PCB Design: How to Create a Printed Circuit Board From Scratch

To design a Printed Circuit Board (PCB), you need to draw holes, pads, and wires for your circuit.

Illustration of PCB design

When you’re done drawing the board, you can either send the design to a manufacturer that will make it for you (it’s actually pretty cheap) – or you can etch it yourself at home.

This skill is called PCB design and it’s easier than many think.

In this guide, I’ll lay out all the steps for you. And once you’ve gone through these steps one time, the second time everything is much easier.

Step 1: Create Or Find A Circuit Diagram

Before you start drawing wires and stuff, you need to know what circuit you want to build. So you need a circuit diagram.

You can either find one that someone else has made, or you can design your own from scratch.

I recommend starting with something simple. Like this blinking LED circuit:

Basic Blinking light Circuit

Once you have your circuit diagram, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Draw Your Schematics

First, you need to install a PCB design software.

I highly recommend KiCad for making your PCB. It’s free and it’s really good. I’ve also created a step-by-step KiCad tutorial for beginners. But the following steps are more or less the same, no matter what software you use.

Create a new project. Then draw the schematics from the circuit diagram you found in Step 1.

The start of a schematic that will turn into a PCB design

When you think you’re finished, run the Electrical Rules Checker (ERC) to see if you’ve made any errors.

Step 3: PCB Design – Your Board Layout

Now it’s time to draw the board. You need to transfer your schematic diagram into a drawing of your printed circuit board.

This isn’t as hard as it might sound. Because the software will compare what you are drawing to the schematics file. And it will help you create the same connections.

Illustration of a PCB

An important decision here is what footprint you should choose for the components. Through-hole or surface mount?

Through-hole components are the easiest to solder. I recommend through-hole for beginners. Surface mount components are smaller, so they take up much less space. But smaller also means it could be harder to solder. That said, it just takes a bit of practice to get used to surface mount components. So if you’re up for the challenge, then go for it.

Take your time, and make sure it looks good ;) Follow the design guidelines for drawing circuit boards.

When you’re done, run the Design Rules Checker (DRC) to see if you’ve made any errors.

PCB Design of a simple LED board

Step 4: Get Your PCB Made

When you’re finished drawing your PCB design, you need to get the design made. You could etch your PCB at home, but my preferred way is to just order a PCB from one of the many PCB manufacturers out there.

It’s really not expensive. For example, it’s not uncommon to see offers of 5 copies of your board for less than $5 USD! And you don’t have to mess around with chemicals on your own.

These are some of my favorites:

The classic way of sending a board layout to a manufacturer is by creating Gerber files from your design. But some (ex. OSH Parks) also accept KiCad files directly so that you don’t have to do any conversion.

Blinking LED PCB design from OSHPark

Step 5: Order Components

It usually takes a bit of time before your PCB is ready. So while you wait, make sure you have all the components you need. There’s nothing worse than receiving a fresh PCB, just to realize you are missing some key components!

I’ve put together a list of shops where you can buy electronic components online. The shops in that list I’ve either used myself, or I know someone who has used them.

Electronic components (through-hole)

Step 6: PCB Assembly – Soldering the Components to the Board

You have your circuit board, fresh out of the printer. You have ordered and received the component. Now it’s time for the most exciting part – PCB upbringing!

Prepare your workbench and get your soldering tools out. Lay out the components and the PCB on your workbench.

Have your computer with the PCB Design close by so that you can check the orientation and value of components if needed. If that’s not possible, print out the schematic with values and the board layout.

Make yourself a cup of coffee, then get started soldering!

A soldering iron


What are your biggest concerns, doubts, or questions about PCB design? Is there something stopping you from making your first PCB? Let me know in the comment field below!

More PCB Design Tutorials

73 thoughts on “PCB Design: How to Create a Printed Circuit Board From Scratch”

  1. I need to replace (or repair) a Jandy Pool Heater circuit board. It has the identifying letters of PCB # 7417G. For Model LX400N-L Jandy Pool Heater … Serial # J06LG0853

    Can you help me? Cost?

