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PCB

Dunn Michael

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.

Make schematic symbols understandable

Schematic symbol preferences are very personal, but it is important to make them understandable. How do your drawings compare to this engineer's guidelines? Read More...

Dealing with heat in CSP LED designs

While the benefits of chip-scale packaging LEDs are many, one problem is the ability to deal with heat challenges in small packages with LEDs mounted ever closer together. Here’s a solution that will make life, and heat management, easier. Read More...

VoIP phone teardown

This 2011 VoIP office phone shows some thoughtful acoustic and mechanical design. Read More...

FPGA Follies

"Simple" upgrades rarely are. Read More...

Spread-spectrum clocking in PCI Express

EMI-reducing SSC isn't always up to snuff. Read More...

Properly ground your circuits

You may think that having separate analog and digital ground planes will yield maximum performance and minimal EMI, but you'd be wrong. Read More...

Near-field scanning: useful or misleading?

Near-field probes can help you find the source of emissions, but remember, not all fields propagate. Read More...

TE, Molex to dual-source high-speed connectivity products

Rivals will make it easier for engineers to specify connectors, modules, and cable assemblies. Read More...

ICs of the 1930s & 1940s

Check out this amazing integration ca. 1940. Read More...

Desktop PCB startup on-track

BotFactory's desktop Squink is ready to make your boards. Read More...

PCB manufacturing requires global consistency

The challenge of PCB development lies in ensuring that the laminates and prepregs used for prototyping will be the same as those used in offshore volume production. Read More...

JTAG offers mapping tool for Altium Designer

JTAG Maps for the Altium Designer tool suite lets engineers assess JTAG/boundary-scan resources on their design, before committing to layout. Read More...

PXI-Express PHY: Essential PCB design considerations

Designing for PXI-Express (or PCIe)? Make sure you’re following these guidelines. Read More...

Altium Designer 17 release adds ActiveRoute

Altium has launched the latest version of its PCB design software, Altium Designer 17. Among other upgrades, it aims to reduce the time spent on non-design tasks. Read More...

The PCB is the most important component of your design

This is a look at the importance of the printed circuit board, including cautionary tales and advice from veteran engineers. CAD helps, but beware of auto-routers. Read More...

FlexLogIC is actual printed electronics

PragmatIC has been developing a technology for printing electronics with elements including transistors and other active devices on flexible substrates, with the aim of producing very low cost devices for areas such as wearables. Read More...

System design comes to Xpedition

Mentor joins the system-design club with its Xpedition offering. Read More...

Thermal design: Get the heat out of the electronics

Whether you are designing an LED lamp or an electric drag racer, know your options and the need to get the heat out of the electronics. Read More...

Decoupling’s effect on EMC

This article discusses the impact of PCB decoupling on simultaneous switching noise (SSN) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) by performing post-layout power integrity simulation and characterization of SSN and radiated emission of prototype PCBs. Read More...

Flex primer for IoT & wearables

It's a brand new ballgame with flex circuitry and wearable/IoT devices, so you have to add to your existing knowhow of conventional PCB design. Read More...

Solving signal integrity problems at very high data rates

Asking a PCB to function at 56 Gb/s can be an exercise in futility. Read about a way to break through this roadblock. Read More...

Advanced PCB & die-mounting technologies combined for dimension shrinks

PCB design and manufacturing company AT&S has brought together a range of technology options for miniaturization on all interconnection layers, including embedded component packaging, HDI, & bare-die packaging. Read More...

MesoGlue will not replace solder

MesoGlue is a room temperature metallic glue created with some brilliant science, but it’s not ready to replace solder in the engineering world. Read More...

Multi-instantiating a symbol: Free EDA advice #1

In which I offer 100% free advice to EDA companies on how to improve their products. Read More...

SnapEDA launches on-demand PCB symbols

If the symbol & footprint you need isn't already in their library, you'll have it within 24 hours. Read More...

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De-embed transmission lines with FIR filters

This DI uses MATLAB to design de-embedding filters which clean up high-speed signal measurements. Read More...

Avago Tech Note: 5MBd Digital optocouplers targeting low power/low supply voltage applications

Digital optocouplers provide high voltage insulation and noise rejection for data transmission, with very low power usage. Read More...

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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Desktop PCB startup on-track

BotFactory's desktop Squink is ready to make your boards. Read More...

JTAG offers mapping tool for Altium Designer

JTAG Maps for the Altium Designer tool suite lets engineers assess JTAG/boundary-scan resources on their design, before committing to layout. Read More...

Altium Designer 17 release adds ActiveRoute

Altium has launched the latest version of its PCB design software, Altium Designer 17. Among other upgrades, it aims to reduce the time spent on non-design tasks. Read More...

