Design Con 2015

PCB

Michael Dunn
Editor, Design Ideas, IC/FPGA, PCB, and Medical Design Centres
In-depth technical design information, product advancements, and technology and tool updates for engineers, engineering managers and system architects responsible for designing, specifying, selecting or connecting printed circuit boards (PCBs) for electronics applications. Topics include layout tools, IC and board connectivity, connectors, board to board connectivity, signal integrity, power, signal and ground routing, conformal coatings, passive device integration, 3D modeling, and board and system concurrent design.

Vote for the Best Products of 2014

At DesignCon 2015, the Best in Design & Test Awards will be awarded in the ChipHead Theater at 5PM on Wednesday January 28th, 2015 in the Santa Clara Convention Center at DesignCon 2015, please cast your vote now! Read More...

See the details with an HD thermal imager

Fluke's TiX1000 series of high-definition thermal imaging cameras let you see temperature on circuit components, wires, even whole cities. Read More...

Vote for the Engineer of the Year

DesignCon2015 has announced the finalists for the Engineer of the Year Award (sponsored by National Instruments). The award includes a $10,000 grant that will be given out at DesignCon. Read More...

The myth called "ground"

"Ground" is probably the most misunderstood and misused term in electrical engineering. Read More...

Improve device reliability via PCB cleanliness

Today’s electronic assemblies require better cleaning than ever to ensure reliability uncompromised by PCB contamination. Read More...

Basics of the IEEE Standardization process

Here's a look at the seven steps in the production of a typical IEEE standard. Read More...

How to engineer acceptable far-end crosstalk: Rule of Thumb #21

Far-end crosstalk can often cause a product to fail. Unless you select the transmission line features carefully, FEXT will likely be an issue. Read More...

Silicon photonics: What are the advantages?

Sneak peak at "Perspectives on silicon photonics (an honest forum)" at DesignCon 2015 Read More...

Software speeds simulation of electromagnetic properties

3-D EM Simulation Platform provides significant FEM Simulation Speed Increase. Read More...

Fusion heats up

Could 2015 be the year for significant news in nuclear fusion reactor research? Maybe. Read More...

Make high-quality double-sided PCBs – at home

Be rewarded with near-pro quality PCBs by following the method detailed here. Read More...

Profiles in Design: Karen Bartleson

“Learn how to negotiate effectively. It’s amazing what you can do when you can resolve conflict and bring people together in agreement.”—Karen Bartleson Read More...

Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Maker Studio

A look at the first batch of fabricated PCBs – from Maker Studio. Read More...

Mentor meets Digi-Key, low-cost CAD results

Designer, DX Designer's little brother, is out of beta and available to purchase. Read More...

How far is far enough? Signal line spacing for acceptable near end crosstalk: Rule of Thumb #20

Learn the PCB rule of thumb for trace spacing versus crosstalk. Read More...

LXI + PoE: Essential Design Considerations

This paper introduces the basic concepts of LXI (LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation) and PoE (Power over Ethernet), and studies the four key considerations for hardware realization to achieve LXI compliance for a device powered over Ethernet. The LAN PHY compliance test is also discussed. Read More...

Profiles in Design: Thomas Lee, Ph.D.

“Learn to be your own teacher. The profession changes at such a velocity that many things you learn in school will be obsolete before too long.”—Tom Lee Read More...

Crosstalk: How much is too much?: Rule of Thumb #19

Minimizing NEXT between strong transmitters and weak Rx signals is critical to system performance. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Short circuit tracer/finder uses low power

Build this bench tool and become a master at pinpointing shorts. Read More...

Avago Tech Note: 14.2mm wide Creepage and clearance optocouplers for high-voltage applications

Not any optocoupler will do for applications requiring extra-high-voltage isolation. Read More...

Milliohm Squawker great at finding shorts and reverse engineering PCBs

This well thought out tool for “listening to” low resistances really speeds troubleshooting & tracing. Read More...

