Start with a Valid Schematic
The most basic thing you can do is to validate your schematic carefully before moving forward to the other parts of the project. You can even rely on good old pen and paper for this because there are some issues that can crop up fairly often, and yet are easy to spot early on if you’re careful and pay attention. This is very true for issues with your basic logic, as well as other small problems that just require you to take a look at things from a top-down perspective and ignore the details. Do your best to validate your design on paper before proceeding to more complicated parts of the project.
Design a PCB Layout
You will have some physical considerations to take into account in many cases, too. Make sure that you account for those early on in the design of your PCB and pay special attention to considerations like heating and electrical insulation. Things can get messier if you’re designing a device that has to endure more difficult conditions, like being submerged underwater or used in very dusty environments. Use a tool like Protocase to figure out exactly how your design is going to look and what kinds of considerations you’re going to have with its physical constraints. This will allow you to be prepared for those issues before they’ve even appeared.
Test Before Committing
You’ll need to do a lot of testing to ensure that the design of your device lives up to expectations – not just yours, but those of your potential users as well. This should ideally be done in a systematic manner that allows you to detect new issues as they appear. If you’re iterating your design actively, you may also want to check some regression testing procedures to ensure that you’re covering all your fronts properly and not missing anything important.
If this sounds a bit complicated, it’s because it is. Designing and developing an electronic device is no easy ordeal, even if you’re not planning to release it to the market or anything along those lines. There are still many considerations you’ll need to keep in mind and various potential problems that you should account for. If you play your cards right though, the final result should be something that can bring a lot of usefulness into your life, and in the worst case, it should be able to teach you a lot about certain aspects of electronics design and development.