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PCB Reverse Engineering: Definition, Benefits & Steps


What is PCB Reverse Engineering?

PCB reverse engineering, which is under the premise of existing reverse engineering electronics products and printed circuit boards, uses reverse research and development technology to conduct reverse analysis on printed circuit boards and copy original technical documents such as PCB files, BOM files, schematic files, and PCB silk screen production files 1:1 restoration, and then use these technical documents and production documents to carry out PCB board making, component welding, flying probe testing, circuit board debugging, and complete the complete copy of the original circuit board model.

PCB reverse engineering is a reverse research technology. Through a series of reverse research technologies, the PCB design circuit, circuit schematic diagram, and BOM table of an excellent electronic product are obtained through reverse engineering PCB software.

Benefits of PCB Reverse Engineering

Specifically, the benefits of PCB reverse engineering are reflected in the following aspects:

  1.  Cloning can help enterprises update quickly and keep up with the latest trends. Complete the product launch speedily and with the lowest development costs. And with the support of today’s almost perfect electronic cloning technology, product quality is firmly guaranteed.
  1.  High quality and low price are its most prominent features, and the general public readily accepts them. Not only can it enrich people’s lives and experience the new feeling brought about by fashion and trends, but it also earns more profits for enterprises and enhance their competitiveness in the industry.
  1.  Reverse engineering is an effective and necessary means. It can quickly overcome technical barriers, promote the development of positive research, and narrow the gap with advanced technology in developed countries.
  1.  Reverse engineering is more complex imitation and copying from time to time. It belongs to the field of reverse research. By overcoming the technology of the original machine and mastering its performance and application, secondary development can be carried out. That is, it can improve its function based on fully understanding its schematic diagram. Cut down to getting a product that suits your needs. Not only can it avoid “intellectual property rights,” but it can also quickly create its brand, and the development cycle is short, the PCB reverse engineering cost is low, and the benefits are significant.
  1.  Conducive to accelerating the development of the sector as a whole. When cloning technology is developing faster and more perfectly, electronic engineers are also actively seeking ways to maintain the competitiveness of the newly developed products in the market for a long time and enhance the differentiation of products. It promotes the research of forward technology. On the other hand, it also gives reverse analysis a wider development space and brings more opportunities to electronic companies.

How to reverse engineer a PCB by PROTEL

The specific technical steps are as follows:

Step 1: Get a PCB, and first record the models, parameters, and positions of all components on paper, especially the direction of diodes, triodes, and IC notches. It is best to take two photos of the component location with a digital camera.

Step 2: Remove the parts and the tin from the PAD hole. After cleaning the PCB with alcohol, insert it into the scanner. Then, using water gauze paper, softly polish the top and bottom layers until the copper film is glossy, place it in the scanner, launch Photoshop, and scan the two layers individually in color.

Step 3: Adjust the contrast and lightness of the canvas so that the difference between the part with copper film and the part without copper film is vital, and then convert the following picture to black and white. Check whether the lines are clear. If not, repeat this step. If the image is clear, save it as black-and-white BMP files TOP BMP and BOT BMP; if there are any errors with the graphics, use Photoshop to restore and rectify them.

Step 4: Convert the two BMP format files into PROTEL format files, respectively, and transfer two layers into PROTEL. If the positions of the PAD and VIA after the two layers overlap, it shows that the previous steps are done well. Repeat the third step if there is a divergence.

Step 5: Convert the TOP layer’s BMP into a TOP PCB, paying particular attention to the conversion to the SILK layer, which is the yellow layer, and then draw the line on the TOP layer and insert the device as shown in the second step. After removing, delete the SILK layer. Rep until all layers have been drawn.

Step 6: Transfer TOP PCB and BOT PCB to PROTEL, and combining them into one picture is OK.

Step 7: Print the TOP LAYER and BOTTOM LAYER on the transparent film (1:1 ratio) with a laser printer, then place the film on the PCB and check for errors. If it’s right, it’s finished.

Factors you need to Consider when Reverse Engineering a PCB

1.Before PCB reverse engineering, it is necessary to record the original template so that in the later optimization process, once there is a problem with the processing project, it can be processed again. If there is no filing, as long as there is an error, the subsequent project will fail, and the impact will be huge.

2.If there are additional requirements when copying the PCB board, if component BOM is required, it is necessary to set the PCB file according to the standard established at the beginning to avoid errors in the BOM list and affect the use. In addition, when removing the board, pay attention to the polarity of each component to prevent mistakes during restoration.

3.Before copying the PCB board, it is necessary to measure and record the size of the PCB board to ensure that the board image scanned by the scanner is consistent with the original PCB size and the later component installation is easier to prevent the phenomenon of incompatibility. Moreover, the image scanned by the scanner must be clear to ensure that it is more convenient to view the components later.

PCB Reverse Engineering Services

If you are looking for premium quality automated PCB reverse engineering services, Jamindo has it all. With our services, you can maintain crucial PCBs allowing you to maintain them for a long time.

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