Music keyboard inductively senses position & velocity

Technologies to measure key position, pressure, and velocity go back almost a century. Now, an inductive sensing IC offers another solution. Read More...

Water & vandal-proof keypad uses piezoelectric disc as sensor and buzzer

An ingenious and low-cost method to create a rugged “UI”. Read More...

Safety flasher warns of high voltage

A low power circuit warns the user that high voltage is present. Read More...

Best Design Ideas of 2013Q3

We present the best Design Ideas of the last quarter! Read More...

Soldering iron driver bridge controls temperature

With a power supply and a replacement soldering handle you can implement this temperature-controlled soldering iron driver. Read More...

Reduce acoustic noise from capacitors

Adding parts or cutting PCB slots can make a difference. Read More...

Make a quick-turnaround PCB for RF parts

Parts get smaller, but the laws of physics don't change. Your designs must change to compensate. Read More...

Capacitive touch switch uses CPLD

Using an Altera MAX IIZ CPLD, you can implement a touch-switch decoder with no external components. Read More...

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See the details with an HD thermal imager

Fluke's TiX1000 series of high-definition thermal imaging cameras let you see temperature on circuit components, wires, even whole cities. Read More...

Software speeds simulation of electromagnetic properties

3-D EM Simulation Platform provides significant FEM Simulation Speed Increase. Read More...

Mentor meets Digi-Key, low-cost CAD results

Designer, DX Designer's little brother, is out of beta and available to purchase. Read More...

EDN Hot 100 products of 2014

Of the many thousands of products announced during the past year, these are 100 that especially caught the attention of our editors and our readers. Read More...

EDN Hot 100 products of 2014: EDA Tools, IP & Memory/Storage

This section of EDN's Hot 100 Products of 2014 includes design automation tools and memory/storage products. Read More...

Expedition xSD adds support for multi-board system design

Most systems these days have two or more boards, and CAD vendors are finally cottoning onto this to support repartitioning and interconnect design. Read More...

100 GHz real-time oscilloscope arrives

Teledyne LeCroy ups the oscilloscope bandwidth ante with the announcement of the LabMaster 10-100Zi. Read More...

Probes & software enhance impedance measurements

Probes and software from Picotest let you measure the stability of op-amps, filters, and power regulators while in-circuit. Read More...

Free PCB design tool includes 3D modeling, crowd-sourced parts database

CircuitMaker PCB design tools' 3D modeling and other features will help designers deal with the "lumpy" nature of LED lighting products or other design projects involving large, irregular components. But that's only half of the story. Read More...

Mouser releases free version of NI MultiSIM simulator, PCB tool

Available via free download on Mouser.com, MultiSIM BLUE enables engineers to design and simulate circuits before laying them out in physical prototypes. Read More...

Power supplies combine linear and switching

Autoranging power supplies from Picotest deliver maximum power at any voltage/current setting. Read More...

Measure low current and high resistance

Two new instruments from Keysight Technologies help with researching new materials through low current and high-resistance measurements. Read More...

Mentor's Xpedition xDM provides enterprise PCB data management

Designs can leave you swimming in a morass of files and versions. xDM is a management solution for designs and libraries. Read More...

Copper heat pipes keep electronics cool

Advanced Thermal Solutions offers a line of 33 round and flat copper heat pipes for transporting power dissipation away from hot electronic components. Read More...

Low-CTE laminate targets 100-Gbps Ethernet designs

Intended for very high-speed digital applications up to and beyond speeds of 100 Gbps, Isola’s Tachyon-100G laminate material exhibits electrical properties that are very stable over a broad frequency and temperature range. Read More...

MLCCs feature reduced acoustic noise in 0402 package

A range of MLCCs from Murata have an extra interposer substrate that reduces acoustic "squealing" noise. Read More...

Path Finder mates PCB, IC package, & system design

The Xpedition Path Finder suite provides a single environment that gives cross-domain design teams the ability to model every device/interface. Read More...

