Design Ideas Submission Guide

-June 18, 2013

Please read this guide carefully before submitting your Design Idea to maximize its chance of being accepted.

One of the really cool things about EDN is the Design Ideas section, where readers can post their idea for a new circuit or system, and others can comment on it, suggesting improvements or pointing out flaws. One of the things we've heard from new EEs is their appreciation of the experienced engineers that they get the opportunity to work with. Well, in some small companies or specialized areas, EEs may not have that kind of opportunity. That’s where EDN’s Design Ideas come into play. Readers can post their ideas, and others can chime in on what works. And even the most grizzled and experienced among us have been known to learn a thing or two from a good Design Idea!

Have an idea that you want to get feedback on or score bragging rights for? Please follow the guidelines below, then submit your design.

Here is a list of FAQs to get you started:

What are Design Ideas?
Design Ideas are short, compact articles that solve design problems or display innovative ways to accomplish design tasks. The topic is up to you. We review articles that fall into virtually any technology area: analog or digital circuits, programmable logic, hardware-design languages, systems, programming tips, useful utilities, test equipment & techniques, power, and so on. The idea should be useful or innovative or tricky or educational. A Design Idea is not necessarily a complete engineering package. You don't have to submit a design for a complete system – just the idea that is the heart of your system.

Do I get paid for a Design Idea?
You bet. You won't get rich, but your idea will be read by hundreds of thousands of your colleagues around the world. If we publish your Design Idea, we'll send you a $200 cheque, but you can live off the fame for years (or so we've been told). And it may just help you land your next job.

Can I send in hand-drawn schematics?  
Yes, but only if they're very cleanly and well drawn (unless you're Bob Pease). Our art department won't be redrawing them, so that puts more responsibility on you. Hand-drawn or not:

  • Use North American-style symbols (e.g., a squiggly line for a resistor, not a rectangle).
  • Include IC pin numbers when appropriate.
  • Don't make 4-way connections.
  • Use standard component designators (R2, C3, Q1, IC1 or U1, etc.).
  • Make sure you include component values, ratings, and tolerances if needed, and if you have an unusual component in your design, tell us the manufacturer, source, materials, etc. For instance, if your design involves a homemade inductor, we'll need to know the core material, wire gauge, and the number of turns.
  • Make your schematics clean, logical, and consistent (e.g., if resistors are "k", capacitors should be "µ". Alternatively, "kΩ" and "µF". But don't mix "k" and "µF").
  • For program listings, include the source file.
  • Include any relevant design files.

What about images and CAD schematics?
We strongly encourage CAD-generated schematics. If you don't have access to commercial software, there are many free alternatives, such as:

On the web site, images can be 600 pixels wide, maximum. If you can make your schematic legible at this size, perfect. If not, we'll link it to a larger version. Don't worry about downsizing images. We do that.

Can I put hyperlinks to related content in my Design Idea?
Absolutely! Links to software downloads, related articles, additional technical information, white papers, and any related topic are strongly encouraged. Readers find them very helpful.

How long does it take to find out if my Design Idea is accepted?
We want to give each Design Idea a fair shake, so we have established internal and external panels of experts in all technical fields to evaluate the articles. The process can be as short as a week, to as long as several months.

How do I maximize my chance of Design Idea success?
From most to least likely to succeed: Build and test it –> Only simulate it –> Only draw it. If you supply a circuit photograph and/or a scope capture, that's great. In fact, why not demonstrate your circuit on YouTube? We can embed your video right in the Design Idea (try to keep it under two minutes). If you only simulated, provide some results (and the simulation file). But if the circuit is only a glint in your eye, we'll need a really good reason to consider it! What else do we look for in a Design Idea? It should possess some combination of usefulness, educational value, novelty, and general appeal. The more of these boxes you can tick off, the better.

Can I send my idea to more than one magazine at a time?
Don't do it. Most professional publications will reject an article outright if it has been sent to multiple magazines, and will refuse all future submissions. Send your article to only one magazine at a time. If Magazine #1 declines to publish your article, then you're free to try Magazine #2. Don't give up; if you have a neat idea, it will get noticed.

What about testing the designs? Do you do it?
We cannot emphasize testing enough, but we don't have the time or facilities to do it. It's imperative that you wring out and test your design yourself! If your design is a power supply, for example, make sure it can withstand temperature extremes, input overvoltages, and output short circuits. Feel free to include some measured performance data. Make sure there won't be a problem if any critical component fails. Test, test, test!

How do I submit a Design Idea?
Send us your text in any reasonable format, such as plain text, RTF, ODT, or Word. If there are embedded images in the document, make sure to also send them as separate files. Design Ideas must be your original work, and you must not have published them elsewhere.

Tips and requirements:

•     The design entered must be submitted exclusively to EDN. Design must be original with author(s), must not have been previously patented or published, and ideally should have been constructed and tested.

•    Take some time to research prior invention. If we had a nickel for every time we easily found an identical or very similar circuit to a submission, often right on EDN, well, we'd have lots of nickels.

•    You must be registered on the EDN site, and be willing to interact with readers in the comments section of your Idea. And please fill in your profile, so readers can learn more about you!

•    Feel free to send in a preliminary sketch and short description if you'd like some feedback. That way, if we don't feel your DI is suitable, you won't have spent time creating a more polished presentation.

•    Fully annotate all circuit diagrams with components' part numbers and/or values.

•    Keep it short, but don't leave out important explanations either.

•    Send your idea, graphics, and supporting materials in one email.

•    Don't worry about style or grammar too much, but make sure we can figure out why your Design Idea is clever, how it works, and which applications it suits. If you're not fluent in English, getting someone who is to help you polish your text will work in your favour.

•    Send questions and completed Design Ideas to Please include your EDN username.

•    Want to submit a technical article that doen't fit the Design Idea form? Check out our Writing Guide.


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