Reverse engineering vintage PCBs

Peter Corlett abuse at
Thu Jan 8 15:00:44 CST 2015

On Wed, Jan 07, 2015 at 05:35:29PM -0500, Alan Hightower wrote:
> Does anyone have any past experience reverse engineering an existing
> de-populated PCB into a scan, netlist, or similar? Any lessons learned
> positive or negative?

Your many-layer board is far too complex for this wheeze, but back when I was
actually doing electronics for a living, a board I needed to reverse-engineer
was a two-layer affair and so I chucked it onto the office photocopier and
cranked up the enlarger.  After a few rounds of re-copying the empty board, I
had several A3 sheets that had high contrast and were big enough to annotate
with components (from inspecting a populated board) and their values.  From
there, it became reasonably simple to draw a proper schematic.

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