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Welcome to the PCB Design Podcast featuring Judy Warner and special industry guests, brought to you by Altium and the OnTrack Community.

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Podcast Episode's:
Stephen Chavez Calls on PCB Designers to Get Involved
<p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Stephen Chavez is a leader at a military aerospace company, former Marine, CID and CID+ instructor as well as an Executive board member of the IPC designers council. With 28 years in the industry and heavily involved with IPC, Stephen has a passion for PCB design and fabrication. If you want to keep learning or get involved in the industry, Stephen will encourage you to get connected, step out of your comfort zone and pay it forward. Listen in and get great tips about where to find training and how to push yourself to keep learning.</span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Listen to the Stephen Chavez Podcast or watch the video <a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/stephen-chavez-calls-on-pcb-designers-to-get-involved">here</a>. </span> </p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">The Best Professional Development: </span></p> <ul style="font-weight:300;"><li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">AltiumLive Munich - <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/munich">learn more</a> or <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#Munich">register today</a></span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;"><a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="http://www.ipcapexexpo.org/">IPC APEX</a>, San Diego - manufacturing perspective, fabricators, if you don’t have time to get into a board shop this is the place to be, machines are running live</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">PCB West  - pure design for PCB designers; content is second to none</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">DesignCon</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Del Mar Electronics and Design Show</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">PCB Carolinas (1,000 people/ 1 day conference)</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">IPC Designers Council, etc.</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">CID Training</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Reading--Trade magazines - UP Media (<a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.pcdandf.com/pcdesign/">Printed Circuit Design & Fab</a> and <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.circuitsassembly.com/ca/">Circuit Assembly</a>) and <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/bonus-episode-all-about-design007-resources">007 iConnect</a> - the articles and content in these magazines are the best.</span></li> </ul><p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Get Involved!</span></p> <ul style="font-weight:300;"><li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Ask around (for resources, help, mentors)</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Take Risks and take initiative--spend money, assert yourself</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Serve/Volunteer</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Networking/Relationship building</span></li> </ul><p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Live part of everyday outside of your comfort zone</span></p> <ul style="font-weight:300;"><li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Don’t be afraid to ask questions--others have the same questions and dont ask!</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Expand your network, meet people</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">My network comes with me in every new relationship I build</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Add value to others</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Don’t sit on the sidelines</span></li> </ul><p style="font-weight:300;"> </p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;"><a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.pcdandf.com/pcdesign/index.php/editorial/the-digital-route-ipc-designer-s-council-news/13186-chapter-updates-and-reaching-cid-certification">The Digital Route, November 2018 Column</a></span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;"><a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="http://design.iconnect007.com/index.php/article/114100/stephen-chavez-breaking-the-design-data-bottleneck/114103/?skin=design">Breaking the Design Data Bottleneck</a>, interview in iConnect007</span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">AltiumLive Munich - <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/munich">learn more</a> or <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#Munich">register today</a></span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"><span style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;">Altium Designer 19 - <a style="color:#000000;background-color:#ffffff;" href="https://www.altium.com/altium-designer/playlists/altium-designer-19-coming-soon">learn more</a> or call your account manager to learn more</span></p> <p style="font-weight:300;"> </p> <p style="font-weight:300;"> </p> <p style="font-weight:300;"> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

John Mitchell, CEO of IPC, Visits The White House to Participate in the Pledge to America’s Workers
<p>John Mitchell, CEO of  IPC, is advocating for the electronics industry workforce in Washington D.C., and participating in the Pledge to America’s Workers. Listen in and learn how IPC has joined in pledging 1 million new job opportunities for the industry, when John shares a "state of the union" about IPC’s current direction.</p> <p>If you’re a current IPC member, you’ll benefit by finding out all that IPC is up to these days and and how you can get involved. If you’re not an IPC member or not sure what IPC is -  you will get a lot of value from this conversation just by learning about this incredible industry force and all that’s available, including educational programming and career development opportunities.</p> <p>See the show notes and links to all the great IPC resources at: <a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/john-mitchell-ceo-ipc-visits-the-white-house-pledge-to-americas-workers">https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/john-mitchell-ceo-ipc-visits-the-white-house-pledge-to-americas-workers</a></p> <p> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

AltiumLive 2018 Panel Discussion
<p>Watch the video at: <a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/altiumlive-2018-panel-discussion-printed-circuit-board-supply-chain">https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/altiumlive-2018-panel-discussion-printed-circuit-board-supply-chain</a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Manufacturing Documentation with Duane Benson
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Manufacturing documentation is crucial. Get pro tips from Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits on how to deliver the ideal manufacturing documentation package, so all the technical details are documented exactly as needed. Every fabrication and assembly house is different, so it pays to prepare in advance and find out what documentation to produce for your design to be manufactured. You don’t want to miss this week’s episode; it’s full of practical advice so you can navigate fabrication and assembly effectively and know what to expect in this very complicated process. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;">See all the show notes <span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/manufacturing-documentation-with-duane-benson-screaming-circuits">here<span style="color:#000000;">.</span></a></span><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">ActiveBom - use it! Excel is not the best tool for designing with.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Traditionally a manufacturing house needs Gerber files. It’s a text file that creates a bit-map.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">More advanced/new way of doing this is with a single file, the most popular being is ODB++ (was proprietary, now public domain) </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What is </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/documentation/1.0/display/NEXUS/WorkspaceManager_Dlg-GerberX2PropertiesForm((Gerber+X2+Setup))_AD"><span style="font-weight:400;">Gerber X2</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">? Allows you to put intelligent data on top of the Gerbers.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Once you pick a fab or assembly provider, call and find out what files they prefer. It’s complicated to explain, so call your fabricator and assembly house.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">When you send multiple files, send the same versions. It’s really common to see different versions of files because small changes were made but not all the documentation was updated.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC specifies pin location but so many of the footprints don’t follow the IPC standard. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">This is </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">not</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> a “no touch” process.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">If you need a fast turnaround, then be available 24/hours a day to provide answers and get back to manufacturer immediately. It’s a complex job, things happen. </span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ideal Manufacturing Files:</span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Everything is current and same version - everything checked</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Read me file - cover anything non-standard, covered clear and concise (include stackup)</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">BoM in Excel format, possibly with substitutes</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Intelligent file formats i.e. ODB++</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">If Gerbers, include Centroid file and certified that rotations are correct</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> thanks for joining again. You will see a familiar face on the screen next to me, but we have a great new topic to talk to you</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">about that I think you'll find very compelling. Before we get started you know, same old stuff. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Please subscribe to the  podcast, please let us know your ideas for future topics, and also </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">follow us on social media. Of course, I would like to be connected to you on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. On Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium can be found on all the usual social media channels. Something I</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">don't think I've mentioned before on the podcast is that I also edit the newsletter for Altium, and it also carries the OnTrack brand, so it's the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/newsletter"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Newsletter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Duane Benson who is with me today - from Screaming Circuits, has actually been featured in that newsletter and you can find that at </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">resources.altium.com</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and also in that area of our website, you can find just oodles</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">of information. So many, many blogs on subjects you can filter by topic and I think you'd really enjoy it. So again that's resources.altium.com, so jump in and enjoy that. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well Duane Benson's back again from Screaming Circuits, we connected again recently and we were talking about the the kind of muddy waters of manufacturing files and formats and what it's like for someone like Duane to deal with a variety of issues that come up and so I thought, as</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB designers, that you would like to learn some tips and tricks - kind of what some of the obstacles are - and get familiar with some language if you're not already, and then hear from an expert of what a manufacturer - what a really good design Manufacturing file package looks like. So Duane, welcome back.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you, thank you for having me I had a lot of fun on the last podcast and you know I have weird, geeky interests, and manufacturing files is one of them, so anytime I get to talk about one of my weird geeky interests, I'm happy. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter] Well I track with that weird geekiness of you, so I know we talked - preparing for</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">this podcast - it should have taken like 20 minutes; we just went off on a bunch of different topics but hopefully you'll enjoy the results of our geeky conversations. So let's start out with </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">just defining what you are characterizing as manufacturing files?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there isn't a real solid definition of what a manufacturing file set is, but if you think about an electronic design of some sort that starts with an idea in an engineer's head, and it becomes</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">schematics, it becomes a Bill of Material, it becomes Gerber files, layout files, things of that sort.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Essentially it's an electronic file set of everything that an engineer would feel would be needed to describe their product, and it's in a format that a company like us, an assembly house, and a</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">board house and part supplier, can read to turn that idea into a working board. So there's an awful lot of things that go into it. You have to describe the raw PC board, you have to describe the components, you have to describe the assembly, and anything special or unique about it. So the manufacturing file set is all of those things necessary for someone, who is not you, who is not in your head, to take your design and turn it into a working board. Well in the case of electronic manufacturing service I think kind of one of the central pieces that comes to mind for me is the Bill of Materials.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you want to touch on that hot mess?  [laughter] </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The Bill of Materials really is a hot mess, it is one of the most important files. Unfortunately, this doesn't get the highest profile because it's not you know, the design. That's the bit that everything starts when we're building a board, everything really starts with the Bill of Material and that includes, a typical Bill of Material is again, that's what we need in order to communicate with the distributor to buy your parts, so it will have the manufacturers part number and every single character in that manufacturers part number is important. Some of these things are twenty characters but those little suffixes may determine the temperature grade or something like that, or how its marked, or how it's packaged all that's important as well as the manufacturers name. So you've got the manufacturers part number, the manufacturer's name, and in theory that should be enough. But we always like to be able to double-check things, we always like extras for quality control, so we would like the value of the component as well. So, if it's a 0.01 microfarad, 16 volt 0805 capacitor, we would like that, and then a package size. Again that's a double check, so if we get something that's not even close we can tell, hey that's not the right part. Then we also need the reference designator on the board, that's what tells us where the part goes on the board - the reference designator - and then a line item so that we can easily identify it. If we have to call the designer and say, you know hey this part doesn't fit, we can say it's line item six on the Bill of Materials.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that was manufacturer, manufacturer's part number, the value, the reference designator, and a line item that we can use to identify it. Other things can go into the Bill of Material, but that's really the minimum set. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I think, in my - at least, my experience in the past - and you can correct me here, because I'm not as adept as you are here. But I've seen Bill of Materials that are a little messy, and they only have part of the part number, so they just put in the part they know and then you're like, what do I do with this?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you know, a lot of Engineers have told us that they would love to be able to say, I just want 2.1 microfarad, 16 volt or greater cap, that's it and that's all fine and dandy if you know that, all those other parameters don't matter. A capacitor; it has the dielectric specifications, it has ESR or ISR specifications - you as the designer know if those things matter or don't. We as a manufacturer, don't know that they matter or not. If they don't matter, then sure it'd be awesome to be able to just pull some random capacitor, but we don't know that. So they need to know every single bit of that part number so we can get exactly what you want. That's a bit of a challenge, especially with capacitors and resistors these days, because of allocations - these things come and go out of stock so fast and, so anytime one of those parts is in the Bill of Material and it's out of stock, we've got to call up the engineer and ask for a substitution because again, we don't know if they need a high or a low ESR part and we've had cases where you know someone will send us a Bill of Material in the morning and if we go back to the distributor the next day, some of the parts are out of stock it's just absolutely crazy. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Yeah. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What that says though, is the important thing is, when you create your Bill of Material, what you're doing over time as you put your design together, make sure that the very last thing you do before sending those files off to the manufacturer, is to verify that those parts are still in stock and if not, find a substitute that you know will work.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good - that's a very good point being the last check. You had asked me a little bit</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">about a feature inside of Altium Designer called ActiveBOM, so I did a little checking with Ben Jordan about that and so what I learned about that is that it's an interactive BOM management </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">tool, that's inside the design and it has multiple output files. You can scrub it at any point in the design process kind of like you're saying, do it at the end, but you can do it throughout the design process, and it will tell you the ability to parts, it can help you find alternatives. When you change a part in design it changes the BOM…</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-oh nice, I love it.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Nice right, I know, and then flags will appear, like if you're designing and something is at risk of going out of stock, or end-of-life or whatever, a flag will appear on the BOM that will tell you; we better go check this one out and see what's going on. So those flags come up also kind of in real-time throughout the design process so I think that's a really helpful tool and you know I think a lot of designers that are using our tool are jumping into that because I think it would be a </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">really valuable kind of aspect of our tool. But I know some haven't either, so I just wanted to jump in quick - if you are using Altium Designer and you're not using ActiveBOM, use it</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">because I think it's an invaluable tool.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah a surprising number of people just use Excel and well, that's what we end up needing, we need an Excel file as the output, but it's not the best tool for designing with.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know and it's kind of amazing that you know, we can create these little suckers and we're still</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">doing our BOMs on Excel spreadsheet but, there you have it.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So why don't you go over the type of outputs that are say from a CAD tool - like Altium Designer or any other, the type of outputs that you would typically see?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay and this is where the industry is really on the precipice of change, but we're still stuck in the old world. Traditionally, a manufacturer like us, and a board fab house would need a set of Gerber files - and most people know what Gerber files are - if they don't it is a file - a set of files - and there's one file in each set for each layer. So copper would have - top copper would have a file, it is a text file, but I like to describe it as a one bit depth bitmap because it's a text file that creates a bitmap. So you can't, you don't at the moment, have any intelligent information in there. A pad for a component looks exactly like a trace, looks exactly like a pore, so that is the way it's done today but it's not  optimal, so you've got the Gerber file set again - one file for</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">each layer - so you'd output that from your CAD system and you'd put that into a zip file and that's what we would call the Gerber files. Within your CAD system, quite often people will have </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">an assembly instructions layer, or a fab notes layer, make sure you put those in the Gerber files also, because those are the only real opportunities to integrate information into that Gerber file. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now if you're going to have the boards assembled, you'll also need something which may be called a centroid, that's what we call it, some people call it a pick and place file, and that has the XY location on the PC board of the component. It has the reference designator, again that's why we need reference designators, and it has the rotation of the component zero to the orientation and the top and bottom side. So Gerbers - with Gerbers you have to have that centroid, or pick and place file, otherwise we don't know where a component goes. That's the basic set and then we would also like something that would have notes that tell us the layer stack up you know, which layer goes where. That's really the minimal set. You also, if you have things like some people for example, don't want to put reference designators on their board and silkscreen. That's really a bad thing, but for aesthetic reasons people don't. Well, then you need a set of fab drawings that tells us where the reference designators are, so that would be  another thing that you would need to go in there. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Also in the fab notes would be, if you have overhanging parts for example, these little tiny USB micro-b connectors hang over the edge of the board, and they've got a little tab that goes down. Well if you're having your boards panelized and it's either a v-score or tab routed panel, you can't do that, and build that part, so you have to specify in the fab drawings: don't put a panel tab here, things of that sort. If you've got any special requirements, special material requirements, impedance requirements, ITAR or anything like that, again would go into the fab drawings. So, and the fab drawing can be in your Gerbers, in that fab layer, or it can be a PDF separately, but it has to be clear about what is where. Now that's the old way of doing things, which is still the current way of doing things in most cases right. There are a couple of industry movements to create intelligent CAD files that tell an awful lot more, so you can have one file that has the layers, it has the layer stackup, it has information, the XY information, it has all of that contained within the single file. The most common one of those, in use today is called ODB++, and that was a proprietary file format, but I believe that it's been released into the public domain now. If you can output ODB++ which your software can, that's an awesome way to deliver the information to your assembly house. And you notice I said 'assembly house' there; for some reason the fab folks are often behind the assembly houses in these new file formats because the Gerbers work perfectly well for building up a board.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is so true, although I have seen more of the modern, more complex, the board houses that do more complex things, they typically have ODB++  integrated throughout their factory, it really leads to more reliability, I think it's a good thing - and of course IPC 2581 right?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mmhmm, that's the next one good.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which has been, I was looking it up the other day preparing for this, and I was thinking its' been like 10 years, it's been a long time coming. And I don't know all the ins and outs, but I looked it up, it was started in 2004.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow [laughter] 14 years ago! </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean, I thought it was a long time, but 14 years, and again I don't know what the stop gaps are, but like you said, almost every CAD, I think all the CAD manufacturers output those files </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Gerbers, ODB ++, 2581. You talked to me a little bit about Gerber X2 - can you tell me a little bit about that?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Gerber X2 - I have no idea if it's going to catch on or not, or if it's going to be a viable solution, but at some point, the consortium that manages the Gerber standard, decided they'd better get with the program or Gerbers were gonna go away, so they have proposed a new standard, Gerber X2, and I don't think it goes in as in-depth as the ODB ++ or the 2581, but it does allow you to put intelligent data or metadata on top of the Gerber layers. So as I said with today's </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Gerbers - I can't tell if a piece of copper is a pad or a pore, it allows you to do that sort of thing, so you can connect up what components are where and whatever information is needed to assemble them. I don't believe that that specification has been signed off on yet and I have a feeling that it's going to be a little bit of a 'too little too late' but I'm just speculating on that point so.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and also IPC has, I think you mentioned to me, the D3-56 which is test points right? </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, they have I believe, they have test points, I think they even have the full IPC 2581 specification it even has room for the Bill of Material. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's my understanding.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I think it's a whole cohesive across all the fab and all the assembly processes but again,  it's not something I know a lot about and of course your NC drill files for fabrications. What </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">else do we need to talk about?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well one of the, because those file formats are in such flux right now, one of the most </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">important things to do, is once you have picked an assembly partner and a fab provider,  give them a call or send them an email and say, hey what do you prefer? It's even complicated to explain this so I have to tell people, if you have Gerbers send us the Gerbers, and if you're sending Gerber send us the centroid and any Fab or assembly instructions. If you've got ODB++ send us that, but still send us the Gerbers, just in case we need them with the fab house and we need the centroid for this, but not for this...</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter] Oh gosh.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Call your fab house...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Can you just send us everything in every format and...</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and that you know, the law of unintended consequences pops up there sometimes </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">because we will get someone who sends us Gerbers and then we'll say, hey by the way, do you have an ODB ++ and they say yeah, so they send that off. Awesome; except it's a different version. When you send multiple types of files, make sure they are all of the same version, saved at the exact same time...</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-the revision it's a different revision you guys... okay. Keep your revisions, keep your old revisions out of the mainstream.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, what we found is it's real common for, even after a designer hits save for the very last</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">time, and sends off their files they'll tweak the silkscreen or they'll say, that component wasn't </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">available, let me use this one and they make these tiny little changes but sometimes it's going to a different package or you know, that part was a 'do not stuff' so let me just take it out of the design now, and so we get different versions of files literally two days apart.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh god bless us all, I don't know how we survive this industry. When Duane and I were </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">preparing for these, this podcast I was saying, you know I left the industry for 12 years and I knew there'd be like a crazy catch up, but when I came back I said I felt like Rip Van Winkle.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I can feel like Rip Van Winkle after leaving for a weekend sometimes [laughter] and I'll</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">think everything's cool and then Monday...</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah he says, I feel that way every Monday [laughter] it's so flippen true! </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is you know, I'll walk out on the manufacturing floor and one of our engineers will say,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">hey Duane, because I'm out in the outside world a lot and he waves me down and shows me some component and asks me, have you ever seen this before? What do they do with this? What are we supposed to do with this? And it's like. Oh yeah, I kind of read about that, and I talked to an engineer at a trade show, about that, and it changes so fast and you know, the </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">changes are not slowing down, they really aren't.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And we're managing them with spreadsheets and multiple file formats just to make it fun.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and you know, some of it, is our own fault. Because we like to do things fast and you know companies, there are a bunch of companies like mine, who have decided that, gee everybody needs to do this faster than they used to be. And years ago, when I was on the OEM side, to get a board built, it was typically three or four weeks to get it quoted, then three or four weeks for he NPI process, before anybody gets that out in their line. Well those six to eight weeks, we now do in six to eight hours. And so, when you have all that much time, you can go back and forth to the</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">engineers, you can ask questions. Now you know, 2:00 in the morning one of those questions that were you know, years ago we would have had a week to get answered, now we need it, you know it's 2:00 a.m. we need the answer by 2:10.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We can't blame everybody else, we have to blame ourselves a little bit too.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm gonna blame you. All your fault Duane [laughter] anybody asks me from now on I'll go, it's </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Duane's fault. I think a lot of our manufacturing  folks would say the same thing, if Duane would just stop promising that.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right yeah, exactly.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You mentioned a few problems that kind of come up during the chaos of all these different issues that we face and one thing was relative to rotation on IPC standards. Can you talk about that for a moment?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's one of my pet projects or 'pet something.' The IPC specifies which pin should be at what part for zero rotation so you've got zero, 90°, 180°, 270°, 360° and anything in between, and what direction goes from zero to 90° on the front or the back, it's specified, it's in these standards, and these ones have been around for a long time. Well what I've found, is a large number of the footprints in CAD software, especially the CAD software that relies on user-generated content more than professionally generated content, a lot of those things, the zero - the pin1 zero rotation is wrong. So for example with an LED or a diode, the cathode is on the left, its horizontal pin one is on the left, and that's zero degrees rotation. We see them where zero degrees rotation has something vertical at 180 degrees, pin one on the right, all sorts of nutty things like that, and that's probably 80% of why we simply can't rely on data maybe even 90%. Theoretically, you should be able to output a set of files from CAD software, send it to a company like ours, and never talk to us and just magically get boards back. A huge portion</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">of why we can't do that is because so many of these footprints don't follow that IPC standard, and if it were a rare exception, well we'd assume they all do and catch the rare exception there. It's so common, that we have to disregard anything that any of our customers tell us about rotation. Which means we have to have someone look at every single part on that board.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh! It's like  a bad version of pin the tail on the donkey. Can you guess which one is pin 1? Have a nice day - oh on all these parts - oh my gosh I don't know how you do anything fast.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's crazy…</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But the cost, I mean some of these parts are super expensive and if you rotate them the wrong way, and you fry them or you wreck the board like, that was a bunch of money.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we have we run across $10,000 FPGAs we come across ‘one of a kind' parts that are going into some space mission so yeah we really can't risk putting those things on wrong, I'm sorry there are only four these parts in the world don't blow it, okay.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well and do we - like you said so new parts come out, but when new parts come out, sometimes the standard hasn't been written yet correct?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we saw that a lot in the early days of the QFNs you know, QFNs all the leads are underneath around the outside of the part and there's this big metal heat slug or ground slug in the middle of the part. The IPC standards didn't cover that yet, and a lot of the CAD software folks had never heard from manufacturers so they didn't know what to do with it. The footprints all had that big heat slug wide open, so then what happens, you put solder paste on that, there's a much higher aspect ratio of heights to volume in the center pad, so the part rises up, it kind of floats up and then all the pins on the outside don't connect and for years, for a few years, nobody knew how to do that, how to make that work properly.  Again, if you've got a three week NPI cycle you can figure that out, but when you're doing it overnight... So we determined that you need a window pane solder paste stencil. Fifty to seventy-five percent cover to paste, and it works, but it was a couple of years before the rest of the industry caught up to that and with the tiny, tiny BGAs, point four millimeter pitch BGAs changed the rules on the pad and solder mask with larger BGAs you want non-solder mask defined pads, so you want the solder mask opening to be a little bit larger than the copper. Well with the point four millimeter pitch and</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">smaller BGAs, that causes the solder balls to squish, and you get bridging.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you want a solder mask defined path?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Again the rest of the industry didn't keep up with that, because the component manufacturers threw these parts out, without figuring out how to build them...</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's wild.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and a lot of fun too, I think [laughter] </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">For those of us that are masochists and gluttons for punishment. [laughter] Okay in all that craziness that you've just spelled out for us. So for our listeners, tell us what a good or a great set, like a clean set of manufacturing files would look like if you could wave a magic wand, and you'd want to see a really clean set of manufacturing files come in?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay first of all, everything is the current and the same version, and everything was checked and double-checked just before sending it off to us. There would be a readme file, that includes anything that's non-standard is covered in that readme file, and it's clear, to the point, not wordy - it's not prose, including things like the the stack up. It would have a Bill of Materials in Excel format that has the information we talked about, and possibly even a few substitutes. And then </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">ideally it would have one of the intelligent file formats like an ODB ++ or an IPC 2581 - that would be the ideal format. If you're stuck with Gerbers, then it has to have a good set of Gerbers. Again with that stack up documented and a centroid file and of course we would love it if someone could could certify that their rotations were correct so we could believe the centroid file but that's really it. Ideally intelligent manufacturing files, a bill of materials, and Excel and a readme file and then if you are using Gerbers, then the Gerbers and the centroid.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good - well hopefully that will help, hopefully people listen to this podcast and give you some cleaner manufacturing files Duane.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I hope so.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, something you pointed out to me though, even if you got the perfect set of manufacturing files, we're not robots, and you said something to me: this is not a 'no touch' process. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-you can not throw it over the wall and go about your day so let's wrap up with your thoughts on that.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well communicate you know, I saw a bumper sticker once that said: I didn't spend four years in engineering school to talk to people. [laughter] But the fact of the matter,  you know, we will talk to you using a few sentences. We'll make it short. But talk to us, and anybody who's building your stuff, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call them, or to have an email exchange. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know we - a lot of us nerdy people/geeky people whatever, don't like talking to people.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But we have to, and do that, do not be afraid. And if you've sent your boards off, and you're expecting a fast turnaround time, be available 24 hours a day. Companies like us will typically work 24/6 or 24/7, and as I mentioned before, if something happens at 2 am, and things do happen you know. So yeah do we continue the build without it or stop and wait for more? We may need an answer at 2 am - be available, make sure that someone can get a message at 2 am, and then get back to your manufacturer as soon as possible if they contact you. And then do understand that yes, we are all human, we know you're all smart people and we're all smart</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">people, but everybody... you know it's a complex job we're trying to do</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Extremely complex, god bless us all for even attempting to do it, but we do it. We do it and a lot of times we do it quite well so kudos for us in the industry. Well thanks for those tips and kind of clarifying what a clean package will look like. I know it's kind of a convoluted - there's no clear, single path forward. So I think that's really, it's kind of really basic but as you can see from our conversation it's a lot more complicated than it appears on the surface. So thank you so much Duane, for taking the time to clear that up and let us know what works and hopefully give some good advices to some designers out there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thank you for giving me the opportunity I always enjoy these opportunities you know.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We enjoy having you always, and I'm sure we'll have you back again.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So well, that's it for our OnTrack Podcast today, thanks again for joining. Please drop us a message, let us know what else you'd like to hear about. Tune in next time. Until then, remember to always stay on track.</span> </p>
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Quick Turn Circuit Board Fabrication with Royal Circuits
<p><span style="font-weight:400;">From Tesla to consumer devices, Mihir Shah has been a PCB designer among the best. Now, as Director of Special Projects at Royal Circuit Solutions, he is pioneering ways to make manufacturing easy for printed circuit board designers. Meet Mihir and Jon Lass, co-founder and VP of Engineering at Royal Circuits, and listen in as they discuss manufacturing best practices and share various insights on symmetrical stackups, solder mask, and copper weights. Get a wide range of PCB design tips and learn how same-day turn times on printed circuit boards is possible at high-quality board shops like Royal Circuits.  </span></p> <p>Watch the video and read <strong><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/quick-turn-circuit-board-fabrication-with-royal-circuits">get all show notes</a></span></strong>. </p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. We are glad to have you back again, the podcast continues to grow and we thank you for listening and I know that you are tuning in because I have amazing guests like I have today so I would like to introduce you to my guest but before I do I would like to  invite you to connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. I'd love to connect with you and share a lot of information relative to PCB design and engineering and also on Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> so we like to have conversations with you, not just monologues; so please connect and make sure you subscribe to our podcast too so we can keep making these.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Today we are with a couple of great people that are involved in US manufacturing of printed circuit boards. I'd like to introduce you to Mihir Shah, who is Director of Special Projects at Royal Circuits. Mihir actually was an EE and has lots of experience - hands-on experience - being in the trenches and doing design work. His father right, it's your dad that owns Royal Circuits Mihir?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Mihir nods]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so his dad somehow sucked him into the manufacturing industry. So we're glad to have him there actually, we need more young blood and also, we have Jon Lass who is the VP of Engineering. He's also one of the original founders of Royal Circuits, so gentlemen welcome thanks for joining today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks this is great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Mihir, I'm going to start with you. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and then give us a little blurb on Royal Circuits?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure, so as you kind of alluded to I'm an Electrical Engineer. I started my career at Tesla Motors where I was working on a lot of the cool things with Model X, and Model X, back in the early beta days of that vehicle. I just got crazy hands-on experience learning how to design your own boards hands-on for everything, just do things quick and get a design approach to rapid prototyping, which was great. And then I went to Taser - now known as Axon - where we worked on consumer devices that are - I mean literally - the Taser device.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I was more on the power electronics side of the Taser weapon and some things on the body camera so a really, really great experience albeit limited, but really great in the short time that I was a fulltime design engineer. And then you know, somehow, some way, my dad convinced me to join the manufacturing side of things.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Yay Dad!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm kind of - one of the roles is always like: look, you were buying boards and designed them for a while, now come here on the other side and try to make it as easy, clean, and simple as possible for people to order them now that you've seen often times, what a pain it is, or all the mistakes that you kind of made, or things that delayed the time, cost etc can help on the manufacturing side and now, Royal Circuits, just to give a brief overview of who we are, and kind of our main value proposition. We're a big US manufacturer of purely quick-turn, prototype, printed circuit boards. The whole idea is one, two, three-day turns in the Bay Area, same-day turns and weekend turns - totally acceptable, and all owned and operated by us, all here in the United States.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we have two factories: one right here in Hollister where I am now, right in the Bay Area, and then we have a factory down in Los Angeles that's purely flex and rigid flex. We really focus on that technology down there, so we've been doing this for over 20 years. You know, we have our customers range anywhere from large tech companies like ones you've heard of, like Google etc. Students, Stanford, Caltech, UPN, MIT and military.We're ITAR certified, and then thousands and thousands of other customers in that group and more. So we do everything from simple two layer boards all the way to 30 layer, HDI  , High Density Interconnect, PCBs, fab and assembly - no minimum order quantity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So really, really focus on the low volume, super quick turn, with an incredible focus on customer service and making sure that people get their boards when they need them and at the price that they want them at, right here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow, Jon can you tell us a little bit about your background in the industry and your history at Royal and what you do there?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure, so my background has been Engineering for about 30 years. I started out in the CAM/CAD industry and was involved in the very early days of photo plotting when we used to build boards with films that have,   actual direct imaging as we're doing today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My dad and I founded the company 20 years ago here in Hollister and we - like Mihir pointed out - it's always been about quick turn, 1 to 3 dating, prototypes, all the way from 2 to 30 layers and, very exotic type of materials and boards. So we've been around for 20 years servicing our customers and we still have some of the same customers 20 years later.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good report card! That's an excellent report card.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's how we look at it too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well my favorite stat about the company - just to interject - is that we really do have a 1 percent turnover in 20 years. I mean, I really encourage you to find another company in the United States that has such a low employee turnover. Everywhere I'm looking, Jon is a testament to that, people don't leave, we just keep growing here and in LA. And in some of the other kind of businesses that we run, same deal. Customers first.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Ok so I'm going to become a board industry geek for a moment but I want to point out something about that, that may or may not be obvious to our audience; but something that I've noted when you do work with a board house that has low turnover, your quality remains consistent because there aren't people coming in muddying the waters all the time, are on a learning curve, or trying to insert something and so your processes stay a lot tighter and cleaner. And that may be something obvious but it's just something that I observed over the years working for multiple board shops and assembly shops.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It was a statistic, before I chose to represent one of those places is, what is your turnover? Because I knew that would create a lot of chaos not only for me, but for my customers, because of the fluctuation, customers, designers, will say to me: I was doing business with XYZ company and all of a sudden - they were great for eight years - and all of a sudden they lost the recipe and I go: uh-oh, they have had employees change. I know exactly what happened. So I know, we've all seen it, maybe an obvious point but something I thought worth pointing out to our listeners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We appreciate that point, and I will also say that our Production Manager's been here for 18 of the 20 years, so again, it does make a difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It does make a huge difference. And Jon, your tenure there and being - yeah that's just wonderful. That's again, a great report on you guys.  So this morning what I thought we'd talk about is stack up and impedance, but from a manufacturing point - what you guys can teach designers and engineers that are laying out boards. How you can help them sort of avoid some pitfalls relative to stack up and impedance from a manufacturing standpoint?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Jon, maybe I'll start out with you, or maybe you both want to kind of ping-pong this one  for the uninitiated, let's just talk about what kind of implications there are specific to stack ups with materials?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean that's where you start.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Do we have enough time?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We could do a whole thing on materials maybe we need to do that? Because you just said you had a lot of exotic materials I'm like: oh they're one of those. Okay so all right, let's talk about materials, sorry.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know, I'm just starting - again just the very basics. Our main is FR4 high-temperature FR4 materials but we do get into a lot of Rogers materials for the RF type designs   a lot of hybrid combinations a little bit of Teflon so just there's different variances on what you can use.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But diving into stack ups, what a lot of people don't think about from the impedance standpoint is, what are we doing with the the outer layers as far as the copper weights and the plating? And I'm touching on that real quick, because when you start out with a half ounce copper foil and then you plate up another additional ounce - sometimes when they're doing the modeling in the software - they're putting in half ounce and they model it and they get a certain number. But in reality when you manufacture it, you're plating on the surface, so a lot of times I'll get, from design engineers: well my model shows that it should be, 50 ohms and you guys are coming out at 55 ohms?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's like: well, you're not taking into consideration all the plating on the surface and that makes a big difference. And so we get a lot of that where there's a lot of model software out there on the internet people can go to. We use a software called 'Archeo' it's a very very deep system, as far as it actually takes into consideration all the dielectric constants of the materials you're using in your stack up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">For example, different cores are built with different prepregs, and so they have different dielectric constants. Some of the modeling software on the internet gives you one setting so you can put in 4.1 or 4.2 for your DK value but in reality, depending on how the materials build you have different DK values that can range all the way from maybe 3.8 to 4.2 on a certain materials like these; I sold a 370 HR for example.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So when creating the stackup, we have  all of that in there, we have all the pretty products the laminates that are being used, even the LPI and all the dielectric constants and when we're modeling that, impedance becomes very very accurate compared to the models are on the internet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So - I wanted you to pause right there, you said LPI, so that's Liquid Photo Image of a solder mask. So do you typically put the solder mask in when you're doing your models?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely you do, because that's a big, big critical part. Another example - I'm glad you brought that up because again, they go out and model on the internet; they're not putting on the solder mask, they're not putting on the copper plating. As I mentioned, they get a completely different value, and then when we come to model it we're going back and telling them we need to change their stackup they may have defined on their fab drawing, because it doesn't meet the impedance requirements. And also you do get a lot of designers that understand that and they'll put notes on the fab drawing saying the manufacturer can adjust the dielectric, spacing, or the trace width within, plus or minus 10% to obtain that value.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and like you said, I think that's a good point, say in the case of Isola, or any laminate, they might put a datasheet that’s about 3.8, but it's not exactly 3.8, it can vary in a minor way, from lot to lot, is that correct?