The Dedicated PCB Layout Artist – Is This a Sustainable Profession?

The August 2017 edition of Printed Circuit Design and Fab Circuits Assembly acknowledged what many of us PCB designers have suspected; there is a strong need to train young people in the art of PCB design.  It is becoming a lost art in a time when it is ever so needed.  With the current technological upswing, it is truly a great time to be an experienced PCB designer.  But while being an experienced PCB designer is one thing, getting more people to embrace a job as a dedicated PCB designer is another.

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When it comes to libraries, maybe it’s time to take a page from the mechanical folks!

Recently, Nine Dot Connects, a printed circuit board centric organization, became the national VAR for SOLIDWORKS PCB.  With that came the opportunity to explore the mechanical side of design in our effort to better understand and prepare for the future of mechatronic design. Like the old saying, ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’, this insight into the mechanical domain gave us the opportunity to step back and see the electrical design flow from afar.  It became apparent when compared to mechanical libraries, the PCB library structure is complicated by several factors, some by the very nature of electrical design, and others are self-inflicted by the PCB industry. Continue reading When it comes to libraries, maybe it’s time to take a page from the mechanical folks!

When STEPs Become a Misstep

Author’s note – For clarification purposes, SOLIDWORKS will be referred to as ‘SOLIDWORKS CAD’ to differentiate from SOLIDWORKS PCB.

Though STEP files are critical in collaboration between MCAD, such as SOLIDWORKS CAD, and ECAD, such as SOLIDWORKS PCB, an important issue has become more significant as of late. Because there are many ways for an electronics designer to obtain STEP files, it is difficult (if not impossible) to know what tool was used, or more importantly if the STEP file was validated. This is not just true for components that may have been downloaded from 3DContentCentral.com.  Also, such components can be provided by OEMs who then, provide them to suppliers, such as Digi-Key and Mouser.

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Why PCB is a Mechanical Creature – Part 2

This article’s argument for mechanical engineering involvement in PCB design is specific to the layout.  The schematics and circuit design such as power, analog, and digital belong to the electrical engineering domain and this area requires classroom and lab experience which one would expect from a degreed electrical program.  It is not to say that a mechanical engineer cannot do circuit design.  More so, we envision a future in which academia offers degrees in mechatronic design.  Under the current circumstances, this industry is notorious for making gross assumptions about an engineer’s capabilities and we wish not to propagate the belief that a mechanical engineer can do the whole PCB design based on their degree alone unless they have been exposed to circuit design during their undergraduate career.  – Paul Taubman

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Who Really Owns the PCB Layout? – Part 1

One would think that the title of this article should be a no-brainer. The fact of the matter is that the ownership of this vital aspect of electronic design is not only cloudy, but it will become murkier in the next 10 years. This murkiness is also an opportunity for mechanical engineers who aren’t afraid to expand their horizons.

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INTERVIEW: Good Design Instruction is a True Value-Add

This is an interview conducted by the editor, Andy Shaughnessy, of I-Connect007 with Paul Taubman back on November 9, 2017.

Nine Dot Connects has certainly blazed an interesting trail. The company started out as an Altium reseller, but in less than a decade, Nine Dot Connects has also become a design service bureau and a provider of PCB design instruction, training, and consulting services. A quick scan through their webpage reveals dozens of archived PCB design webinars, all neatly organized by category.

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Mechatronics and the Ever-Changing Printed Circuit Board

It may surprise you to know that it is the exception to find an electronic device that does not have a printed circuit board (PCB). Every device around you has one. There’s a bigger picture to consider when comes to the PCB, especially as we enter the age of mechatronics. The purpose of the PCB has changed over time and its role in mechatronics is going to be very important.

PCBs started off as nothing more than a convenient way to organize components. As the components got smaller with more pins, the PCB was improved to allow copper to connect between the components without having to solder individual wires. As the pin counts on these components grew, there came the ability to design boards with multiple layers of copper to handle all of the signaling. In this age of high-speed design, one cannot build such circuitry without the physical structure of the PCB to assist.

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