System tests PAM4 signals to 56 and 64 Gbaud

Anritsu combines three instruments into an integrated system for making BER measurements up to 56 Gbaud PAM4 while generating signals to 56 Gbps PAM4. Read More...

FlexLogIC is actual printed electronics

PragmatIC has been developing a technology for printing electronics with elements including transistors and other active devices on flexible substrates, with the aim of producing very low cost devices for areas such as wearables. Read More...

System design comes to Xpedition

Mentor joins the system-design club with its Xpedition offering. Read More...

Advanced PCB & die-mounting technologies combined for dimension shrinks

PCB design and manufacturing company AT&S has brought together a range of technology options for miniaturization on all interconnection layers, including embedded component packaging, HDI, & bare-die packaging. Read More...

SnapEDA launches on-demand PCB symbols

If the symbol & footprint you need isn't already in their library, you'll have it within 24 hours. Read More...

PADS update integrates more analysis

The latest PADS integrates DDR & AMS modules. Read More...

Low-cost PCB soldering and inspection station

A good looking soldering platform and microscope combination for those on a budget. Read More...

HyperLynx release targets SI & PI

HyperLynx has evolved into a comprehensive SI/PI simulation environment. Read More...

Oscilloscope probes fit tight spaces, come with S-parameters

The P7700 series of probes from Tektronix let you probe high-speed signals, put the amplifier at the tip, and let you compensate for losses through unique S-parameters for each probe tip. Read More...

Candlestick sensor monitors thermal conditions

Offered in three heights, candlestick-style sensors from ATS simultaneously measure air temperature and velocity inside electronic systems. Read More...

PCB signal integrity analysis for multi-gigabit interfaces

Cadence Design Systems’ Sigrity 2016 technology portfolio can, the company says, improve product creation time with an enhanced PCB design and analysis methodology that is suitable for multi-gigabit interfaces. Read More...

USB Type-C connectors curtail EMI

TE Connectivity offers USB Type-C connectors with enhanced EMI shielding on the receptacle shell to help eradicate unwanted EMI leakage. Read More...

600-V MOSFETs gain power package option

Vishay now offers its 600-V E series power MOSFETs in low-profile, surface-mount PowerPak 8×8-mm packages that are halogen- and lead-free. Read More...

In-mold electronic inks enable control integration

DuPont Microcircuit Materials is launching a suite of in-mold electronic inks designed to help streamline electronic devices by reducing the need for rigid circuit boards. Read More...

Upverter update creates symbols & footprints for you

Cloud EDA provider Upverter has added "Parts Concierge" to save users the hassle of new-part creation. Read More...

Inject harmonics, test for EMI and resonance

The Picotest J2150A Harmonic Comb Injector lets you characterize circuits and systems over a range of frequencies from kilohertz to gigahertz. Read More...

USB oscilloscope by and for makers

The SmartScope from LabNation runs on Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. Read More...

Optical cages cover today's highest signal speeds

The zQSFP+ line of optical module cages from TE Connectivity lets you upgrade optical links from 10 Gbps to 25 Gpbs, with support for 100 Gbps rates. Read More...

Stackup design tool supports more languages

Polar Instruments, provider of tools for high speed PCB design, fabrication and test, has launched new language versions of the Speedstack PCB layer stackup design system. Read More...

Boundary-scan viewer offers trace imaging

Version 8.2 of the ScanExpress boundary-scan tool suite from Corelis adds trace imaging using ODB++ netlist data. Read More...

Nextgen PCB design made easier (or less painful)

The 30th anniversary edition of Orcad includes a variety of new features and significant upgrades relating to manufacturing/fabrication checks, electrical rules checks, and constraint definition and management. Read More...

Altium's free CircuitMaker in open beta

The latest stage in the development of Altium's CircuitMaker is to make it available as part of an open beta testing program. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

VoIP phone teardown

This 2011 VoIP office phone shows some thoughtful acoustic and mechanical design. Read More...

Teardown: Inside a DSL gateway

An aversion to integrated gateways presents a teardown opportunity and a good look at the PCB that makes the unit go. Read More...

Teardown: 12V AC adapters – The Horror

A dark side of Chinese manufacturing is uncovered in this teardown of really bad power supplies. Read More...

Teardown: FLO TV didn’t fail because of its hardware

In addition to its impressive electronics integration, the PTV350 personal TV receiver contains one of most solid hinges ever experienced in a device like this. Read More...

Teardown: Amazon Dash Button keeps you connected

Amazon's Dash Button is the ultimate in consumer convenience and it costs only $4.99. So, how much hardware was Amazon able to squeeze into such a diminutive bill-of-materials budget? Read More...