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Not so much lot to lot as it is from material to material so they -  if you build all the way from 3 core to 47 core, they're using 106 and 108s and these are all prepreg styles that I'm mentioning, and each one has a different dielectric constant. So if you get a combination of them, you end up with a different value - and that again - depending on how your stackup is generated, one discussion Mihir and I had earlier today, is about designers that specify in their fab drawing the stackup they want you to follow, and they can send it to board house X, Y and Z but if, for example, let's say they have a four-layer and they want to specify they want 8 mil dielectric spacing between 1 & 2 and 4 & 3.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, we may use a different series of prepregs to obtain that than another fab house and again, DK values - different impedance readings. So all that comes into play.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and that's a trade off, that's a consideration the design engineer has to make in terms of how they're doing the prototyping, what the outlook is for them, and the turn times and the costing you know, there's other factors outside the actual design of performance on the circuit itself because if you do it, and you have it once, then you say this is my design so at least you will have more consistency amongst different manufacturers because you see, I need these materials, I need backup I did it - do it. But you'll have consistency in the final product but you more I mean most certainly, will not have consistency in the turn times. The available materials that different guys have, especially when you start getting to the more the exotics, and the high-frequency stuff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that could start playing into effect and people charge different amounts for it based on the lead time, what they have in stock, what they want to charge, etcetera as that gets complicated but at least, it'll be more close to a similar design on revision vs. if you say, look: I'm just gonna let the manufacturer do it and tailor it towards what I can get quickest and at best cost that'll still give me my main factors and whether they're controlled impedance or stackup height or whatever - and let them do that. So that's kind of the two different ways that people can go about designing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My impression Jon, before you go on, is that a lot of designers do kind of hand off that stack off to their manufacturers. Do you think that's true?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, we do get it kind of both ways. In some cases, we just get a stackup, for example, if they want it to be 062 plus or minus 10% that gives you the layers that have the impedance requirements, and then we go and generate the stackup and manufacture the board. To me that's probably the more straightforward way because you're guaranteed you get what you want.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sometimes they're specific about what they want. They call out the dielectric spacings, the core material is everything and now you have to build that stack up, then plug in their numbers and model it, and then it usually doesn't come out the way they thought it was going to. And again, we touched on two reasons why.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you kind of get a little bit of both. But what I was gonna start saying is, that we also offer a service, a stackup service that you can come to us at pre-design.  You've got your board all laid out, you're ready to do your routing, and you can come to us and say: hey, I have a six layer and eight layer design, this is the material that we want to use, and you can tell us a little bit about your design. Which layers are plane layers, which ones are the signals. We don't look at the reference to this is, ninety ohm diffs, and 100 ohm diffs, and then we can go ahead and model that stack up at that time. We can come back and tell you what size traces to use for the single-ended, the tracing space for the differential pairs, the copper weights, everything. We can come back and give you that complete stackup.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So now, that's using our materials. Our DK values, our stackup software, and then when you go to Roger design - if you use those numbers - then when we get back your design and your stack up - the project’s done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which I think's a really great model, because then you're doing this partnership - the designers telling you where they're trying to get - you're actually informing them, from a manufacturing standpoint, best practices, and I love that whenever that happens. I wish it happened more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right, that's free of charge - again right at the beginning stage - to me that's the smoothest way to do it. And then you have a stack up you can actually send in with your data package and you'll be guaranteed you'll get what you want.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's awesome, what a great service I love that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You've talked a little bit about it, is there anything you want to add? The distribution of copper I get. I used to specialize in RF and microwave boards and that issue you talked about where they model it without the plating ending up on the outer layers right. The inner layers it doesn't matter, but the outer layers, you have to do multiple planing cycles and then it's completely outside of the range of what they simulated and I'm like: I don't know why, and without a fundamental understanding of the manufacturing process it's easy to see how that could get missed. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about? I'm gonna ask you guys three or four or five tips and tricks to give people who are listening some takeaways. But before I do, is there anything else you wanted to add relative to stackup in regards to manufacturing or distribution of copper?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Maybe just a brief... oh sorry Jon do you want to go?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was just gonna touch on, you were talking about outer layers and then inner layers. If they want to use heavier copper, I like to point out that that's great on plane layers because when you have a heavier copper, your z-axis is higher and now when you go to put the prepreg in, you have to have enough resin to fill in there. And if you don't have enough resin then it can cause delamination or other manufacturing issues. So again, to point out, we get a lot of that too. We get a lot where they want 2 ounce copper on the inner layers, and they'll mix their traces and planes together and they'll be putting 4 mil traces on 2 ounces of copper. That doesn't work, that doesn't work at all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and then you have a trace that looks like this [gestures] right like or this - they're not this any more there cuz that's a hard if... yeah it's not a good idea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So just keep in consideration, from a copper distribution standpoint in layers. You have to nest prepreg in between them, it definitely makes a difference. So, if you're dealing with half ounce copper, no problem - you can pretty much do whatever you want. When you start getting above one ounce, then it starts changing the ballgame. So, from a proper distribution standpoint, just take that into consideration when you have - I'm going back to impedance - but when you have impedance on the outer layers and you're referencing to a plane layer underneath. Try to leave it all solid plane without mixing it with signals. That makes a big difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because now, you have a nice, consistent, even, solid dielectric spacing between the two - so that's a definite plus. Like a six layer, for example, where you have power ground on layer 2 & 5 and then 3 or 4 signal layers, you have to use a lot more prepreg to nest in between there. So again, try to pull up most of your dielectric spacing between those two areas because you're going to need  more of it to nest the prepreg. So that's a little bit about copper distribution.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All right, all right guys, so let's talk about some real practical takeaways right now for designers and engineers who design boards that are listening today, from a manufacturing standpoint. I'm sure that you see some of the same oversights being made on a consistent basis. Can you give us three to five tips and tricks; things that designer should look out for when best design for manufacturing practices that you guys see. Mihir, why don't you kick off?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure, well mine has a bit of a tie-in more on the design side, because that is more of my background especially that's right now, but there's really two main design areas when it comes to stackups and manufacturability. It's the whole RF analog side and then this digital - high-speed digital - side and they're kind of characterized by two very different, but very heavy driving factors. On the RF analog side you generally find your designs more influenced by the necessity for a low dielectric constant, low signal loss, low leakage, and then generally these have a lower layer count so you really need a low and uniform dielectric constant and all these other things.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So your choice of exotic material is gonna be far more important. But you don't necessarily need to work - that's gonna be more of an important bigger part of your cost, and a factor in your design decision. It's just more important to the design. Whereas with a lot of more high-speed digital stuff, these are usually a way higher layer count, and they have all these other things like burying blind vias, really, really tight  traces, and just all these crazy ICs that have like a hundred pins of BGAs that needs all sorts of fan-out etc, and so your costs on that was gonna be way more driven towards the actual manufacturing time and the complexity, and to a lot of people it sounds obvious probably, on this podcast, it is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But I mean you'd be surprised even as you're designing stuff, people really don't fully understand that buried and blind vias, while they're so easy to throw in on in Altium and just say, this is great, everything routes up perfectly. It does add a lot of cost and time. You could manufacture it, but it's seriously gonna impact your design when you have to do board back, so that's gonna be far more important than generally your choice of material. But obviously, as layer count increases that cost is going to be driven up too. So things like that. You have to take into consideration the differences in the designs and things that engineers are looking at when they're designing them and how that plays out usually in cost and lead time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's a lot of trade-offs aren't there?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, that's right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What would you say Jon?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well let's tackle unbalanced stackups for a second. Because we get a lot of that-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Pretzels?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah pretty much.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So again, I mean one of the things you need to take into consideration is, you want to have a symmetrical stack up. A lot of time too - especially if they're using hybrids - so they'll put a thick ten core Rogers on the top, and then something thin on the bottom. And again you want to have a balanced stackup, otherwise you're gonna end up with a warped board that to me is a very, very key thing, is to keep it symmetrical. We'll get those stack ups, we'll have to go back and tell them: listen is it possible, the chance of warpage, and try to explain to them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They need to be symmetrical, so that's something to take into consideration from the get-go. Another one that we get a lot of, and I think I touched base on it a little bit; is to take into consideration the copper weights you call out in the trace and space that you're routing. Because it makes a big difference. So you know, if you're going to be doing a three mil trace with a three mil space, we have to start with quarter ounce copper and then, on the outer layers we have to plate on the surface. If it's on the inner layers, you can do small trace and space on half ounce copper. But once you start getting to two ounce copper and above, you need to be around six and seven mil tracing space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And we get a lot of that, where we have to go back and tell them: listen your design has four and four you're calling out for one ounce copper, two ounce copper, it's not possible, so we're gonna have to go ahead now and reduce the copper weight, or even worse, that they have to stick with a heavier copper. They have to go redesign their board and lose time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Explain that, it may be obvious, but explain why that's impossible? I've run up against this a whole bunch of times, but explain because it may not be as obvious as it is to you and me Jon. Why can't you take two ounces of copper and do a four ounce or 4 mil trace or three mil trace, what happens?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's two scenarios: one is when you give us a design that's 4 mil trace for the 4 mil space between trace and trace, and trace and pad. In order to finish - after etching that trace - we have to do what's called an x-factor. So now we have to increase that trace, X amount, might be one, two, or three mils depending on the copper weight. Because again, having copper it's a higher z-axis. So when you actually have a further distance to etch down to the base of the copper to get down to the laminate, you start losing the feature size as you edge the copper down. So we have to increase that feature size.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if it's a 4 mil trace and it's 2 ounces of copper, we might have to increase that to a 6 or 7 mil trace. But if your air gap is 4 mils - now we're reducing that air gap down to 2 or 3 mils - which is not manufacturable. So that's where you'll be coming to the problem. And again you also have peel strength. I mean if you have a 3 or 4 mil trace on two ounce copper, I mean the chances of it actually peeling off the laminate is much higher, because you have a certain peel strength. So again, you're not gonna have a small trace on a heavy copper feature for various reasons.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And maybe even in more layman's terms, because this is what helped me understand it when I was doing - because you really don't learn this stuff when you're studying like for engineering or maybe, I don't pay attention.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, you don't learn it, you don't learn it, you're right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Simplistic, the thing is people, maybe we could even put this up on the video I don't know if you can add that or add a link? If you picture traces from the side view they're not straight up and down. Right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Never.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They're at an angle, the reason they kind of look like they're little trapezoids - is because the top of the trace is under the duress of the edge - about the actual chemistry - a lot longer than the bottom. So as it edges down, the top is getting whittled away more than it is at the bottom. So you tend to add an edge like this - if your traces are really close together, you don't have that space in the middle. It looks like you have all the space in the world at the top, when you get towards the bottom of that z-axis, they're actually touching, so you can short out traces that's like the simplest example without getting too deep into everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Can you undercut in that scenario or am I thinking of it backwards?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, undercutting is a term you kind of get on the outer layers, but when you have the dry form you can kind of get it undercut but for the most part it comes to geometry. I mean, you have a very tight tracing space, and first of all, you have limitations on your gap. And even if you could increase the trace big enough, you're gonna end up like Mihir pointed out, with a very small trace on top and a larger trace on the bottom.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yep it makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah a lot of mechanical electrical kind of issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And as well, I have a friend in the industry who was in the board industry for 40 years, and he used to say: it looks good on paper, but he said physics trump's theory right? Like theoretically, it should work right, but he goes: but physics wins out every time. So Mihir, any more kind of practical design for manufacturing tips that you can think of, or Jon, either one of you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think we kind of - if people take at least a few tidbits from what they heard today - there'll be an immediate ROI on their time listening, to the success and speed of their design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good, well I'm excited to announce that Mihir and the Royal team, will be joining us at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> as our sponsors. They just let me know that today, so I'm very excited!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I'm sure you guys will bring some sample boards, or some video and some great assets that they can look at. They can talk to you one-on-one, learn some more tips and tricks, face to face just gather information, which is sort of the magic of AltiumLive. Our goal is to just put the design community in a room with the supply chain, with people that are very knowledgeable, which are veterans in the industry and just let them rub shoulders and start creating new solutions or just collaborating for successful designs and take some of the pain out of it for all of us. So we're delighted to have you guys in San Diego in October.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I really needed an excuse to come to San Diego.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right! I know, and it's on Coronado Bay, so we're staying at the Loews Coronado Bay Hotel so there's water on three sides of this hotel, and it's in October, which is like, October in San Diego is like heaven. It's like 73 degrees, on the water, so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You already sold us!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right it sounds like if you're not coming to learn some design stuff, at least tell your boss you are, and get a nice trip to San Diego... just kidding.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So anyways, we're glad to have you and I'm glad to to get to know you guys a little bit more. I know of Royal but I've never gotten to know you until this last week and so it's been a delight to get to know you both and learn from you. And thanks for sharing your DFM wisdom with our listeners, and we look forward to engaging with you more at AltiumLive, and we'll be sure to share many links.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think I have eight links to share from Royal and you can dig more into what they do, who they are, and get to know them a little bit better as I have this week. So I'm sure you'll enjoy that. So Mihir, Jon, thank you again so much for joining today. Thanks for joining on our podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you, thank you Judy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well until next time please subscribe, join, engage with us at </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">we always enjoy learning from you and learning about what you would like to learn about. We're only making guesses unless you tell us specific topics you would like to learn about. So keep the comments coming. We look forward to engaging with you next time on the OnTrack Podcast. Until then, remember to always stay OnTrack.</span></p>
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Seamless Global Transfer with Julie Ellis from TTM
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">See all the show notes <span style="color:#0000ff;"><strong><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/seamless-global-transfer-with-julie-ellis-from-ttm">here</a></strong></span>. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Julie Ellis started her career as a representative for a semiconductor manufacturer after completing her Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. Now she is a Field Applications Engineer (FAE) at TTM Technologies, the third-largest circuit board manufacturer in the world. Listen to Julie and Judy discuss seamless global transfer and recommendations on working with offshore fabricators. Learn how to avoid excessive technical queries and how to migrate from prototype to production while optimizing global processes. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bonus update on AltiumLive: Julie and Carl Schattke will be presenting at AltiumLive 2018, introducing new stackup and impedance tools in Altium Designer 19, so be sure not to miss them! </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Julie Ellis did a </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/theme/PDFs/Day%201/Creating%20Documentation%20for%20Successful%20PCB%20Manufacturing.pdf"><span style="font-weight:400;">presentation about Documentation</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> at AltiumLive 2017. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What is Seamless Global Transfer? Transferring PCB manufacturing from onshore prototype level into production and offshore.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Julie started her career at Hughes Aircraft, where she completed her Electrical Engineering Bachelor Degree -</span><em><span style="font-weight:400;"> best decision of her life</span></em></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">More women (not just circuit board barbie) need to get into STEM!  #WomenInTech. Julie always encourages young women who are interested in STEM, to get a degree that will enable them to move into fascinating jobs with a variety of opportunities. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Julie’s first job was as a semiconductor manufacturer’s representative; realized she liked the circuit board side of the business more than ICs and migrated over.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">On TTM: It’s like working at Google for circuit boards, I can always call someone for answers about manufacturing best practices.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Seamless global transfer - the concept is that you aren’t just designing for the prototype but for global manufacturing i.e. avoid 100 technical queries</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What makes migrating over such a difficult process?</span> <span style="font-weight:400;">Because the 6-Sigma 6Ms, are not the same when it transfers over to Asia. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What are the 6Ms?  Method, Mother Nature “Environmental”, (Man) People, Measurement, Machine, Materials.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Equipment sets are different for mass production, production lines are longer, there is not as much human oversight, production lines must be scheduled and you cannot stop/start the process. The tolerances are different and they need to be accomodated in the designs.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Throughput and drilling is always a bottleneck and to reduce this and reduce turn time, mass production sites have tweaked processes to get the highest yield. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Internationally the general rule is 4 mil lines and spaces on half ounce copper; 10 mil is the most common size drill which results in an 8 mil finish hole size.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">As you go up in copper thickness you need to add</span> <span style="font-weight:400;">a little bit to the pads.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Blind vias are the ones that are on the outside but end up on an internal layer.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Buried vias are buried completely inside the board.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Working with offshore production house while still in prototype development phase.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Recommendation - design for volume and technology. Qualify the design for the final production region and technology.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">HDI</span> <span style="font-weight:400;">(High Density Interconnect) is anything 0.4 mm pitch and under that has a track running through the pads.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Judy wants to throw everyone inside a fab house!</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">There are at least 30 different processes required to manufacture one 4-layer board.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Julie works directly with </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/carls"><span style="font-weight:400;">Carl </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Schattke</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and they will do a </span><span style="font-weight:400;">stackup presentation at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Materials are a significant cost in Asia, whereas here in the states the material is less of a cost (20% in USA, 50% in China).</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">With production panels where you're trying to get as many cookies cut, you also need to consider and discuss with your manufacturer the tiny 2x2 inch pieces.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#San-Diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/theme/PDFs/Day%201/Creating%20Documentation%20for%20Successful%20PCB%20Manufacturing.pdf"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2017 Presentation</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="http://design.iconnect007.com/index.php/article/109886/julie-ellis-ttms-interface-between-designer-and-fabricator/109889/?skin=design"><span style="font-weight:400;">TTM’s Interface Between Designer and Fabricator</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="http://www.ttmtech.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">TTM Technologies Website</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/carls"><span style="font-weight:400;">Carl </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Schattke</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone this is Judy with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> thanks again for joining. We're happy to have you again. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I would like to continue to invite you to </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and I also wanted to put a shout out that we have a call for presentations right now, so if you are an Altium Designer user, and you have some tips or tricks or some kind of breakthrough you've had on design please contact me at Judy.warner@altium.com and I'd love to hear from you ASAP. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We'd love to have you present in </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/san-diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">San Diego</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or in Munich. </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#Munich"><span style="font-weight:400;">Munich</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> is January 15th through 17th and San Diego we are there October 4th, and 5th so look forward to hearing from you all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Once again I have another talented and amazing guest with me; Julie Ellis from TTM technologies which as you know is one of the largest board manufacturing companies not only in North America but in the world today so Julie is an FAE at TTM and a very well respected technologist as well as a dear friend.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Julie, welcome it's good to have you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Julie presented at AltiumLive last year on documentation. I've sat through many of her talks and learned much from her, so today we want to talk about what it takes to move jobs from onshore prototype level into production and offshore. She calls it seamless global transfer but before we get into that we'll hear a little bit about Julie's background. We both started in the printed circuit board industry in the 80s - which dates us a little bit I know -  we're not going to say the year we're just gonna go with the round numbers the 80s but I always...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-we were child savants though so we say we were 12 </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-we were 12</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-five</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-okay five, yeah we were five. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Julie just came in and noticed my super cool Career Barbie of 2018, which is a Robotics Engineer Barbie. She's got circuit board patterns on her shirt and a laptop, she kind of looks like us, so we're just gonna call her Circuit Board Barbie and you know blondes... smart ladies you know. Finally, there's a Barbie we can really relate to, and we want women to get into science and STEM and everything - so go for it and aspire to be this Barbie here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right on, yeah! Girl Power. We want to get more women in here, and it's just about exposure and motivating others, so we hope that throughout this podcast we inspire maybe somebody to give a girl a little nudge out there. We've enjoyed long enjoyable careers. So, okay Julie before we get started, why don't you kick off and tell our audience a little bit about who you are and your background - how you got into this wonky industry?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I am Julie Ellis; I started as a Design Engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company. I was awarded a student engineering scholarship there, which paid for most of my schooling - the rest of my schooling after I moved out here from Iowa - so I always tell everybody that getting a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering was the best decision I've ever done in my life, so I really do encourage people. If you're interested in Math, Science, Biology - anything - get a good STEM degree so that you can always move forward into interesting, fascinating jobs with a lot of variety of opportunities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a really, really good way to go and I encourage youth and people to get into this kind of field. So I started as - once I graduated from Cal State Fullerton - I stayed on it until the 1990s when things got really tight in the military market, and I was on loan to one department, but I couldn't hire in, so I took the first job that was offered to me as a semiconductor manufacturer’s rep and I had circuit board industry or circuit board experience at Hughes and as a rep I also had a couple of circuit board lines and I really, really liked the printed circuit board side even compared to the ICS and memory sales and everything.  So I ended up migrating toward the printed circuit boards. Fast forward eight years, landed a great job at TTM as a Field Applications Engineer just a little over four years ago and it's been a fantastic opportunity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">TTM is the world's third-largest printed circuit board fabricator, and we would probably be number two if it didn't include Flex because the top two manufacturers have a lot more flex and rigid-flex than we do, so I'm surrounded by experts in this field. It's like living in Google for printed circuit boards because whenever I really want to know something I can go call somebody within my company and find the answer, so it's it's really good working here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Really it's impressive, and you're right - like you really can go to anyone to get the latest and greatest information on manufacturing best practices which are really, really fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we wanted to talk today about Seamless Global Transfer, and I know that we've talked a lot on this podcast about there's no such thing as the quick and dirty prototype so why don't we just jump off from there? Like what does it mean? So you design a board it's gonna go into production, but you've got deadlines, you need to crank it out really quick, you crank it out really quick and then it's like: hey it works let's migrate offshore! </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That’s right - that way exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That would be like the worst case scenario, like you heading for Niagara Falls and not knowing it. So why don't you talk about the myth of the quick and dirty prototype and why you really need to think about global manufacturing up front while you're just developing the circuit board and designing it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, so Seamless Global Transfer is the concept that you're not just designing for your prototype to get it through a quick turn shop here in the United States in five days. Because I worked - one of the numerous positions - was as a Circuit Board Commodity Manager and a contract manufacturer and a lot of the projects we got had already been tested and proven and developed here in the United States. They sent it to us for mid-level production, we’d try to send the parts overseas, and everybody would come back with a hundred technical queries and say: we can't build it because we don't have this capability over in China. Oh, you need to change this on the design - it's not going to work, and by the time you've given your job to a contract manufacturer your engineers do not want to make changes to the design that they've already tested.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So global seamless transfer plans ahead and thinks about: what is our migration path from quick turn development prototype and taking it over until long-term production and so there's a lot of background that goes into that, and that's what Judy and I wanted to talk about here.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what is it that you think that makes that migrating over makes that a difficult process?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because the Six Ms: man, machine, materials, environment - which is another M that I can't remember. Everything is not the same when it transfers over to Asia. The equipment sets are different for mass production, the production lines are so much larger and often much more automated, so they can't get the human element,  you know. Watch this, watch that, we don't get the babysitting of our project over in China like we can here. In Asia or China, we have to schedule the production lines, and you can't just interrupt a line there to quickly throw this job in front of everybody else. The schedules are a lot different, the process tolerances are different, and because the process tolerances are different, we have to accommodate those in our designs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, so there seems to be a perception anyways that once we have a pretty robust design here that we can just kind of throw it over the pond. Why is that, I mean you just talked about some reasons but what are some like tangible snags you're gonna run into if you try to do that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot of it has to do with the drilling. Like over in China most mass production shops, except for the really advanced HDI shops which would all go laser micro vias all the way through, as a rule don't drill using six mil drill bits because they're expensive, they break and they can't be re-sharpened and they break more easily and they have to be changed out twice as often as bigger drill bits. And bigger drill bits can be stacked, or you know, panels can be stacked. So if you can drill two or three panels at one time you've just got your throughput and drilling which is one of the largest bottlenecks in fabrication. You reduce your turn time significantly and time is money. What we're paying for in printed circuit boards besides materials, is the time it takes to get through the processes. So Asia and mass production sites have all tweaked their processes to achieve the highest yields, in the least amount of time, at the lowest cost. But there is a sacrifice to that and sometimes at the sacrifice of we need a better, bigger pad around a drill hole. We're going to stack two or three panels high instead of drilling a six mil drill and our plating processes are a little bit different so we may have to have more edge compensation. Which means that, that will drive a little bit larger requirements for line, width, and space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So on those, is there a recommended -  that's kind of a broad question - but are there recommended kind of hole sizes and pad sizes and/or trace and space sizes to help on the throughput? If you have it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah kind of the general rule of thumb internationally, is 4 mil lines and spaces, on half ounce copper is a good start. Anything under that on half ounce copper is going to be a premium. And ten mil is the most commonly sized drill which would drop you down to an eight mill finish hole size. And we'd like to see the hole size plus ten mil for the pad. So if you've got an 18 or an 8 mil finished hole size, we would drill it probably at 10 or 12. We'd like to see at least an 8+, 10 and 18 mil pad on that hole. That's just for a single lamination through-hole in multi-layer printed circuit boards. As we go up in copper thickness, we need to start adding a little bit to the pads.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, and how does that change when you start adding buried and blind vias in?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It depends on the construction. If we're talking like a real traditional blind via board; blind vias are the ones that are on the outside, and they end up on an internal layer. Buried are vias that are buried completely inside the board, and those are different technologies. But so if we're talking standard blind vias where we might have 1 to 6 and then 7 to 12, both being blind via stack-ups, we would actually stack up the material layers 1 to 6, drill and plate, and then we would stack up the materials layer 7 to 12 - drill and plate. And then we would laminate all those together, and then we would drill and plate and etch the outer layers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So those definitely have different rules because the two outer layers already have plating - additional plating - on the outer layers which means that we have to etch through thicker copper because of the foil plus the plating, and we're going to require slightly bigger line widths and spaces on that particular design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So one thing we were chatting about as we were preparing for the podcast, that I thought was obvious, but also fascinating, is the idea of working with your - you know, I kind of want to move into now, sort of takeaways for our audience. So you were talking about working with your offshore production house while you're in your prototype development stage which I think is kind of counterintuitive. I don't know, is it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Actually, if we are in the prototype development stage, it's the best way to do it because if - I always recommend that my clients design for volume. Whatever their final volume is you know, we all know the term DFM, but we really have to take it to heart to figure out, qualify the design for the final production region. Final production technology, whether it's a single lamination or a multi-lamination that's not HDI board like I just brought up, or whether it's an HDI board that has blind and buried vias, but with laser micro vias and advanced HDI board which I categorize as anything 0.4 millimeter pitch and under, that has a track running through the pads. So if you start at your before-prototype stage, qualified the design for the volumes and the technology so that you can pick your final production sites, get the design guidelines for those sites, get the stack up for those sites, and have the stack up and the design guidelines identified before you even route the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And if you do that then you're not going to route a whole board, send it over to China, and China is going to say: oh sorry those line widths and spaces, there's not enough space for us to compensate the etch and artwork during etch, we can't build it this way. Go increase your spaces, and if you don't have room on a tightly designed board, or if your pads aren't big enough to achieve the annular ring that you're asking for, your design is no good for manufacturing. So my term is ‘design for volume,’ but it means whatever your volume is. And the reason I'm doing that, or I'm saying 'your volume' is because we have customers that do 200 printed circuit boards a month, and we have customers that do a million circuit boards a month. And the shop that does the million circuit boards a month is not going to take the 200 circuit boards per month order, but they have a much higher level technology - so I can't design for that technology knowing that I could never run it in that particular site.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, so it's both volume and technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I feel like it's such a good service, in many ways on the prototype end, that we can kind of do push-button ordering now, but I also feel like what's has been lost is how complex the fabrication process is and I just wish -  I want to throw everyone inside a fab shop. Because it's like when you - think you can just push a button and then a package shows up on your door; you know what I'm saying?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That every shop is a little unique is for a variety of reasons. It's not - for reasons that enable different types of technologies - they do it with high intention and lots of precision and all of that, and so you have to design for that shop. It's not just push-a-button and out it comes. Especially the more complex the board gets, so, on the one hand, I'm a fan to get the prototypes out fast, onshore when you can, have maybe available that kind of service. But on the other side, if you're going into volume, I don't know - I think it gives people sort of a false perception of what it's like on the other end.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Talk about - I think you mentioned this stack up; getting this stack up right at the... I really like that DFM right, design for volume, that was kind of a new concept to me that you introduced me to. So you're saying that the stack up should be kind of vetted and worked out with the volume as well as, what kind of board, what kind of technology buried/blind vias, you have the space levels to also work out the stack of details.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we need all that information to be able to create the stack up because most of those multi-layer boards with VGAs also require controlled impedance like for the high-speed digital that we're doing all the autopilot, industrial controls, medical controllers, everything seems to be working off some sort of USB and PCI, and we need to manage the controlled impedance. Controlled impedances based on line width, space, and how thick the dielectric is and to a little teeny effect, how thick the copper is. So we have to play all these together while creating a stack up and also keeping track of, if we're doing stacked or offset micro vias. We build those from the inside out and just keep adding layers, drill the outer layer down to the next layer, then on both sides then we add two more layers drill the outer layer down to the next layer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But each time we do that, we have to figure out how we're going to plate those and how thick the plating is going to be and those are process variances are you know. There are process capabilities and variations from site to site, and there can be unintended consequences along the way, like putting additional copper on that outer layers - it's the more complex it gets you have these: if you do this, then this you know, what I'm saying there's so many!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Anybody who has seen my presentations knows that I always say that I'm always splitting hairs. Because a human hair is about 2.5 to 3 mils in diameter, and I'm always worrying about unintended consequences because if a customer comes in and they say: I want thick plating inside my hole walls you know, give me 2 mils of plating inside my hole walls. Well for one I can't think of one fabricator in China that would do that. The IPC standard for class three is 1 mil average plating in the hole walls. But the other thing is, remember whenever we plate inside the hole walls we're also plating the surface, the outer surfaces, the thicker those outer surfaces get, the harder they are for us to etch fine lines and spaces.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, why don't you just put it through the machine that just spits out the board Julie?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We need a magic machine!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If I could do that I wouldn't have to be here... I'd be somewhere on my own Island in Bora Bora...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Barbie we need a magic machine to spit out - maybe Barbie will get you to know either a Barbie plane and maybe she'll have a Barbie magic PCB?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That'd be great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Then you know, in Barbie's world I think we'll just spit it out, I know - it's very complex and by the way. Let me stop right here and say that Julie helps every top brand that you could probably think of in Silicon Valley and beyond; helps them to do their stack-ups and come up with these you know, calculations to help work out all this hair-splitting and she's very skilled and capable. And that's why she will be presenting at AltiumLive with a senior PCB designer who she works with directly which is Carl Schattke, I cannot tell you what brand he works for, or I would get in trouble, but suffice it to say he's in Silicon Valley and works for the top electric car manufacturer and I am delighted that Julie and Carl will present on stack up on this very subject, and you couldn't get two more qualified people - I’m so excited that you're doing that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks, we are too - I think it will be fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It'll be really fun, and so they're so used to being deep in the weeds they'll be such a resource.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So before you move on though, it's not just the stack up, it's also the pad stack line, widths, and spaces that need to be provided to the customer with the stack up. Because we want to make sure that they know all of those design requirements before the board guy starts routing everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You talked about DFM and DRC's for final site and prep for the prototype. Is that - I just wrote myself a note here - have we covered most of that here?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, we have for the stack up and the design rules. But one thing I'd like to bring up is everybody's trying to stay competitive and because of the processes and the way that production panels are laid out in Asia. Materials are a significant cost over in Asia compared to here in the prototype shops. Here we pay for the quick turns, for the setups and things like that which are insignificant compared to those. So the material here is only about 20% of the average cost compared to 50% of the cost in Asia.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you can also plan your size to fit well up on a production panel so that like, imagine an 18 by 24 inch production panel, and you're trying to get as many cookies cut on that production panel, but you also want to think if you've got really small pieces your assembler is not going to be able to load those tiny little 2x2 inch pieces. Their conveyor equipment can't hold them, and it would take them forever to go through those linearly, so another really cost-saving exercise is to work with both your fabricator and your assembler to come up with a multiple up-array for smaller boards and also make sure that you know whether you've got enough clearance on the two long sides of your array, or your printed circuit board for the parts to be conveyed through assembly. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's sometimes parts hanging off the edge which really makes things fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and that needs to be planned for in advance, whether: do you need an extra rail on a leading edge, because there's a big connector hanging there, or is the assembler going to put that on after the fact? But if you also take into account design for assembly - put all your test points on the board because once the board is designed and you can access test points, nobody's going to be able to go back in and design an in-circuit test fixture or functional test fixture and unpick those plates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So don't just design for volume. Like I said really, truly design for DFX, design for fabrication, assembly, test, and long-term reliability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good, good, good, good advice. So can you give some real-life examples from your real life career? We won't name names of brands but suffice it to say there; you work with major consumer brands that if we could say names everyone would recognize them and tell us some of the, you know challenges that they had by actually not thinking about some of these ideas ahead. And these are the brightest of the brightest - I think what we want to share here is, everybody is challenged in this area, right? It's a challenging area, so we're not saying, oh we're so smart, and you know the audience what do they know? No, the top designers, the top printed circuit board designers almost in the world,  are challenged by some of these issues. So just talk about some real-life examples and how it went wrong or how it went right?</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay one real-life example in the last quarter was a major commercial customer like you said, they had worked with a - probably a Silicon Valley shop - they built their boards, tested them out, proved them, and they wanted to go into mass production. Their start date is like August, to start delivering mass production so that they can you know, start shipping their product. Well it turns out they had a design that had a six mil drill - mechanical drill through a standard thickness board with a ten mil pad and when I said, remember I said like, do your finish hole size plus ten for the pad, this only gave the hole size plus four, and it wasn't enough to make sure that people wouldn't totally drill you know, have too much because of misregistration material movement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Every time you add a process, you add misregistration. Nobody in Asia would take this business, and we actually had to help the customer convert the whole design to another via structure type to be able to pull it off. And the way this happens is one of two things: if you're a major customer and you go to a, you know like a smaller shop, they are going to be so hungry for your business they're not going to say, no, no, no - we can't do that. They are going to babysit every single panel and put them in the drill machine by hand and make darn sure that they're going to get that for you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Or there are probably a few select super, super advanced shops that are just doing onesie-twosie jobs and they can meet these kind of requirements, and these tight process tolerances, using direct imaging everywhere you know, using single headed drills for the production panel rather than five or six spindles that we use. And so it's not even saying that that particular circuit board fabricator was a bad designer - it's just that they're only designing for their site capabilities and probably pushing technology to make a big customer happy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and that may be their niche, that may be their niche market - but again they're not thinking particularly ahead, they're trying to help their customer be - - so it's kind of myopia. They're just designing for that, and they're great shops, they're great shops very, very capable, but not unless you tell them up front or you start this conversation up front it can go bad like that. On a consumer product that, okay it's August let's go into production and then wait, stop. Stop everything and the cost, the headache to that customer, they have to respin the board, run the protos over again and do all the testing over again. And now, schedules are lost, time to market is lost, you know so that it can become really painful very quickly and very costly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah very costly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I had another similar design that my customer had a design with 5 mil mechanical drills and 9 mil pads and most shops I know don't really drill mechanical 5 mils. So that was a tough one for him to go into production. So that's a real common example. The wrong size drill with the wrong size pad, or one that I just saw recently, was a really thick dielectric that still needed a blind hole and it was planned on being a laser hole because they wanted some big RF circuits on the outer layer. Which means they needed a thick dielectric and normally if you're using laser micro vias you have very thin dielectrics. And I was able to confirm that we can do it over in China but it's - it wouldn't have been my first choice for a design you know, and it kind of set me back but - but we were capable on that one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so, you have a saying that I like which is: pick your experts wisely. So tell us what that means? What you mean when you say that; pick your experts wisely?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well if you're going to listen to an expert, they're going to segue you to the path that they know, and if you pick the wrong expert and they take you down a garden path that nobody else can fabricate. I know that there are shops that they'll say: let's do this and let's have the customer design it this way because then they can't go anywhere else. It's a way to guarantee their business.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I can confirm that you know, I've seen entirely that. It locks you into that job.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It locks you into that job, and you know, I can see both sides. I'm like this ambidextrous Gemini so I can see both sides of the story. I can see an internal engineer wanting to secure future business for their location. But on the other hand, it may not be good long-term for the customer. And I'm in it for the long haul you know, I've been both sales and technical support, and a lot of times I have to work with customers to make slight modifications and design engineers; these are your babies. You don't want to have somebody coming in from the outside and saying, you know what, I really can't quite achieve that. Can we tweak your design a little bit? Who wants to hear that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But if I have credibility, as somebody who's thinking for the customer, for the fabricator, and working towards the best solution long-term. I've - you develop trust, and you can get better work done. So, I choose to do the good path even though it probably means that I tell everybody I'm a conservative designer and so that means that if you design a stack up - if I design your stack up, give you the design rules, if you can meet them chances are one of my competitors can also do the work. Yeah, but on the other hand you know, the relationship most of the time means a lot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right it does, and not everybody has both the technical depth that you have, the integrity you have, and you have reached to top, top fabrication experts in the world. So that gives you a really broad perspective which I appreciate. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Julie thank you so much. This has been so great, and I feel like we've just scraped the surface but I would like to invite our listeners, if you are available, to come to AltiumLive and Julie will dig into - she and Carl Schattke have an hour-long presentation plus QA and, will be introducing some new stack up and impedance tools in Altium Designer 19, and so they will be giving a really rich treatment of the subject of stack up. So if you want to hear more from Julie, come on out to AltiumLive, and we would love to have you. Thanks again Julie, it's always - I always learn from you every-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- - thank you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Every time we talk.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So there is one other thing that we should talk about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What should we talk about?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay the other background of seamless global transfer is that if you're working with a company that has multiple sites like DTM - we can take that - we can take the lessons learned from the prototypes, and transfer the data, and transfer the lessons learned over to the final fab site, so that it's not a new learning curve once it goes overseas. And that's a real advantage about really paying attention to this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, which is a good point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Do you transfer the learning curve along with just the data files right? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right yeah. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So good point. Okay, thanks for inserting that again. This has been Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack podcast, and Julie Ellis of TTM.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We look forward to you joining us again next time. Until then, remember to always stay OnTrack.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Hybrid Construction Trends in the Marketplace