Power supply board layout capability added to TI’s WEBENCH

WEBENCH® PCB Export, is a new feature in TI’s online WEBENCH Power Designer tool that engineers can use to quickly create a power supply printed circuit board (PCB) layout and export it to industry-leading computer-aided design (CAD) development platforms. Read More...

Mentor surprises with $299 EDA

Following the trend to low-cost SW & HW, Mentor & Digikey announce a $299 schematic+PCB package that you can try for free – now. Read More...

Printoo: Printed electronics made Arduino compatible

A spin-out from YDreams, Ynvisible was founded in 2010 with the goal to bring more interactivity to everyday objects and surfaces, mostly through the use of flexible and printed electronics including the company’s fully transparent electrochromic display. Read More...

NPI software links PCB design and manufacturing operations

Mentor Graphics’ Valor NPI (new product introduction) software is now fully integrated with the company’s Xpedition PCB design platform to deliver a seamless, automated flow for the design, fabrication, and assembly of PCBs. Read More...

Liquid crystal thermal-measurement system reveals hot spots

An imaging camera and software provide temperature resolution to 0.1°C. Read More...

Prototyping boards target Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone

Mikronauts’ line of easy-to-assemble prototyping boards, which includes versions that are specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone hardware platforms, are silk-screened on both sides, highlighting power and signal buses and taking the guesswork out of finding the signals under the solder mask. Read More...

Circuit board plotter leverages UV laser

The ProtoMat D104 circuit board plotter from German manufacturer LPKF performs mechanical and laser machining in one system, carving circuit tracks out of fully coated base materials by negative contour routing, while an integrated UV laser extends processing to sensitive materials and allows structuring down to an ultra-fine pitch. Read More...

Checksum, ECT roll out flying-probe alternative for board test

CheckSum and Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) jointly announced the Tilt 12KN universal-probe test system, which delivers in-circuit coverage and increased throughput using Tilt fixturing at a low bed-of-nails tooling cost of about $2 per pin. Read More...

System brings thermal characterization to the test site

The ATS-535 Thermostream from InTest Thermal Solutions performs temperature testing and conditioning of components, parts, hybrids, modules, subassemblies, and printed circuit boards at the test bench, on the production floor, or in the lab. Read More...

JOT inline router automates PCB depaneling

According to manufacturer JOT Automation, its router is one of the smallest and most cost-effective inline routing solutions for automated depaneling of PCBs used in smart phones, tablet computers, PCs, motherboards, automotive electronics, and practically any electronic product. Read More...

Altium’s 3-D PCB toolset eases rigid-flex design

Focusing on core PCB design technology, Altium Designer 14 now supports flex and rigid-flex design, including schematic capture, 3-D PCB layout, analysis, and programmable design—all in a single unified platform. Read More...

ICT system conserves production floor space

Compliant with SMEMA (Surface Mount Equipment Manufacturers Association) specifications to enable seamless integration into high-volume production lines, the fully automated Medalist i3070 Series 5i inline ICT (in-circuit test) system from Agilent requires 33% less floor space than standard 3070 systems. Read More...

Stacking connectors ensure reliability in harsh environments

Built with a locking mechanism that offers both tactile and audible feedback when properly mated, stacking connectors in the FCN-280 series from Fujitsu maintain a secure board-to-board connection in rugged industrial environments. Read More...

Stamped CPU heat sink improves air convection by up to 5%

ASSMANN WSW has introduced the 'Stamped CPU Heat Sinks' series, a combination of 'CROSS-CUT' and 'Finger-Shaped heat sinks'. Read More...

Mini PCI Express board adds CAN functionality to any modern PC

Measuring 30x51mm, the Kvaser Mini PCI Express HS is a highly integrated CAN add-on board that adds a single, high speed CAN channel to any standard computer board with mini PCI Express capability. Read More...

Low-profile ferrite-bead arrays permit high-density mounting

Offering a compact EMI filtering option for circuit designers, ferrite-bead arrays in the ACSB series from Abracon come in surface-mount packages ranging in size from 5.60x5.00x1.50 mm to 5.60x4.80x3.00 mm. Read More...

