The last step in my PCB design process normally is the silkscreen. When I try to design a nice helpful silkscreen, I often find my self wondering “How small can I make the text?” or “If I put this text over a via, will it still be readable?”. Usually I end up digging around some old designs to find some examples of what worked, and what didn’t. But during my last run, I got a bit annoyed and decided to include a small reference board for the most common situations.
The board itself is designed to the Dangerous Prototypes Sick of Beige standard with a size of 50mm x 31mmm and I used Seeed Studios fusion service to produce them.
Update: Since a few people wanted to buy one of these cards, I’ve put them up on Tindie.
Front of the board
The front of the board is dedicated solely to various silkscreen situations. Right in the middle are text examples in various sizes, ranging from 2.0 mm (rather large) to 0.5 mm (unreadable). Since the relationship between ratio and size can be a bit hard to visualize, I included the samples both in 8% (skinny) and 15% (quite fat). And for the rare occasion that I design a THT board, I also added a few examples in mil instead of milimeters.
To the left of the text area are a few silkscreen lines of varying thickness. While those are relatively straightforward, I wanted to see how well the thinner lines would come out.
The border of the board is filled with examples of various situations that might occur with silkscreen text. On the bottom left, is the most common situation, a small text over some traces. This is mostly to put my mind at ease, usally this should be very legible. To the right, there is a text riddled with vias in varying shapes and sizes. After that is a small example of a text written in copper, with the stop mask removed to make it shiny. And the last example on the bottom gives us a view of the raw substrate, without stopmask, silkscreen or copper.
On the top right is a similliar construction, only this time it is surrounded by silkscreen, to create a negative effect. Below are two examples of writing the text in the copper layer – one normal and one reversed.
Back of the board
The back of the board has couple of common component sizes, with the emphasis on resistors, capcitors, coils and diodes because these usually have the largest selection in sizes. The components used are a mix of the standard eagle libraries, my own library and Sparkfuns parts libraries.
The main task of this display is to remind me, that I really shouldn’t think of 0402 resistors for my next project. To the very right of the board there are some more complex shapes drawn in silkscreen of varying thickness.
The bottom row has size information for the different vias, which riddle the text on the top of the board. Unfortunately the vias themselves got overwritten by the order information. Next to this are testpads ranging from small to reasonably large, with their respective diameter.
On the top there are holes in the 4 most common standoff screws sizes and holes ranging from 0.3mm diameter to 1.2mm. These are intended to help me identify the diameter of components.
All in all, I’m quite happy with how the board turned out. Now I only need to get one for each different silkscreen color.
Eagle file for the board
Gerber files for the board