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hybrid construction is a huge growth area with a lot of opportunity for PCB designers. Learn from Chris Hunrath, VP of Technology at Insulectro, as he provides several valuable insights about the latest in hybrid construction trends. Get facts from an expert in material properties and how to use and combine them in the PCB assembly process. Learn more about polyamide film and its properties, how to use the FR4 as glue, and many more ways to make hybrid construction more familiar and approachable. Join us in this week’s OnTrack Podcast where we bring insights from the manufacturing floor to PCB design teams around the world.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris will be a speaker at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#San-Diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> in October, so be sure not to miss him there, the title of his talk will be announced very shortly</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris sheds more light on the topic of inductance and plane inductance which was recently discussed by Rick Hartley in our Podcast: </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/pc-board-stack-up-best-practices-with-rick-hartley"><span style="font-weight:400;">What to Avoid in 4 and 6-Layer Stack-ups</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Embedded capacitors: one of the things that you don't get from embedded capacitor material or planner capacitor materials, is high capacitance, so an individual component will give you a relatively high capacitance level</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">There is a capacitance shortage right now too</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Also, there’s a desire to remove surface capacitors for several reasons. You get rid of the vias, you get rid of the inductance and increase the circuit density</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Even when capacitance per square inch is small you don't need as high a capacitance, because you're getting rid of a lot of the in-plane inductance and that's exactly what Rick talked about in his podcast</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Nowadays, with thinner materials, Rick’s recommendation makes sense</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Polyamide film, typically used for flex circuits can be used in a rigid board because it has a thin dielectric layer and has a very high dialect for standing voltage and you can make it really thin</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">You can build it into a rigid board and get the properties you need to get rid of those capacitors which leads into hybrid construction, how do you process them?</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">The building blocks used to make flex circuits. If you're using an Acrylic which we talked about in a previous podcast laminates its standard FR4 temperatures. True Polyamide films laminate at much higher temperatures like 600° F. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">You can't expose FR4 to those temperatures so in the case of very high capacitance materials you would use the FR4 as the glue and you would just use the core as its print match it, bond treat it and then build it into your FR4 part </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">You can’t mix B-stages in the same spot when you laminate that all together the FR4 would be broken down </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Materials on the High Speed Digital side should also have the RF properties and you want to be able to mix those materials so it's becoming very popular </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hybrid Constructions - a growth area - it’s become like gourmet cooking - there is new media to work with - a material science based area</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Components typically added to outside of PCB are now being embedded inside the PCB</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Solder </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/paste-interconnects-and-paste-sintering-with-chris-hunrath-from-insulectro"><span style="font-weight:400;">paste reflow and interconnects can be a downside</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">The new materials allow you to do things you couldn’t do before.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Coins can be used to add inductance if you need to just for heat sinking purposes.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bleeding printed electronic technology into PCBs: DuPont have a very interesting liquid polyamide technology that cures at 300° Fahrenheit which is very low and we're exploring the opportunity to use that in lieu of solder mask. It would just be screened on.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">If someone needs information on Hybrid Constructions or sintering paste, please </span><a href="mailto:CHunrath@insulectro.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">email Chris</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="mailto:CHunrath@insulectro.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris’ email address</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong><em>Listen to Chris Hunrath’s previous episodes:</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/why-is-spread-glass-popular-chris-hunrath-from-insulectro-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Why is Spread Glass popular?</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/flex-and-material-sets-with-chris-hunrath-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Flex and Material Sets</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/paste-interconnects-and-paste-sintering-with-chris-hunrath-from-insulectro"><span style="font-weight:400;">Paste Interconnects and Paste Sintering</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><br><strong>View all show notes and VIDEO <span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/hybrid-construction-trends-in-the-marketplace">here</a></span>.</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone. This is Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Welcome back, here we are again with your friend and mine, Chris Hunrath from Insulectro who's going to teach us about paste sintering today, which I don't know much about, but we're going to learn about it together. But before we get started, remember to hit all the typical Altium social media platforms </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">please follow me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and also remember we are recording on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> as well as </span><a href="http://podcast.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Podbean </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and we can be found on all your favorite podcast apps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Alright, so today we're going to talk about - I don't even know how to set this up entirely cause I'm just as much as a student. So Chris, welcome back! Thank you again, and I know this isn't a new technology - it's just not one that has crossed my path. So tell us about what paste sintering is and what the applications are, and benefits to our designers that are listening today?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, interconnect technology, as you mentioned is not new, what's happened recently though is there's been some new material developments that make it more feasible for the circuit boards. Certainly in ceramic fire technology, metal - powdered metals have been used to make interconnects and traces and circuits on ceramic circuit boards, but those fire at 850-plus degrees Celsius, which would obviously destroy most PCB materials so there's some new technologies out now. There are different kinds of pastes that are used for interconnects. The one that we work with, and the one that we promote, is something from a company called Ormet, and their material is interesting because it sinters at one temperature and then it forms a new alloy with a higher melting point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay I feel like we need to back up and explain what paste interconnect technology actually is. Like how it's performed and then we can go into the material science part just so I can keep up, Chris I want to be able to keep up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So multi-layer PCBs - also not new - typically what you do is, you print and edge any number of layers, you drill and then you plate. Typically electroless copper, to make the non-conductive surfaces conductive, and then you build up the thickness with electrolytic copper.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mmm-hm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And some people call it a semi-edited process, because you are using the electroless first as a seed layer. There are some other technologies used to make that dielectric surface conductive, and then you build up with electrolytic copper and so that's how you link the layers of the z-axis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you think of a classically - as a circuit board - as a web of foils printed and etched, all your XY  connections, and then the drilled holes - whether they're laser drilled, blind vias, or drilled through holes, the plating links everything in the z-axis. Now one of the challenges when you do that, is you're consuming real estate at all the layers. So let's say you have a 12 layer multi-layer - relatively simple multi-layer by today's standards - but you need to connect layer 1 to layer 10 you've taken up the real estate in all the other layers - you can't route circuits in those places, because there's a via in the way, unless you wanted them to connect to that via and they're part of that net. So there's a term called any layer HDI - I don't know if you're familiar with that term? Basically it means you could put a via anywhere you want in any layer. Nowadays that's done typically by what we call build up technology. So you start with a core of some sort - again it could be double sided, it could be a multi-layer core, and then you sequentially build layers and you only go one layer deep with a laser drill sometimes two - depending on the design - but that's not true for any layer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Anyway, you go one layer deep you plate, you print and etch, and you do it again and again and that allows you to put vias almost anywhere you want in any layer, the downside is, it's almost like building multiple circuit boards. So the cost really starts to increase. And of course you're putting the board through multiple lamination cycles and that has some undesirable material side effects depending on the material. Some materials can withstand three lamination cycles, some six, some ten, but it is hard on the materials to go through that lamination process, over and over again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Especially electric phenolics, which are very common for lead-free assembly, because they're relatively economic and they're also -  they also will survive lead pre-assembly, but they tend to get more brittle every time they see a thermal cycle though, so that causes some issues too. So what paste interconnects allow you to do, is change the sequence in which the vias are formed. So instead of laminating drilling and plating you can actually drill, add the paste, and then laminate, so it changes the build sequence and this is important both for the fabricator and the designer to understand what that means. So typically what you would do is, you would take a B stage layer of some sort; you can either drill it and paste, fill it with what we call a postage stamp process or you could pre-tack it, vacuum tack it at low temperature to a core of some sort, or substrate, laser drill through the B stage, apply the paste and then when you laminate the paste interconnects, the layers in the z-axis - you could literally take a piece of prepreg, laser drill it with a stencil or with a Mylar Stencil, I'll talk about how that works in a little bit - apply the paste, remove the Mylar laminate between two copper foils, and now you've got interconnects inside a double-sided cork.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then if you print and etch that, now you've got a core with connections between the layers with no visible vias; they're all internal. Yeah there's some technology around the paste and again we can talk about that, in a little bit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So how is it applied - is it squeegeed in?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, just like with a silkscreen?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well no screen - so what typically what you do is, you apply a 1 mm Mylar mask to the B stage and you tack it simultaneously. Then when you drill through the Mylar and the prepreg B stage to get down to your copper features, then you apply the paste, and the Mylar's your mask, and then you remove that just prior to lamination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that stays inside the hole? It doesn't just I don't know the consistency of it. My mind was - pictured it just wanting to drop out of that hole - but it must have some kind of stability?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's a liquid and there is a tack right. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most common method is to laser drill, apply the paste, dry the paste... you would do it a second time to top it off and then when you remove the Mylar, the liquid paste stays on top of the paste that's already been applied. Then you dry it again, then you go to laminate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Does it air dry or do you have to cure it what do you do?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You don't really cure it because it's metal powder - metal powder based - so there isn't really a polymer matrix. Unlike print electronic sinks - which is a again another story - you would just dry off any of the carrier solvent used for the application process. It is a liquid - well it's a paste, not a liquid - but but when you dry off the the solvent that's in it; which is less than 10 percent by weight, then it's just powdered metal and that's how it makes a connection. So think about this right, you've seen a lot of PCB designs - imagine a 32 layer board, which most shops can do, but it's not at the low end of technology. Imagine splitting it up to two 16 layer multi layers right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot easier.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot easier to build and then you just paste them together at the end, and depending on the design, you can electrically test each half and only use the good ones. So your risk is  light.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's a lot of advantages to this. Or what if you want to put together three 16 layer multi layers, or four, or 18 or four 18 layer multi layers - it's been done you know. Now a shop; instead of trying to build a 72 layer multilayer - if they're building 18 layer components - it's a lot more manageable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmm, that totally makes sense. So you explained some of the benefits -  it's a nightmare, and you've seen, we've all seen these cross-sections of these crazy stackups with all the sequential LAM and drilling cycles and all of that. And then - and also kind of an unintended consequence you can get, is you can - from a performance standpoint - if you do enough of that right can't you get excess copper on the surface features?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes - that's a very good point. So in other words, if you're going through many plating cycles depending on how you break that up and you're trying to meet a wrap requirement,  that could definitely add up and make it - make fine line etching more difficult there's a lot of - there are some some drawbacks to traditional processing and then with with an Ormet style process, or a paste interconnect style process, you can eliminate some of those things even with an RF design. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Let's say you have very sensitive surface features and you don't want to play with that layer. You might want to put on the surface finish, the nickel gold, but you don't want to put any additional copper - you want just the original foil copper. You could do that with this paste because you could create that as, almost like a double sided board, and then bond it to the rest of the stack up at the very end, and you're done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting. So I think you mentioned too, there's some good signal integrity benefits, did we cover that I don't recall?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, so one of the things that a lot of designs call for is something called back drill. So you're familiar with that, so you do the back drilling to get rid of the unwanted copper. So again, in my earlier example let's say you're connecting layer 1 and 10, and let's just say it's a 22 layer - 26 layer multi-layer. You're going to have a lot of extra copper metal in that via that you really don't need or want. So common technology is to back drill down to layer 10. Now of course drilling to that precise location or depth, to remove the copper up to layer 10, but not beyond. It can cause a reliability concern that's a bit of a challenge. So there's those issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What you can do with the paste technology is let's just separate that board at layer 10, and not put a via on that half  that goes from layer 11 to whatever the other layer is and you're done. So you can eliminate back drilling and the parasitic effects of having that extra copper and the via so that's another application. So there's some signal integrity benefits, there are some RF applications, there are some high layer cap, multi-layer applications, but also many layer HDI applications; it really depends on how you design it and use the paste.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you're a designer what kind of design considerations do you need to make up front?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, my recommendation would be is: think about the design, think where it would make sense to split up the layers and provide the most design benefit. Generally speaking, we like the via to have a one-to-one or less, aspect ratio. Now that might sound restrictive, but it's only in that one B stage layer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then that's an important consideration. So in other words, if I have 5 mm of B stage, I won't want my via to be 5 mm or larger where I'm going to apply the paste. It has to do more with the paste physics and how it fills the via and then of course the pad, the receptor pad that you're putting the laser drill via on, needs to be a sufficient size for where the paste doesn't have the opportunity to run on one side or the other of the pad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we do like an annular ring around the via, that's going to have a lot to do with how well you can register your laser drilling, usually that's pretty good. The other consideration is, the B stage you use, spread glasses - bringing up spread glass again. Spread glass is good, because it tends to keep the paste corralled, whereas if you have an open weave and that prepreg resin's melting and flowing and during the lamination cycle the paste could run to that area. So spread glass is better. Higher viscosity resins tend to be better. We like low flow prepregs. So those are some of the design considerations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another design consideration is - and I've seen this happen before - where if you have a ground area and you're making a lot of paste interconnects along a wide track. You don't want to put the paste interconnect to the edge of the track because what ends up happening is, during lamination, the resin wants to flow off the surface of the track down the sides to fill - hydraulic effect, and it's going to move the paste with it. I've seen vias actually move during lamination. So just some common-sense things. Keeping in mind that it's the B stage where your interconnect is. You want to make sure you put that in some good locations, and in that particular case all they had to do is, go back and shift the vias a little bit to one side and then everything was fine. So it's just those kinds of things. Certainly they could contact us, we can give them some design hints and I can give you some literature to go along with this video or podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, yeah, very good. Ormet and the paste interconnect - paste sintering - has been around for a little while. What's been the sort of acceptance of it industry-wide? Is it being widely accepted, is it just on certain applications?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's been around a long time. It was primarily used for quick-turn mic review work, and also large format boards where you're literally stitching very large boards together so you can - again the idea is you can make boards that are nearly finished and then electrically interconnect them. The nice thing about the Ormet paste is it doesn't melt at reflow assembly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmm, so it changes chemically right, so once the sintering is done then it doesn't change, then it doesn't morph and heat?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What attracted us to this technology over some other paste interconnects - because there's other processes where you would apply a paste of some sort and then make a connection with pressure in the z-axis - but what interested us in the Ormet material is: the paste melts at one temperature and alloys - so the paste is basically copper particles with a tin alloy powder. When the tin alloy powder melts - and the melting starts at about 130° Celsius, it starts reacting with the copper and forms an alloy with the copper instead. What's interesting about the Ormet material is, it's alloying with the inner layer coppers as well, on the PCB layers. So we have a metallurgical joint, not just a pressure or contact connection.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's - and unlike, the tin lead or lead-free alloys and solder, the melt - the new melting point, when it forms an alloy with copper is one phase is 415°, the other is 630° Celsius. So it's not going to remelt that assembly. So it's a permanent connection, so really the paste applications from other technologies like flip chip and whatnot packages where you didn't want to have a secondary or - if you have a secondary reflow operation - you didn't want to have any more remelt. It has some applications there. Or a down hole assembly is another application where the board might be subjected to the temperatures near the solder melting point is another good application for this material.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's what interests us because you know when a board's in use, it heats up the z-axis expansion with other types of pastes interconnects, you have a resistance change every time the board is heated even from, let's say 40, 50, 60° Celsius in normal use, not even in any kind of environment - parts of the board would heat up from the components and you'd have a change in resistance, and that's what this is designed to circumvent because it forms that metallurgical bond with the copper inner layers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So yeah it's a different technology than the paste you would use in printed electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay well that's been fascinating. Again I feel like a newcomer to old technology but - and I've known about Ormet that I think got acquired by Merck now, but I've just never had someone sit down and explain it to me. So thank you for doing that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> 90 layer multi layers people are getting - 90...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, 90 layer multi layers with paste interconnects yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy, I didn't even know a 90 layer board existed I guess.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I've only really seen them into the 60s I guess personally, so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you know, one common design was a 72 layer multi-layer, again made out of eighteen layer components, and  one of the things with the chip tests the ATE companies, they built some high layer count multi layers and you need a lot of IOs, there's a trend to go to wafer level testing were you’re testing the entire wafer. You need lots of interconnects and that's one way to get there, is to use the Ormet paste to put in lots of layers. So we're seeing more interest in it lately, and I think that's one of the reasons why the technology hasn't taken off until now, is because there just wasn't the demand.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right ahead of its time maybe a little bit...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I know you've shared with me some cross-sections or I think you did, and so please be sure to share those with us and we'll put those up on our website and we can share your website and Ormet or Mark's website, so the designers can get more information. Is there any place else besides your two websites that you would recommend for more information?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know I've mentioned </span><a href="https://www.acronymfinder.com/High-Density-Packaging-Users-Group-(HDPUG).html"><span style="font-weight:400;">HDPUG</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> (High Density Packaging Users Group) in the past - they're actually contracting some PCB manufacturers to make some HDI test vehicles with paste interconnects. So there's going to be some data - anybody who's an HDPUG member will have some access to some really good reliability data and they're pretty complex boards so it'll really push the technology but for breaking up big thick and ugly PCBs, that's pretty well-established.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah very cool. Okay well thank you. So tell us about that fish on the wall behind you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it was a gift from my sister, actually it's made from recycled materials so there's an old PCB cut up on there, and the old spark plug wire, and a few other odds and ends. Some artists put together actually I didn't buy it; my sister bought it on Catalina Island and somehow we went out there as a family trip and somehow she smuggled it off the island and gave it to me just before she headed back to Virginia. So it was kind of cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Oh that's fun a good throwback to your diver self.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so - just the last thing on Ormet, is 'paste don't plate'.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Is that their tagline or is that yours?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Actually that's their tagline. We were sharing it with the IPC shows, but another nice benefit to the Ormet - which I didn't mention earlier is - there's no electrolysis, no plating processes in these interconnect layers so it circumvents all that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is like bizarre for me to think about but...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah but if you're capacity constrained, no plating, that's another benefit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thanks again this has been really good. If you have anything else juicy to share with the listeners just email it over before we get this one up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And thanks again for this one. Now I know we've talked about exploring down the road a little bit on copper foil, integrity issues, and also printed electronics. So I'm sure I'll hit you up again soon Chris.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah definitely. I would like to talk about some of the material science behind printed electronics and I know you guys are working on some new design tools and print electronics; there are a lot of different ways to use that in electronics... I should back up, but there's a lot of different ways to use conductive inks in electronics there are so many different versions of the inks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is another subject I know nothing about so it'll be good. I'll be a student with our listeners and, I know they're out there, I know what conductive inks are, but as far as all the applications, all the different materials available, that just seems like something that's in writing a lot, that people are really turning towards a solution.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Lots of new technologies are coming out in that space and it's going to be fun to watch it all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah yeah it will be.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay Chris, thanks for another good podcast and we'll see you soon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for having me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My pleasure. Again this has been Judy Warner with the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Chris Hunrath from Insulectro, we'll see you next time - until then - always stay OnTrack.</span> </p>
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BONUS episode: All About Design007 Resources
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Meet Andy Shaughnessy, Managing Editor of iConnect007’s Design007 Magazine. Listen in to learn about all the resources available to PCB designers from this industry publication, website and e-book publisher brought to you by iConnect007 which publishes of a variety of specialized publications relative to the electronics industry. Learn more about what resources are available, as well as where you can meet Andy and other members of the iConnect007 team. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">It was the PCB Design Magazine, now it is Design007 </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Resources on the iConnect 007 Website: THE DAILY NEWS, SMT WEEK, INSIDE DESIGN, MIL/AERO007 WEEKLY, SMT007 Magazine, PCB007 Magazine, DESIGN007 Magazine and FLEX007 Magazine</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><a href="http://i007ebooks.com/my-i-connect007/books/printed-circuit-designers-guide-dfm/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Ebook</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Next up: PCB West in Santa Clara, and </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://iconnect007.com/magazines/pcb-design-magazine/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Design007</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://design.iconnect007.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB 007</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://smt.iconnect007.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">SMT</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://iconnect007china.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB China</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://flex.iconnect007.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Flex</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://iconnect007.com/register"><span style="font-weight:400;">Register for Newsletters</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://twitter.com/IConnect007"><span style="font-weight:400;">iConnect 007 on Twitter</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://iconnect007.com/my-i-connect007/books/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Micro Ebook Library</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://i007ebooks.com/my-i-connect007/books/printed-circuit-designers-guide-dfm/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Ebook</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p>
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Let Them Build Robots! All About AltiumLive
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Meet Andy Shaughnessy, Managing Editor of iConnect007’s Design007 Magazine and learn all about AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit as he interviews Judy Warner in this special bonus episode of the OnTrack Podcast. Learn everything there is to know about AltiumLive from Judy and Andy and find out what Altium has planned for the PCB design community.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/pcb-software-technology-executive-ted-pawela-ontrack-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ted Pawela Podcast</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://iconnect007.com/magazines/pcb-design-magazine/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Design007</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/sneak-peek-and-meet-the-keynotes-for-altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">Meet the Keynotes</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> at AltiumLive 2018</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;"><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#San-Diego">REGISTER</a> for AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">View all show notes and VIDEO here: <a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/let-them-build-robots-all-about-altiumlive-pcb-design-summit">https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/let-them-build-robots-all-about-altiumlive-pcb-design-summit</a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p>
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Injection Molded Structural Electronics and Designing in a 3D Space
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Sini Rytky, VP of Product Management at TactoTek, and Tuomas Heikkilä, Senior Electronics Designer, join Judy Warner on the OnTrack Podcast to talk about Injection Molded Structural Electronics, or IMSE, the integrating of electronics inside 3-dimensional electronics to create smart surfaces. TactoTek is a leading provider of solutions for 3D structural electronics, enabling the integration of printed circuitry and discrete electronic components into injection molded plastics. Listen to how TactoTek and Altium are combining forces to research and develop design rules for this entirely new technology. Learn more about this and how you can meet them at AltiumLive 2018. </span><br> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>To see all the show notes and VIDEO <span style="color:#0000ff;"><a style="color:#0000ff;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/injection-molded-structural-electronics-and-designing-in-a-3d-space">click here</a></span>.</strong> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">*This communication may contain forward-looking statements about strategies, products, future results, performance or achievements, financial and otherwise. These statements reflect management’s current expectations, estimates, and assumptions based on the information currently available to us. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve significant risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this communication, such as a failure to add previewed functionality to our products or the potential impact on our financial results from changes in our business models.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Transcript:</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">podcast. Thanks for joining again. I have two amazing guests hailing all the way from Finland today and I look forward to sharing them with you. Before then I ask you to please connect with me on LinkedIn, on Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is on all the traditional social media channels </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">,</span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;"> LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> So today we have a look into the future of technology with TactoTek and I have two wonderful guests, Sini Rytky and Tuomas Heikkilä. So we've been working here at Altium closely with Sini, Tuomas and their whole team there and we are excited to show you, kind of this cutting-edge technology, and the amazing things that they're doing in Finland to advance a whole litany of advanced electronics manufacturing and technology and while we continue to work feverishly on AD19 and getting in the traditional functions that you would like, I wanted to give you a sneak peek on something more for the future. This is not going to be in AD19, but we continue to work together, sort of on a research kind of function, with these two and all of TactoTek. So I'm excited for you to learn more about them - so let's get started. Sini, Tuomas, welcome.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you Judy for having us here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Sini, I think I'm going to start with you. Can you tell us a little - well before we get going, why don't you both introduce yourselves and tell us your background in the industry and what exactly your role entails at TactoTek?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure, so my name is Sini Rytky and I'm heading the Product Management at TactoTek. In practice it means that my team is responsible for technology productization and roadmapping and go to market strategy and planning. And also technology partnership development. My personal background: I am a Software Major, but spent about 20 years in mostly hardware driven business. In electronics  manufacturing and test automation in consumer electronics and automotive industries. It is my first podcast ever - I'm very excited!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How about you Tuomas?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so my name is Tuomas Heikkilä and I'm the Senior Hardware Specialist and I have worked for TactoTek, for almost six years now. All of this time I have designed and developed. I oversee technology from an electronics point of view. So my background: I have worked also in the mobile phone industry before joining TactoTek.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Along those lines Tuomas, can you tell us about - for those that aren't familiar what the acronym IMSE means?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">IMSE means Injection Molded Structural Electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Very good because I know we'll be using that term a lot and because you guys are sort of cutting-edge I thought there's maybe some people in the audience that might not be familiar with that term. So Sini, let's just jump right in. Can you talk about - I'm asking you three really big things: the technology, the market, and really the problems it solves for technologists in the marketplace?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure to start off with the technology; like Tuomas said, our technology is called Injection Molded Structural Electronics which we call IMSE. To put it simply in one sentence, we are integrating electronics inside three-dimensional plastics, and as a result we can create smart surfaces with electronic functionality such as capacitive touch functions, illuminated icons and wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth and near-field communication.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So when we look at traditional electro-mechanics assembly, they typically consist of one, or a multi PCB structure along with the surrounding mechanics and from a design point of view the challenge is that many times it is restricted with, for example, dimensional constraints or space limitations or weight limitations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then from a manufacturing point of view; they typically have a large number of individual toolings and assembly phases. So with IMSE we can solve many of the problems for traditional electronics and mechanics, but we can also create totally new use cases and integrate electronics in places where traditional electronics and mechanics fail to do so. So, if we just briefly visit our process. We start by printing colored and conductive inks on flexible films, and continue by mounting surface mounted electronic components and continue by forming that film along with the components into a three-dimensional shape. And then finally, we injection mold all of that into a single piece assembly. So when we look at the benefits the IMSE part structure - if we compare it with traditional electronics and mechanics - we can save up to, I'd say, 90% of the assembly depth, save up to...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah that's a big number.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a big number yeah, and up to 80% of the part weight and at the same time, of course, we're enabling beautiful, seamless, smart surfaces and we can create - we talk a lot about point of views at TactoTek, and by that we mean, that IMSE enables intuitive user interfaces. So no longer do we have to have a complex HMI with all of the centralized functions, but we can create point of view functionalities. So for example, integrating capacitive touch enabled volume control on top of speaker modules.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So those are some of the - let's say challenges and benefits, that we've seen. And then when we look at the market, so obviously, this is a cross-industry technology, so there's -  we see a lot of benefits from various industries. A very common application for IMSE is a human machine interface and we are currently working, for example, with the automotive segment; creating for example door trims and overhead control panels, appliances control panels, and we also work quite a lot with variables. So creating electronics in textiles...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah and that's actually...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I actually didn't know you were doing wearables, or that had escaped me in previous conversations, that's amazing!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, yeah-yeah so the fact actually, that we are injection molding everything into a single part assembly, it also means that it's fully encapsulated, which means it's protected from debris and moisture. So yeah, so definitely when you think about electronics in fabrics our structures - we call wash and go, so they are very durable, and they can withstand like dozens of cycles and washing machines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, yeah. And then maybe a couple of words about the business model. So we are licensing our technology for IMSE design manufacturing and validation. Which means that our customers, they can both benefit from the possibilities that IMSE creates in product design, but they can also enhance the vertical integration in a way that they can perform functions, that were previously outsourced, and further extend their offering for customers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's unbelievable - and I can - - my mind is just spinning with the kind of enablers that I can see, that this is going to bring over time. So thank you for sharing all that. On a more practical level, Tuomas and you know, the people who are listening to this podcast are typically engineers and printed circuit board designers. Can you talk a little bit about the kind of practical effects on PCB designers and the implications they would have, from a design standpoint, in designing what you're calling smart structures?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes. So if we first compare traditional PCB design and IMSE design there are few main differences which come from materials that we are using in IMSE technology and also the 3D shape. So if we first consider those materials: the substrate of printed film circuitries are the difference. So in IMSE technology we have quite a large patene plastic film, and if they convert this for rigid PCP - there is a big difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another thing is trace resistance. So when we are printing traces using silver inks there is always some resistance, so we can never think that this resistance is zero.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we have to always consider this in our design. Of course it depends on the ink used but the typical resistance differs between printed silver ink trace and pcb solid copper trace - roughly 100 times bigger. So there is a huge difference in resistances as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The third, which is really related to materials is dielectric. In PCBs there is no need to design, especially dielectrics, between two conductive traces but in IMSE design we need always to design a dielectric layer between two conductive layers and also, as I earlier mentioned, this 3D surface - I would like to highlight this as well - because it means that when the final shape of the product is somewhat kind of the correct 3D shape.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This means that the printed circuit would need to be designed a bit different than any PCBs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I'm gonna ask you more about those materials in a minute. But I was really impressed when I first saw it. I really thought it was a one- or two-sided only circuit structure and I'm really impressed to find out that no, it can be multi-layer and like you said Sini, completely encapsulated, so that opens up a lot of opportunities I think. So Sini, can you talk more specifically about the materials that are used for structural electronics?  I know Tuomas just mentioned the silver inks, the dielectric materials, that you can do multi layers. Just the materials overall are really different, so can you talk a little bit about those please?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Mm-hmm - yeah and I would say the key essence of our technology is really the know-how and understanding, of not just the individual materials, but the four material stack ups. So we need to, first of all, we need to obviously understand how all the elements perform together like the films, the inks, the components and so forth, and it's...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">As if it wasn't complicated enough; the traditional boards.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yes! So it all has to work in synergy and it's of course, it's like one thing to understand how they perform when they are in 2D, but in our case we are then also bending and stretching everything into that three-dimensional shape. So that process as a whole, has a huge effect on the material characteristics and performance values. Like Tuomas mentioned before, for example, the conductive ink resistance changes over the manufacturing period so it's a big pile of materials research and chemistry as a whole that we have done to understand the behavior of different material stack ups. So we - of course we try to be on top of what works together and of course - what doesn't. So...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so do you publish those, or will you be publishing those in the form of a datasheet, so when a PCB designer might move into this space that they'd have some guidelines?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes. So obviously, the material stacks are one element of our licensing content. So we are able to provide our customers with validated and functional material stacks that they can use to test our building products.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How long have you been at this? Because I know you work with materials and that, that is a long, arduous process. It takes a lot of discipline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mm-hmm - yeah so we've been around since 2011 and we've used a lot of time and effort for exactly materials research, and creating the validation processes. So now we're in 2018 and we are mass manufacturable so it takes time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes it sure does, yeah when I've talked to friends that are chemists, it just takes a long time. So, back to you Tuomas, with all those different materials, and you mentioned also embedded components. So I would like our audience to learn more about the implications which you began to talk about - with the printed inks, the silver inks, and what not. But what are some other implications of those different materials? And what kind of components - because you're really talking about embedded components here I take it? So help us understand that a little bit more?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So like Sini said, understanding materials and materials tax, those are very important. So as I earlier said, this trace resistance for example, it is a big thing. Also another example is this flexible film which are speaking back to SMD process, for example. So typically we are using small SMD components like LEDs, resistors, diodes, transistors...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Traditional?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -traditional yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Traditional off the shelf components.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But when we are selecting components on our IMSE products, the key element is the height of the component. So the component should fit inside the product, it's the first thing. The second thing is that when we are injection molding the product the melted plastic flows over the component - so the component should stand this injection molding and yes, the thinner the component the better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so - and I am certain that you have to take in consideration the thermal implications of what kind of thermal conditions those components can survive in?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes we have also considered this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So for our listeners; I just want to let you know we're gonna connect all kinds of links and pictures because if you're like me you need some visuals to really understand - this is sort of hard to do - in the form of a podcast - it's a little difficult to talk about, but again I want to remind our listeners that we are recording simultaneously on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and also we're not showing visuals here but we will put up a myriad of links and photos. Because if you're like me, you need pictures okay so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah actually we have a white paper regarding this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Will you share that with us Tuomas? Okay great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes yes. Okay. It's just in our </span><a href="https://tactotek.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">webpage</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> so we can share the link of course.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wonderful and the other thing that I wasn't clear about is: so you do the printed portion of the process and then you mold. It's not like you're creating it on a 3D surface right? Or does it go both ways?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We first print, this is 2D, then we place the component; assembly process, after that is forming process, the film takes its 3D shape, and after that comes injection molding.