Board-level shields help solve EMI issues

TE Connectivity has introduced shielding products that provide isolation of board-level components, minimize crosstalk, and reduce susceptibility to electromagnetic interference without impacting system speed. Read More...

Arduino LED controller shield makes complex RGB LED lighting apps a snap

The Arduino-compatible lighting RGB LED lighting shield reviewed here was designed to give designers a low-cost easy-to-use open-source platform for fast prototyping and inexpensive evaluation of multiple LED light engines. Read More...

Light and proximity sensor improves gesture control

The VL6180X combines an IR emitter, a range sensor, and an ambient light sensor to allow for accurate gesture control and functions based on proximity. Read More...

Catapult 8 a major HLS upgrade

Calypto is calling Catapult 8 "third generation" high-level synthesis technology, and it supports both C++ and SystemC. Read More...

Software-radio module packs eight analog-input channels

The latest member of the Flexor line of software-radio FMC (FPGA Mezzanine Card) modules from Pentek, the Model 3316 doubles the existing channel density for a single slot, while boosting sample rates through the incorporation of eight 250-MHz, 16-bit ADCs. Read More...

Push-pin heat sinks offer a multitude of configurations

Advanced Thermal Solutions offers more than 200 heat sinks with durable plastic or brass push pins for cooling BGA and other hot components ranging in lengths from 25 mm to 70 mm. Read More...

Efficient DC fan minimizes power consumption

According to manufacturer Sanyo Denki, the latest addition to the San Ace 60 lineup of DC cooling fans boasts the highest static pressure and energy efficiency of any 60x60x10-mm axial DC fan currently available for industrial use. Read More...

DDR4 DIMM sockets resist dust and flux

Employing a split-beam contact structure, the FCN-07 series of DDR4 DIMM sockets from Fujitsu provides two points of contact on the inserted memory card to ensure that there are no intermittent signals due to dust particles, flux, or vibration during system bring-up. Read More...

FPGA boards under $100: Altera/Terasic DE0-Nano

A close look at the Cyclone IV-based $79 DE0-Nano FPGA devboard from Terasic. Read More...

Thermal gels extend heat conductivity range

Parker Chomerics has uprated its thermal management solutions with the release of its THERM-A-GAP gel with conductivity extensions to 6 W/m-k. Read More...

EDN Hot 100 products of 2014: Boards & Development Tools

This section of EDN's Hot 100 Products of 2014 includes development tools - both hardware and software based - and system-level components. Read More...

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Teardown: 1966 Programmable scientific calculator

Look inside a mid-1960s programmable scientific calculator! Read More...

Teardown: iPhone 5s

Go inside the iPhone 5s to see the tech, the parts, what's better, and what's the same, as iFixit tears it down. Read More...

Teardown: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 still the category leader

TechInsights breaks down the processors, memory, and design wins in this teardown of the Galaxy Note 3. Read More...

Teardown: Airbag controller

Check out this airbag controller teardown, courtesy of Dave Jones from the EEVblog. Read More...

Teardown: OBD-II Bluetooth adapter

Peer inside an unbelievably low-cost OBD-II to Bluetooth "dongle." Read More...

Teardown: What's inside Google Glass?

With both intrigue and concern about Glass, this teardown takes a model apart to bring you a detailed view into the electronics guts of the in-demand device. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Improve device reliability via PCB cleanliness

Today’s electronic assemblies require better cleaning than ever to ensure reliability uncompromised by PCB contamination. Read More...

Make high-quality double-sided PCBs – at home

Be rewarded with near-pro quality PCBs by following the method detailed here. Read More...

LXI + PoE: Essential Design Considerations

This paper introduces the basic concepts of LXI (LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation) and PoE (Power over Ethernet), and studies the four key considerations for hardware realization to achieve LXI compliance for a device powered over Ethernet. The LAN PHY compliance test is also discussed. Read More...

