Wrong Footprint – PCB Design Code Brown

In the world of electronics there are many, many ways to goof up. Sometimes when things go wrong this is called ‘code brown’ when the realisation of what’s gone wrong hits that well… I don’t need to explain.


The experienced PCB designer knows well from bitter experience that creating a new PCB component / footprint is a risk that comes with the territory of the job. Every human operation is open to error and there’s nothing worse than creating a component in a PCB design that’s been made wrong or has been given the wrong footprint.

Whenever it happens it often starts with a call or visit from the company or team assembling the components onto the PCB. the line goes something along the lines of:

“We’ve got a part that doesn’t fit!”

You get that rising feeling of dread, pulling up the design the tool seems to take forever to load. Looking at the part a little prayer is said, clinging to the hope that the wrong part has been ordered or that last letter at the end of the part number is incorrect at least.

Then it hits. You’ve assigned the wrong footprint onto the component. An alternative isn’t available and there’s going to be that awkward conversation about re-spinning all those PCB’s again.

It’s the worst feeling in the world!

Only a robust review process and diligent people can hope to stop this kind of thing happening and no process is perfect. But this isn’t an excuse to have no process, all too often the design process neglects parts checking, neglects design reviews and at some point it will cost because with the best will in the world no PCB engineer is perfect.

Don’t have time for design and parts reviews? Maybe… but do you have the time and money to correct it when it goes wrong? I bet not.

PCB Mechanic
©CircuitMechanix 2018



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