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This is actually the reason why we are doing this, is that we want to enable our customers to use just standard electronics manufacturing equipment. So when we are placing the components in 2D, it means that we don't have to have anything like 3D pick-and-place or anything like that - you can use standard PCB manufacturing equipment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then you mold. Which seems so counterintuitive? I don't know how you guys are doing it. I think you're magicians so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You have to come and see it. I know - oh speaking of which also I'd like to let our listeners know that I'm delighted that Sini and TactoTek have agreed to come be a sponsor at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> they will have a booth there. They will have physical samples and you'll be able to see this and if you're like me , I think this all of a sudden aha moment happens when you can physically see - or like Tuomas said, read a white paper and you have some kind of visual representation of what's happening. And you will gasp. It's really incredible to watch so I invite you always to come to AltiumLive in San Diego or Munich and see them there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So let's jump into how Altium and TactoTek had the good fortune to come together. Sini you started to talk about a challenge you guys had to face in that, there was a gap in the design tools to support your technology so, our team have been working with you for a while so can you tell us, sort of what that process has been like and, sort of how we've been working together?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so I think for us, how we have worked so far is that, obviously we have a lot of design disciplines that contribute to the IMSE, structure not just electronics and mechanics, but also graphics design, antenna design, and illumination design. So all of those different design elements have to work in perfect synergy, because we don't have those separate structures but we only have that film and everything is on top of that one or two films. So the element that we have been missing so far in the design tools is the support of design for IMSE type of parts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we've been using Altium Designer for years for electronic design, but we've been sort of manipulating the tool which is meant for PCB design and we are using familiar functions for something else. So today we are not just using the tool anymore but we've been very, very happy to start really working with Altium and doing research on specific features and automation we could integrate in the tools in the future to enable more efficient design process for IMSE and printed electronics as a whole.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is so exciting to me. So if I understand you correctly, then we're really starting to develop design rules for a whole new technology?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mm-hmm - exactly and in that way obviously shortening the learning curve for new technology and bringing it to the hands of the actual end users; the designers of the products.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I really love that you guys are using traditional mainstream tools like Altium Designer so designers, their ramp-up on the technology can be quicker and just using kind of some familiar things like a 2D manufacturing process so there's not this whole giant - there's not 20 obstacles in the way and such a learning curve, and such a huge investment, change of equipment - you've really been really thoughtful in integrating existing technology but then tweaking it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is really exciting. Tuomas because you've been specifically on the hardware side; I look to you sort of as the voice of our audience. Can you talk about some specific examples in regards to things like stack up, DRC's. Can you give us some kind of down and dirty, you know, where the rubber meets the road sort of examples of how that's fleshing out?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes. So if I first start with the stack up; currently we are using PCB layer stack up in our designs, which is not it's not pure IMSE - and this stack up, this causes challenges and generates a lot of more work when we have transferred in design files between EGIT and for example in the simulator tool. So if we have a tool where we can define IMSE stack up as it is in real products, it makes the design process even faster. Second thing is the dielectrics. So at the moment we are designing and checking dielectrics manually.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's time-consuming and there were still missing dielectrics in certain places and this caused failures during our production. This is very, very critical, so if the tool has, for example, dielectric generators, check the position for each dielectric and then place it according to user definitions, so it makes design even faster, and also makes the production more easier for us because there are no failures anymore.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Along those lines - from inside of the tool, will a designer actually have helps to help them choose a specific dielectric or is that something they'll need to know ahead of time? And then those dielectric constraints will be inside the tool - or do we know yet?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No we don't know yet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay that's a good answer. That's okay. You know, I really see from my perspective in the industry, this tighter - and the lines between mechanical you know ECAD, MCAD, all the different design disciplines. the lines are just blurring - and I think that's never more true than with your technology. I think you made the lines disappear which is exciting and so enabling! Is there anything you wanted to say about that Sini, just about the different disciplines, or specific challenges that may come into play? Because you're bringing all of these things into play?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I think one very good example and Tuomas, I'm sure you are more familiar with them, is for example, a simple file transfer. So we need to be able to, first of all in IMSE, we have to be able to convert first a three-dimensional shape into a two-dimensional form. Then design electronics layout, then convert back to three-dimensional format, and during all of those processes, we need to have a file transfer mechanism that actually works in between the tools. So yah, like you said; the lines are blurring and we're excited to see how we can help in enabling this in the tools.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I'm very excited - before we wrap up is there anything I might have missed?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you both for this interesting conversation, and I'll be sure to share your white paper and any links you like to share. Is there anything I may have missed, just because of my own ignorance - neglected to ask either of you about today?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't think so, not from my side. What do you think Tuomas?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, not from my side as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, well please be sure to share as many links as you can you guys, and again - I want to encourage our listeners to look - this is one set of show notes you're going to want to look into - and click through and see really where the future of technology is going. It's very exciting and as I say, we continue to develop our agenda.  You know things like high-speed stack-up, things like that within Altium Designer 19, but in the future we hope to be able to offer the enabling technology in a future release of Altium Designer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thank you both for your partnership and working together. It's been a delight and I also invite you again to join us at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> either in San Diego or Europe. TactoTek will be in both locations and you'll be able to get your hands on it and see and touch this amazing technology it's really going to blow your mind.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thank you Sini, thank you Tuomas, I really appreciate you - welcome to podcast land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you Judy, it's very exciting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's been a delight to have you and thank you - because I know you guys are - our hours between here and Finland are a little different. So thank you for accommodating our time frame today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thank you again for listening to the OnTrack Podcast, we appreciate you so very much. Join us again next time. Until then remember to always stay on track!</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;"><br><br></span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Signal Integrity Expert Eric Bogatin on Best Measurement Practices
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Signal integrity expert, Dr. Eric Bogatin, shares why best measurement practices have become his go-to topic when speaking with PCB designers around the world.</span><span style="font-weight:400;"> As Signal Integrity Evangelist at </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Teledyne LeCro</span><span style="font-weight:400;">y, a leading provider of oscilloscopes, protocol analyzers and related test and measurement solutions, Eric lectures around the world and he will be one of the keynote presenters at AltiumLive 2018: PCB Design Summit. Listen to Eric and Judy talk about the importance of best measurement practices and where to learn more — from webinars to conferences to the Signal Integrity Journal and Rule Number 9. Eric also has some real insights, so tune in and learn more in this episode of the OnTrack Podcast.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">The </span><a href="http://podcast.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> is in 84 countries! Congrats to </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Daud Zoss who was the closest guess at 37 countries. He gets a free pass to AltiumLive as Judy’s guest.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Dr Eric Bogatin will be a keynote speaker at AltiumLive in October 2018</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Best measurement practices - how do you get the answer to the performance, root cause, characterization, etc. as quickly as possible? </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">How do you know what the performance of your instrument is, so that you know its capabilities and what the device is doing compared to your measurement instrument? It’s important to know what the properties of your scope in the probe is, to know the properties of the device you’re testing.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Measurement data: Such as the rise time, frequency or figure of merit must be excavated to give you useful information. How do you get the information so it’s high quality and can be trusted, how do you turn it into information that you can turn into action?</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Eric is also the Editor of Signal Integrity Journal, working with Janine Love and Patrick Hindle. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Expert content - if anyone is interested in writing a technical article for Signal Integrity Magazine, please write: </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-bogatin-368860/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Eric</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Judy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Janine Love manages the </span><a href="http://www.ediconusa.com/aboutconference.asp"><span style="font-weight:400;">EDI CON</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> coming up in Santa Clara in October (a couple weeks after AltiumLive). Part of this is EDI CON University offering tutorials by industry experts.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Industry Experts on the Editorial Advisory Board: </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/model-copper-roughness-properly-a-discussion-with-bert-simonovich"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bert Simonovich</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Yuriy Shlepnev, </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Larry Smith and Steve Sandler, </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Rula Bakleh, Jay Diepenbrock, Vladimir Dmitriev-Zdorov, Alfred Neves, Istvan Novak, Doug Smith, and Lisa Ward.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Rule #9 - Before you do a measurement or simulation, think about what you expect to see ahead of time, and if it’s not what you expect, there’s always a reason for it. You need to identify the reason why it’s not what you expect.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hands on learning is a necessity for students. Eric and Mike </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Horowitz put together a five-week, standalone crash course on how to design a board.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Designing for connectivity is just about driving the board to enable finding the parts and laying them out for assembly. Really simple.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">The lack of experience with Oscilloscopes is surprising because nobody has ever taught these students the correct method.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hands on experience is giving students an edge in the marketplace. There isn’t enough of the ‘real world’ activity in most Universities.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://teledynelecroy.com/support/techlib/webcasts.aspx"><span style="font-weight:400;">LeCroy webinars</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://teledynelecroy.com/events"><span style="font-weight:400;">Upcoming events at LeCroy</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.signalintegrityjournal.com/events/category/3855-webinars/range/archive"><span style="font-weight:400;">SI Journal webinars</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.signalintegrityjournal.com/events/category/3929"><span style="font-weight:400;">Upcoming SI Webinars</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">  </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V594tRrW_oQ"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hyperloop competition</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">If anyone is interested in writing a technical article, please write: </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="mailto:eric@bethsignal.com"><strong>Eric Bogatin</strong></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or </span><a href="mailto:Judy.warner@altium.com"><strong>Judy Warner</strong></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;">To see ALL show notes and watch the video recording please visit: </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/signal-integrity-expert-eric-bogatin-on-best-measurement-practices">https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/signal-integrity-expert-eric-bogatin-on-best-measurement-practices</a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone, this is Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thanks for joining again, if you would please connect with me on LinkedIn I like to share lots of information relative to PCB designers and engineers who are laying out boards and on Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altiumjudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is on all the usual places; </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So please let us know what you'd like to hear about on the podcast and we will do our best to get it done. So today I have a rock star with us and he needs no introduction . But before we get going with Dr. Eric Bogatin; I wanted to say that a few weeks back I had put a challenge out there to see if you guys could guess how many countries the On Track podcast has reached; and we have a winner! So congratulations to Daud Zoss. He's a Senior Staff Engineer at Dexcom; he guessed 37 countries and he was the closest one, unfortunately it was only about half, because we've actually reached 84 countries, I kid you not! So anyways, thank you for listening and engaging with us and all across the world. We really appreciate it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So today, as I mentioned, we have Dr. Eric Bogatin with us who needs no introduction; who is a signal integrity guru. You might know him from many conferences in North America and I suppose around the world Eric has has presented, and I'm lucky enough to be here in California, where I've seen him present many times on Be The Signal and now the Be The Signal and Eric Bogatin brand is flying under the Teledyne LeCroy flag. So he has lots of lectures and demos and things and I'll let him tell you more about that. So Eric, welcome, we are glad to have you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey thanks Judy, I'm happy to be here with you today and tell you about all the things I've got going on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, we're super excited to have you as a keynote at </span><a href="https://altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, so we really appreciate you coming out for that and we've done some neat things together with students, so we'll talk about more about that. So why don't you start off by telling us a little bit about your day job at Teledyne LeCroy?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure yes, so many of you may know, and I know you - - I knew you back when I had my own company it was Bogatin Enterprises, and I literally went around the world and did training classes. And about seven years ago, my training company was acquired by LeCroy and we continued the training classes and then began to make a slight transition to, most of what I've done over the years has been best design practices.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How to get the design right the first time and LeCroy is in the measurement business; we are the third largest manufacturer of oscilloscopes and some of the highest end oscilloscopes; and our CTO Dave Graef, he likes to say that that in designing, the goal is to get it right the first time, but if you don't get it right the first time then the goal is to get it right the second time; and the way you get it right the second time is, you have to find the root cause of the problem and invariably that involves some measurements. So that's kind of the connection with LeCroy, is we're number three in the  scope world and have the highest end performance scopes out there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We really specialize in the business of helping customers get it right the second time; kind of a faster time to insight. And so we started out when I joined them seven years ago, doing the same Best Design Practices presentations and classes I used to do, and then over the years since then, I've been working on this new area of Best Measurement Practices and so, with my day job at Teledyne LeCroy, I am still Signal Integrity Evangelist, but I spend more time now going around talking to folks about, and doing presentations on what are some of the best measurement practices. How do you kind of get the answer to either the performance, or the root cause, or the characterization, or get the Figure of Merit? How do you get that as quickly as possible?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And recently, in fact, I've got a couple of live events in the Bay Area coming up - actually next week - in last week in August, and then in Boston in September. And you can check the </span><a href="http://teledynelecroy.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Teledyne LeCroy website</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> for the events page to see where I'm coming next, but those presentations are really focused on, how do you - I call it kind of two aspects of in best measurement practice - one is situational awareness. How do you pay attention to - how do you know what the performance of your instrument is, so that you understand what its capabilities are, so what your device is doing, compared to your instruments. So you make sure that you are not seeing an artifact in the measurement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow that's interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Situational, because I find in talking a lot of folks about measurements; gosh there's a lot of confusion about what's the scope doing. And unfortunately there's no such thing as the ideal instrument; they're always - - or ideal probe, for that matter. There are always interactions of the probe and the scope with the device we're looking at, and it's important to understand what the properties of your scope in the probe are, to know how far away you are from the properties of the device you're testing so that you're getting good quality information about the device you care about and not an artifact of how you're doing the measurement. So that's the first piece of what we try to present and teach - those principles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the second piece is - and I see this with my students all the time - that they sometimes feel that just getting the data, just getting the measurement is enough. So they, push the right buttons and they get a screenshot and say: okay , here's my data. And I see a lot of engineers doing that as well, and the data is just the starting place. That's not - you're not done with the data - you need to take that data, the measurement and turn it into information. So you need to extract out, what's the few pieces of valuable information.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Like what's the rise time, or what's the frequency, or what's the jitter? It's a figure of merit that takes a lot of data and gives you one or two numbers that you can do something with. I was giving a talk at one of my events a couple weeks ago, and as I mentioned, that we have this huge amount of data in a scope. I mean, one acquisition can be we can take up to five Giga samples worth of data - but you know stupidly maybe - 10 - 20 mega samples but that's 10 or 20 million data points in one acquisition. It's a huge amount of data but you only want one or two numbers out of it. And so I used to call it data mining, and someone said: hey with all that data there it's not mining, it's excavating.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's kind of excavating the data for useful information, and then the third piece - once we have the information - is this: so what? It's how do you turn that information into action? How do you use the information you've got, to tell you is this good or bad? Should I, raise the line width or decrease the line width? What do I want to do with that information now? How am I going to use that to influence a decision? So it's those three steps that we talk about in our workshops; of how do you get the information, do you have high quality of confidence for the data, do you have high confidence in it? How do you turn that data into information, extract a couple of figures of merit, the nuggets of valuable information and how do you take that information and turn it into action?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's what I'm focusing on these days, the idea of best measurement practices. In addition to the stuff I've done forever, of best design practices. So that's kind of what I'm involved in now, spending a lot of time going around, doing live demonstrations, incorporating them in my workshops. Now we've got some really cool scopes and bring a lot of test vehicles and structures, so we can do live measurements of various signals. And so it's always a lot of fun when you can have...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A physical scope there, right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah a working device and the scope, and then people that come to these; you know I love working the crowd, and we talk about: well, if that's really what's going on, if you made the the rise time shorter, what what will you see? Or if I expanded the time base, what's the signal going to look like? And so we can do that as a live experiment in the group. So they're a lot of fun, very interactive activities. So that's that's what I do is my day job now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, that's a lot, and it sounds - you make it sound really fun and engaging. So also, Teledyne LeCroy will have a table at </span><a href="https://live.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, I hope we can talk you guys into bringing an oscilloscope so we'll let you work our crowd and I'm sure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know, another thing - oh by the way - I would encourage people that are listening to connect with Eric on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-bogatin-368860/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, or </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">connect with me</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> I've been sharing those classes that Eric is teaching, so you'll be able to pick those up and see the different locations that he's teaching those courses. And we will also add those links below here in the show notes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you're in those areas you can hop into one of Eric's classes, and he's super fun too it's a very plain spoken - and like I, can learn things from Eric Bogatin, and I am not, my technical prowess is limited, so I really appreciate that about Eric. The other thing you do, we have some friends in common which are Horizon House, the publishers of Microwave Journal, have published a new magazine called the SI Journal, which I am very excited about and you are also the editor of SI Journal, and we have friend in common Janine Love and Pat Hindle and the whole group. I used to write a blog for Microwave Journal that is put out by the same publishers on their website, talking about making RF boards and all the fun that goes along with that. And so now, Eric is editor of </span><a href="https://www.signalintegrityjournal.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">SI Journal, </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">so you can also subscribe to that online. We will also share that link. So how's that been so far? Tell us about your job - how long has it been now? It hasn't been too terribly long?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know what, I think it was about - - it's almost 2 years now, so I'm just going to...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow! I was gonna say a year and it's like two years. Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I think it was it'd be - - between Pat and Janine they kind of came up - they've been focusing on the Microwave Journal which has been around for 30-some years and this is one of the - I think it's the top...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think it's like 60 years or something.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Is it 60 years?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't know I might be...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a long time - it's been around forever.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And it's been a real icon in the industry for good quality articles about microwave technology and with Janine's experience with the Design Con and in the signal integrity world; I think between she and Pat they realized: hey, the industry could really use another kind of curated source of high value information and so many of the magazines that we're used to getting have - - the print magazines have disappeared and they're all online, and so Pat and Janine decided to create this as an online journal initially. And they asked me to come on board as the editor; really the technical editor right at the beginning - about two years ago -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">and so since then we've been kind of planning it out, putting together the editorial review board - of really some industry heavyweights and kind of creating a lot of new content, soliciting content from other experts in the industry, in fact, while I have a captive audience here, if anybody out there listening, is interested in writing technical articles for us, that'd be great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Drop me an </span><a href="mailto:eric@bethsignal.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">email</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or send it through Judy, and I'd be happy to take a look at what you like to do. We created this and our focus is to provide high value content that's curated. That there's so much information out there online right now. If you do a google search on Signal Integrity or Power Integrity it's not that you don't find anything, you find like 10 gazillion different sources.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You get flooded.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's hard to know what's the good stuff and what the stuff is that I should waste my time with and so I think that's really the value of having an online publication or portal that is curated, and that's what we try to do is between myself and Janine and Pat and the editorial advisory board; we try to curate the content so that it's in our opinion what we would consider to be high-value content. And so we don't want to waste people's time or our own time and so there's, we think, a lot of really good valuable content. We've done the traditional stuff of short columns, of feature-length articles. Janine manages the annual conference EDI CON, which is now coming to the Santa Clara area in October. I think it's a couple weeks after AltiumLive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yah, it is, it's really close.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And part of that is now I think Janine's calling it the EDI CON University which is going to be tutorials by industry experts that are available for all the attendees. And then she also manages webinars, and if I can just plug a previous webinar. So we had Rick Hartley do a webinar...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which we love and you know as I mentioned you and Rick are just so well respected and the SI field so I'm glad you snatched him up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes we got him to do one a couple months ago and then that's recorded and posted on the...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh great!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and then I did one a couple weeks ago that's also up there. So we have maybe it's 20 or 30 different webinars and they're all free and all available for anybody if you go to the </span><a href="https://www.signalintegrityjournal.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">SI Journal.com website</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and you can look under videos and webinars, anybody can access all the content on the SI Journal is free as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, there's some other people that are dear friends Bert Simonovich I know is on your team on the magazine who - - I think is Yuriy on that team as well?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah Yuriy's been involved Istvan Novak has been on the Editorial Advisory Board. We just brought on Steve Sandler - - let's see; Larry Smith who is, he's my buddy, we worked on a book together that came out last year on Power Integrity and he now is at Micron; used to be at Qualcomm, he's maybe the one or two world expert on power integrity. So I learned a lot working with Larry. Let's see - - so yeah those are them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They're all heavy hitters I mean, all really, they are the industry experts you really have, kudos to Horizon House for putting together such a crack team with you at the helm, which is just incredible, and like you said curating that content. Because there's so much noise out there. How do we bring the noise down and just cherry-pick, the best pieces? And I was kind of around before and as they were launching EDI CON and I was really glad to see them, as the high-speed digital and the RF world kind of moved together and some of the challenges were kind of overlapping to launch a show like EDI CON I think is really exciting and this magazine so, yay! Very excited about that so I can't... and again we'll put all these links below.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'll even I'll see if I'll go pluck out some of those webinars and put those links in too if you didn't send those to me already.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So while I'm plugging webinars can I plug one other webinar too-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Yeah,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-that I should have mentioned. So I've been spending a lot of time, too much time, traveling doing these live events but also doing webinars; I mentioned the one with SI Journal. I've also been doing some through LeCroy, and we have a whole landing page on what </span><a href="http://teledynelecroy.com/support/techlib/webcasts.aspx"><span style="font-weight:400;">LeCroy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> has done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah there's a lot there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's a lot of high value content that's all free. Anybody can view them and I'm hoping you'll put up a link to the webinar page from from LeCroy as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I've put a series together on, a little bit about fundamentals of measurements, part of this best measurement practices series that I mentioned earlier they're one-hour webinars on various scope measurement principles and I'm doing them on a regular basis. I think we have two or three more scheduled for the rest of this year and then we'll have another series starting up in January.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exciting, I like the idea of this best measurement practices, it's like really practical.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and it's the same thing with design practice. There are accepted practices that you want to follow unless you have a strong, compelling reason. Otherwise these are the right ways of doing things.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And same thing with measurement; there are just as many ways of screwing up a measurement as there is a design and so you've got to pay attention to both of them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And there's a human in the loop too besides your probe and all that, so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if the human isn't 'tuned up' -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- now so one of the principles that I teach my graduate students and at University and also engineers I talk to, is I call it rule number nine and... have I talked to you about rule nine? Okay I'm definitely gonna be mentioning it at the at my keynote because I think it's one of the most important rules for any engineer and basically it says: before you do a measurement or simulation, you want to first anticipate. Think about what you expect to see and I have found that to be the most valuable kind of habit to get into, because just like you said, when there's a human involved it's easy to make a mistake. And how do you know that you don't have the connector connected where it should be, or how do you know: I think I'm looking on channel two, but I'm really going on channel three? Or I typed in 17 but I meant 71? How do you know?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You can check yourself but there's a limit to, how well you can check yourself and so, if you think about what you expect to see ahead of time, whether measurement or simulation and you look at the result and it's not what you expect, there's always a reason for it and you shouldn't proceed with that information until you've identified how come it's not what I expect. And when I do these live demos in front of groups, I'm constantly making mistakes because you know, it's under pressure. I get a screw in that connector and I'm not sure which demo am I on right now, and so I'm always looking at the screen to see, is it what I expect to see, and I can tell instantly when I've done something wrong because I use rule number nine. And I sometimes play a game with the audience, the engineers there, and say: okay, we expect to see this waveform go up and then down and it's flat - how come?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And it's good experience, good practice, that thinking of what could go wrong in the debugging process because that's what we all end up doing and the more experienced we can become at finding the root cause and why it's not what we expect I think, the quicker we can get to a good answer and move on to the next problem. So it's an incredibly powerful habit that I use all the time and I try to teach all my students.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This is what I love about your classes and things you teach Eric. I've sat in a few of them over the years is, that they're insanely practical and intuitive and memorable. Like rule number nine, I can remember that right, so I really have to say that about you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Of course, don't forget I also reinforce good behavior with chocolate so that...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah he does! He throws chocolate out at his classes so yeah it's like Pavlov's dog, yeah it's so true. Well I wanted to jump into the way that you and I started working together, is I think a month or two ago Iconnect007 came out with a magazine with an empty pair of shoes walking down the street, and it said, who's gonna fill your shoes? And everybody seems to get on this bandwagon about all the people that really, fundamentally understand PCB design in regards to, not just designing but manufacturing, assembly, the whole, all the stakeholders that are kind of implied in that process are greying and gonna retire, and so you know, there's been studies out by UP Media saying - by a pretty large sample - saying that in under 10 years half of PCB designers are going to be gone and so everyone has sort of gotten to this hysteria about it seems like the unanswerable question.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What I appreciate that you've done is I'm going to call you professor now - he wears lots of hats - professor Bogatin called me up and said, Judy, you know, I'm gonna do this program, he's used different tools right now that this - I think the students were sort of driving, or somebody was driving one at Altium Designer, so you kicked off this amazing semester-long course at the University of Colorado Boulder and you - I think co-teach that right Eric?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so I can give you the quick history.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay let's hear it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I've been teaching a graduate signal integrity class at CU Boulder for a number of years, based on my textbook and in talking to folks there, we realized that our students - so CU Boulder tends to be very project oriented very hands-on we believe in that, you know you learn from textbooks, you learn from studying, but you understand by doing. And it's the hands-on part that you really - everything comes together. And there were a number of classes that required building circuit boards and I would get called in as a consultant to help them in designing the circuit boards and there's relatively simple boards, two layer boards. But these kids had absolutely no idea. They could push the buttons on the tool, but they had absolutely no idea how the performance was influenced by it by what they do in the layout. And so it became really clear that, boy it sure would help if they had a little bit of guidance in how to design boards correctly. And so a number of us got together and realized: hey, we need this more formal training and a buddy of mine Mike Horowitz, who is an expert at design of circuit boards, we got together and put this course together which was - and it's kind of a funny organization too - we're also trying another experiment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">At CU you are semester based, and some courses are typically like 15 weeks or so. But we are experimenting with creating short five-week modules so it'll be the full regular course, that is a normal schedule of of 3 hours per week but it only lasts for five weeks. And so, Mike and I were tasked with putting a course on Printed Circuit Board Design and Manufacture together, that would have a five week beginning piece that could be a standalone so that most students, undergraduates, would take that and that'd be enough to get them going on their projects and then everybody else would continue for the rest of the ten weeks. And that would go into more detail so it gets them more experienced at circuit board design. And so that's how it got started, and Mike and I worked on it - it's every semester; so we did it twice last year and now. So that was kind of our joint development. And now Mike has gotten more involved in his CEO activities and so I'm gonna solo it this semester.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So the format is basically a five-week crash course on how to design a board so you have a good chance of success when you build a two layer board. And then the other five weeks are more the same, more the technical detail about measurement technique - this idea the best measurement practices. How do you bring up a board? How do you design a board for simple tests and bring up? And then we'll do four layer boards, and then a little bit on the more high-performance systems. So it's a little bit more advanced and really you know, the way we've positioned it as: there are two levels of design. The first is if you can build a prototype and build it with a solderless breadboard and have wires going all over the place; if that works then designing the circuit board and having it work is really straightforward.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We call it designing just for connectivity you don't have to worry about performance, it's about, you want to be able to manufacture it, but performance isn't on; the interconnects don't matter, and and some of the student designs are just designed for connectivity. It's just about driving the board so you can find the parts of the library and build it in the schematic and then place them on the board and lay them out, so you can assemble it by hand - pretty straightforward.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But many of our student designs these days, are getting more sophisticated. They use a Wi-Fi connection, so you have RF on the board, they have sensitive analog to digital converters on the boards, they have components that sometimes -even BGA components - where the microcontrollers are using a really fine pitch; hard to design by hand, and some of these have a couple nanosecond edges where ground bounce is a tremendous problem. And so we're focusing our class on how to design a board. Not just for connectivity - that's the easy part - but for performance, so that you can designed so it's manufacturable, it's lower-cost reduce the - so much of it is risk management - and then kind of the basic performance issues to worry about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And in my keynote, I'm thinking that I will probably present on what we have found to be the two most impactful design issues in designing a board, not for connectivity but for performance. If all you think about is connectivity you're gonna run into two significant problems. And so one of the topics is this idea of rethinking how signals propagate on interconnects and I've done this at PCB West and I did it at some of my other courses - and I had a couple people come up to me afterwards and tell me that it was a life-changing moment for them. Because I completely changed the way they've been working on boards for 20 years, and I completely changed how they thought about signals on boards. So I hope it will have a similar impact at </span><a href="https://live.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, but it's going to be about how to rethink and how to train your intuition to think about how signals really propagate on interconnects.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I loved your Be the Signal....</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">so... and I'm sure this is a little bit more complex than what you're gonna present, but I remember the first time I ever sat in a course by Eric Bogatin, and he was talking about 'be the signal' and he's like: if this signal's moving from A to B what do you think is gonna happen to la-la-la... and I'm sitting there as a non-designer and he's like: no, be the signal. What would you do? And kind of helped us to frame, kind of this visual - and I'm a visual person - so I like to kind of visualize, what the things that were going on, in that signal path to create whatever it was. So I really loved that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that's basically what I'm going to be talking about, that Zen approach to thinking about signals propagating and and how to apply you know -  I'll probably mention it once, in my talk, about how to apply master's equations but in an intuitive way, to understand what's really going on in the interconnect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Eric's talk is called 'Living in the White Space' and that will be relative to signal propagation and I'm sure all of us, our brain will explode a little. I have these moments with Rick Hartley from time to time too where he says something and I'm like: nah! You know it could be that simple or whatever and I'm sure, you know Rick Hartley is a student of Eric Bogatin so, I'm sure it's more of the same.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, well I really appreciate you Eric, taking on these students at university level. Here at Altium absolutely, I think I would do this part of my job for free; is to help students get equipped with not only tools - like I can give them free tools - but that's a really incomplete model, for them to learn. They're learning about electrical theory in school but really how to design a board, and how does - - I just finished a podcast today with Julie Ellis who's a Field Applications Engineer from TTM - what about stack-up? What about all these variables and how they come into play, that are not taught at university? But I love that you've brought them in at a university level because I think these are the kids - I think these are exactly who's going to fill some of those shoes, and they may be EEs laying out boards, they may end up like Rick Hartley did saying, I like just designing boards better than circuit design. Who knows? We don't know.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What has been some of your surprises by the way? What feedback from students?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I think two things absolutely surprise me; one is, their lack of experience with oscilloscopes. That their way of using oscilloscope is first to push the autoscale button. And I slap their wrist if I catch them doing that, or pushing every button without knowing what it is until they see something, on the screen...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Until the light goes on, they're looking for the LED.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -and and so they, just the basic understanding of what an oscilloscope does and how to control the vertical/ horizontal and the trigger. You know the very basic things. A lot of these kids; nobody's ever sat them down and talked to them about it, so we focus on good - again - best measurement practices in the class as well as the design. The second thing is, there is a disconnect between what you learn in the textbook and what you see in the real world and it's the same thing, but you have to know how to apply what you learn in the textbook. And I don't think any university does enough of that hands-on, real-world activity. We try to do it a lot at CU, we have a lot of projects that students get involved in. Most of them are really about designing a little robot or designing some gadget that does something with the code that you write in there. So a lot of it is - some software, as well as the hardware.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But in our class we try to close the loop of the; here I do an estimate or calculation, and here I do a measurement. Like one of the first labs we do is blowing up traces.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's fun! It is. Everybody likes blowing up something.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Everybody likes to blow shit up</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so the question, the first question I ask them is: okay, you're gonna lay out a board and you're gonna put some tracer - what line width should you use? You can select it to be anything you want.What line width should you use?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so one of the things that surprised me is, when I asked the students is, they thought that a six mm wide line, just the narrowest that most fab shops will do. A six mm wide line, was too narrow because it's way too much resistance, or I can't put more than a couple milliamps of current through it. So I gotta use a twenty mm wide line, or fifty mm wide line. And it's the kind of thing that, the very first day in class, we calculate or we look at how do you calculate the resistance of a trace? How do you calculate what the maximum current handling it, using the IPC guidelines that Doug Brooks has been so heavily involved in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And when you put in the numbers you realize: oh my gosh, it looks really narrow on this board it's only six mm wide but but gosh; it's resistance is going to be still in the tens hundreds of milli ohms for typical lengths. So it really isn't that high a resistance even though it looks really narrow because copper is an incredibly good conductor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">People don't have good calibration of that. And then, so I'll give you the number, and I hope none of my students are listening to this because they're gonna figure it out in class. But if you look in the IPC specs for maximum current handling for a six mm wide surface trace; it's like two amps or three amps and when we put two amps through, we have a test board with the different line widths on them. When you put six amp - - two amps through it, you find we can monitor the voltage across it with constant current and see the voltage increasing because it gets hotter, as you see the beginning of the runway, and RNDF around three amps, IPC's around two amps, around three amps, darned if it doesn't go to thermal runaway and we zap the trace and so, you can really get a good estimate by putting in the numbers ahead of time, of how some of these interconnects are going to behave.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But it's that habit of putting in the numbers doing simple estimates, applying what we learn in class to the real world, that the students don't have that good experience with and that's what we try to do in our class at CU.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well to your point of hands-on, I feel like that's something that for whatever reason has left our education system too much right there's no shop at school anymore, there's no metal, there's no like just - and it's not just, what they would consider low labor skills or whatever. It's just hands-on learning the kinesthetics of it because I bet you dollars to doughnuts that kid, is gonna remember blowing up a three amp trace, more than if he read something about it in a book right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and sees the smoke and it pops and, there's this feedback well, what I was telling you about is, again one of my favorite parts of my job is, we just came back about three weeks ago from filming these kids that are doing the Hyperloop Competition -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh I'm gonna send you this video Eric - you're gonna die because what they do is so awesome and it's just because they get to do hands-on and they make a good - - there's no way they're not making, more mistakes per minute than everybody else in their field, but because of that and because the lack of constraints they have on them as far as businesses and law and whatever, you know this one team we sponsor is from Munich Germany, they just broke the world speed record inside the tube that Elon built at 290 miles per hour.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Crushing!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's commercial  companies with venture capitalists that haven't hit that number. Because they're young and they're hungry and they're hands-on, and they're excited. But these are the kids who I think, there needs to be much more of what you're doing. I wish every University would, hopefully you'll set an example that others will follow. And by the way, I've cited your course to a group of six universities I was invited to speak at UCSD, UC Davis was there, five other universities and I put a screenshot of your course -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh that's great</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and so I, so if you start getting weird phone calls...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">(laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -because I'm like see what he's doing - you all need to do this you know, so hopefully the word will spread but until that happens things like the Hyperloop competition, the FSEA competition, where kids get to get their hands on it and blow stuff up and do it wrong, until they do it right, and learn how to use an oscilloscope in this really hands-on manner well these kids are coming out of college and the internships of these kids, one of these kids from University Wisconsin in the Hyperloop team he's a Qualcomm right now, the team lead is going to SpaceX on internship - companies are plucking them out because of the hands-on. So I think the more we sort of beat this drum and spread this message, I again, something I'm very passionate about - I know you are too - and thank you so much for doing that course and we cannot wait to hear from you and about Living in the White Space at AltiumLive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I look forward to seeing you at AltiumLive and all the other viewers that you have and I hope folks come up in and say hi while I'm over there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay will do, and make sure - well not make sure - see if we can get LeCroy and company to bring out an oscilloscope so you can - -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We will definitely have one at our table.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay good, good I think that would be something notable and something that people, the attendees would enjoy so thank you again Eric this has been...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Thank you Judy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you again, this has been Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack podcast and Dr. Eric Bogatin of Teledyne LeCroy. We look forward to being with you next time. Until then, remember to always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Concurrent Engineering with Bill Brooks from Nordson Asymtek