PDN design essentials for wideband low impedance

The essential steps to design board-level power distribution networks (PDNs) with wideband low impedance are discussed. The key steps include placement and routing for optimal PDN characteristics, post-layout simulation that computes the PDN impedance, and impedance measurement of the prototype PCB. Read More...

Goodbye Copperclad Road

We get down to the nitty-gritty business of prototyping and testing the ECL-based, copperclad-built test-fixture. Read More...

Copperclad Road (with apologies to Steve Earle)

An ECL warrior battles the copperclad to produce a high-performance breadboarded test fixture. Read More...

PCB design: Reducing errors & increasing efficiency

Make simulation a regular part of your schematic capture process, and reap the benefits. Read More...

Thermal test chips streamline system development

You don’t need to wait for final silicon to test and characterize the performance of your system’s thermal design. Read More...

Product how-to: HSPICE accurately analyzes gigabit circuits like DDR4 & USB3

Accurate SPICE analysis at the PCB level can save time and cost by reducing numerous iterations of PCB prototyping and measurement. Read More...

DDR4 memory interface: Solving PCB design challenges

Walk through a DDR4 PCB layout and see how the tough challenges are solved. Read More...

Build low-EMI prototypes: The essentials

Follow a board from EMC simulation to final testing, and learn how to minimize risk and expense. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 7: Crosstalk

Learn to successfully deal with victim & aggressor traces. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 6: Signal Timing

Routing critical analog & digital signals for SI & EMC. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 5: Routing

Learn many tricks of the trade regarding PCB routing for EMI reduction & SI. Read More...

When smaller isn’t better in precision resistor applications

In precision analog, SMT resistors may not be the best solution. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 3: High-speed signals & Impedance

Learn what qualifies as a high-speed signal, and how controlled-impedance traces work. Read More...

EasyEDA: Free online EDA – Product how-to

One of the newest free Web-based EDA systems looks impressive. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 2

The EMC book continues, with hints on decoupling caps & power integrity. Read More...

Getting EMC design right – First time, Part 1

We start this extensive book serialization by looking at grounding and planes. Read More...

The case for rigid-flex PCB technology

Once reserved for specialized and higher-end applications, mixed rigid-flex PCBs are trickling down into the mainstream. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Vote for the Best Products of 2014

At DesignCon 2015, the Best in Design & Test Awards will be awarded in the ChipHead Theater at 5PM on Wednesday January 28th, 2015 in the Santa Clara Convention Center at DesignCon 2015, please cast your vote now! Read More...

Vote for the Engineer of the Year

DesignCon2015 has announced the finalists for the Engineer of the Year Award (sponsored by National Instruments). The award includes a $10,000 grant that will be given out at DesignCon. Read More...

How to engineer acceptable far-end crosstalk: Rule of Thumb #21

Far-end crosstalk can often cause a product to fail. Unless you select the transmission line features carefully, FEXT will likely be an issue. Read More...

Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Maker Studio

A look at the first batch of fabricated PCBs – from Maker Studio. Read More...

How far is far enough? Signal line spacing for acceptable near end crosstalk: Rule of Thumb #20

Learn the PCB rule of thumb for trace spacing versus crosstalk. Read More...

Crosstalk: How much is too much?: Rule of Thumb #19

Minimizing NEXT between strong transmitters and weak Rx signals is critical to system performance. Read More...

Bringing up PIC: The agony

In which I discover that choosing and getting up to speed with a new MCU family can be more daunting than expected. Read More...

Global certifications for makers and hardware startups

Our EMC approvals blogger talks about the rationale behind his new book, which is addressed to smaller startups, but should find a wider audience by the sounds of it. Read More...

Book review: Controlling Radiated Emissions by Design

This near-classic EMC book, now in its third edition, keeps pace with todays radiated emissions problems using easy-to-understadn examples. Read More...

Vote for your favorite design trick

It's time to pick the best design trick from our DesignCon Trick for a Treat contest. Read More...

Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Step 1, the PCB

A test PCB to send out to some quick-turn shops is designed and begins its journey. Read More...

