrong connections. Once you are satisfied with the simulation results, you can then confidently move over to building the circuit on a breadboard or even soldering.

Step 9: Try designing circuits

If you have learned the basics of designing a circuit and have an understanding of how the connection should be made, then it’s time for you to start designing circuits on breadboards or circuit design softwares. A circuit is said to be efficient if it uses fewer components and can occupy a small space. The less space the circuit takes, the more complex its design becomes. To learn to design efficient circuits, you need to start designing the known circuits on breadboards and circuit designing softwares and practice to design more compacted circuits, which will help you in creating circuit designs for the project prototypes in future. Nothing can beat the experience that you gain making mistakes and correcting them. Its all part of the learning process. Professional circuit designer take years to learn & perfect their designing skills. Also, its important to keep up with the latest technology.

Step 10: Keeping up with the technological changes

Things change rapidly in the area of circuit design. There are new components that are being released from time to time which are far more efficient than their predecessors, that the older technology becomes obsolete fast. So its important to keep up with the changes that happen in this field. Keep track of new ICs that are released, read their datasheets, check to see if they can replace several parts of your circuit in your design. Then try to use the new IC in your design.

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