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Learn about what is involved in true concurrent engineering and get practical tips for including stakeholders early on in the design process with Bill Brooks from Nordson Asymtek. When  project collaborators come together up front, then they move forward together. Hear how Bill spends the time up front to get everyone aligned during the PCB design process to ensure fabrication and assembly processes progress with minimal issues. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Bill had an interesting childhood. His Dad was an inventor and worked on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. He introduced Bill to the electronics industry.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">He also started a board shop in the garage and created his own hydro-squeegee, using peanut oil.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Bill’s career started when he worked as an Electronics Technician for almost two years. When his employer started hiring designers to do PCB layout work, he grasped the opportunity.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Back in the day, people used to sign their PCB artwork.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">There are a host of stakeholders involved, the designer is like the glue that holds everything together. Some of the stakeholders are: Fabrication, Assembly, Testing, Marketing, Managers and Engineers. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">When do you get the stakeholders involved in the PCB Design process? The IPC standard is to have a design review </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">upfront</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">, before design. </span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">The designer is the only one who can control moving the design through the process and make the board </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">survive</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We involve many stakeholders from the outset. Divisions like purchasing takes care of primary suppliers to ensure they can provide what’s required.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We do system integration in-house. Partnering with other companies has become a big deal and it’s working very well.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What does Concurrent Engineering mean? Considering all aspects, together, upfront, then moving forward </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">together</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">.  Spend the time upfront to avoid wasted time and effort later in the process. </span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Educate people who have control, they take care of everyone and everything goes smoothly, works correctly, and is right first time.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Bill’s Dad used to say ‘the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.’ You need a disciplined management team to do the work upfront, be quick but don’t hurry.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">A ‘quick and dirty prototype’ is a myth.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Use software to load projects into a common depository - keep it current and work in cohesion with regular refreshing.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Bill and their team use Playbook, which enables managers to have a full overview of every division’s progress and enable proper scheduling.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Designers after hours: in 2008 Bill was introduced to sculpting. Started attending classes, commencing a 6-year love affair with sculpting. He now teaches on Saturdays.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/pc-board-stack-up-best-practices-with-rick-hartley"><span style="font-weight:400;">Rick Hartley</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> encouraged Bill to do mentoring. Bill is now part of the International IPC Executive Board and has received an award for his contributions.</span></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.nordson.com/en/divisions/asymtek"><span style="font-weight:400;">Nordson Asymtek</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.thegreenarthouse.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">The Green Art House</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;"><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</a></span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thanks again for joining. Today we have another great guest - do you ever get tired of me saying that? Another great guest because we just have them every time, and we'll be talking with Bill Brooks today from Nordson ASYMTEK, and before we get started, I just wanted to remind you to please follow me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. On Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altiumjudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">- and also if you'd rather watch this on video we also have this on Altium's YouTube channel under </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJI43BCRnVwYw665Vv9ZclKLDsAmAvoE3"><span style="font-weight:400;">videos</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and you'll see all of our podcasts recorded there as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So today we have Bill Brooks, has been a great contributor to the industry, as well as being a very talented designer in his own right. So I thought you would enjoy learning about his long history in the craft of PCB design, so Bill welcome; thank you so much for joining us here. Bill comes from just up the freeway here from our office in La Jolla, so it's handy to get him over. So Bill won't you talk about your professional history? I think you, like many printed circuit board designers; you were kind of set up to be in this industry, but you found your own path. So, tell us a little bit about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I guess when I was a kid I didn't know where I was gonna go...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah me neither.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-my dad kind of introduced me to the electronics world, and right out of high school actually, I was still in high school - my dad was working in the aerospace industry and he decided to start his own printed circuit board shop. He looked around San Diego at the time, and there weren't a lot of shops to go get boards made and he said: well, I can do this. And so he looked up the information and we started making printed circuit boards in the garage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good times, that was a long time ago where you could set up a board shop in your garage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it was - today it'd be completely illegal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think the neighbors complained, he created his own hydro-squeegee and he was using a fusing oil, which was I guess peanut oil, and he bought this big 50 gallon drum of peanut oil and he used a check valve, and he put this - - he used air pressure to push it through a check valve and to spray it so he could put the boards down to get them hot after they had been coated with solder and then squeegee ''em out as he pushed on the pedal on the floor. And it would just make this nice beautiful-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a handheld hot air leveling machine!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Yeah it was very dangerous, in fact, I think he got burned a couple times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh I'm sure!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -but the neighbors just loved it because they’d look down at the corner of the cul-de-sac and they’d see this giant plume of black smoke coming out the back of the house, going: what's he doing over there? But dad was kind of an inventor and he liked to invent things. So he didn't go out and he was kind of a 'shade tree mechanic' - he'd figure out how to get something done on a dime and do it himself. And I guess that same ingenuity was something I picked up, I figure out how to get things done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So how did you end up going down the design path, from building boards in the garage?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmmm it was kind of convoluted. I thought I wanted to be an Electronics Tech and eventually Electronics Engineer, and I started down that path. I got a job with a company that was making television headend equipment; the transmitter part of it, there was channel 52 UHF subscription television, Oak Systems and I started working as Electronics Tech for them and I did a lot of work for them for, oh at least two years as a Tech, and they were hiring in printed circuit board designers to do the layout work. And I had already learned how to do layout work with my dad's shop when I was younger and I looked at that, and I said: welI can do that. How much do you make? And I think I was making like seven bucks an hour at the time, and they were making like 10 or 11. And I said: I could do that, and I told my bosses I want to do that - I can do that!  And they were: okay we'll get you in the other department and I started working in the drafting department. So I got a $3 an hour raise and I started doing layout work instead. And it kind of set me down that path. So that's how I got started anyway.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Bill, a lot of people that have been around a while, both you and I have been around a while. There's no college to learn what you've learned. So how did you pick up, we were discussing this earlier; you've done so many aspects - RF, some electronics and mechanical, how did you pick up all those skill sets, sort of along the way?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's kind of a long story really. My dad started me when he had his shop, and gave me a printed circuit board to do as a way to teach me how to do layout-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and we went to the TI Handbook and found a circuit for an audio amplifier - 10 watt audio amplifier and he said, why don't you try to build that? And so I made a schematic, I took the schematic from it, and I laid out the board and we manufactured the board and I bought the parts and I put them on the board, and I soldered them and turned it on and talked through a microphone - it worked and I went: yes that's hot! </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's so funny.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I remember in seventh or eighth grade, we had a science fair in junior high and everybody made their science project; we had a bunch of tables all set up and my dad said, well why don't you make something - - an electronic metronome? It has to do with music, and so I drew a schematic and I put the whole thing up there, and I built the metronome and I turned it on so it'd go 'tick-tock' 'tick-tock' you know, and I thought that was amazing. It was a really great and one of my friends said: Bill that was so cool, how you did that because I didn't have to do any of the work and I still got credit for it and I said well it was it was a challenge. So I took it on I put it up there but I didn't win a darn thing!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The guys who made the volcano that spews out all the stuff - they got that prize. So people didn't appreciate what I was doing. I felt a little bit geeky and kind of out of the norm as I was growing up. But I was fascinated with electronics. I was almost intimidated by it. My dad was a very good R&D guy, and he worked in the aerospace industry and he actually worked on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, it traveled all the way past Jupiter and it's outside our solar system headed on for Aldebaran now I think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's kind of a neat thing and I think on one of his print circuit boards, if you find down in the little corner you'll find his initials there-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Out in the outer regions of space. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah and I talked with Dr. Walker Fillius, he was the principal on the project at UCSD and after my dad passed away and he sent me back an email and he said: you know someday these little green men out there they're gonna find that and wonder: what does that mean? Why did they put that there? And a lot of people did that back in those days, you used to be so proud of your artwork you'd want to sign it and they did.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, that's funny.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So from I have to say, I think that was probably really invaluable experience for you, very young, to put together that design affected manufacturing, affected assembly, affected performance. Like at a very young age, you saw that whole overarching process - sort of on a small scale - but still; and not everybody gets that experience even today, few designers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Few designers have ever been in a shop and actually made a print circuit board. A lot of them are dealing with the drafting side of it; they don't see the whole process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right and it makes such a difference to decisions you make as a designer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right and so I can see how that sort of set you on a path to be a little bit more globally minded about the whole soup-to-nuts kind of - - from design to reliability or how something is actually functioning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> It has a lot to do with curiosity, it's funny; I've been listening to a book about Leonardo da Vinci and one thing that was amazing about him is, he had this insatiable curiosity, to almost distraction, I mean he would look at things and go: why does it work that way? And he'd start, he'd set himself a task to figure it out - and he didn't have a college or someplace to go learn those things - he had to do it himself. I've done a lot of the same kind of things in my life. I get fascinated with something and I go: well, I can figure that out, I'll go figure it out - all it takes is being brave enough to try and not being afraid to fail. Failure is just an opportunity to learn more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I think it was Edison once said , he did like hundreds of different ways to try to do a light bulb and he said, well now I know a hundred different ways not to make a light bulb, it's okay-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I still finally need way to know how to do it right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-but those those skills and the curiosity drove me into expanding my knowledge base. Getting into printed circuit boards, I wanted to learn how to take the thing I knew how to make, and turn it into something that was a product. I wanted to find out how to make that product appealing to somebody so that it made them happy with the product and not unhappy with it. And that kind of dovetails with what we were talking about before.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We have, as designers we're kind of the glue to the whole design process. We may not come up with the initial idea that needs to be created, but we take that idea and we turn it into reality and we not only have to turn it into reality, so that it's electrically functional, but it can be manufactured in a reasonable way that's not super expensive, that's reliable, that survives harsh environments or abuse. It has to be testable so you can provide for test points and things of that nature. There are a whole bunch of stakeholders involved.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">People who are - their job is keyed on being able to take what I create and turn it into a product that they can actually sell. The marketing people have to make sure that the product meets the customer’s needs. I have to be aware of that when I'm designing it so, I don't design in some function that makes it fail there. I have to be aware of those things. So the designer - they're kind of the key glue to the whole group.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But I find that very refreshing and I think most professional designers, from our early days of making a simple 2 layer board say, it's so much more complex now. So we tend to like head down, into our specialty right and I think, as you have said some engineers/designers have never been inside of a board shop.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right it gives you myopia, you can only see just your part of the whole process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I can understand that because, I don't say that from a critical perspective, it's a very complex process. We're time constrained, resource-constrained, so it's hard to put your head up for a moment so- </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You just named some of the stakeholders. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-I would say fabrication for sure, assembly, testing... </span><span style="font-weight:400;"><br></span><span style="font-weight:400;"><br></span><span style="font-weight:400;">You mentioned a marketing department, probably managers too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Managers all have cost and time constraints, they have time to market that they have to be worried about. The engineers of course, typically are going to be concerned about, can they get the parts or are the parts available; are they gonna be end of life parts?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Yeah that's a whole fun bag of fun there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The hardest part for some designers is, they'll get the board 90% done and then the engineer comes back and goes: I can't get that part anymore, I need to put a different part in and that's bigger than the one I gave you before. And so you got to go back and fix the circuit, so you can fit that bigger part in there and make it work. And it gets quite challenging.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So when do you recommend to get those stakeholders on board and collaborating?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a great question and funny - if you go through the IPC; I think it's 2221-standard - it's like the very first - almost first paragraph and the thing it says: make sure you have a design review up front first, before the designing begins. Why do they say that? Those people all are going to bring their expertise, and their wants and desires, and their concerns to that meeting. Well they're gonna be a part of that and give that information to the designer who really is the only person who has control over what it ends up being. The creator - they are the creator; they take all the information and they create something that can be built, tested, cost-effective, survive, functional, not have EMI problems, EMC problems... it has to pass safety agency requirements like TV and UL you know?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Or stand somebody handling it and giving it an ESD shock - thousands of volts - how's it going to survive that? You know, we do Hipot testing, there's a lot of work that goes into making a board that just is not - just connect the dots.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you're now working with Nordson ASYMTEK, which makes assembly equipment correct, or is there more than that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Their key thing, the company I work for they're making robotic equipment. The equipment allows manufacturers to do high-speed manufacturing very reliably and typically they're dispensing fluids. They have a few divisions that do board inspection. They have one that does plasma cleaning-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mm-hmm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-it's very common, I think it's MARCH - - I think is the name of it, something like that, but primarily we focus on fluid dispensing; got lots of patents on fluid dynamics, how to dispense a dot of material that's the exact amount of the material, in the right viscosity, of the right mix of materials, and at the right place , at the right time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Very, very challenging stuff - we've come up with some really high tech equipment that are making our customers real happy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's great, so when you do, on a practical, where the rubber meets the road stuff - when you embark on a new design - do you get the stakeholders together? I mean how do you do that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We get a large number of them involved. We have a purchasing department that cares about who our primary suppliers are. They review them; we go qualify them, make sure that they're going to be able to supply what we want, when we want it, at the price we want it. We use third-party vendors to make the boards, assemble the boards, test them. We put everything together in-house. They call us a system integrator kind of thing - and I guess that's one way to refer it. So the final assembly stuff all happens in the factory; and then we ship overseas and here in the United States and Europe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you used a term which I've heard before and just tell me what it means to you, is the term 'concurrent engineering'?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was introduced to that a while back, and to me it was confusing at first. Of course I've been in the industry a long time and there used to be a model where engineering would be a little black box and inside, all the engineers do all their stuff in there, and it was black magic, and they got it all done and then they went; pop - and they threw it over the fence and said: okay, you guys figure out how to make it. And that's as far as they went. Engineers were done; okay, I'm working on my next thing have fun. And the manufacturing engineers get it and go: oh my god, how are we gonna build this thing? And they almost had to re-engineer it to make it producible. So that model was going along for quite a long time here in the United States, before they started analyzing what the Japanese were doing and looking at their manufacturing process. It was very organized, and they introduced just-in-time, which has affected the whole supplier chain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But partnering with other companies to be able to be successful has become a big deal and they can reduce the number of staff that they need to do what they need to do. They can have highly qualified people doing what they need to do - they don't need masses of people - and then they can subcontract things out get them delivered on time, put them together and get them out the door and they're very very good at it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Concurrent engineering means thinking about everything up front. Not just your part of putting it in a black box and playing around with it until you're happy and then flipping it out and saying: you guys figure out how to build it. You want to bring the people that are stakeholders in up front. And then together, you move as a group. And the people involved in the engineering part of it have to understand those people's jobs, because they're their customers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They're the ones -  they're gonna use what they create. So we spend more time up front to make sure that they don't have to work harder, that they don't have to redo it, that we don't waste money and time out there with failures and have to come back and make changes and send it back out, saying: how about this one? No that's not good enough you've got to do it again. Oh how about that one? No that's not good either. So you educate the people that have control of it - they put the intelligence into it to take care of them and everything goes smoothly, and we make a lot more product, a lot less expensive, and that's right the first time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You and I were swapping some little statements right? So one I remember you saying - - I don't remember who you cited: the hurrier I go...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That was my dad...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-that was your dad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah 'the hurrier I go, the behinder I get'.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and that's so true I mean it's funny if you have this: I'm the only important person in the world, and what I'm doing is the most important thing and I don't care what anybody else thinks or wants to do. You can create something, in fact, I've seen some amazing sculpture, of components that were soldered together and in the most amazing ways and it was an electrical circuit, it worked, functioned.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah - but if you touched it, it would fail, if you moved it, it would fail. It wasn't built - it was just to see what would happen to the electrons when they get moved around that way. So people - and there's a desire - typically management, has traditionally figured, well - if you whip the horses harder and make them go faster you'll get there sooner.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I have seen that by the way being a board manufacturer and selling to and working with designers. The constraints are brutal sometimes...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They can be.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and it's like, well if you want me to put out good work, you need to give me a little bit more margin right and so I think, to your point is, you had also said that it's really a myth, the idea of a quick and dirty prototype.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it really is</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- it's kind of a myth - I've worked in environments where there was a philosophy that said: we can be faster if we just slap something together and we go build it and we bring it back and see what it does. I think the people that had that idea probably didn't have any simulation tools. They didn't have any way to predict how it was going to behave - so they would make one and go try it, and then they'd find out how it didn't work and make another adjustment. So I remember working on a board that had 17 or 18 different iterations of them trying different things...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's so expensive and such a time suck!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Very expensive and it takes a lot of patience - you just kind of have to work with them and keep going and keep going. But we win when you get a management group who - I happen to work for one - it's very, very smart people, they'd like to do it right the first time. So they spend the extra time upfront. They do the research, they analyze what's going on, and then they go build it. When they build it and bring it in we're like 98 percent there, most of the time. Very few times maybe we get one or two little blue wires and we're good to go and take a few changes boom -  you're out the door. And that's a good thing and CAD tools help us do that too, by the way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well, and that's a really insightful management team I think, to know that if you take the disciplined time to do it up front, it really saves you so much on the back end in regards to time, money, and resources. I always like John Wooden's quote; he used to say: be quick but don't hurry, it's the same thing - like be nimble and quick - we don't want you dragging your feet but don't be hasty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think part of it is just having a good work ethic, the self-discipline to say: you know what, I'm here, I'm gonna focus on this, I'm gonna get it done, and I'm not gonna let Joe come over and talk to me over a half hour about the thing he was doing up on the mountains last weekend, or stop and shoot with people at the water cooler or whatever. I'm gonna stay focused on it and when I'm not here then I'm doing other things, but when I'm here I'm focused. And I think that the managers; they should analyze the people and look and see what kind of people they have, and try to work with them to get them to have that work ethic. We've got lots of distractions in our world, plenty of them, things that can take us all over the place, so it's just a personal discipline I think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we talked about, in those cases - I'm thinking about the people that are designers that are listening to us that may not have such an insightful management team as the one you work with and I'm sure you've worked for other less insightful management teams. How do you recommend that you tactfully, and professionally, push back to say, I need five more minutes to get this right  - how do you do that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well to frame it as pushback, is probably not politically nice but it's a communication. I think one of the things that you don't do, is you don't go off into a dark room somewhere and then pop out with a design later on and they're going: what's happening what's, happening, what's happening. So you have to have a lot of open lines of communication with your team. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We use SVN as a way to load our projects into a common repository and then the other engineers that are working, can download that and refresh it, make it current so the master is in the SVN file. So I'm working on basically a copy that I refresh every time I do some work. And I do that regularly, I don't wait very long and I'm refreshing it - I'd do it many times an hour sometimes. And sometimes maybe I go for a couple hours and then we'll refresh it, but it's mostly based on how much change I have made to it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The idea is to keep it current and keep the lines of communication with the other people concurrent so that they're aware of what's going on if they're busy working on the schematic while I'm working on the board we can do that in parallel, and I can do my parts get them done and then they can say, oh I found out I have to change this part, or I need this other circuit in there and I've just uploaded it - you can pull it in and and make the changes. And we do that very often.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is really great and I know here at Altium, R&D is working very hard to make sure that people can work concurrently and building those subversion networks and, even going beyond that, as we delve into Nexus and other products is to enable that, so you guys are seeing each other work in real time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Often times this is kind of a neat thing about that tool. We typically, the group I'm in is the new product development group, so we take the 'pie in the sky guys' stuff and we turn it into a product. Then we have Reliability Engineers who have to design a testbed to test the product. So oftentimes when the schematic gets to 90% they've got a copy of it and they're looking at it while we're designing it...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And there's the concurrent engineering isn't there!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It really is a tool that enables that concurrent chain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It enables it - so we're able to do that and then the guys in production want to know what's going on with it, so they can pull down a copy and look at it, and then the next time we have a review meeting they'll bring their thoughts to the meeting and they can say: we like what you did over here, but we'd like to change this because it helps us be more efficient, and we can run that back there because we need to do that; we listen to them...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is so great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-having that dynamic - real-time communication - it's really huge in being successful the first time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's great, it's great to hear. So but...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> tact is used to push back.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-tact yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I used to joke with my boss; did you ever see the movie The Money Pit?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the: we're gonna fix the house and the farmer shows up and says, how long is it gonna take? Two weeks, two weeks. We used to do that. Looks like, wow this will take two weeks. Most people can accept two weeks, but we've got a new tool now at work; Playbook - and it allows them to get all the stakeholders involved in helping us schedule the project. So people who say I'm gonna have my test part of it ready at this time, and I'm gonna have the board ready at this time, and I'm gonna have my schematic ready at this time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The managers can see the whole thing without having a good run around and bug everybody - it's all right there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If there's a problem with a schedule - update it so we know what's going on. Tell us, and they get it; they see the impacts, they see when things are going to happen and they can strategize and make plans on how they're gonna pull something in or adjust something to be successful.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's great to create the level of transparency right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so pushback is really more...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you know, that makes it sound like the manager's a bad guy. They've got a job to do and they've got to get a product to market in a timely way, at the right cost, so I'm just saying is sometimes to your earlier comment like the whips to the backs - at times it feels like that and sometimes you have to stop and go: okay...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How can I communicate better?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, how can I communicate this in a way that makes me me your ally here?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I want to help you win, we're on the same team by the way, and me getting this done right the first time...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You can help me be successful in doing it the first time, and you, and you, because I want to get all the things that you need into the design. That way you're happy with it and you can make it and you're not gonna go; damn that Bill Brooks - why did he do this?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh gosh we love the finger pointing don't we? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I've lived through a lot of that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well Bill, this has been really good and really practical, I think where the rubber meets the road. And this part of the podcast, I sometimes like to call Designers After Hours. I want to particularly focus on what you do after hours because you are a very creative kind of - use both sides of your brain - but you have a very strong right brain. So can you tell us a little bit about what you do after hours when you're not designing boards?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Gosh - let's see; was it 2008? I went through a divorce and I was trying to find something to do with my spare time and I got introduced by another engineer at Datron World Communications where I used to work; and he was taking classes in sculpting and he showed me a picture of a sculpture that he was creating; this head of his wife, and I had met his wife - she was wheelchair bound and it was so neat to see the love, you know. He is caring for her and she needs him to push her around and whatever. But he was making a sculpture of her and I thought that was really cool and the likeness was amazing! I thought, you really did a good job, I was really impressed with it. How in the world did you learn how to do that? Because I'm taking classes in Carlsbad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Bullshit - what? Nobody teaches that right, I don't see classes for sculpture anywhere. Where do you find that? And he says, no it's real, you should come check it out. So I made a point to go down and meet the teacher and the teacher introduced me to it and I thought, this looks like too much fun I’ve got try it. And that started about a six-year love affair with sculpting. And now I'm currently teaching it so - there's a place called The Green Art House in Fallbrook and every Saturday I've got a class there and I teach sculpting and it's fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And we will share this link by the way, because your mind will be blown. He doesn't just do a little hobby sculpting - </span><a href="http://www.billbrooksartist.com/sculptures.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">these are amazing sculptures he makes</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">! And oh my goodness, and then I start prodding him about painting... Oh yeah I would love to take a painting class. Bill says, oh yeah I do that too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">About two years ago - maybe almost three - I was at a gallery where I had my bronze sculptures that I had made from the sculpting studio and I was trying to see how they would be accepted in the public and so forth. So I had them in a gallery and I met a guy there, Richard Struggles who's a teacher, and he teaches how to paint and so I got brave one day and I thought: I could do this. So I went down to Michael's and I went through the paint department found the primary colors and some paintbrushes and a canvas and I said I could do this and I just bought it and took it home and I thought I'll find a picture I like and I'm gonna try it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well about three hours later I said, you know it's not bad - it doesn't look too bad, I bet if somebody taught me I could do better. So I asked him, I says I see you teaching people, can I come? He said sure come on down. So that started me learning how to paint and I've done about eight or nine paintings. One of them's a triptych; it's some cheetahs it's hanging in my mother's home, behind her couch and it's real pretty and a lot of horses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I know I love horses I owned a horse and so I love your sculptures and your paintings of horses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I used to have horses too - so I know that bond and the connection with the animal - it's amazing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So anyways, just for giggles we will share Bill's amazing artwork there because he does have a good after-hours gift there. Will you please share with me any -  I know you've shared with me some links and things we'll make sure we put those up for our listeners that could glean more information from Bill. Bill's also taught PCB at our local college here, and he has mentored many people as well as being mentored throughout his career. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I can blame that on Rick Hartley.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Rick Hartley who we just had on the podcast today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes he was, in fact, he cornered me. We were doing an interview right after the Top Gun at PCB West, and he said: Bill, you've got a lot of experience. Have you ever thought of mentoring? And I said, no I never thought about it, to me making boards was just a way to get a paycheck. Get paid, go home, buy food take care of family do all that stuff. And that seed it planted, made me seek out the </span><a href="https://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?pageid=Designers-Council"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC Designers Council</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and I joined the local group in San Diego, eventually became part of the board, and then I joined the International Group and actually became part of the Executive Committee and also the Education Committee. And I think I've got an Emeritus Status now with them. I mean I've been with them a long time and I've contributed as much as I could. In fact they gave me an award once for contributing to the industry so it's good fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we'll provide all the links we can. We thank you again for joining us Bill.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for joining us today in office and again this has been Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Bill Brooks with Nordson ASYMTEK. Thanks for listening, we'll see you next time. Until then, always stay on track.</span></p>
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Design for Manufacturability (DFM) and Assembly (DFA) tips with Jay Colognori
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Get Design for Manufacturability (DFM) tips from Jay Colognori, Director of Business Development at Electronic Instrumentation & Technology (EIT). DFM and Design for Assembly (DFA) are important to engineers who know you can’t just design a PCB and throw it over the wall to manufacturing. Early and proactive optimization of all the manufacturing functions from fabrication to assembly of the final system is key. Listen to Jay and Judy discuss high-yield designs, EIT’s value-added engineering services and the latest state-of-the-art inspection technology and test capability. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Jay was educated at Virginia Tech where he attained an EE Degree, followed by a </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Master's in Electrical Engineering </span><span style="font-weight:400;">at the University of Virginia.</span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">He spent  most of his career in the mid-atlantic and his career spans from board level electronic design to applications engineering doing custom microelectronics for a couple of years, eventually ending up in PCB Design first at TTM and now at EIT.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">EIT has been in existence for 42 years, and specialize in electronic manufacturing services, turnkey builds, box builds, and demand fulfillment and consider their Engineering value add as part of their DNA.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">EIT has three facilities on the East Coast, consisting of over 200,000 sq ft. They have a facility in Danville Virginia, headquarters in Leesburg and another in Salem, New Hampshire. Altogether they have eight surface mount lines. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The Danville facility is designated as the low-cost center of excellence and is also a 100% vertically integrated location - it is built for box builds.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Leesburg and Salem are high-tech facilities with the latest state-of-the-art universal equipment, as well as the latest and greatest inspection technology and a full suite of test capability - with a lot going on and a story that needs to get out - it’s almost been a secret!</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">New EIT website</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">DFM: Bare board tips </span> <ul><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">2 objectives - 1) to design so that it can be fabricated reliably and with high yields, and 2) so that it can be assembled</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">VM Pad requires a wrap plating process to provide a reliable button around the via.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">This process requires more copper which can wreak havoc with fine line design, so be sure to plan upfront and move those fine line geometries to the inner layers.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Overlapping via structures can’t be made. They need to be stacked and sequential, not overlapping.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Sit down with your PCB Fabricator at the time of stackup development, before you even start that router and make sure everyone’s happy with the stackup.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">FR4 has too high a Dk for high speed designs today and new materials such as teflon or ceramic-filled laminates are becoming more common.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">If you work with a new material, consult with your PCB fabricator to see how the rules have changed with that new material for the speed you desire. </span></li> </ul></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">DFA Wisdom: </span> <ul><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Common Pads - so close together that they touch, rather than routing a thin signal from pad to pad is a common problem. We don’t want them to physically share the same space which will cause loss of control over the solder flow.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Keep the pads apart and just run a small solder trace between them.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The via in the pad has to be filled, it must be plated over and planarized.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Sometimes the planarization isn’t done properly and even a little dimple, with a BGA on top, will cause the gas trapped beneath the solder paste, to expand ferociously and blow all the solder out of the pad at reflow. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Always use non-conductive filler it’s much less expensive. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The benefit of using conductive fill from a thermal point is negligible and is too expensive for the return.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Thermal conductivity is defined in Wattmeters - if you use a conductive fill, you only get 6 more wattmeters which is rather pointless because the copper is already doing all the work. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">When a thermal via is located in a big plane, with a copper button around it - the button will be in contact with the plane and this is a big no-no. It compromises the solder flow again. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Do a sprocket arrangement around that thermal via button. This will create a gap between the button and plane and sprockets simply act as traces surrounding it - very good design practice, frequently missed. Especially on backplanes with active components, this will require retooling to enable manufacturability.</span></li> </ul></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Why has design migrated as a service inside many EMS companies? What is the value to the customer?</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">It’s a benefit to both the customer and the EMS. We want to do more for the customer than just assemble the circuit cards. We want projects going through without a hitch, no delays. What we all want is production of electronics. </span></li> </ul><ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Why did EIT recently choose to onboard Altium Designer internally over other tools?</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Firstly it’s an all-inclusive package. It’s schematic and design, we like the ECAD and MCAD interface which makes it easy to do 3D fit models. We love the room creation capability that allows you to reuse previous designs. It has very solid DFM rules capability which are set up in advance - that’s a nice piece of insurance. It’s reasonably priced compared to the other high-end tools as well.</span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Engineers After Hours: Big hiker, especially the Rocky Mountains. We’re going to do 3 national parks this summer. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Unique hobbies? Jay has been a dart player since the age of 19. Played in a couple of US opens. Pro advice: 2-3 beers is the sweet spot for optimal dart throwing performance. </span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.eit.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">EIT Electronic Instrumentation & Technology Website</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jay-colognori-8705614/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Jay Colognori on Linkedin</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/eit-llc/"><span style="font-weight:400;">EIT on Linkedin </span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.eit.com/about/news/2018/03/08/jay-colognori-appointed-director-business-development-eit-llc"><span style="font-weight:400;">About Jay Colognori</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018: Annual PCB Design Summit</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone, this is Judy Warner with Altium's </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thanks for joining us again. I appreciate everyone that's following, we are spreading like wildfire and we thank you for all your comments and opinions and we always look forward to hearing about things you want to hear - so reach out to us on Twitter; I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, or you can connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or Altium is on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium?lang=en"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So today I have a longtime friend and ex colleague, Jay Colognori and Jay is the Director of business development at EIT which is Electronic Instrumentation and Technology in Richmond Virginia, and you're gonna have fun just listening to Jay because it's like talking to Matthew McConaughey!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you girls out there? We're gonna just have fun listening to Jay talk...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just kidding, but he does have a nice Southern drawl.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Jay, thanks so much for joining us today, and we look forward to talking to you about DFA and some technical stuff today. So thanks for joining.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you for having me. This is an exciting time at EIT we just added on Altium capability and so I'm delighted to get to the word out, and what better way to do it than talking to you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, you know when you suck up to your friends at Altium, you get on the podcast. That's how it works around here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Jay, Why don't you start out by telling our listeners a little bit about your educational background and your professional background sort of set the stage for us?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay sure. I picked up an EE Degree at Virginia Tech and then a Master's EE at the University of Virginia. So you could say I'm a son of Virginia for sure. I managed to spend most of my career here in the Mid-Atlantic and my career spans from board-level electronic design to integrated circuits, VLSI design, and then kind of jumped over to the other side of the table and became an Applications Engineer, doing custom microelectronics and had a few years running a rep firm making some commissions along the way, and then I ended up in the printed circuit board business working for DDI and VIASystems, now TTM, and one of my customers was a company called Zentech which was an Electronic Manufacturing services company, and I went to work for them. And now I work for EIT who is also situated in the Mid-Atlantic. I do want to correct one thing you mentioned. I live in Richmond, Virginia, but EIT is based in Leesburg, Virginia where we have two other facilities, I can talk some more about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Alright. Thanks for correcting me there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So with all that variety of background why don't you tell us a little bit about where you are now and about EIT and what their expertise is, and what kind of technology makes they handle and so forth? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah. Okay, so I joined EIT back in March, very happy to be there. This is a company that's in its 42nd year of providing...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah - Engineering services which then led to electronic manufacturing services. So we do both; engineering is very much in our DNA, we consider our engineering value-add to be an important part of most of our customer relationships.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, you know, the thing about being in the electronic manufacturing service is that it's kind of a commodity when you look at it from the standpoint of just picking and placing parts with machines. So, we're looking to engage customers at additional levels, including engineering, turnkey builds, turnkey testing solutions, of all manner, box build if necessary, demand fulfillment, soup-to-nuts… so that we're doing more than just using those machines. And EIT has three facilities on the East Coast. Altogether we have over 200,000 square feet of brick and mortar which makes us pretty big for a small company. We have a facility in Danville, Virginia. Our headquarters is in Leesburg. And then another in Salem, New Hampshire. Altogether, I've got eight surface mount lines to keep busy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Danville is what we designated our low-cost center of excellence. It's also a 100% vertically integrated location because they can do any kind of metalwork, cabling wire, box build. We have all that in place. It's a purpose-built facility to support the box builds, which we like to do for our customers. We don't do metal stand-alone, although occasionally I'll build a heat sink or something for somebody. We tend to allocate that factory towards our customer box builds.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then Leesburg, and Salem New Hampshire are high-tech facilities, they both have the latest state-of-the-art universal equipment, so we can back each other up if something goes wrong and they both have a full suite of the latest and greatest and automated inspection technologies and a full suite of test capability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow that sounds impressive!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a heck of a lot going on, and a story that needs to get out; it's kind of been a kept a secret lately so yeah...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I haven't heard of them. I mean I'm on the left coast, of course, but I had not heard of them, but they sound like a really great facility with a really good… going all the way from true engineering to box builds. That's nice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So… and we'll make sure to share the </span><a href="https://www.eit.