Circuit Board Serial Number - How Do I Identify My Circuit Board?

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Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are complex electronic structures that work together to power modern devices and equipment, including computers, smartphones, automotive systems, and communication networks. However, their strategic design, fabrication, and placement of components like resistors, transistors, etc., necessitates using a circuit board serial number to help users identify, modify, repair, and replace parts following failure.

In this post, we'll share how to identify your circuit board by reading the PCB serial number. Hopefully, without a guide, you'll understand how manufacturers label circuit boards to help technicians by enhancing traceability.

Understanding Printed Circuit Board Labels

Modern PCBs with polyimide labels contain the necessary information to help electronic manufacturers and technicians understand the placement of components during production, storage, installation, and repairs. Here's what you can typically find on a board, along with the PCB serial number:

  • Board model number
  • Flux density
  • Test information
  • Product batch number
  • Assembly quality, etc.

PCB Serial Number Explained

The core purpose of a circuit board serial number is to help manufacturers and technicians track different components and parts for repair or modification following a malfunction. Most standardized PCBs feature generic parts that can be improved differently, including lower power consumption or enhanced signal routing. The PCB serial number is also used to simplify the assembly process.

How to Identify Your PCB With the Circuit Board Serial Number

Manufacturers have devised a straightforward method to help them and others identify the PCB serial number. However, the code may not always be easily accessible. Therefore, you can use the methods below to simplify the process:

1.      Look for the Part Number

Modern circuits have two-part numbers on the top-most layer. The first circuit board serial number identifies the board without the components. Conversely, the second PCB serial number identifies the board with the electronic components once welded to the surface or fitted in holes.

Ideally, you want to start the identification process with the second part number. Most assemblers use circuit card assembly to assign a unique hexadecimal or alphanumeric code on the motherboard. Some modern manufacturers employ barcodes to centralize all necessary information into a single scan to simplify identification.

2.      Look for the Ground Plane or Large Wiring Traces

In the last few decades, the standard identification practice has been to etch part numbers on wiring traces or solder-coated copper ground plates. Some even engrave the company logo, CCA number, and patent information to distinguish their board from others.

Whether you want to repair or replace a component, you should find the circuit board serial number handwritten near the CCA. It typically starts with SN or S/N. Some manufacturers write the PCB serial number on a minuscule scale to avoid confusion. So, break out the old magnifying glass if necessary since you can expect to find ink stains and confusing numbers like 8, 3, and 0.

3.      Using a Serial Data Communication Program

Most printed circuit boards feature memory ships that boot up different software or firmware designed to run the connected hardware. Therefore, some manufacturers store the PCB serial number and other relevant information in the motherboard memory instead of the integrated circuit. Other information includes:

  • Microcircuit identification
  • CCA number and modification status
  • Command-line queries, etc.

Barcode vs. Written Circuit Board Serial Number

Using barcodes is better than relying on written serial numbers because barcodes can store more information like manufacturing details, test data, and component numbers in a small space. However, barcodes need accurate aiming for reading, limiting the data they can hold. Two-dimensional barcodes are better but have expensive readers and accuracy issues, especially on busy motherboards.

Integrating RFID Technology For PCB Serial Number Identification

An RFID chip is better than barcodes as it stores PCB identification data on the board. It can be easily installed on the surface, allowing for data updates during manufacturing, assembly, transportation, or repairs. Benefits include automatic tracking, real-time alerts, quick identification of issues, authenticity verification, fast delivery reconciliation, and improved manufacturing and supply chain visibility.

Reading PCB Serial Numbers – A Quick Guide for Beginners

For beginners, understanding how to read PCB serial numbers is a key step in electronic device identification and troubleshooting. Each character provides specific details about the circuit board, including:

  • Batch number
  • Manufacturing date
  • Unique identifiers, etc.

To read a PCB serial number, first, look for the important parts. The makers might use letters for the group of boards made together, numbers for the date it was made, and other symbols for telling one board apart from others. Always read from the left side to the right. Understanding what the letters and numbers mean can tell you where the board comes from.

For example, the first letters could show who made the board. After that, the numbers might say which batch it's from, so boards made together have similar numbers. Then, more letters or numbers could tell when the board was made. This way, you get information about where the board is from and when it was made just by reading its serial number.

If you're new to circuit boards, you must check the documents or help resources from the maker to understand serial numbers better. As you get better at it, you'll learn to see patterns and understand how different makers use codes. Knowing how to read PCB serial numbers is helpful, especially for engineers and technicians. It helps you understand where a board comes from and can be super useful when figuring out and fixing problems.


A circuit board serial number manufacturing and repairs. It enables efficient tracking and traceability for manufacturers, assemblers, and technicians. In consumer electronics, these numbers aid in warranty tracking and device identification. Similarly, in industrial machinery, they help manage maintenance schedules and verify the authenticity of critical components.

As technology advances, integrating PCB serial numbers, especially through barcodes and RFID chips, is important for simplifying identification and enhancing electronic manufacturing and repair processes' reliability, accuracy, and efficiency.

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