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I've heard the terms schematics and PCB designs used interchangeably as well as used distinctively. Are these one in the same, or do they represent to different sets of blueprints? If the latter, what is the difference between them and what different types of information do they convey?

For instance take this Arduino example: it shows separate diagrams for Schematic and Board.

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up vote 17 down vote accepted


Schematics/circuit diagram conveys the electrical connection between different active and passive electrical components like resistors, capacitors, Integrated circuits IC. Schematics is readable and understandable format about the connectivity and functionality between different components. For e.g.



Printed Circuit Board(PCB) is abbreviated as PCB or sometimes it is called as Printed Wiring Board(PWB). PCB is the physical representation of all the electrical connections between active and passive components used in the schematic. But readability and understating of PCB is complicated as compare to Schematic. For e.g. PCB

I have tried to explain here in layman language. Going into detail of the PCB design there are different tools available like ALTIUM, ALLEGRO and many more.

PCB can be built using FR4 laminate or ceramic material.

FR4 Material Laminate:


Ceramic PCB:


As far as PCB Design is considered. PCB's can be single layer, 2 layer, 4 layer or even multi-layer with thickness of 0.8mm or 1.6mm or even more as per the numbers of layers. While designing the PCB specific stack-up is followed which defines Power layer, Ground layer and signal layer sandwiched between FR4 material with the core in between.

Example PCB stack-up: Stack-up

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+1 for the nice pictures. It should be mentioned with many schematic capture/layout programs, it is possible to click on an item (either a component or netlist) in the schematic and have it pointed out on the PCB layout, and vice-versa. – tcrosley Sep 4 '14 at 16:50
Yes a animated picture can be created like the ones they use in Wikipedia. I will work on that. Thanks for the suggestion. – AKR Sep 4 '14 at 16:52
That's not a ceramic PCB. – Armandas Sep 4 '14 at 18:36
That's not a ceramic PCB; this is a ceramic PCB: hybridcircuit.com/index_files/CERAMIC48.jpg – alex.forencich Sep 4 '14 at 19:12
Also, you can't forget about rogers, duroid, teflon, etc. – alex.forencich Sep 4 '14 at 19:13

A schematic is a circuit diagram. It uses agreed symbols to represent components and shows how they are electrically connected.

A PCB design shows the copper track and hole layout of a printed circuit board and usually indicates the location of components and their values/codes with a silk screen printed layer.

With a schematic diagram you can easily analyse how the circuit is put together and identify connections.

To get the same sort of information from a PCB design is much more difficult (see reverse engineering e,g, https://stacks.stanford.edu/file/druid:np318ty6250/Johnson_Reverse_Engineering_PCBs.pdf)

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Schematic is a graphical representation of electric circuit. It shows the components and interconnects of each other which can be used for PCB Design.

Where PCB Design is a technique to build a electronics device on which the real electronics component can be assembled and the functionality of the device can be tested.It also Represent the physical interconnects of device with Copper.

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Schematics and PCB designs are two different things and have different purposes. Schematics can be used to design a circuit before you actually build it, probably in a prototype phase. When you are sure your circuit works you design a printed circuit board (PCB) to print out a board where electrical components are soldered. Here's a video that explains what are schematics: Collin's Lab: Schematics.

Schematics are the functional diagram of electronic circuits. With so many designs available on the web, understanding how to read schematics can unlock a world of possibilities for the electronics maker. In fact, if you can read a schematic, you can build a circuit before even understanding how it works!

And here's a dictionary of electrical symbols: http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_5/chpt_9/1.html

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