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">link</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, by the way, for any of you listeners who are looking for a good EMS or engineering service or whatever. We'll be sure to share that link on the show notes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So yeah, and please do, because we're launching a new website next week, so I want to get that out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay. Hopefully the timing for that'll work out. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay. Alright good. We'll send you some traffic for your new website. So Jay, because of the breadth of your knowledge and experience and background I thought it'd be great for our listeners today if you shared a few tips from, you know, being that you came from some of the largest board manufacturers and certainly in North America and almost the world - maybe three tips or so, on bare boards and then a few on DFA to help the designers in our audience, and engineers in our audience, that might want to learn a few tips and tricks from a pro?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, you know I came up with a few of each, you know, really when you're looking to design a printed circuit board, you have two fundamental objectives: one, to design it so that it can be fabricated reliably and with high yields. And then two; so that it can be assembled. So there's mistakes that can be made that can affect both key processes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So first of all, let's talk a little bit about PCB design issues that affect PCB fabrication and reliability and, you know, none of these I think are gonna be earth-shattering, but it's interesting to see the same mistakes being made a lot over and over again.So, we just kind of keep - we're banging the drum and we hope everybody gets the message sooner or later.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, I guess beginning with VM pad. There's more and more VM pad today, by necessity, and VM pad, in order to be done reliably, requires a wrap plating process. Without getting into specifics of what that does, what the purpose of it is, it provides a reliable button around the via. Without the wrap plating process. It's an unreliable arrangement, but that requires the addition of more copper on the outer layers than you would see otherwise, and this wreaks havoc with the fine line design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, if you're at 3 mill tracing space or below, you really can't tolerate that extra copper; so it requires planning upfront. Understand, if you're gonna need wrap plating and if so, maybe move those fine lines geometries to the inner layers where that won't come into play.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And it'll get you, I mean, you think your design's done and then the next thing you know, your fabricator says, well you know, you realize I'm going to add this much copper to the outside and now you're violating tracing space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I've seen this happen too when there's multiple on RF and microwave boards too and you have... when you're doing sequential LAM or whatever, and you keep plating, plating, and people don't, when they do their simulations, don't add in those extra layers are getting extra copper too. So you really can throw you off.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All right. That's a good one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Here's another one that you know, I'm told we're still seeing a lot of it in the market by the guys that I used to work with at DDI, and that is, you know, they'll see overlapping via structures where the designer has put a via from say, level one and three, and another one from level two to eight; that can't be made. They have to be stacked; they have to be sequential. They can't be overlapping but believe it or not. You see it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I've seen it many many times, but you know, to be fair, sometimes when I look at those cords and figure out how they're gonna be stacked up, it… you know. I get confused too. So...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I mean, I'll say this again and again: sit down with your PCB fabricator at the time you develop your stack up and your basic via structure and basically your structure is going to be driven by the toughest part of the design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Maybe it's a BGA with a finer pitch than you've ever used before. You're not even sure how to route it, you're probably going to have to stack some micro vias, or at the very least, have some blind or buried vias to get the job done. Sit down with a fabricator, before you even start that router, and make sure that everybody likes the stack up and that it looks manufacturable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yep, very sound advice. Okay, that's another good one, got another one for us?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">One more I want to talk about, because this is happening more and more, you know, all the designs are getting faster and faster. I mean, high speed digital is now in the radio frequency and, FR4 is just has too high a dielectric for most of the new designs now, so many PCB designers are going to have to work with materials they haven't worked with before, the more exotic, more expensive materials, and when you start talking about fabricating a PCB with Teflon versus FR4, you're talking about different processing altogether.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, when you go to a new material, consult with your PCB guy as to which material would be suitable for the speed you're looking at, and ask them, okay, how have the rules changed with that material? What are your limitations?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And you can ask the EMS provider the same question, because the parent circuit board is the foundation upon which all of our business is done. So we understand PCBs, but I think especially with materials you want to talk to the fabricator.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it's true and when I worked for an RF and microwave shop once, I told them, I said: you know, sometimes when you see a piece of Teflon material and a piece of... I don't know, Rogers 4350, until you strip the coffer off. You can't tell it's different, but inside the board shop that Teflon can turn into bubble gum, it's not reinforced. But when you take the copper off and you go like this [motions] it like flaps in the wind where 43-50 will remain rigid so, kind of gives you a visual sense of, this is radically different. And the way that it processes inside the shop, and how, the way it interacts with chemicals, moisture, heat, so it is true - the closer you can be when you go into those materials, to your fabricator. Okay, those were three good ones. All right how about DFA wisdom?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, well one we see quite often, and I guess it's tempting for the designer to do this, because he thinks he's kind of found a shortcut and a way to use less PCB area, but you see a lot of guys trying to use what we call common pads, and these are pads that are so close together that they touch, rather than routing a thin signal from pad to pad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So these pads do share the same signal, but we don't want them to physically share the same space. That causes us problems with controlling what the solder does once it flows, so keep those pads apart, and run a just a small signal trace between them. And then we'll let the solder mask do the rest, and we can control the flow of the solder. So that's a real simple one, but we run into it a lot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I talked before about VM pad, we see a lot of designs where people don't fill that via. If the via is in the pad, it's got to be filled, and it must be plated over and planerized. Sometimes that's done properly sometimes it's not. There's a little dimple there...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yup.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If there's a dimple in that pad and I place a BGA ball on top of that gas, it's gonna get trapped underneath the solder paste that I apply and there'd be a little air in that dimple and heated gas expands; it expands ferociously. It doesn't want to stay where it is and it'll blow all the solder right out of the pad at reflow time and you know I have customers argue with me against it, it is expensive to fill and planerize via, but it's the right thing to do. You have to do it if you want reliable BGA connections. These are leadless parts that we can't inspect visually, we have to use x-ray.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's not really practical to use a hundred percent x-ray inspection except on high-reliability applications like military, maybe medical. So we lot, we lot-sample these BGAs with X-ray and if we don't see any problems with a lot we carry on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, I can't emphasize that enough, to fill those vias and fill those vias properly. And I would add further, that there's no point, you know, we have some people that are using thermal vias, these are vias really which are designed, not necessarily to conduct an electrical signal, although they do, but to conduct electricity from a hot part from maybe a ground plane, might be an inner layer or wherever, and you run into people who call out… so there has to be a filling to fill those vias before they're plated over.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And there's two types of filling: there's conductive and there's non-conductive. I strongly recommend never to use conductive. Non conductive is much less expensive. The benefit of using conductive fill from a thermal point of view is super minimal. I mean, the copper's doing all the work...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and if you need to draw or pull more current or more thermal energy, just create more thermal vias because the copper's doing all of the work. I mean, I'll give you some numbers: thermal conductivity is defined in wattmeters, a typical via is going to give you over 600 wattmeters of conduction, if you fill it with conductive fill you only get six more wattmeters. What's that compared to...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-380 I'm sorry, 380's what the copper gives you. The non-conductive only has point six wattmeters.But the point is both of those are in the noise compared to with the copper's doing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And last but not least. Good luck trying to get a printed circuit board fabricated in China with conductive fill they don't do it over there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Really?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right so well, maybe somebody's doing it but we're having a hard time finding any.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting hhm.Why is that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because it's not, it's not...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They just don't like it? It's not important so we're just not doing it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't think anybody should be doing it, it doesn't make sense to me, it's too expensive for the return.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting, I'd never heard that before actually, but it makes sense with those numbers. I'm kind of surprised it took root for a while.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We recommended as far back as five years ago, at DDI, not to use conductive fill, I think it's a dinosaur that it's day has come and gone, but there's probably some engineers out there right now, going no!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Huuu! [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We'll see...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well show me the data, you know, and when when there's enough good research out there and data people stop doing it. I'm sure. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, so along the lines of thermal vias, here's another tip. A lot of times a thermal via will be located in a big plane so you'll have the via, and the copper button around it will actually be in contact with the plane - this is a no-no. This makes it very hard to deal with the solder flow again. So what we ask our customers to do; is do a sprocket arrangement around that thermal via button and so basically that button will exist -  there'll be a gap between it and the plane around it, and then the sprockets are simply traces above, below, and the right and left and that - it's an arrangement of the sprocket - very good design practice, frequently missed and, it's not unusual that we have to go back and retool the board to add those in order to make it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Especially back planes with active components; you see a lot of that and they have to retool to add that feature to make it manufacturable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, these are good tips. You were concerned you didn't have good tips. I think these are really good tips actually.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well glad you do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I do, not that I spend all my days, you know, pondering DFA these days, but that's good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know Jay, you and I worked together for a small bit of time and something I've noticed over the years I don't know... maybe five, ten years, it seems like there's been a migration of more EMS shops that go in to have PCB designers in their shop and not so much I guess, fabricators - at least that I've noticed, they may be there, of course they do with larger shops, but why do you think that is and why do you think that's a good idea?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I think it's a great idea for both the customer and the EMS. We, as I mentioned before, we want to do more for the customer than just assemble the circuit cards and if a customer, an Altium customer, finds themselves in a position where they need to outsource some of their design, maybe they you know, their designers are saturated, maybe they just need the resources.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What better place to do it than at a guy that knows how to assemble the cards and really understands the issues about fabrication and about assembly. Your chances are that the design from your EMS provider is going to go right through new product introduction without a hitch, whereas if you do it internally and you're not aware of some of the issues you know, it won't go through it without a hitch. We may not catch the problem until it's too late. And we may see several tooling iterations, and you'll see a delay and nobody wants to delay during new product introduction - everybody's in a hurry to get their prototypes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And nobody wants to waste money because that's going to be expensive too -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, but we think there's a lot of serendipity between that particular engineering function and getting to what we all want. Which is production of electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well that does make sense in that, we both know Mike Brown, and Mike I trusted implicitly to know about fab and assembly and he would catch all that stuff so he did have a broader understanding than maybe, somebody who just does, you know has a consulting firm say, that does designs because he's around it all the time all, day long so there's certainly a lot of exposure there. So that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, first of all, welcome to the Altium family! You told me recently that your designer on-boarded Altium Designer 18, that's exciting for us. So thank you for that. What made you - I'm gonna go for a little pat on the back for Altium right here. I want you to tell us why you, why EIT chose to go Altium Designer over perhaps another tool?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay. Well, we think some of the key features of Altium; first of all, it's an all-inclusive package so it's schematic capture and printed circuit board design. You don't have to worry about working with two different pieces of software.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We like the fact that there's an e-CAD m-CAD interface which makes it really easy for us to do three-dimensional fit models once we place the components. We love the room creation capability which as I understand it, allows you to take a previous design, a piece of it, and then just kind of cut and paste it right into your new design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you don't have to reinvent the wheel. I think that's pretty strong and then, last but not least very solid DFM rules capability that you know, is really going to help us get to where we need to be. I mean the fact is these boards need to be designed to IPC standards and the fabricators have tailored their process to meet these standards; and when you send them something that's outside those bounds, the mechanism sort of locks up. It just doesn't work. You'll get a 'no-bid' or bells will go off, so those design rules are critical and that you have the ability to set them up in advance is a nice piece of insurance so; I think it's a reasonably priced tool compared to the other high-end tools as well. So we're pleased to have it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good. Well, thank you again we're happy to have you on board and I'll needle you later about sending your designer to AltiumLive because we're gonna have a really good conference with some good training coming up. So your designer will probably enjoy going if you guys have the time and budget to do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, keep me posted on when and where.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I will it's coming up in October. So Jay, we're kind of wrapping up here, but if you've listened to these podcasts before, you'll know that sometimes I like to ask designers or engineers like yourself, what you like to do after hours, and we call this portion of the podcast designers after hours. So, I know you have a couple interesting hobbies...so why don't you tell those to our listeners because I think they're kind of fun?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I'm looking forward to 10 days in Montana and Wyoming this September, I'm a big hiker, and nothing is more fun than hiking up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. So we're gonna hit three national parks; we're gonna do about two to six hours of hiking a day or as much as my legs can give me and just have just an awesome lifetime outdoor experience and hopefully not run into a grizzly bear along the way… my wife's really worried about that, by the way [laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Bring your grizzly repellent!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then, I know you wanted me to talk about one other thing...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My favorite...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, as you know, we business development types are very competitive and what better setting to compete against each other than you know, in a pub throwing some darts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I've been a dart player since I was 19 and took it very seriously for a while, and spent way too much time on it. Actually traveled every weekend to tournaments all around the United States and played in a couple of US Opens. But that was a long time ago, now I just play for fun on Monday nights.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That cracks me up. You are the one and only competitive traveling dart player that I know... Okay, but my favorite part is - tell about the beer to success ratio of a good dart player.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah, so so we're throwing a 27 gram projectile at a target about the size of a dime and turns out, that if you get nervous or you try too hard, you're not going to be very successful with that. So, it turns out that, that second or third beer really kind of smooths out your stroke and you generally shoot a little bit better. At least that's what we rationalize.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And what happens if you go over three?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, that's that's a slippery slope indeed. You've got to be careful...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That is so funny oh my gosh. Okay well, that is like one of my favorite, I think, designer after our hobbies yet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So when I come out, we'll find a place and throw a few.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay. Alright, I'll get my three beers ready</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, actually for me, I'd be like half a beer, like three beers you'd be putting me in an Uber and sending me home. I'm a wimp.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Jay, thanks so much for your time. These have been great tips and it's good to see your face my friend, and I wish you all the success at EIT, and we will certainly share all the links in the show notes and we'll also put the link to </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> in the show notes and we'll encourage your designer to come out and join us as one of the new new beasts of the Altium family. So we'll include that as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thanks again for joining and we'll talk to you soon, my friend.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you Judy, it was my pleasure. Thanks again for listening to the podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This has been Judy Warner with the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium OnTrack podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Jay Colognori from EIT, and we look forward to seeing you next time. Until then always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Ted Pawela, Altium COO, Shares Vision for the Future
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ted Pawela, Altium COO, joins Judy Warner to discuss how Altium intends to fundamentally transform the electronics design industry, what Altium’s vision for the future looks like, and what to expect in Altium Designer 19. They also touch on Altium’s upcoming international design conference, AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, and why everyone in the community is encouraged to attend. Learn about Altium’s vision to bring PCB design and manufacturing closer together — a world where design turnbacks and respins can be avoided by bringing DFM constraints into the design tool itself. Listen to this special episode of the OnTrack podcast to learn more and remember to share your comments and ideas below.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ted started out in ocean engineering - multidisciplinary in nature, not just physics or mechanical. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Altium’s commitment and advocacy of engineers/industry - Altium stands for the Engineer</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The Altium origin story - anyone who needs a tool should have it, so let’s give them tools no matter what age or budget i.e. free product including Octopart and Upverter</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Upverter is for the makers and inventors of tomorrow. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">It’s our mission to transform the electronics industry.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The whole product realization process is discontinuous. We want to change that.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">AltiumLive announcement and AD19 announcement</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Goal is to deliver incremental pcb design capabilities that would take us to places we haven’t been before - like High Speed Design - it’s not something we can deliver in one release. AD18 was the foundation.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Design and manufacturing worlds can come closer together.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The power of CAD can be problematic - it can be overwhelming, needs to be feedback from the tool to help find problems.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">New company acquired - PCB:ng (NG=next generation) is board assembly manufacturing, low volume, high mix. Good for prototypes. Their mission is to create a manufacturing line where designers can know everything about it so design constraints can be removed from the start.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ciiva - another company trying to solve the same problem. They created a bill of material that allows you to know the lifecycle state of what you are selecting. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We all want manufacturing insights at design time, Altium is bringing the pieces together to transform the industry. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive - Designers, manufacturers, fab, assembly, all came </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">together</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> to discuss industry problems. It’s about inspiring the </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">community</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> to think about current industry challenges and discuss possible solutions.</span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">How many Industry Conferences are out there? PCB West, DesignCon (chip and board level), PCB Carolinas, Electronica, Embedded World - but are there any that put the PCB designer front and center? </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium wants to provide this for the PCB designer; see </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2017-has-come-close#Sessions"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2017 Retrospective</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> to see the presentations from last year. You don’t have to be an Altium Designer user to come to AltiumLive. </span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/san-diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altiumlive 2018</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> this year will have one day, before AltiumLive officially begins, of extra learning sessions you can add on, the two options (which will run concurrently) include:  University Day, focused on learning Altium Designer or High Speed Design with Lee Ritchey.</span></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/san-diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altiumlive 2018</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Podcast</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/newsletter"><span style="font-weight:400;">Newsletter</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://octopart.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Octopart</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://upverter.com/dashboard/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Upverter</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://ciiva.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">CIIVA</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2017-has-come-close#Sessions"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2017 Retrospective</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone, this is Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack Podcast, thanks for joining us again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Today I have a rare treat for you, but before we get started I'd like to invite you to please subscribe to our </span><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ontrack-with-judy-warner/id1352047876?mt=2"><span style="font-weight:400;">podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on your favorite podcast app or favorite us on an RSS feed, and remember we also record this on video simultaneously, so if you want to see our sunshiny faces you can go over to YouTube on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOUmnl-n1maMRMBFiosXhaQ"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's channel</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and go under videos, and you'll see </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJI43BCRnVwYw665Vv9ZclKLDsAmAvoE3"><span style="font-weight:400;">all the podcasts recorded in video</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'd also like to invite you to </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">connect with me on LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, I share lots of information to engineers and PCB designers and I'd love to connect with you there as well and on Twitter, I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. So today, I have the rare treat of inviting in one of our esteemed executives; I esteem you Ted. So Ted Pawela is with us today, he is the COO here at Altium and we're going to talk a lot about the direction of Altium and really kind of get a peek behind the curtain. So I'm excited to share him with you, so Ted, welcome.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks Judy, I appreciate you having me on here and I'm actually really excited about the the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">podcast series</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> that you're doing, and see a lot of the feedback from people and it's a little bit humbling to be here given the actual magnitude of the guests that you've had here from industry and so forth, so I'm not sure I can live up to that but I'll do my very best.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I think you rank but  we're glad to have you. So before we get started, I thought it'd be fun for the audience to know a little bit about your engineering background. So you haven't always dwelled in the halls of the executive world; you kind of came up through engineering, so tell us a little bit about your background there?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true it's probably not a very prototypical upbringing into the industry and so forth, but I actually  started my... I guess you could say my engineering career, back in the education space. My undergraduate degree was actually in Ocean Engineering, and the interesting thing, I think about Ocean Engineering and Altium, is that Ocean Engineering is one of those disciplines, or one of those engineering fields that is multidisciplinary in nature, so it doesn't focus only on mechanical or only on physics, or any given thing, but it's actually very multidisciplinary. In fact, like when I think back on it, I did a thesis project that was to create an underwater acoustic transponder system - which sounds pretty fancy, but it was basically a device where you could send acoustic signals underwater to tell this device to do something. In this case, it was to release a buoy from the bottom, that had a rope tied to it. It might be attached to an anchor or something else you might want to recover, and that system, we had to actually design the electronics as well as the mechanical system. It all had to work underwater so I think back on that a lot because, following that, I spent a lot of time more in kind of mechanical domains, and so this in some ways as a homecoming for me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">To come back to being at Altium and be involved in electronics, so that was kind of the beginning. I worked in the underwater defense industry for 10 or 11 years as a real engineer doing actual design work and at that time I wasn't really focused on electronics, but more in the worlds of underwater acoustics and mechanical systems and how those converged. So they're kind of different kinds of physics, different equations that you have to solve, and so I spent a lot of time trying to make those two things mathematically work together. And then from there I actually ended up, because I was working with software, and in this case it was Ansys software and, actually Abacus software at the time you know, that has now become Somalia over at TISOL, but I was working with those two softwares which are simulation softwares in the mechanical world and I was presenting at conferences and things like that. And I had the opportunity actually, to join Ansys and I did, and that kinda took me from that world of, real hardcore engineering into the software side of the business and and I loved that and I've now been at a number of software companies, all engineering software companies, and it's become something that I have a passion for, and that I really enjoy and love and feel really fortunate to have found my way to Altium.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we're glad to have you, you've definitely been a change agent here for good and what I really love about Altium and I think that you appreciate it like I do, is if you walk through these halls very long here at the La Jolla office there really are a lot of people that have kind of that cross-disciplinary feel or... but we really do advocate and care about the engineer and that sounds kind of corny.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But I think because there are lots of people, even like myself that were in fabrication or where I was selling and sort of in the weeds, It makes me feel excited to come to work in the morning and to be able to advocate and to help enable, sort of the next generation of technology, and be part of that so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, I'm excited about that as well and I think, fundamentally it comes down to this sort of basic notion that's independent of any industry, is that if you do the right thing for your customers and you really think about them, that they do good things by you as well and so I think we get that here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">From the top of the organization through to, and across all places in the organization and definitely that is kind of a cultural element here that I both appreciate and I'm kind of committed to perpetuating and extending as much as we can.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well a fun note here, is that Ted actually hired me into the organization.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and I actually reported direct to him when I first joined and I - I think we really resonated on that note, and that really, Ted's really been the empowering force behind everything that I do here personally at Altium. So I really appreciate this </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/newsletter"><span style="font-weight:400;">Newsletter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, so we've had a blast doing some of that stuff and doing things really with with the designer and engineer mind. So that's been fun - well to your point, I think that's a good jumping-off point what we wanted to talk about today is Altium's identity, you know. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What from your perspective, what is it that Altium stands for?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, I think, you said it, maybe in different words at the beginning of this and I think Altium stands for the engineer, for the designer, for the people who actually have to do the work. And I think that it's one of the things that makes us different from other software companies so we're not really thinking about things like, typical things that I've seen in other companies, like how do we sell higher into organizations? How do we get executives to buy in so that we can do kind of  top-down? How we can get top-down decisions to standardize on our software and things like that. The thing about - that I really noted about Altium - and the culture of doing business and working with people here, is that it's really focused on that. The guy who's got to do the work. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And and I think largely, I believe that's the thing that we, that we really stand for and you'll probably remember that... you know, I tell the story to a lot of people and pretty frequently, about when I came here you know, trying to uncover what I felt was, or what was the fundamental kind of characteristics of Altium's brand and it's identity and, and it kind of rooted in a discussion I had with one of our board members David Warren, who has since retired, but but David was one of the first couple of guys into the company and when they started the company it wasn't, it wasn't a company yet, it was actually a couple of guys who are trying to build electronics at the time, and this goes back 30 years or so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know CAD software, E-CAD software in particular, it existed but it was really expensive. It only ran on expensive high-end computers and I think, nobody in the room, yourself included may remember those days but I remember those days when we had to buy Apollo workstations and big expensive machines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know that $50,000 in back - this was back in the 80s...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-that was your barrier to entry so it was a lot of money and a lot of people who were involved in design didn't have access to that, they didn't have those budgets.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so, and these two guys were among those. And they actually set out to say, how could we - how could we have software like that for ourselves? Well they decided to create it, and they wanted to create it in a way that it would be accessible not just for themselves but for anybody who needed it so they built it to run on on PCs and that was the genesis of Altium.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There were people out there who were doing and trying to do amazing things in the world of technology and engineering who didn't have access to all the tools and they wanted to provide that access for themselves, and for others, and you know for me, and for the company, I mean that's really a core part of what we stand for. Be for the engineer but make that technology accessible and make it accessible to people who need it, even when they don't have big budgets to work with, sometimes they don't have any budgets to work with. So that, to me, that's really what Altium stands for.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I think we have the best sort of origin story ever, especially because Dave Warren, at the time was - I believe he was teaching at University - he said to me once that there was all these young passionate people that have these great ideas and no access and so there was he was kind of incensed by that and that sort of, filtered and still sort of lives in this company, this feeling of anyone - anyone who needs a tool should have it. Because you can have a great idea at any age, at any phase so let's give them tools. And I really love that, that it's lasted long past the time that Dave Warren and these two guys sort of kicked this company off, it's really persisted and I really I really like that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, I think it's not just persisted because it's in the spirit of the employees who work here and everything, but I can tell you that we make our decisions on that basis. I mean the basis of, kind of being true to what we represent, and so we think about that. We think about who are the underdogs, and how do we empower them? And not, kind of like leave them behind, in pursuit of purely making money in business - and we are a business - we're a commercial business, and of course we want to make money; our shareholders expect us to make money and, on the other hand we think that there's many ways to do that. And you know, everyone may know, we have multiple products and kind of like multiple price points - that's one way. But we also try to think out of the box a little bit and so as an example; we have, I guess one of our brands called Octopart, where people can go and search for parts and so forth, and you can do that as an engineer and you don't pay to use that - it's actually kind of a seller pays model right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So when somebody buys parts after they've searched throughout the parts and we may get a small fraction of that revenue, or people advertise on that site and we get a little bit of revenue from that, but we don't have to charge it to the user and we think about - that's an example - but we are always thinking about how do we take a product like </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/upverter-and-the-future-of-browser-based-pcb-design-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Upverter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> for example, that actually was, before we acquired it, they charged a subscription fee. We made it free, with the intent that we would find ways to kind of indirectly monetize that in a in a seller pays kind of model.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because we want to make that technology accessible to the maker community, to the kind of inventors and creators of tomorrow who who don't have money today. So you know, it's like I said, it's a core part of the decision-making process here; is how do we stay true to that vision of making technology accessible to everyone?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it's just so refreshing to hear from an executive a software company I think - you know - it's not something I think you hear a lot, like money does lead in many cases, but it's clear to me that there's a guiding principle behind that. That,of course you have to be disciplined and answer to stockholders and do all those things, but you can do that in fresh and new ways and...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's the key, because I think again, we want it, we need to be a sustainable business or else the technology that we provide won't be here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">In ten years or something and of course we don't want that to happen…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right but there are, interesting and different ways you can do it requires that you maybe, are willing to think outside of the conventional wisdom or the best practices and so forth and… that's one of the things that I like about Altium, is that we really do try to break those... mmm... norms and...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and you know, think about how we can do it differently and just don't accept status quo. Don't accept best practice just because that's the way it's always been done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well to me, it's innovation and...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and we try to build innovation into our software all the time, so we're building innovation into our model too which I really love. So what would you say, do we... would you say we have a defined mission? I mean, beyond what you kind of spelled out, so like an actual defined mission?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh absolutely, so I think everyone at Altium, we've refined this thinking in the way that we articulate it internally, but if you were to look at the things that we present externally, like when we do go to shareholder meetings, and in particular, we do a technology day to our Investor Community and we've done it the last several years in Australia. And that you can </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/company/investor-relations/investor-news/market-announcements"><span style="font-weight:400;">see the presentations on the web</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and so forth, but that's a real clue for anybody who really wants to know where Altium is going. If you'd look at those things directionally that gives you a lot of guidance and the thing that we say over and over and over again is that it's our mission to transform the electronics industry.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And specifically, what I mean by that, is that creating electronics is more than just about the design process and the design tools and and so there's what I would - kind of call it a value chain - that's involved right, you have people who think about the product and what's the intent of the product and that kind of breaks down into requirements for mechanical systems, for electronic systems, and all of that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But even then, the job's not over, because there have to be components that are supplied to that or that are selected from that and then found and acquired. There has to be a board that gets manufactured; the bare board. There has to be the assembly and fabrication of the full, system level board and everything and sometimes it's multiple boards, and then it's all got to be put together and so the job’s not really done until everybody does that and the thing that is sort of striking about the electronics industry, is that that's a really discontinuous process, we kind of like, all think within our sort of domains with our blinders on and we believe that it's our... it's gonna sound a little silly - but it's our self-directed destiny to kind of change that. That's what we want to do, so the mission of the company is to really change, to transform the way that electronics are conceived, designed, manufactured and delivered to the world, and we think there's lots of opportunities to do that a lot better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I know personally, a lot of people have asked me about, why are you buying these... you know, how does... why? I remember Happy Holden last year saying; Upverter? And so it's because they think of us primarily as just a </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/solution/cad-software-for-pcb-design"><span style="font-weight:400;">CAD provider</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so I think not a lot of people understand that we have our sights set much higher than that - along those lines - I'd like to dig into that a little bit more. But before we do that, we are sort of - AltiumLive will be here in San Diego in October, and we will be, at least doing a marketing release then, of showing what will be in Altium Designer 19.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We will.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And you mentioned to me that I had kind of thought - even just working here - you're down the hall from me but my impression was that Altium Designer 19 was going to be sort of an iterative release and that </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/altium-designer/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium Designer 18 was massive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. We changed the platform, we really revolutionized the tool in so many ways so I thought: well we're going to catch our breath, add a few little bells and whistles and be on our way down the road, but you're telling me no, it's going to be big. So, can you without giving away the secret sauce, tell us a little bit about sort of the intent?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well, so I mean there's things that are still  forming, it's kind of like the cake is still in the oven baking right now, so not necessarily ready to share a lot of detail but here's what I will tell you about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">First of all you're right, Altium Designer 19,  it's not just another release, just like 18 wasn't just another release and, in fact, if I shorten it just for the sake of simplicity, AD, AD18, AD19 and, AD20 are really a set of releases that are linked together in a fundamental way, and so what we wanted to do with that series of releases was in part - it kind of gets to this thing that I was talking about, this idea of transforming the electronics industry and specifically what we wanted to do with AD18, 19 and 20 - was to deliver incremental PCB design capabilities that would take us to places we hadn't been before so, and specifically into </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/lee-ritchey-and-high-speed-digital-design-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">high speed design</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Historically... you know...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yay! my favorite subject</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know you have lots of time invested into that segments of the industry and know lots of people there and and we think that's important that we can do better to support that and AD18, 19, and 20, that was one of the core kind of objectives there, was to help Altium to kind of grow up in terms of high speed design capabilities. But it wasn't something that... I mean it's kind of massive, and it's, in terms of being able to do it, so it wasn't something we were able to deliver in a single release...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-in fact when I think about high speed design, specifically AD18, was kind of like delivering foundational capabilities that are required to do the kind of complex and large designs that typically we see in high speed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you didn't see particular high speed capabilities there, not big ones yet, anyways in AD18, but what you did see was that we moved from our old </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/documentation/18.0/display/ADES/Using+Database+Libraries+with+32-bit+and+64-bit+Altium+Design+Software+on+the+same+Computer"><span style="font-weight:400;">32-bit platform to 64-bit</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We went from single threaded activity to multi-threaded within the application, and things like that; that are kind of the plumbing...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it's like the foundation...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right, they need to be there for us to be able to exercise those high-speed capabilities that we wanted to build in. With AD19 you'll start to see more of the capabilities now coming out. It won't be complete but there will certainly be designs in the realm of high speed that people will start to be able to do and it'll become visible that we're really going somewhere with that and then AD20, will be the one where we move a lot towards a more completed set of capabilities for high speed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's one sort of key thing that I would say is that - certainly at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and as we come out with AD19 - you will see real capabilities that start to bring us into that world. The other thing though, is making real this idea of beginning to bring about industry transformation, and specifically, even at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2017-has-come-close"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive last year</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, one of the things we heard over and over again in the talks was people who were in board fabrication and assembly and manufacturing and who think about DFM and things like that, who were saying over and over and over again: you guys out there in the design community don't think about us. I know the manufacturing world, not nearly enough and often enough, and conversely  we heard from people on the design side saying kind of similar things back to manufacturing so those two worlds have been historically siloed, as you said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It comes up, I cannot tell you how often this comes up in this </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">podcast series</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> it's just a persistent problem, everybody knows it's there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it is a huge problem and I think in one of the things that I'm really excited about with AD19 is that you're going to see some you're gonna see some things that are fairly dramatic in terms of helping to bring those two worlds together to where people who are doing design will be in contact with people who are involved in manufacturing while they're designing. And you know, the ultimate endgame for that, is that you would imagine a world where when you are doing design, you don't only have design constraints to think about but the manufacturing constraints are things that guide what you can and can't do and how you create that so that you avoid those kind of like downstream... not exactly mistakes,but those downstream things that you didn't think about that cause design turn backs and spends that are really not needed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, they're not needed and cost so much money and time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes so, AD19 is going to be, I think it's gonna be really impactful and kind of transformative in the way that design and designers, and people in the manufacturing side of the business will be able to work together. So I don't want to spill too much of that, but it's gonna be, I honestly think this is  in many ways, a bigger, more transformative thing than AD18 was which was pretty huge, for us at least, in seeing our tool transform.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">When you said that to me I'm like: wait what? I was shocked when you said that to me about a week ago I was like, wait I work here and I don't know, and I talked to developers regularly and I think because I get just little glimpses of pieces I'm not seeing the overarching where I think you, from where you sit, you're getting the overarching perspective.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Maybe so, but like I said, I think the key thing here is it will really be something that changes the way we think about CAD and what we should expect from our CAD tools.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is great; I've said for many years, that the power of CAD has actually been problematic, because, if you are not 30-40 years into this industry you can get so much power in that tool. It's like, I was saying to someone, I go: there needs to be a feedback from the tool that says, no stop dummy, you know. Like there is no place that says, no stop, this is a bad idea...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-those cores don't match. Those holes are too small those vias are... you know. There's, of course we can put in parameters and things that help them design well, but there's... so to hear that coming together would just be life-changing, so that's very exciting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and like I said, it's not something that I think we won't realize - that full vision of AD19.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It'll be that again, this combination of 18, 19, and 20 - you'll be able to see now with AD19, how those things kind of link together and we'll be telling people, we'll disclose our road map for AD20, so people can see how that whole thing plays out but there's gonna be a lot there and it will be enough to change the way that designers and manufacturers are working together. It will change more; well it'll be changing them in even more dramatic ways as we are able to deliver everything through those three releases.