    Thank You, Denis Vollom

  2. Hi dear friend
    I need your guidance, I need to have 160000 lux , pls kindly guide me about the necessary specifications for LEDs and lenses (number of leds, lense angle, …) and about cooling the LEDs (I’d like not to use heatsink).
    I’m waiting for your reply a.s.a.p & I submit my best appreciation in advance
    Best Reg.

  3. hi guys,
    ı have a question . could someone help me?
    ı need to learn how pcb circuit can build from curcuit.
    ı mean think circuit there are electronics component and drawn on paper.
    then drawn it from pcb.
    may you contact with me from my e-mail address
    e-mail: [email protected]

  4. hi am prince can someone help me on how to test a pc board where to begin together with the good name. of testing instrument. use my email for feedback at…………………………………….. [email protected]

  5. Please can anyone help.
    I am trying to build a circuit board to control a standard wall fan. I need it to reverse polarity on motor( make it blow into room instead of sucking ) , also I need for it to run for only 2 mins every hour. This circuit board would run alongside the normal use of the fan, meaning priory would be given to its original intended use but if not used then my circuit board would work.
    I am an electrician but don’t know hardly anything electronic, is there anyone who could help. Thank you

  6. I want to find the drill chart of the pcb , i having the gerber file of the pcb could u able to help get back me soon.

  7. hello sir my name is banoth sangya how to make mobile i want create one mobile how to do i am very interested that pour pas my no 8790171531

  8. It might be worth considering EasyEDA.com for both a free EDA toolsuite and very low cost PCB fab and components supply?

    As an EDA tool it is much easier to learn than Eagle and offers much more capability without needing to pay for the extra functionality.

  9. One of the best free PCB design packages available is KICAD. I have been using it for a few years now and it really works well. There are quite few tutorials available for kicad.

  10. Thanks for this informative post!!!

    According to me, to be a professional PCB designer, we have to be a part of IPC CID (Certified Interconnect Designer-basic) and CID+ (advanced) certification program. This professional development program provides an objective evaluation of core competencies in design, based on industry standards rather than specifications of just one company.

  11. I am looking at designing a 2 layer PCB with through hole components that will sink 10 Amps of current. I understand that I need to make the width of my trace large enough to handle 10 Amps. My question is do i need to worry about the platting thickness on my platted through hole? The hole will contain the component lead and solder so does that negate the need to make sure the platting thickness will handle 10 Amps?

  12. Hello, I have a schematic for a PCB that I need built. I tried to design the board myself with various PCB design programs but have not been successful. Is there anyone or even a particular company you might recommend that can design the PCB for me and provide me with the Gerber files at reasonable cost? Thank you

    • You can post your project on upwork.com

      If the schematic is 100% done and does not need any verification or changes, then it shouldn’t be too costly.

  13. I down loaded the KiCad software, but it did not download the symbol library. Without that it is useless. Next to that, the link to the European PCB manufacturing showed prices of at leat 70 € for a small board if I buy 2. Not exactly cheap, so all in all a useless tool for me.

    • Yeah, you need the symbol library too. It should be a checkbox during installation. €70 is very expensive yes. You should be able to find $5-$10 alternatives. But the price of the board has nothing to do with the tool. You can purchase boards from anywhere with KiCad, it’s not locked into any manufacturer.

  14. Hi.
    Thanks for the wealth of information. I am looking for some to help complete the Motor controller design project that I started. Is there anyone who is interested in helping. I do not have much money to pay at this time, but sure can use the help.

  15. Dear Øyvind Nydal Dahl,

    I found your post on PCB design to be very informative and helpful. As someone who works in the electronics industry, I know how important it is to have a solid understanding of PCB design principles and best practices.

    I especially appreciated your advice on the importance of starting with a schematic diagram and planning the layout of the PCB before getting started on the actual design. This is a critical step in the process, as it can help prevent errors and ensure that the final design meets all of the necessary specifications.

    I also appreciated your discussion of the various software tools available for PCB design, and the pros and cons of each. It can be overwhelming to choose the right software for the job, so it’s helpful to have guidance on what to look for and how to evaluate different options.

    One area where I have struggled in the past is creating high-quality PCB layouts that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Do you have any advice or resources for improving my PCB layout skills?

    Overall, I found your post to be a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their PCB design skills. Thank you for sharing your insights and expertise on this important topic.

    Best regards,


Leave a Comment