DesignCon prophecy from 1995

As we prepare to celebrate DesignCon’s 20th anniversary, Istvan Novak looks back at Design SuperCon 1995. Read More...

How long a stub is too long?: Rule of Thumb #18

Identify the maximum stub length a high-speed data trace will tolerate. Read More...

EMC pre-compliance testing ups success rate, part 3 of 3

Save time and money by conducting EMC pre-compliance testing yourself. In part 3, we look at the remaining test setups you can implement, then wrap things up. Read More...

DesignCon Awards nominations open

DesignCon’s Best in Design & Test Awards and the DesignCon Engineer of the Year Award recognize the best of the best in engineering and new product advancements at the chip, board, or system level, with a special emphasis on signal integrity and power integrity. Read More...

Weird components

What weird components are in *your* junk box? Read More...

EMC pre-compliance testing ups success rate, part 2 of 3

Save time and money by conducting EMC pre-compliance testing yourself. Part 2 looks at the first three options for performing these tests. Read More...

The quarter-wave stub frequency: Rule of Thumb #17

High frequencies and bit-rates require point-to-point routing. Learn how to estimate the suckout caused by a via or stub, and therefore, what signals the line can handle. Read More...

Goodies from PCB West 2014

If you didn't make it to PCB West 2014 (or even if you did), here are some highlights. Read More...

Mostly free engineering software

There are amazing riches of free engineering software out there, if you know where to look. Read More...

Sheet inductance of a cavity: Rule of Thumb #16

Separating power planes by as little as possible is ideal, but maybe not why you think it is. Read More...

Get the fix on common EMC problems

A presentation by EMC engineer Kenneth Wyatt shows engineers why problems occur and how to reduce them. See photos and video from the presentation and download the slides. Read More...

Do we need Radio Shack anymore?

The chain of electronics stores is on the verge of bankruptcy. Will you miss it? Read More...

EMC pre-compliance testing ups success rate, part 1 of 3

Save time and money by conducting EMC pre-compliance testing yourself. Read More...

Designing testability into a PCB

It's easy to forget about test needs when designing a PCB. Here are some reminders. Read More...

DesignCon abstract reviews complete

An update on the technical program progress for DesignCon 2015. Read More...

Estimating wire & loop inductance: Rule of Thumb #15

Get a grasp of some inductance fundamentals, and look specifically at straight-wire and loop self-inductance. Read More...

DesignCon Chiphead goes to Europe

DesignCon's mascot, known as Chiphead, gets out of silicon Valley by touring Spain and Amsterdam. Read More...

10 tips on being a consultant

Steve Weir shares the strategy that has made him a highly successful EE consultant for over 13 years. Read More...

Debug ARM Cortex without a header on your PCB

The Tag-Connect connector system provides a spring-loaded cable that can be used to program and debug prototypes. Read More...

PC foil current

My intuition got a little upbraiding once upon a time during a discussion about the current distribution in a copper foil pad of a circuit board. Read More...

ESD wrist-strap insulation decomposes

Several ESD wrist straps suddenly have exposed wires as the insulation fails and gets sticky. Read More...

Resistance of a copper trace: Rule of Thumb #14

Quickly calculate copper trace resistance. Read More...

EMC Symposium 2014

A quick review of the recent IEEE EMC Symposium held in Raleigh, NC, August 2014. Read More...

Fundamentals tutorial provides an EMC overview

The 2014 IEEE EMC Symposium opened wih half-day and full-day tutorials. EDN editor Martin Rowe attended an EMC tutorial on Monday morning, August 4. Read More...

Eric Bogatin's SI courses go online

Signal-integrity evangelist Eric Bogatin's SI Academy classes are now available through an online subscription. Read More...

Could your product be exempt from EMC testing?

There are some little known exemptions that I learned about when I was wading knee deep through the murky waters of several regulatory standards. I hope you can take advantage of a few of them and save yourself and your company some serious money. Read More...

Sheet resistance of copper foil: Rule of Thumb #13

Learn how to quickly calculate the resistance of power planes. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

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