I’m a believer in point-to-point construction, but not because I think it necessarily sounds any better. Point-to-point is simply the quickest and easiest way to try a new circuit. With tubes, high voltage caps, and through hole resistors, building without boards is straightforward (once you have some understanding of properly grounding circuits). When incorporating TO92, TO220, heatsinks, etc, a PCB starts to look much more appealing.
If you’ve been following my adventures, you’ve seen that I’ve been experimenting with PCBs recently. Most of my schematics are drawn in EasyEDA. EasyEDA is part of the JLCPCB family, where you can quickly import and order boards (you can also export Gerber files for purchasing elsewhere). Based on my experience so far, and the advice of a cool dude name Matt, here are some thoughts and tips for working with EasyEDA/JLCPCB:
- Take advantage of the grid/snap spacing for layouts: I set my grid to 125mil (1/8″), the snap to 31.25mil (1/32″), and the alt snap to 12.5mil.
- Create m3/4-40 mounting holes: I make my holes 125mil (1/8″)
- Make all connections on one side of the board (where possible)
- Use the reverse side as a ground plane
- Don’t be shy about creating your own parts (this is the PCB Lib function)!
- Don’t use standard TO92 packages; use TO92 ammo package footprints
- Enlarge holes for wire-to-board connections and make the pads generous where you can
- My preference is to keep tube sockets off boards to prevent footprint issues, board flexing, and keep heater wiring flexible
- Avoid parallel tracks for anything carrying AC (signal or power): see Doug Self for good reading on coupling
- Add multiple hole connections for film caps (options for multiple radial and axial types)
April/May has been a whirlwind in the WTF Amps household, but we should be returning to actual building soon. I’ve got about 30lbs of transformers and aluminum plates impatiently waiting for some actual hobby time to shake out of my schedule. Big boy mono blocks.