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But there's gonna be enough there that I think, it's really exciting to think about, and talk about and you know...I guess, the other thing for me, or maybe not the other thing - but on a related note - I remember last year at AltiumLive how all those conversations seemed to be centered around standards. And so, couldn't we come out with a single standard for how data is represented and so forth and... </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">(that's a hot topic)</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Standardization, I just have to say, I mean standardization is such a hard thing to do to get everybody within an industry to do that and  I think the reality is that standardization isn't the answer. The standardization is a solution that people kind of assume is the right way to solve the problem, so they... and so we tend to kind of like think about how. First you know, how could we solve this problem? If the problem is that people just don't work together and when I design I don't end up with something that's manufacturable until I go through many spins, as an example that's the problem right and then, the solution is just to make it work right. I mean as a designer, or as for somebody in manufacturing, do I really care about standardization? No, I don't, but what I wanted to have happen is that it just works.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -and I don't have to think about it, I don't have to do anything extra, nor does the person on the other side of the wall that we're throwing things back and forth over. We just want it to work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and that's the approach that we're taking and and again you'll see the it gets to what you were saying  why do we acquire these companies for example?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we did, just recently, a small acquisition of a company called PCB:NG; NG is for Next Generation and that's a company that does board assembly manufacturing and they do it on small scale, so it's the idea that they do low-volume, high-variety kind of, high-mix kind of designs. So when people want to build prototypes and so forth and their whole mission has been to really change, to be able to create a manufacturing line where the designers can know everything about it so they kind of design in those constraints from the start. Which is very aligned with the idea that I was talking about, and where Altium has been thinking, and now if you rewind back  a couple of years ago we acquired a company called Ciiva and Ciiva was really focused on a couple of things. One was to have a Bill of Material that was smarter, and smarter in the sense that you understood straight away what was the life cycle state of the components that you select.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the parts that you select - are those things even available anymore? So you don't select and design in things that you couldn't even buy if you wanted to.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then there's the notion… that it happens frequently by the way - it does happen frequently.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And it's such a headache.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And in Ciiva you know, the other thing that they were really focused on was to understand those manufacturing constraints as well and so there's kind of this nice convergence of thinking where the Ciiva guys were trying to solve that problem, PCB:NG guys were trying to solve that problem, and Altium is trying to solve that problem, and so bringing them all together now gives us a way that we can say, how do we make it just work and so having that small manufacturing company gives us a way that we can prove this out. We can make it happen having sort of, like full access to everything in that facility and on their line and as well having the people on the side of thinking about the supply chain in the Bill of Material and the design side. We can do all of those things and so we don't intend to kind of like make PCB:NG into some big volume manufacturer. It's never gonna be Foxcon, what we want it to be but we want to make it just work and once we prove it there, then we can take it to all manufacturers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that's the idea and and so we'll again, start to give you a glimpse of that, and more than a glimpse, we'll give actual real capabilities in AD19 that will allow people to begin to solve that problem or, not even salvage, just make it work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right just make it work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So AD19 in my mind is, is a huge step forward.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I'm very excited so I'm gonna put a pin in our conversation real quick and just let our listeners know that, all of... you know, sometimes people just think of us being the creators of Altium Designer and don't realise we sort of have been acquiring these companies so we will have an area at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#San-Diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive in San Diego</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and in </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#Munich"><span style="font-weight:400;">Munich</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> if you're able to join us, where all of those brands will be joining us. I'm hoping to put them in an area that I'm calling Altium Alley, so we'll have Upverter, Ciiva, the PCB:NG, and so, we can start to see how this all fits together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I'm excited about that. So let's talk a little bit about AltiumLive, since we are rolling out AD19 at that time, at least to give a sneak peak of it. You and I worked very closely together and sort of had a shared passion for the idea - it was AltiumLive, our first ever users' conference was really Ted's brainchild and then, I was brought on board and then we worked closely together and then it took a village - it took an Altium village - to put on that users conference so can we talk a little bit about why AltiumLive, why do we decide, as a company to begin doing a users' conference, and sort of what, is our intention behind that? Because we want to sell more software?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> [Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well of course we want we always want to sell more software.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Of course we do, there's no doubt about that... I'm obviously being very facetious.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah but if I come back to the beginning of our conversation, you know I mentioned this notion that if you do the right thing for your customers that they support you and and good things happen as a result of that and and I think,  AltiumLive is really built on that idea. So we wanted to create a forum in which our users, but more than that, people in the industry could come together to kind of talk about and collaborate on how do we solve the challenges that we face as an industry. So the fact that we had manufacturers there and manufacturer's reps and everything else as well as... you know, so these are people that don't know Altium Designer. If they saw it they wouldn't know whether it was Altium Designer or another tool per se...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-possibly but they're involved in the industry and they're relevant right, to the way that we do design and so forth. As well as all the design people. So we wanted a place where our users could come and they could learn and they could get better at their craft and they could connect with one another so - I think Judy you came up with the idea - that it was about, connect, learn and inspire...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and that's really the idea right, I mean in terms of connect; it's always good to be able to meet your peers, to talk with your peers, who you face common challenges with, and talk about how do you overcome those, how do you approach them, how does your company support you in those things. Those are always really valuable conversations and so that's - I think - what the connect part is all about. Learning is pretty obvious, people always want to learn how do I get better and that's both in terms of using tools but more than that, it's about becoming better as an engineer. So a lot of the curriculum, if you will, that was associated with that, and in the sessions that we had they weren't about how do I use Altium Designer, they were how do I solve these challenges from an engineering perspective...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right what are better routing practices...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Right, speakers about specific tools, because it's like, how do I do these things? So the learning part of it was really important. And inspire, obviously if we're going to transform the industry, we want to bring together the people, the stakeholders in the industry, who are likewise, facing these bigger challenges, not just how do I design better, but how do I design in a way that I know it can be manufactured and that manufacturers don't have to go back and completely recast the Bill of Materials and force me to change the design. And how do I  ensure that these parts are actually available and all of that - but it's really again about inspiring the community to think about how we solve these problems of the industry. The fact that it's sort of discontinuous in terms of that flow and so forth and we've got a lot of ideas at Altium about how we solve that, but we definitely don't have all the answers and and nor would we want to try to solve those in absence of all the thought leaders and practitioners in the industry right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I think that's the third part of it, is really to bring together those leading practitioners and thought leaders from the industry to say, how do we take this, how do we take our whole industry forward in a way that I... don't want this to sound a little too trivial but,  we talk about IoT how do we deliver 50 billion devices by 2025 or whatever.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-whatever those numbers are, but I think that there's lots of places where electronics are important even in absence of IoT, but the smarter we make our world, the better that's going to be, the more ability we have to solve some of the big picture problems in the world using electronics and engineering and so forth and that's only going to happen when we all come together to figure out how do we do all this better and more effectively.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I loved the convergence at our event it was like magical to see - and such spirited conversations - between fabricators and even our keynotes right. I remember one of the keynotes in Munich saying something about fabrication and then our friend Julie Ellis is like, wait a minute, and then having this really honest challenging almost debate right, but it was so beneficial. I think everybody was really, I think empowered, by having really those frank conversations and really learning from each other. You know a thing that I really like Ted, is that if you look across North America at least, well I would even say Europe, how many events are there for designers? I mean for printed circuit board designers or engineers already, what events are out there? We have PCB West which has some good tracks, Design Con is chip and board level, PCB Carolinas I can think, Electronica, Embedded World... so there's just a handful, but is there any that just focuses and kind of exclusively puts the designer front and center?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, they're kind of lost - they don't really have a place and what I love about </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, is that gets to be sort of the center of the conversation but shoulder to shoulder with all the other stakeholders right, so it's like they get their own party  where they can just dig in and get such deep learning not only from really incredible thought leaders like our keynotes but also from each other.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, we saw that happening a lot right then, and now you can see it just if you go even on the website for AltiumLive and you look at last year's recorded sessions and so forth you see that pretty clearly. It was pretty striking, and my hope is that over time people will actually start to see this event as something that's not an Altium event it's their event.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that's the spirit behind it frankly, is that the same as with products, and solving these problems that everything we can't there's no way that Altium can do it on its own or any one company could on its own. We have to do it as a community so I really see AltiumLive as a community and I hope it grows and I hope that the control of the agenda and the content and all of that kind of stuff stays with the users, the designers and the people in the industry who are actually doing the work. That's my vision for it, that it's not us and it's not about our software...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-it's really just about us using the fact that we have lots of customers and users and so forth as a way of using our position to help bring them together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, absolutely, and I've shared with people that you don't need to be an Altium user to come to this event.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No that's true...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and it's like no one really believes that but it really is true. You could come using another mainstream tool and you would have to endure us rolling out the new release of Altium Designer for 45 minutes...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-other than that, you will just be getting good learning, meeting with other designers so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah if I go by memory right, we had something in the order of, I don't know, a dozen main stage presentations or so, and of those, two of them were by Altium people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the rest were not. We had probably, I think two dozen, actual learning sessions that were, kind of focused on training and developing skills and so forth and of those, I think maybe four or so were really focused on Altium Designer. And sure, we could show what we typically did was show,  how after you spent the bulk of the time learning, how you attack a problem, you'd show how that could be done in Altium Designer, but it wasn't about solving it with Altium Designer, it was about solving it so, and I'm frankly, I'm kind of like proud of that and proud we didn't make it a place where you just  come and hear about Altium and we market to you, and sell to you and so forth it's not about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you really are the champion of that and I am your proud sidekick in that regards because honestly I didn't know any company would let somebody like me, do this, but it's being driven from the top so I love that, that you're kind of holding on to that. This is about community...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-dang it - so for those of you who are listening, please know that you are welcome to join us at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive 2018 in San Diego</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, October 3rd through 5th, and the website is up, registration's open, and because the attendees asked us to last year, we've added a full university's day, where there's more tool training because people actually complained a little bit that we didn't train them enough on our tool. So kudos to us, but we again, didn't want to mingle that into our main program, so we set aside 100 - 160 spots on the front end where we will teach you in the tool, and keep the rest of it rather tool agnostic and then also in parallel our friendly Ritchie has agreed to teach a full day on high speed design which will be a real treat. And all of this, the price is silly-low, and it's in beautiful San Diego so there's just no downside to it as far as I can see so we're all looking forward to seeing you there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I wrote a note here Ted, and I'm just gonna ask you about it and we may have already covered it but you had mentioned something to me about AltiumX was that about the transformation part, our x-factor?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well that's a little bit of a, little bit of an internal code name, right now for the the projects surrounding this connection between Altium Designer 19 and manufacturing...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we've kind of covered it and you won't see a product called AltiumX, but yeah, you know as often happens when products and projects kind of come to life, they don't have a brand associated with them and we look for clever little ways to talk about them internally before we know that people can kind of rally around and know what we're talking about and AltiumX was that, well for this project at least for a while. And we've talked about different ways to brand it and talk about it and so forth but it's really the key thing; is it's a part of Altium Designer, this isn't gonna be a separate product and actually I will say that that's one of the things that's interesting and and I think valuable about Altium Designer, is that it's always been this idea of that it's not kind of like module, by module, by module, but it's one thing that gives you the capabilities that you need and where there are exceptions, it's because we have partners involved and they need to know how much of their product is going on, and so forth but largely if it's Altium, if it's things that we develop internally, we make it a part of that product. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's really simple to know what it is you want, you want that one thing Altium Designer, it's really simple to buy it there's one price and it's hopefully really simple to to work with us, and do business with us and in that notion, we call it easy-to but that's when you get to the spirit of Altium, and and our identity and everything, I think that's another piece of it that I didn't talk about before, but it's another part of what we think is really important, is that we just make it easy for people to know what they're  dealing with, who they're dealing with and how they work with us and so forth. Even how they use the product, try to work hard to make everything easy to do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and I think we're living up to that - we're not perfect, we've got lots of growing to do...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Always but when I, because I have the privilege of sponsoring teams and different things as part of my job. Often people will come to me and go, oh my gosh! This was so easy to install it only took me... I was up and running in an hour instead of half a day or whatever, so I I sort of hear that feedback so it makes me proud to be part of this team.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Ted, thanks so much, I know you're such a busy guy and you're spinning a few dozen plates at all times so, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us and share with the people who are listening to </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, thanks for giving me the chance to do that and I hope that I was able to give enough insight and something interesting and exciting for people to think about. Love to have people come to AltiumLive and hear more about what we're doing and also </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/san-diego#keynote-speakers"><span style="font-weight:400;">hear from their peers</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> in the community but, like I said we're really excited about kind of the journey that we're on. This whole transformation of electronics and we are now starting to feel like we can, we're starting to see light at the end of that tunnel and we've got a long ways to go but there's enough light there that I think with AD19 and AltiumLive that's gonna really start to be exposed in ways that will stop people in their tracks, and so I'm excited about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm so excited about that and I don’t even know about some of the stuff you guys do, so we'll all </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/san-diego#agenda"><span style="font-weight:400;">learn at AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> so, I hope you will join us. Thank you so much for listening to our podcast. I do encourage you to register for AltiumLive, coming up in October </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#San-Diego"><span style="font-weight:400;">in San Diego</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> we should be </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/registration#Munich"><span style="font-weight:400;">in Munich</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, I believe the mid-January. We're just locking that down now, so bear with us while we get that locked down. And remember, whether you use our tools or not, you're more than welcome and we would love to have you just join us and rub shoulders and be part of the community. So thank you, again Ted, for joining us today. And thank you for listening, or watching, and we look forward to being with you next time, until then always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

PC Board Stack-up Best Practices with Rick Hartley
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What do you do if you have an interference problem? Rick Hartley is an industry leader in the correct design of circuits and PC boards to prevent and solve noise, signal integrity and EMI problems. He consults and teaches internationally and he has taught seminars at numerous conferences, including the IEEE EMC Symposium, PCB West, IPC Apex/Expo and others. He is a past member of the Editorial Review Board of Printed Circuit Design Magazine and has written numerous technical papers and articles on methods to control noise, EMI and signal integrity.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Listen to this episode where Rick shares the worst ideas for a 4-layer and 6-layer stackups. He also offers a sneak peek of what to expect at his AltiumLive 2018 Keynote Presentation: </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">The Extreme Importance of PC Board Stack-up.</span></em></span><br><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Contest - can you guess how many countries the OnTrack podcast has reached? You can win a Summit pass to be Judy’s personal guest at AltiumLive 2018! Just tag #OnTrackPodcast on </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> with your best guess!</span></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Mid-80s - in digital domain things started to not work right and no one had answers. There was research to do (120 books later), learned what causes function vs. not function</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">In the 90s, began to realize the problem wasn’t clock frequency, the problem is the frequency associated with the rising and falling edges of signals. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Person who helped me the most - Ralph Morrison</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">I didn’t learn what I needed in college, it had to come from experience. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Energy and Fields and how they move - the energy is in the fields, not in the Voltage and current.</span></li> </ul><ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Field dielectric / routing</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">AltiumLive Keynote talk: The Extreme Importance of PC Board Stack-up</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">If I’m contacted with an Interference problem, the question I ask is: “What is your printed circuit board stackup?” </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The most critical item is the board stackup, and it’s what people most often get wrong. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Two or three voltage planes in a stackup with no grounds anywhere - a very serious problem e.g. high layer count board, 20 ground planes in board + signal routed on layer 1 and ground plane on layer 2 - return - 100% of signal on layer 1 would be in ground plane on layer 2. No current from that trace would be in any other ground layers, because energy is in the dielectric between layers 1 and 2</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">With 2 or 3 signal layers, and then a plane - all signals try to reference one plane, all fields intermingling in the dielectric space, all coupling energy into one another and that’s one of the places where EMI comes from.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">It’s a matter of keeping fields isolated from one another for proper functioning.</span></li> </ul><ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">4-Layer worst stack-up</span></li> </ul><ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">6-Layer worst stack-up</span></li> </ul><ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What to expect at AltiumLive (Early bird pricing - 10% off through end of July.)</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Setting the record straight: 15 years ago, Rick wrote a paper called ‘Board Stackup to Control EMI’ and “some ideas that I suggested in that paper, I have since learned are not good ideas.” </span><strong>Ignore this paper</strong><span style="font-weight:400;"> because the physics have changed. The speeds have become too fast.</span></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.pcb2day.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB2Day Seminar</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.pcbwest.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB West </span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.eas.uccs.edu/~mwickert/ece5250/notes/RFMicrowave-PCB-Design-and-Layout.pdf"><span style="font-weight:400;">RF Design Concepts </span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/pcb007/books/secrets1/TPCDG2secrets-1.pdf"><span style="font-weight:400;">High Speed PCB Designer’s Guide</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, Martyn Gaudion</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">You can also read more articles featuring Rick Hartley in the </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/on-track-newsletter-july-2017"><strong>OnTrack Newsletter</strong></a> <a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/pcb-designer-rick-hartley-signal-integrity-high-speed-guru"><strong>here</strong></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/rockstar-pcb-designer-si-guru-rick-hartley"><strong>here</strong></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium's </span><a href="http://podcast.altium.com/e/pc-board-stack-up-best-practices-with-rick-hartley/"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thank you again for joining. We want to thank you so much for continuing to listen and we wanted to share with you that from May to June the listenership has doubled and absolutely exploded because I have amazing guests like I have today. Which is Rick Hartley.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But before we get going with Rick, I wanted to give a few of you a shout out. I wanted to say thank you for the notes and ideas for the show that you sent: To Daud Zoss, I'm sorry if I'm killing your name; Dave Rehack, Spencer Kelly gave us some really good ideas for our future shows. Enoch Sotello and also a nice sharp shout out from a LinkedIn group, the Arkansas Signal Integrity community and I'm sure you guys will enjoy hearing from Rick today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I thought I'd throw a fun thing out there since </span><a href="https://techdocs.altium.com/dishttps://www.altium.com/live-conference/play/ALIVE/AltiumLive+-+Forums"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> is going to be hosted in San Diego, October 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I thought I'd give you a little trivia question today. So can you guess how many countries the OnTrack Podcast has reached? If you guess close to the number, then I you will be my personal guest at AltiumLive and I'll give you a free ticket there. So how about that? So you can tweet your answers using the hashtag </span><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ontrackpodcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">#ontrackpodcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So whoever is closest, and we will announce the winner on our next podcast. Thanks again for listening. So today we are talking to, in fact, one of our keynote speakers for AltiumLive, a dear friend and longtime associate, Rick Hartley and I'm sure for many of you, he is no stranger and he is a celebrated speaker. He's been a leader in IPC for many years and a very gifted designer. So Rick, welcome thank you so much for joining me today, it's a joy to have you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you Judy, it's a pleasure to be here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what I thought we'd talk about today Rick, well first let's queue up and tell people who may not know you - the six people on the planet that may not know Rick Hartley - a little bit about your education and your background and sort of how you became a signal integrity guru?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, you want me to tell this?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes I do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'll try to make it brief.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I basically started life in 1965 as a technician with a two-year tech degree and working for a large company in the east, and I spent a couple of years there and decided that wearing one hat a day for six to eight months wasn't what I wanted to do at the age of 20. That I really wanted to be able to wear five hats a day. And so I moved to a small company in Columbus Ohio - I'm still in Columbus - and basically joined an R&D group where I got to do just that. I would be testing boards one day and troubleshooting the next, and so on. Within a couple of years I moved to field service, and from field service I learned a lot about troubleshooting problems and field service as you can well imagine. From field service I moved into the engineering department in that company where I became a designer and as a designer - the designers back then designed everything but the circuit - they designed the circuit boards, the cabinets, the chassis, the wiring harnesses, the interconnects, everything except the actual circuit schematic and I spent a fair amount of time doing that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then, over time, with school in the evening I earned a degree in engineering became an EE and worked several years as a circuit designer around 1976, seven-ish time frame, the company - I had moved companies by then. The company I was working for asked me to; they said you have some background with printed circuit design? I said yes, we would like for you to help out doing part-time circuit design, part-time board layout. I said, sure no problem. After six months of that, I decided board design was really the thing I liked most.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so I moved full-time into circuit board design, away from full-time circuit design. For a long time I was doing basically RF design, RF layout, which is a little more challenging, especially back then. Digital layout then wasn't too challenging. Anyway moved into board layout, spent a number of years there and along the way somewhere, about the mid eighties, things started to not work right in the digital domain, and frankly, most people didn't know why this was happening. They - most of the engineers I worked with, - were scratching their heads; I was certainly scratching mine. And over time, by doing a lot of reading; I purchased over 120 books since then, between the mid 80s and now, and read them all. Some of them, three or four times, and basically learned what causes things to function versus not function, what causes interference and so on, and probably the person that helped me the most to get to the understanding I have today, is Ralph Morrison, and I'm going to talk a little bit about Ralph as I go through this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But anyway, by just getting my arms around why people have signal integrity problems, why there are interference issues, it's helped me over time to become I guess what people call a guru, I'm not sure I am, but you know whatever, whatever the title is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A good guru will never say they're a guru Rick so it's okay, I'll call you a guru.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's pretty much how I got there it was just a matter of, it was a matter of stumbling along frankly, for years and years - not fully knowing why, and little by little, gathering the knowledge, because sadly, I didn't learn in college, the stuff I really needed to know to take me to where I needed to be. I mean, it had to come through experience, it had to come through just hard-won, hands-on on the job experience. Because it didn't come from college, sadly. And that's kind of where, how I got to where I am today. And of course this all started in the mid-80s. By the mid-90s, I was really beginning to have a pretty good understanding of the issues and it's really all just built since then.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I think, you and I had a talk and you were actually in our OnTrack newsletter a year or so ago, and I remember you saying around that time is, when you... didn't you talk about... oh I'm gonna forget the term now, because I'm not an engineer - rise times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes oh absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Was that something, was it around that time that you started realizing that rise times were problematic?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's exactly, it was actually in the 90s, when I started realizing that the problem wasn't clock frequency, the problem is the frequency associated with the rising and falling edges of signals. If you have a device on a circuit board, that is being clocked at a low frequency - two, three megahertz, but you have a rise time with two, three, four, five hundred picoseconds, you'll have energy in every transmission event that extends upwards to a gigahertz or beyond, even though you're only clocking at a low frequency. So it isn't the clock, the clock really sets the timing for the circuit. That's really why it's called a clock, it sets timing. The rise times are really the key element that drive signal integrity, and even worse; drive EMI issues and interference issues. It's really all about rise time, yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's - I thought that was fascinating when you talked about that earlier. Now I've sat in a few of your classes and I've learned a couple, in my novice kind of way, a couple really key things that really impressed me when I sat in one of your classes at IPC, and in that room of say 50 people, you asked the people in that room: who in this room are EEs and also printed circuit board designers? And a handful of people raised their hand and you asked the question; which one's harder, the circuit design or the board design? And they all like guffawed at that and just said, duh, printed circuit board design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">To which someone like me went, wait - I thought the EE was the heavy lifter, the one that kind of got the creds for doing the hard work but you really taught me then, that - and I think this is a lot - because circuit boards have become so complex over time too but that probably wasn't always true - and I had just missed that, that it had become. So why is it that you asked that question, and what made you choose to go from EE to actual board design?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The, just frankly, the challenges. I found even in the late 70s, I found the challenges of board design to be more stimulating and more invigorating and it made me feel just more alive everyday to go to work than to be designing circuits and setting up test procedures and that sort of thing. And not that there's anything wrong with that, my god, I asked the question of those guys which is more challenging and most of them said board design. If you ask them which took them longer to learn, they would probably say circuit design took them longer, there's more to understand to become a good quality circuit designer, to really get what it takes to design circuits, to function properly. But once you have that knowledge, the actual effort and energy and time expended once you're there - once you're at that knowledge level - is actually greater to lay out a circuit board than it is to do a circuit design and that's why they all answered that way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There is you're right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There was a time when circuit board design was ridiculously easy. I have a circuit hanging on my wall, you can't see it from this camera but it's a two layer board that I designed in 1985. It has no planes and it's just routed power and ground and routed signals it's hideously complex because it's over 200 ICs, on a circuit board it's really packed, and that's why it's hanging there because it is such a complex, by the way hand taped, artwork. It's a very complex artwork and that makes people go 'oooh' when they walk in that's why it's there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But the reality is, how that was laid out was immaterial, because its layout just almost didn't matter, you could do almost anything back then and the circuit would still work. I remember seeing a tape layout in the 1990s, of a guy from the aerospace world where I spent in the early 90s; a board this guy laid out in the 80s, that there was a corner powering ground pin IC for, like a 20 pin part, and there was a decoupling cap sitting above the IC, and he had a trace routed from the decoupling cap, all the way around the body of the IC and back up to the power pin of the device. It was probably an inch and a half long trace from it, and it was a skinny little, 10 mil trace, and the circuit worked. And it's because things were so slow back then compared to today. And it's about rise time not clock frequency. Rise times back then were measured in the tens, in some cases even hundreds, of nanoseconds.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Today they're measured in the hundreds of Picoseconds so they are at least a thousand times faster than then - a hundred to a thousand times faster than they were in the 80s and that's why, things today are harder to make work than they were in those days.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well that just blows my mind to think of things - I mean, I know that it's happened it's just hard to get your head around those kind of numbers sometimes.The other thing you said, and then we're going to jump into what you're going to talk about at AltiumLive. The other thing I learned from you, which I've told you about this. A few times it just made my head explode was when you started talking about the energy in a circuit board is in the dielectric and it was like; wait what? No it's running like water through pipes on the traces, like that's how I pictured it and you explained it, and you showed a field you had and I all of a sudden, like well, I knew some energy moves through the dielectric, but not the way you explained and literally; it was like I felt embarrassed, and I remember walking up to you and going: okay don't tell anyone but I didn't know that. And you said...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">People don't know that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -then you said, it's okay judy EEs don't know that, and I'm like, okay all right I don't feel so bad. So why don't we know that Rick?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because it's not talked about generally in college. Voltage and current are important parameters, they are - I just had a discussion very recently with Eric Bogatin on this exact subject. Voltage and current are extremely important parameters for identifying how transmission lines work, why signal integrity issues arise. These are all things that you need to know, but the reality is if - and if you're trying to track down signal integrity issues - probably best to talk about voltage and current more than the fields. But when you're trying to identify why an interference problem has occurred, why did energy move from circuit A to circuit B, how in the world did it get over to circuit B?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Where did that - because the voltage and current followed the traces that we routed in circuit A. So how did the energy... </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The reason is that, as you just said, the energy is in the fields, not in the voltage and current and the fields travel through the dielectric space between the copper features. And that's the key element. When you route a trace you're routing half of a transmission line, the other half of the transmission line is the plane, usually in most boards today, a plane where the energy returns. So you have the forward current traveling down the trace that you've routed, and you have the return current traveling in the plane directly under the trace that's routing across the board. And that current is being established because there are fields with energy creating the voltage and current in the transmission line. And that's the key element to understand. If the energy weren't in the voltage IRAM, sorry, weren't in the fields; radio wouldn't work. Think about it, radio broadcasting of fields into free space, that get picked up by antenna that focused the energy into a radio. Anything that uses broadcast medium works in exactly that fashion. And the reason it works, is because the energy is in the fields. Now you can capture those fields with copper structures.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And when you do, then they will channel through the dielectric between the copper features; that's what an antenna does and an antenna focuses the fields into a center point, that focuses them to a transmission line, to the receiver and that's exactly what an antenna is. So bottom line, because the energy is in the fields, and the fields travel through the dielectric space, that's how things can sometimes spread. If we don't route traces properly, if we route, for example, two or three layers of traces above a plane; all of those trace layers are capable of coupling energy into one another, which causes the fields to then spread to places where they shouldn't be. Or, if you change layers improperly - that's something I'm going to talk about, at AltiumLive, is well - the main thing I want to talk about is board stackup.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so let's just jump in right there I think that's a good place to segue. So Rick is doing, han hour keynote at AltiumLive and the title of his talk is: 'The extreme importance of PC board stack up.' So let's just jump right off there. So you've already started to talk about energy and fields and how they move. Talk about that relative to stack up and why that can be problematic in not so obvious places?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I will, yes the main question that I ask people; if someone contacts me and says: Rick we've got an interference problem of some kind, be it EMI, be it interference between circuits, whatever. I've had, within the last year of it, people contact me to talk about op-amp circuits that were being interfered with by other things in a circuit board or inside a system. Why does this happen is the question that's often asked. The first question I ask them is, what is your printed circuit board stack up? Because the most critical item to get correct, to have correctly done, is the board stack up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The most critical item is the board stack up and that's why I ask that question because what people often get wrong is the board stack. I will often see examples of people who have put two or three voltage planes next to each other in a board stack, with no grounds anywhere nearby. And that's one of the things I'm going to talk about at AltiumLive; why that's a problem. It's a very serious problem. For example, if you had a circuit board that was many layers thick, and you had, let's say twenty ground planes in the board. If you had a signal routed on layer 1, and there was a ground plane on layer 2, all 100% of the return current from that signal on layer 1 would be in the ground plane on layer 2, and there will be no current from that trace in any of the other ground layers because the energy is in the dielectric...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Between layers one and two, it establishes a forward current in the trace and a return current - a reverse current, in that. All the other planes, it's like they're not even there. They don't even get used because the energy focuses itself in that tight area, and as I said a minute ago, if you have two or three signal layers and then a plane, now all these signals are all trying to reference that one plane. So all of those fields are intermingling with one another, in that dielectric space and they're all coupling energy into one another, and that's where the interference factor comes from. That's where - it's one of the places where EMI comes from - there are many things that cause EMI, that's just one of the many problems. So it's a matter of keeping fields isolated from one another. That's what we have to do if we expect things to function properly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I think, besides your prolific reading habits being an EE, I think, has obviously served you well and so, to understand how fields move and because, like I said, I have a very fundamental understanding of designs and certainly not of field theory and all of that, and how physics work but I think that's one reason why you've been such a popular speaker and consultant. You talked about - or you're going to talk about - and let's kind of tease it up a little bit; is the worst four layer stack up. What does that mean?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there are actually two four layer stack ups that I'm particularly </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">not </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">fond of. One of them is - and I see this a lot in the automotive and appliance industries - where they will put a single ground plane on, let's say layer three, and they'll put routing with routed power, on one, two, and four. And what we talked about a minute ago, having more than one routing layer referencing a single plane,in this case layers one and two; are both trying to reference the plane on layer three. And the result is the field, even if you route them in orthogonal directions, the traces, the fields will still inter-lead one another and we'll couple energy. And the energy that couples, won't be enough to cause a signal integrity problem if you do the stack - if you just do the routing correctly - but it will still be enough that it can cause EMI problems.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What a lot of people don't realize is that it takes as little as eight to ten microamps - microamps, millionths of an amp of common load current coupled into a balanced antenna to cause an FCC Class B, radiated admissions failure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So as it takes that little bit of current to cause an EMI problem, and it doesn't take much coupling of fields to create eight to ten, or even milliamps of noise current. So it's a problem that people need to pay attention to. So that's one of the four layers. The other four layer that's a problem, is the one everybody uses - and that's powering ground on two and three, and the reason that's a problem - if a circuit board is extremely thin - if a circuit board is say 10, 15, 20 mils thick; then those two power and ground planes on 2 & 3 are going to be very close together. And when you do that, when the power and ground planes are extremely tight - a few mils to maybe at most 10 mils away from one another, then you can get away with having power and ground on 2 & 3 or 4 layer. But if it's a 62 Milotic, a 1.6 millimeter thick board, and you have the planes on 2 & 3, they're going to be about a millimeter apart - and when planes are a millimeter apart, there's several things that go wrong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">One, we rely on the planes to help deliver power. The planes basically become the low impedance path for power delivery 2 and IC, if you asked a lot of people, a lot of Engineers, where does power come from in a circuit board? Their answer will be the power plane.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Of course we know that's not true. The energy comes from the dielectric space between the power plane and the ground plane.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">See there it is again...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly. If the dielectric space is tight, the capacitance will be fairly high but most of all the inductance of the planes will be very low, and when the inductance is low, now you have a low impedance delivery path for power. If the planes are far apart, as they are in a conventional 62 ml thick, four layer board, the impedance is so high it doesn't do a good job of delivering power, and you end up with large LD/IDT voltage drops across the power system that we can refer to as power bus switching noise, and that issue alone can cause signal integrity problems but mostly will cause EMI problems.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's, again, it's like can't, my head's exploding again. Four layer board, 062 - standard thickness of your run-of-the-mill board, I mean this is not fancy, and you're saying this is a bad idea! And I'm like wait, what the earth does not flash? I mean it just that's what it sounds like to me like - it's crazy but it's fascinating and I can't wait to hear - I'm sure you'll dig into this more?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I'm gonna get into it more because there are routing implications with that four layer board as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean it's worse than just - than just power delivery. If you have a trace routed on layer one referencing the power plane and you want to change layers to layer four, you're going to have to move the reference to the ground plane, which means the energy in the dielectric space between one and two has to somehow move through that board to the dielectric space between three and four. How is it going to get there? And there are people who will say, oh, it uses the decoupling capacitors. Well that's true, if the frequency is low enough. If rise times look low enough, then that's what will happen. That's why for years, we could get away with four layer boards with power and ground on two and three because rise times were so slow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Gotcha.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But now all of a sudden, rise times are measured in the hundreds of Picoseconds and that four layer board just doesn't work well. But we're gonna get into that in more detail at AltiumLive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Okay. You also talked about a six layer?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">mm-hmm...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-please don't make my brain explode again Rick, but go ahead, tell me the six layer that's a bad idea?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The six layer board that everyone uses is signal, plane - like power ground, two signals, the other plane. If you put power into that, they'll put ground on five and then a signal and six. And this is a common six layer board that just about everybody on the planet uses and it's even worse than the four layer board with power and ground on two and three. And we're gonna get into intimate detail at AltiumLive about why. It's about, I mean, think about what we said about power delivery with the four layer board. If you have planes a millimeter apart and that's not good enough, what do you think putting them on two and five, of a six layer board where they're even further apart, is gonna do two power delivery?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And now, worse than that, you have the fields between two and five sharing the dielectric space with signals that are on three and four, and all of those fields are saying hello to each other; hey let's get together and party, and they do get together to party and they wreak havoc! And this is a bad board stack, and we're going to talk more about why it's a bad board stack, and then we're gonna get into exactly what to do to fix it. There is a solution. To be able to use that board stack and make it work, and we're gonna talk about how to do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I can't wait and I intentionally wanted to have you on today to tease that out because, for those of you that don't know already, Rick teaches all over North America, and sometimes out of the country as well. If you haven't seen it, we will share all these links in the show notes. But he's been teaching, he's been on, at least a North American tour, with a series put on by UP Media called 'PCB Today' and those are two days right, Rick?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> It's a two day event, and then we go through everything we've discussed here and much, much, much, much more.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right so two days; so I highly recommend </span><a href="https://www.pcb2day.com/?page_id=10"><span style="font-weight:400;">UP Media's PCB2DAY</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> with Rick Hartley. We will share that link for any of you that might want to get a full two days. At AltiumLive we're gonna have you drink from the fire hose and give you an hour of Rick Hartley talking as fast as he can. Rick also speaks at PCB West, which is in Santa Clara in September, I think it's September 12 this year, or that week of September.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's September 11, 12, and 13 I believe -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a three-day event, again loaded with great content there's an exposition day but Rick teaches more than one class there and they're always packed, so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I'm actually teaching six classes this year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy and besides Rick, there's a lot of really other illustrious teachers. It's like good luck with that one; picking your courses because it's a really good show also put on by UP Media so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean that show has Dan Beeker and Susy Webb, there's a host of people; Mike Creeden, I think is going to be there this year, there's just a boatload of people with talent talking about...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Such talent! And by the way, I want to boast just for five seconds, because I have the neatest friends in the whole wide world. And that is that Susy Webb will also be teaching at all AltiumLive, Mike Creeden will be there; I don't know if he's teaching yet, Eric Bogatin, who Rick mentioned, will also be a keynote speaker , and I think that conversation you were talking about having with Eric, was probably on an email feed that I was eavesdropping on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It was actually just a direct email with Eric because yah, I think you were involved?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I got looped in there and, a significant portion went over my head, but it was just interesting to see you guys kind of bantering about your subject. So again, Eric will be one of the other keynote speakers so I'm very privileged to know some very bright, gifted people, and Altium is bringing all these wonderful folks together. So I hope you will join us and I hope this conversation has encouraged you to join us. And we do have early bird pricing, which is like ten percent off through the end of July. So please be my guest we will - - Rick has shared links with us to other resources. Oh! You wanted to mention something about a paper that's floating out there, that you no longer endorse. So why don't you mention something about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah about 15 years ago, I wrote a paper called 'Board Stack Up to Control EMI,' and while the basic content of the paper is more or less correct, some of the board stacks that I I suggested in that paper; I have since learned were not good ideas, and in fact, the four layer and six layer that we just talked about, are two of them, that I recommended in that paper, because I believed at that time, that they were the right thing to do. I've since learned why they aren't, so if you happen to stumble across that paper again; it's called ' 'Board Stack Up to Control EMI,' ... or to help control EMI, something to that effect, and if you stumble across that, just ignore it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Ignore it cause we're gonna get Rick Hartley 2.0 where things have gotten faster and he's, I don't know that you've gotten smarter; I think just the physics of the boards people are designing have changed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The physics have changed and that's a key point. That's a very good point Judy, and that's partly why, I mean, it's possible that when I wrote that paper, that four and six layer boards were fine...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah exactly but the speed...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-but they're not today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And again that's why we always advocate here that you need to always be learning because technology does not stand still and what worked yesterday, is not going to work tomorrow. And so we we try our best to stay on top of it. Rick thank you so much for joining us. I also am going to put in a photo, hopefully it won't embarrass you Rick; of - -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know, what I want to say about Rick Hartley and people like Susy Webb, Mike Creeden, Eric Bogatin; we are all - you all as designers and engineers are really standing on their shoulders and they used to do this stuff by hand. So I have the neatest photo ever of Rick Hartley with a big fat 70s tie I think, handling out the biggest board ever that I've seen - the biggest tape up I've ever seen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> That's actually the one hanging on my wall...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is, that's the one? So I'm going to share that and the links too because you guys that just have snazzy racy tools and you started designing ten years ago won't believe the stuff these guys and gals did by hand. So, well Rick we totally and completely look forward to AltiumLive, thanks so much for agreeing to come and invest in the design community, and thanks again for doing this podcast you are a dear friend.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Judy, thank you so much for having me. Yeah and thank you so much for all that you do for the industry Rick, we really appreciate you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a pleasure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Again this has been Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack Podcast and Rick Hartley of - how do you say that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">R Hartley Enterprises.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We look forward to seeing, or we look forward to you tuning in next time. Until then, remember to always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Paste Interconnects and Paste Sintering with Chris Hunrath from Insulectro