Teardown: MoCA adapter succumbs to lightning strike

Another autumn brought another round of lightning-zapped electronics equipment. This time, an Actiontech MoCA adapter goes under the knife. Read More...

Teardown: Amazon's Echo voice-activated virtual assistant

Take a look inside Amazon’s Echo to see the PCBs and components that make the virtual assistant work. Read More...

Teardown: Bluetooth audio dongle keeps it simple

Stereo Bluetooth audio streaming support can easily and inexpensively be added to many systems via an external adapter such as the one analyzed in this teardown. Read More...

Teardown: Apple iPhone 6 Plus battery

A look at Apple's iPhone 6 battery helps nail down the one variable that determines manufacturing cost. Read More...

Teardown: Xbox wireless controller

See how a third-party wireless Xbox controller takes control. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

FPGA Follies

"Simple" upgrades rarely are. Read More...

Spread-spectrum clocking in PCI Express

EMI-reducing SSC isn't always up to snuff. Read More...

Properly ground your circuits

You may think that having separate analog and digital ground planes will yield maximum performance and minimal EMI, but you'd be wrong. Read More...

PXI-Express PHY: Essential PCB design considerations

Designing for PXI-Express (or PCIe)? Make sure you’re following these guidelines. Read More...

The PCB is the most important component of your design

This is a look at the importance of the printed circuit board, including cautionary tales and advice from veteran engineers. CAD helps, but beware of auto-routers. Read More...

Thermal design: Get the heat out of the electronics

Whether you are designing an LED lamp or an electric drag racer, know your options and the need to get the heat out of the electronics. Read More...

Decoupling’s effect on EMC

This article discusses the impact of PCB decoupling on simultaneous switching noise (SSN) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) by performing post-layout power integrity simulation and characterization of SSN and radiated emission of prototype PCBs. Read More...

Flex primer for IoT & wearables

It's a brand new ballgame with flex circuitry and wearable/IoT devices, so you have to add to your existing knowhow of conventional PCB design. Read More...

Solving signal integrity problems at very high data rates

Asking a PCB to function at 56 Gb/s can be an exercise in futility. Read about a way to break through this roadblock. Read More...

Key high-speed connector layout techniques

Learn some PCB layout techniques to improve high-speed connector performance. Read More...

Will there still be PCBs in 60 years?

PCBs may be replaced in the next 60 years, but what should we expect in the near future? Read More...

Decoupling’s effect on PI & SSN

A demonstration of decoupling’s effect on power and signals in a system with numerous related clocks. Read More...

PCB layouts for switchers

Look at proper layout techniques for buck, boost, and SEPIC converters. Read More...

DesignCon 2016 in photos

DesignCon 2016 offered technical sessions, teardowns, mentoring sessions, a trivia challenge, and much more. See what you may have missed at the event with this collection of photos. Read More...

Eric Bogatin: Meet DesignCon’s Engineer of the Year

Engineer and educator Eric Bogatin has been attending DesignCon from the beginning and this year he was voted the DesignCon Engineer of the Year. Read More...

Product-level architectural validation is the missing link of design flow

Complex product designs benefit from tools that support system-level architectural control and validation. Read More...

Thermal analysis of SO packages

How thermal analysis tools can be used for testing and evaluating the small outline packages found on reduced-sized PCBs in modern consumer devices. Read More...

3D chip/package/PCB co-design optimizes systems: Product how-to

Today’s complex and dense systems require a holistic design approach, from chip to PCB level. Read More...

Design rule checking for SERDES PCB layouts

In addition to manual inspection to be sure the SERDES bus traces on a routed printed circuit board are error free, use of an automated design rule checker makes such tasks easier. Read More...

Getting the heat out of PCBs demands intelligent simulation

Thermal simulation is necessary for many designs, and tools take different approaches to the solution. Read More...

PCB Layout: Design in-house, or outsource?

PCB design. For some companies, it’s an in-house affair. Others outsource. But for those on the fence, this quiz will help to decide which way to go. Read More...

7 Tips for overcoming PCB EMI issues

Faced with the challenges of new materials and new components, PCB designers must also deal with continuing electromagnetic compatibility and interference problems. Read More...

Thermal optimization during PCB design

Computational fluid dynamics software tools can be useful in considering the effect on a printed circuit board of such things as package selection, board layout and structure as well as enclosure design. Read More...

Semi-additive fabrication cuts width, spacing

Printed circuit board trace width and spacing as fine as 1.25 mils can be maintained over distance within extremely tight tolerance. Read More...

