Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bringing up Baby (or at least a new PCB)

A few words of advice when bringing up a new board.

Idiot Check - I first take a blank PCB and do continuity between Vcc and Gnd as a simple idiot-check. You never know if DRC or ERC missed something, or the PCB vendor screwed up somewhere.

Start with the micro - Next, I put down the bare minimum required to get the microcontroller up and running - usually just the micro, crystal, and JTAG port.

Work outward - Then work your way outward from there, adding peripherals, testing them as you go along. When you power up the board, keep an eye on current consumption - if it inexplicably spikes then you may have a problem.

This being said, if I'm working on a new circuit where I'm not sure if part of the circuit is correct, I'll just populate that part and leave the rest of the PCB unpopulated. For example, a recent project had a DAC feeding an audio output to a speaker; something that I haven't done much before. I populated the audio filter and PA and tested that before I put down anything else.

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