I understand what they are but i have a few questions...

  1. What are the multi layers on a pcb (i understand 1 and 2 is front back but what about 3, 4 ,5 etc.)

  2. In http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzs2Zo_mc4c around 2:21 you can see the some of the board is connected around through copper. Doesn't this power all of the paths at once when the border is connected to power?

  3. Is circuit design the same on a pcb, except for the copper paths acting as the wire?

I'm new to electronics so i also don't have the best understanding about circuits. This is probably why question 2 confuses me.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 1 and 2 are only the front/back for 2-layer. Otherwise they are 1 and n for a n-layer board. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 0:07

2 Answers 2



enter image description here

Multilayer PCBs consist of three types of layers: there's the core on which the copper is attached, the so-called prepreg layers which insulate the different copper layers from each other, and finally the copper itself. The number of wires depends on the design's complexity; how many connections you have to make and how much room you have for that. Some layers won't be used for routing signals from one point to another, however. On a four layer board the two inner layers are often used only for ground and power supply. This makes ground more reliable, has a shielding effect and decreases the routing from different components to it; ground will often be the net with the most connections.

Those connections between layers are made by vias, drilled metalized holes, so that there's a conductive path between the layers.

enter image description here

Most used are through hole vias, even if you only have to connect the top layer with the second one. That's because they're much cheaper to make: you can finish the PCB and drill through all of it at the end. Buried and blind vias require drilling between the different process steps.

enter image description here
If you have a good look you'll see that the components at the top right are not connected to the surrounding ground.

Circuit design is done at the schematic level, which shows in a logical way how connections between components are made. The PCB is a translation of that conceptual level to the real world. Instead of a rectangle representing a microcontroller you have a specific package with pins. On a schematic you're completely free to place parts in a logical way. On the PCB there are constraints. Pin 23 of the microcontroller is next to pin 24, there's nothing you can do about that. That makes that routing a PCB (connecting everything) can be a difficult task, and there are companies whose engineers are specialized in just that.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 'Prepreg' layers are, like the core layers, made of glass-reinforced resin. The difference is that, in prepreg layers, the resin is hardened when the PCB layers are laminated together. Board-makers buy sheets of 'prepreg' (fine glass weave pre-impregnated with mixed resin), and store them under refrigeration to keep the resin from setting. When the layers are laminated, vacuum is used to remove air bubbles; heat and pressure to make the resin set and bond to other layers. \$\endgroup\$
    – greggo
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 17:47
  1. When you have a multi-layer PCB, the additional layers are stacked inside the plastic, somehow like a Big Mac :). The vias cross all the layers or just some of them (buried vias)

  2. The path around the board is just connected to some pads, and not to every pad in the board. Note that the current is not forced to follow a single path, and can be split infinite times.

  3. It's not clear what you're asking here, but circuit design consist in drawing a schematic, which shows in a clear way all the connections between the components; and then from it creating a layout, which will be used for the fabrication of the PCB, and represent the physical shape of the copper layers and holes.
    In the layout are important also the width of the tracks, the spacing between the lines, the size of pads and holes, and so on.

  • \$\begingroup\$ what do you mean by pads? what are they? \$\endgroup\$
    – core16
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 11:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @user1361852 Pads are the actual points where a component will make contact with the trace running on the board. In modern surface mound technology, the pads are left exposed and the components are directly soldered on top of the pad. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user1361852 think of it like landing pad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 11:17

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