Return path discontinuities and EMI: Understand the relationship

It’s conventional wisdom that a solid, continuous return path provides a better result in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This article discusses the relationship between return path discontinuities and EMC. Read More...

>> SEE ALL

Make schematic symbols understandable

Schematic symbol preferences are very personal, but it is important to make them understandable. How do your drawings compare to this engineer's guidelines? Read More...

Dealing with heat in CSP LED designs

While the benefits of chip-scale packaging LEDs are many, one problem is the ability to deal with heat challenges in small packages with LEDs mounted ever closer together. Here’s a solution that will make life, and heat management, easier. Read More...

Near-field scanning: useful or misleading?

Near-field probes can help you find the source of emissions, but remember, not all fields propagate. Read More...

TE, Molex to dual-source high-speed connectivity products

Rivals will make it easier for engineers to specify connectors, modules, and cable assemblies. Read More...

PCB manufacturing requires global consistency

The challenge of PCB development lies in ensuring that the laminates and prepregs used for prototyping will be the same as those used in offshore volume production. Read More...

ICs of the 1930s & 1940s

Check out this amazing integration ca. 1940. Read More...

MesoGlue will not replace solder

MesoGlue is a room temperature metallic glue created with some brilliant science, but it’s not ready to replace solder in the engineering world. Read More...

Multi-instantiating a symbol: Free EDA advice #1

In which I offer 100% free advice to EDA companies on how to improve their products. Read More...

How much mode conversion is too much?: Rule of Thumb #32

Differential to common-mode conversion as miniscule as -60dB can cause EMC test failure. Read how to improve your odds. Read More...

How much common current is too much?: Rule of Thumb #31

Watch out for the EMC failure mode caused by mere microamps. Read More...

No one best PCB fab house

The best fab house for you depends what you need and the kind of boards you are making, but here are some engineer recommendations. Read More...

The homes of EDN

Take a tour of EDN's office locations through the years, including the home of the print collection. Read More...

What is the resonant frequency of a cavity?: Rule of Thumb #30

Cavity resonances in PCBs are easily overlooked, and can result in crosstalk and EMI. Read More...

What is the spatial extent of an edge?: Rule of Thumb #29

If you really want to build your engineering intuition about signal integrity, the most important principle you can apply is the Zen approach, “be the signal”. Read More...

PCB assembly & test problems

A nice brief overview of PCB assembly problems you might encounter, as well as some test ideas. Read More...

Near-field scanners let you see EMI

EMI scanners can display the spectral and special view of a circuit's emissions. From those plots, you can quickly see how circuit changes affect emissions. Read More...

Fix poor capacitor, inductor, and DC/DC impedance measurements

Improved measurement technique extends the range and improves the accuracy over standard S-parameters. Read More...

Rubber Band Engineer: The book that will get you in trouble

Rubber Band Engineer is the kind of how-to book that can surely get you in trouble while having fun with projectiles. Read More...

Old faithful tools

What tools and equipment have you treasured for years? Read More...

The 2016 EMC Symposium is coming

Engineers will gather in Ottawa, Canada for the anual IEEE EMC Symposium. Here's what to expect. Read More...

3D printing meets PCBs

The convergence of electronics and 3D printing will bring PCB prototyping in-house. Read More...

What is the aspect ratio for 50Ω stripline?: Rule of Thumb #28

All 50Ω symmetric striplines in FR4 have the same aspect ratio. Read More...

Sensing current on the high side

Here are some ways to sense current in a supply rail, which requires care to do right. Read More...

Free yourself from IBIS-AMI models with PyBERT

PyBERT, an open-source modeling tool, can help you design high speed SERDES devices and systems. Read More...

Three predictions on the state of signal integrity

Signal integrity evangelist Eric Bogatin makes three predictions on high-speed signals based on DesignCon 2016. Read More...

EDN turns 60, help us celebrate

EDN began life as Electrical Design News on May 8, 1956. Here's what to expect over the coming months as we celebrate the publication. Read More...

What is the aspect ratio for 50Ω microstrip?: Rule of Thumb #27

All 50Ω microstrip lines in FR4 have the same aspect ratio. Using a 2D field solver, we can explore what this ratio is for a specific value of Dk and conductor thickness. Read More...

Eliminating the power integrity analysis bottleneck from PCB design: Product how-to

Use available tools to streamline voltage-drop analysis and decoupling design. Read More...

Secrets for designing with flashing LEDs

Having multiple LEDs flashing at different rates is not necessarily difficult. Read More...

Torture-testing your new SoC’s security quotient

Your new chip might be secure in theory, but then there’s practice. Read More...

DesignCon 2017 video: Expected and unexpected products

DesignCon 2017 included many products. Here are a few captured on video. Read More...

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