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;">Pa<span style="font-weight:400;">ste Don’t Plate! </span><span style="font-weight:400;">People are doing 90 layer multilayers with paste interconnects. Want to learn more? Find out </span><span style="font-weight:400;">about paste sintering from Chris Hunrath to learn more about its applications and benefits to PCB designers. What must designers consider and what are the advantages of Ormet’s products? Listen in for insights from the expert in this week’s episode.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">New material developments make paste interconnect technology more feasible</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ormet’s paste sinters at one temperature forming a new alloy with higher melting point </span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Paste interconnects allow for changing build sequence in which vias are formed i.e. drill, add paste, and then laminate - giving you interconnects inside a double-sided core with no visible vias</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Multilayer PCBs: Can split up a 32-layer board to two 16-layers (even as many as 4 x 18 layer multilayers - which is much easier to build</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Also reduces risk depending on design - electrically test each half and only use the good ones </span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ormet process/paste interconnect process eliminates traditional drawbacks i.e. excess copper on surface features</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Eliminate backdrilling with paste interconnect process without extra copper in the via </span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ormet paste eliminates electrolysis and plating process</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Signal integrity benefits</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Applications: RF, high-layer multi cap, avoid secondary remelt, downhole assembly etc</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Design considerations: Where to split up layers for best design benefit; Via at 1:1 or less aspect ratio - only in 1 B stage layer and correct size via for applying paste; Size of receptor pad for laser drill via must be correct to prevent paste from running - spread glass is good for B-stage; annular ring around the via to register laser drilling; with many paste interconnects - don't paste to the edge. </span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Paste melts and forms alloy with inter layer copper creating a permanent metallurgical joint</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">People are doing 90 layer multilayers with paste interconnects. </span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">HDPUG (HDP User Group) is creating HDI test vehicles with paste interconnects and HDPUG members will have access to reliability data for breaking up big PCBs</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Paste don’t plate!</span></li> <li><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Future topics: </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Many ways to use conductive inks in electronics, copper foil, integrity issues and printed electronics. Material science behind electronics, new design tools, various versions of conductive inks  </span><span style="font-weight:400;">    </span><br></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.insulectro.com/ormet-pastes.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ormet Pastes</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://hdpug.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">HD PUG</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-hunrath-a12b4288/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris Hunrath</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Linkedin</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.insulectro.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Insulectro</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><br><br><br></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Click to listen to Chris Hunrath’s other episodes about </strong><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/why-is-spread-glass-popular-chris-hunrath-from-insulectro-podcast"><strong>Spread Glass</strong></a><strong> or </strong><strong><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/flex-and-material-sets-with-chris-hunrath-podcast">Material Sets</a>.</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone. This is Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Welcome back, here we are again with your friend and mine, Chris Hunrath from Insulectro who's going to teach us about paste sintering today, which I don't know much about, but we're going to learn about it together. But before we get started, remember to hit all the typical Altium social media platforms </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">please follow me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and also remember we are recording on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> as well as </span><a href="http://podcast.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Podbean </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and we can be found on all your favorite podcast apps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Alright, so today we're going to talk about - I don't even know how to set this up entirely cause I'm just as much as a student. So Chris, welcome back! Thank you again, and I know this isn't a new technology - it's just not one that has crossed my path. So tell us about what paste sintering is and what the applications are, and benefits to our designers that are listening today?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, interconnect technology, as you mentioned is not new, what's happened recently though is there's been some new material developments that make it more feasible for the circuit boards. Certainly in ceramic fire technology, metal - powdered metals have been used to make interconnects and traces and circuits on ceramic circuit boards, but those fire at 850-plus degrees Celsius, which would obviously destroy most PCB materials so there's some new technologies out now. There are different kinds of pastes that are used for interconnects. The one that we work with, and the one that we promote, is something from a company called Ormet, and their material is interesting because it sinters at one temperature and then it forms a new alloy with a higher melting point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay I feel like we need to back up and explain what paste interconnect technology actually is. Like how it's performed and then we can go into the material science part just so I can keep up, Chris I want to be able to keep up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So multi-layer PCBs - also not new - typically what you do is, you print and edge any number of layers, you drill and then you plate. Typically electroless copper, to make the non-conductive surfaces conductive, and then you build up the thickness with electrolytic copper.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mmm-hm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And some people call it a semi-edited process, because you are using the electroless first as a seed layer. There are some other technologies used to make that dielectric surface conductive, and then you build up with electrolytic copper and so that's how you link the layers of the z-axis.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you think of a classically - as a circuit board - as a web of foils printed and etched, all your XY  connections, and then the drilled holes - whether they're laser drilled, blind vias, or drilled through holes, the plating links everything in the z-axis. Now one of the challenges when you do that, is you're consuming real estate at all the layers. So let's say you have a 12 layer multi-layer - relatively simple multi-layer by today's standards - but you need to connect layer 1 to layer 10 you've taken up the real estate in all the other layers - you can't route circuits in those places, because there's a via in the way, unless you wanted them to connect to that via and they're part of that net. So there's a term called any layer HDI - I don't know if you're familiar with that term? Basically it means you could put a via anywhere you want in any layer. Nowadays that's done typically by what we call build up technology. So you start with a core of some sort - again it could be double sided, it could be a multi-layer core, and then you sequentially build layers and you only go one layer deep with a laser drill sometimes two - depending on the design - but that's not true for any layer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Anyway, you go one layer deep you plate, you print and etch, and you do it again and again and that allows you to put vias almost anywhere you want in any layer, the downside is, it's almost like building multiple circuit boards. So the cost really starts to increase. And of course you're putting the board through multiple lamination cycles and that has some undesirable material side effects depending on the material. Some materials can withstand three lamination cycles, some six, some ten, but it is hard on the materials to go through that lamination process, over and over again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Especially electric phenolics, which are very common for lead-free assembly, because they're relatively economic and they're also -  they also will survive lead pre-assembly, but they tend to get more brittle every time they see a thermal cycle though, so that causes some issues too. So what paste interconnects allow you to do, is change the sequence in which the vias are formed. So instead of laminating drilling and plating you can actually drill, add the paste, and then laminate, so it changes the build sequence and this is important both for the fabricator and the designer to understand what that means. So typically what you would do is, you would take a B stage layer of some sort; you can either drill it and paste, fill it with what we call a postage stamp process or you could pre-tack it, vacuum tack it at low temperature to a core of some sort, or substrate, laser drill through the B stage, apply the paste and then when you laminate the paste interconnects, the layers in the z-axis - you could literally take a piece of prepreg, laser drill it with a stencil or with a Mylar Stencil, I'll talk about how that works in a little bit - apply the paste, remove the Mylar laminate between two copper foils, and now you've got interconnects inside a double-sided cork.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then if you print and etch that, now you've got a core with connections between the layers with no visible vias; they're all internal. Yeah there's some technology around the paste and again we can talk about that, in a little bit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So how is it applied - is it squeegeed in?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, just like with a silkscreen?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well no screen - so what typically what you do is, you apply a 1 mm Mylar mask to the B stage and you tack it simultaneously. Then when you drill through the Mylar and the prepreg B stage to get down to your copper features, then you apply the paste, and the Mylar's your mask, and then you remove that just prior to lamination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that stays inside the hole? It doesn't just I don't know the consistency of it. My mind was - pictured it just wanting to drop out of that hole - but it must have some kind of stability?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's a liquid and there is a tack right. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most common method is to laser drill, apply the paste, dry the paste... you would do it a second time to top it off and then when you remove the Mylar, the liquid paste stays on top of the paste that's already been applied. Then you dry it again, then you go to laminate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Does it air dry or do you have to cure it what do you do?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You don't really cure it because it's metal powder - metal powder based - so there isn't really a polymer matrix. Unlike print electronic sinks - which is a again another story - you would just dry off any of the carrier solvent used for the application process. It is a liquid - well it's a paste, not a liquid - but but when you dry off the the solvent that's in it; which is less than 10 percent by weight, then it's just powdered metal and that's how it makes a connection. So think about this right, you've seen a lot of PCB designs - imagine a 32 layer board, which most shops can do, but it's not at the low end of technology. Imagine splitting it up to two 16 layer multi layers right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot easier.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot easier to build and then you just paste them together at the end, and depending on the design, you can electrically test each half and only use the good ones. So your risk is  light.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's a lot of advantages to this. Or what if you want to put together three 16 layer multi layers, or four, or 18 or four 18 layer multi layers - it's been done you know. Now a shop; instead of trying to build a 72 layer multilayer - if they're building 18 layer components - it's a lot more manageable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmm, that totally makes sense. So you explained some of the benefits -  it's a nightmare, and you've seen, we've all seen these cross-sections of these crazy stackups with all the sequential LAM and drilling cycles and all of that. And then - and also kind of an unintended consequence you can get, is you can - from a performance standpoint - if you do enough of that right can't you get excess copper on the surface features?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes - that's a very good point. So in other words, if you're going through many plating cycles depending on how you break that up and you're trying to meet a wrap requirement,  that could definitely add up and make it - make fine line etching more difficult there's a lot of - there are some some drawbacks to traditional processing and then with with an Ormet style process, or a paste interconnect style process, you can eliminate some of those things even with an RF design. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Let's say you have very sensitive surface features and you don't want to play with that layer. You might want to put on the surface finish, the nickel gold, but you don't want to put any additional copper - you want just the original foil copper. You could do that with this paste because you could create that as, almost like a double sided board, and then bond it to the rest of the stack up at the very end, and you're done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting. So I think you mentioned too, there's some good signal integrity benefits, did we cover that I don't recall?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, so one of the things that a lot of designs call for is something called back drill. So you're familiar with that, so you do the back drilling to get rid of the unwanted copper. So again, in my earlier example let's say you're connecting layer 1 and 10, and let's just say it's a 22 layer - 26 layer multi-layer. You're going to have a lot of extra copper metal in that via that you really don't need or want. So common technology is to back drill down to layer 10. Now of course drilling to that precise location or depth, to remove the copper up to layer 10, but not beyond. It can cause a reliability concern that's a bit of a challenge. So there's those issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What you can do with the paste technology is let's just separate that board at layer 10, and not put a via on that half  that goes from layer 11 to whatever the other layer is and you're done. So you can eliminate back drilling and the parasitic effects of having that extra copper and the via so that's another application. So there's some signal integrity benefits, there are some RF applications, there are some high layer cap, multi-layer applications, but also many layer HDI applications; it really depends on how you design it and use the paste.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you're a designer what kind of design considerations do you need to make up front?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, my recommendation would be is: think about the design, think where it would make sense to split up the layers and provide the most design benefit. Generally speaking, we like the via to have a one-to-one or less, aspect ratio. Now that might sound restrictive, but it's only in that one B stage layer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then that's an important consideration. So in other words, if I have 5 mm of B stage, I won't want my via to be 5 mm or larger where I'm going to apply the paste. It has to do more with the paste physics and how it fills the via and then of course the pad, the receptor pad that you're putting the laser drill via on, needs to be a sufficient size for where the paste doesn't have the opportunity to run on one side or the other of the pad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we do like an annular ring around the via, that's going to have a lot to do with how well you can register your laser drilling, usually that's pretty good. The other consideration is, the B stage you use, spread glasses - bringing up spread glass again. Spread glass is good, because it tends to keep the paste corralled, whereas if you have an open weave and that prepreg resin's melting and flowing and during the lamination cycle the paste could run to that area. So spread glass is better. Higher viscosity resins tend to be better. We like low flow prepregs. So those are some of the design considerations.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another design consideration is - and I've seen this happen before - where if you have a ground area and you're making a lot of paste interconnects along a wide track. You don't want to put the paste interconnect to the edge of the track because what ends up happening is, during lamination, the resin wants to flow off the surface of the track down the sides to fill - hydraulic effect, and it's going to move the paste with it. I've seen vias actually move during lamination. So just some common-sense things. Keeping in mind that it's the B stage where your interconnect is. You want to make sure you put that in some good locations, and in that particular case all they had to do is, go back and shift the vias a little bit to one side and then everything was fine. So it's just those kinds of things. Certainly they could contact us, we can give them some design hints and I can give you some literature to go along with this video or podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, yeah, very good. Ormet and the paste interconnect - paste sintering - has been around for a little while. What's been the sort of acceptance of it industry-wide? Is it being widely accepted, is it just on certain applications?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's been around a long time. It was primarily used for quick-turn mic review work, and also large format boards where you're literally stitching very large boards together so you can - again the idea is you can make boards that are nearly finished and then electrically interconnect them. The nice thing about the Ormet paste is it doesn't melt at reflow assembly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmm, so it changes chemically right, so once the sintering is done then it doesn't change, then it doesn't morph and heat?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What attracted us to this technology over some other paste interconnects - because there's other processes where you would apply a paste of some sort and then make a connection with pressure in the z-axis - but what interested us in the Ormet material is: the paste melts at one temperature and alloys - so the paste is basically copper particles with a tin alloy powder. When the tin alloy powder melts - and the melting starts at about 130° Celsius, it starts reacting with the copper and forms an alloy with the copper instead. What's interesting about the Ormet material is, it's alloying with the inner layer coppers as well, on the PCB layers. So we have a metallurgical joint, not just a pressure or contact connection.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's - and unlike, the tin lead or lead-free alloys and solder, the melt - the new melting point, when it forms an alloy with copper is one phase is 415°, the other is 630° Celsius. So it's not going to remelt that assembly. So it's a permanent connection, so really the paste applications from other technologies like flip chip and whatnot packages where you didn't want to have a secondary or - if you have a secondary reflow operation - you didn't want to have any more remelt. It has some applications there. Or a down hole assembly is another application where the board might be subjected to the temperatures near the solder melting point is another good application for this material.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's what interests us because you know when a board's in use, it heats up the z-axis expansion with other types of pastes interconnects, you have a resistance change every time the board is heated even from, let's say 40, 50, 60° Celsius in normal use, not even in any kind of environment - parts of the board would heat up from the components and you'd have a change in resistance, and that's what this is designed to circumvent because it forms that metallurgical bond with the copper inner layers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So yeah it's a different technology than the paste you would use in printed electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay well that's been fascinating. Again I feel like a newcomer to old technology but - and I've known about Ormet that I think got acquired by Merck now, but I've just never had someone sit down and explain it to me. So thank you for doing that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> 90 layer multi layers people are getting - 90...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, 90 layer multi layers with paste interconnects yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy, I didn't even know a 90 layer board existed I guess.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I've only really seen them into the 60s I guess personally, so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you know, one common design was a 72 layer multi-layer, again made out of eighteen layer components, and  one of the things with the chip tests the ATE companies, they built some high layer count multi layers and you need a lot of IOs, there's a trend to go to wafer level testing were you’re testing the entire wafer. You need lots of interconnects and that's one way to get there, is to use the Ormet paste to put in lots of layers. So we're seeing more interest in it lately, and I think that's one of the reasons why the technology hasn't taken off until now, is because there just wasn't the demand.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right ahead of its time maybe a little bit...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I know you've shared with me some cross-sections or I think you did, and so please be sure to share those with us and we'll put those up on our website and we can share your website and Ormet or Mark's website, so the designers can get more information. Is there any place else besides your two websites that you would recommend for more information?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know I've mentioned </span><a href="https://www.acronymfinder.com/High-Density-Packaging-Users-Group-(HDPUG).html"><span style="font-weight:400;">HDPUG</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> (High Density Packaging Users Group) in the past - they're actually contracting some PCB manufacturers to make some HDI test vehicles with paste interconnects. So there's going to be some data - anybody who's an HDPUG member will have some access to some really good reliability data and they're pretty complex boards so it'll really push the technology but for breaking up big thick and ugly PCBs, that's pretty well-established.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah very cool. Okay well thank you. So tell us about that fish on the wall behind you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it was a gift from my sister, actually it's made from recycled materials so there's an old PCB cut up on there, and the old spark plug wire, and a few other odds and ends. Some artists put together actually I didn't buy it; my sister bought it on Catalina Island and somehow we went out there as a family trip and somehow she smuggled it off the island and gave it to me just before she headed back to Virginia. So it was kind of cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Oh that's fun a good throwback to your diver self.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so - just the last thing on Ormet, is 'paste don't plate'.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Is that their tagline or is that yours?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Actually that's their tagline. We were sharing it with the IPC shows, but another nice benefit to the Ormet - which I didn't mention earlier is - there's no electrolysis, no plating processes in these interconnect layers so it circumvents all that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is like bizarre for me to think about but...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah but if you're capacity constrained, no plating, that's another benefit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thanks again this has been really good. If you have anything else juicy to share with the listeners just email it over before we get this one up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And thanks again for this one. Now I know we've talked about exploring down the road a little bit on copper foil, integrity issues, and also printed electronics. So I'm sure I'll hit you up again soon Chris.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah definitely. I would like to talk about some of the material science behind printed electronics and I know you guys are working on some new design tools and print electronics; there are a lot of different ways to use that in electronics... I should back up, but there's a lot of different ways to use conductive inks in electronics there are so many different versions of the inks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is another subject I know nothing about so it'll be good. I'll be a student with our listeners and, I know they're out there, I know what conductive inks are, but as far as all the applications, all the different materials available, that just seems like something that's in writing a lot, that people are really turning towards a solution.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Lots of new technologies are coming out in that space and it's going to be fun to watch it all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah yeah it will be.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay Chris, thanks for another good podcast and we'll see you soon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for having me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My pleasure. Again this has been Judy Warner with the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Chris Hunrath from Insulectro, we'll see you next time - until then - always stay OnTrack.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Embedded Passives Technology (resistors and capacitors) with Bruce Mahler from Ohmega Technologies
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Learn about Embedded Passives Technology with Bruce Mahler from Ohmega Technologies. OhmegaPly® embedded resistor-conductor material is popular, but it’s not new. Ohmega has been making this product since 1972. So why is it getting so much attention lately? It’s reliable and has stood the test of time for five decades--but emerging technologies are making it more relevant than ever. Tune in to learn more about embedded passive and embedded components and find out if it may be the key to solving your current PCB Design challenges.  </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">OhmegaPly® is a true thin-film, Nickel-Phosphorous (NiP) alloy. In the manufacturing process, about 0.05 to 1.00 microns of the alloy is electro-deposited onto the rough, or “tooth side”, of electrodeposited copper foil.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Embedded passive and embedded components: ER - Embedded resistors, EC - embedded capacitors</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">People tend to think of this technology as something new. Ohmega has been making this product since 1972. It’s the oldest, new technology out there. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Functionality - it can be used in so many different ways. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Mica - old copper clad laminator, conceived the technology as a way to add functionality to a copper material. Developed in early 70s as a new product. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">First users of the technology - Cannon electronics in Japan saw the potential in the product for cameras. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Other early user was - Control Data Corporation. From there alot of mainframes utilizing the technology. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ohmega ply - thin film resistive foil, plated process, nickel phosphorus, varied thickness and sheet resistivity, fractions of a micron-thick film. Very linear, as film deposit is thinner, resistivity goes up. Thin film technology.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We make it in Culver City, CA for 40+ years.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;">Work with Rogers/Arlon, Taconic, Isola, Nelco and other laminators </li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">If you use a tiny discreet resistive element, they can be hard to handle. Etching a 5 or 10 mil trace is no problem.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Space restrictions, solution - print and etch a resistor</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Why would I want to use Ohmega ply? What are the cost, reliability, performance indicators?  “There’s no other way I can design this unless I get rid of my resistors!”</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Most designers use Ohmega ply for densification. Helps when: hard time routing, too many passives, board is a little too thick</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Example: MEMs or Micro-Electro Mechanical System microphones for cell phones.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Applications: military, space based applications - satellites, </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Uses include: Sensors, IOT, Wearables, Automotive, Memory, Heater, Biomedical</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ohmega wants to talk technology with PCB designers. Leverage their expertise, they operate as a part of your design team and happy to be a resource for you. Technical people are available to help.  </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Ohmega and Oak Mitsui - technology partners - Ohmega/FaradFlex is a combined resistor/capacitor core consisting of OhmegaPly RCM laminated to Oak-Mitsui’s FaradFlex capacitive laminate materials.  </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Printed circuit board copper lead times are getting longer</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Self-reliant company</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Very close relationships with raw material suppliers </span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><br><br></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://ohmega.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ohmega Technologies Website</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://ohmega.com/technical-library/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ohmega Technical Library and Tools</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://ohmega.com/products/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ohmega Products</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/bruce-mahler-7411496/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bruce Mahler on Linkedin</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everybody it's Judy Warner again with Altium's OnTrack Podcast. Thanks for joining us again. We have yet another amazing guest on a fascinating topic that I hope you will enjoy and learn about today. But before we get started I wanted to invite you to please connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. I like to share a lot of content relative to designers and engineers and I'd be happy to connect with you personally, and on Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">is on </span><a href="https://web.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/?_rdc=1&_rdr"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. We also record this podcast simultaneously on video, so on the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium YouTube channel</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> you can find us under videos, and then you will see the whole series of podcasts that we record. So that is all the housekeeping we have for the moment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So let's jump right into our topic today which is, embedded passives and I have a wonderful expert for you today, and an old friend, Bruce Mahler of Ohmega Technologies. Bruce, welcome, thanks so much for joining us and giving us a lesson today on embedded technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank You Judy, it's great being on board here and I look forward to talking to you and the audience about embedded resistors in particular, as well as other embedded passives.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, so before we get going I want to make sure that I'm calling this technology the right thing because I always think of them being embedded passives but I don't think I'm right. How would you characterize the technology exactly?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well the OhmegaPly® product, our embedded resistive product, is ER embedded resistors, PCT planar component technologies it goes by many names: embedded resistors, embedded capacitors; I think the most common now is ER embedded resistors EC embedded capacitors in particular. When we're talking about passive elements - and those are the two main ones that are really driving the embedded passive world - and a better component world right now so yeah, OhmegaPly® is just fine with me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so let's jump in now, you told me something recently that I was kind of shocked to learn about and I'd like you to give us a brief history of Ohmega Technologies and sort of the evolution of this technology. What I was really shocked to learn is the age of the company. So can you tell us more about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure many people who are looking at using embedded passives, think of it as a new technology, something just on the market. It's been out a year or two -   no new applications yet but people are looking at it. So when we're asked, this OhmegaPIy® product , how long have you been making it for? And I said oh since about 1972, and they said wait a second, 1972? I said yeah that's actually  , we're going on 46 years now and it's amazing that it's probably the oldest new technology out there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good way to put it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think that has a lot to do with the functionality of the material, how it could be used in so many different ways. And so just briefly a history of the technology: originally the OhmegaPly® embedded resistive thin film material was developed, conceived, and developed by Mica Corporation. Many of your old listeners on board know Mica used to be a copper clad laminator, supplied epoxy glass laminates and polyamide glass, did a number of other things, and it was conceived in the early 70s as a way of adding functionality to a laminate material. So rather than just getting copper foil bonded to a dielectric it was a copper coil that had a functional purpose beyond copper traces bonded to a dielectric and so, after many years of development at Mica, a product OhmegaPly® was developed; the Mica laminate product was MicaPly that's how the name originally came about and it was originally developed in the early 70s as a new product.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now with any new product, somebody had to be the first to go ahead and try it you know, who was going to be on the bleeding edge of any new technology, who was going to be the route maker? And the interesting thing is that back in the early seventies - about again, '72, '73 - the first users of the technology were two absolutely opposite companies in absolutely opposite areas of the electronic industry. One of those happened to be Canon electronics in Japan. Canon, making AE-1 SLR cameras at the time, looked at the technology as being a great way of making a step potentiometer who could eliminate the ceramic potentiometers circuits that they were currently using, at the time and it fit very neatly into their camera system. So they were very simple, these were surface resistors, put in FR4, make resistive elements in the potentiometers, and they started using it in their AE-1 camera. Very quickly Nikon and Pentax started doing the same thing. The other first user happened to be somebody completely opposite - now we're talking about the early 70s - and that user was Controlled Data Corporation; used to be in business a long time ago. CDC's aerospace group who had some very dense multi-layer boards of mixed dielectric layers of PTFE Teflon, layers of FR4, ECL ecologic, lots and lots of termination needs and absolutely no real estate on some of their high-speed digital boards for termination.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So the idea of being able to print and etch a resistive element, and embed it within a circuit layer, particularly underneath an IC package, speeded up board area for them, allowed them to terminate. They got some other benefits of better electricals. They started using us and then very quickly thereafter, other divisions of CDC started using us in things like their cyber mainframe computer systems, and it kind of dovetailed into people like Cray Research and their supercomputers, and we went from there to super mini computers  , places like Digital Equipment and Prime and Wayne, and Data General and Harris. All the guys in the 80s who had ecologic termination needs. So it was the heyday back in the 80s, and a lot of mainframes, supercomputers, super mini computers, kind of like with those very, very powerful systems that people now carry in their cellular phones-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">In their pocket right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-at the time it was very, very powerful though. And so, although two different areas of growth we - in the 70s and 80s - found new applications and digital application, particularly termination, but we also started working very closely with the military aerospace industry where they saw the elimination of solder joints being a very positive thing. You know, high g-force doesn't affect it -vibration - there's no joint there in the resistor circuits. So we started working with a lot of them in the military aerospace, space-based applications, radars, antenna power dividers, high-speed digital systems - just a variety of different things. And it's evolved from there, it seems that every five years new technology comes on that says I need to use that. We can talk more about that - we'll get back to maybe the basics of what do we actually do, how do we make it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so let's talk about OhmegaPly®, what is it? What is it like to process, and let's just go in and tell us the whole story.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh man, you want to go right back to the beginning again. Okay the OhmegaPly® technology is a thin film resistive foil. Now we became Ohmega Technologies - a spinoff of Mica - started as a separate independent company in 1983, and we basically took over that whole technology from Mica, and what that technology involves, is taking copper foil as a standard EDE electrodeposited copper foil that the printed circuit industry uses, and we threw in a reel-to-reel deposition process as a plated process. We plate a very thin coating of a nickel phosphorous NiP resistive alloy onto the mat or two side of that copper and by varying the thickness of that resistive coating we can vary the sheet resistivity. And so this product - a true thin film nickel phosphorus alloy - we're talking about fractions of a micron thick film, so it's truly thin film. So we have a variety of different sheet resistivities, a 10 ohm per square is about a 1 micron thick film, a 25 ohm per square's a 0.4 micron, 50 ohm is 0.2 micron. So it's very linear, as the film that we deposit gets thinner the sheet resistivity goes up. Now we start getting into the dangerous territory of talking about things like ohms per square and I don't want to start having your listener's eyes cross over some strange area, but suffice it to say, it follows thin film technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what we do is, we make a resistive foil that's a copper foil resistive coating. Now what that foil does, that's what we make at our facilities, in our factory in Culver City California very close to LAX or a few miles away. We've been doing it now  , for literally 40 years plus at that facility. That resistive foil then gets laminated or bonded to a variety of dielectrics. We work with people like Rogers Arlon, Taconic, we work with Isola we work with Noko, we do some work with DuPont we're working with others out there, but essentially the resistive foil can be bonded to almost any kind of dielectric just like any other copper foil. Standard pressing, heat pressure, it bonds to a variety of dielectrics. Now that laminate product - a copper clad laminate with the resistive film between the copper and the substrate - goes to the printed circuit board community, the PCB community, then prints and etch copper circuitry. They normally will do a print develop, extra process to create copper circuits.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now they go through a separate (an additional) print develop bed strip so it's a two-print operation and the first print is defining where they have copper traces, then they etch away all excess copper and they etch away all excess resistive film underneath their copper. Now they have copper circuitry. Underneath all that copper circuitry is a resistive material, but electrically it's shorted out by the copper above it. Well you have a spot for tracers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a point think of it as a treatment of copper only like a zinc or a brass.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now the board shops come back and they apply more photoresist over that copper circuitry and they print a second piece of artwork and that artwork protects all the areas that they wish to keep as copper, and exposes for etching the copper that will be the resistive element. Now in almost all cases, the first etch will define the width of that copper that will be the width of that resistive element. So the second image artwork defines a length of copper that will be the length of the resistor. So it's a very simple piece of artwork to use; very easy to register, but after protecting the copper with photoresist, now they etch away the exposed copper using the 'aplan' based etchings, and they leave behind the resistive film that was underneath it, and they have a resistive element.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-stripping photoresist off the board; leaves them with copper circuitry with resistive elements that are integral to that copper plane. Those resistors can be tested for value, they can go through standard multi-layer processing, laid up with other cores, pressed and then forget you have the resistive elements embedded, if it goes through traditional drilling, print, develop, etch, strip process, or plate process I should say.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you do a drilling and you desmear, you plate, you etch and your embedded resistor inside; and as a bare board now, prior to shipping for assembly, the board shop can do traditional testing, and they can measure resistor values to ensure they're within spec. They could also be used on the surface of a board, in which case you solder mask over the resistive elements along with your copper traces, and that protects them from abrasion and scratching. The key here is this though: if you use a discrete resistive element, an 0402, an O201. An O201 is a 10 mil by 20 mil resistor. They're pretty small;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-hard to handle, hard to assemble. So if I go to a board shop now and say: hey guys I want you to etch a copper trace that's 10 mil wide, they're gonna look and they'll laugh and say: come on you're insulting us!-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-we do 5 & 5, 4 & 4, 3 & 3, 2 & 2 technology. So etching a 10 mil trace isn't a big deal, five mil trace is not a biggo. When they etch that copper trace, they're essentially defining the width of the resistor, so it's like a controlled impedance trace. They're creating a resistive element of a certain width. Now you say: can you cover it with photoresist and have a little box window that's 20 ml long? Sure that's not a big deal if you etch the copper away. Now they've left themselves with a 10 mil by 20 mil resistive element, which does not push the art at all, it's already built in, no assembly, and all that. So if you say: hey can they do a 5 mil by 10 mil resistor? Sure, we have applications that are using 50 micron by 100 micron resistor. If a board shop connected that copper trace, that's the limit of the resistor width you can print. So you can get a significantly small, very, very, precise resistors that could be located right where you want them, under a package, and that's where we're doing a lot of newer applications like microfluidic heaters, you're talking about a couple mils, by four or five mils you can get very small heat rises in a very localized area, very low power, but I'm ahead of myself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay yeah well so I'm thinking about our audience right now, who are EEs doing design, or just purist board designers for the most part. Why would I want to use OhmegaPly® over traditional? I mean you just mentioned one, if I had space restrictions and I didn't want to use these tiny, tiny parts that seems like a no-brainer but is it real estate, is it cost? Like what drives people - I think I'm opening a can of worms, sorry but what is the cost, performance, reliability implications? And if I was a designer, why would I want to use OhmegaPly®?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, it's a good question and people use it for a variety of reasons. The best reason we like to hear is: I have a design and there's no other way I can design this thing unless I get rid of my resistor and so, kind of I get a tear, I well up a bit, I get very emotional-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-with those. Because then it's all driven by performance and densification.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But look at everybody - realistically - cost is a big driver, as is performance, and obviously densification all goes hand in hand with reliability. I would say most designers design with us for a number of reasons. The key reason that we focus on densification and that is this: if I have a certain number of resistors on a board and I said:  I'm having a hard time routing. I have a lot of passes on my board, either I have to route in more layers, so I'm adding to a multi layer design for its traditional through hole, and I'm gonna have to go to HDI which adds a lot of cost to my board. Or my form factor, my X&Y; dimension is a little too big I need to shrink it down, or my board’s a little too thick, I'm gonna make it a little thinner. So here's a tool, a technology that allows you to do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So let's say I have one resistor in a unit area of a board, and somebody says, well gee I want to etch in a pretty natural resistor. Okay who’s cost’s it going to be? It's gonna cost whatever our materials, divided by one. There's gonna be one resistor. Now instead I have ten resistors - what's the cost? It's our unit cost divided by ten because it's the same material that goes through the same print and etch process. So the greater the number of the resistors lower the cost per unit resistor. One application that uses our technology - and this is where it reinvents itself. A number of years ago - five/six years ago - it started being used in MEMS microphone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If any of your listeners out there, any of your designers have a cell phone, you very likely have us in your cell phone in the MEMS microphone that you're talking out of, or you're listening out of right now. Now why use us in a MEMS microphone? We're part of an RC filter network which improves the sound fidelity significantly. So it's been found to be a very significant offering by the MEMS microphone makers and their end customers who are the cell phone manufacturers - but in very massive, mass quantity production - for many, many years over in the Far East, particularly in China, where our product is used extensively. So in those applications it was a combination of densification, they can make these MEMS microphone boards. The PCB's thinner because they eliminate the chip resistor, you don't have to assemble it, they can make them a little bit smaller and because you're talking about such small little element - even a few resistors only a couple resistors - in that design, you're talking about a fraction of a cent to put these resistive elements in a board. Fraction of a cent, no assembly-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah when they're in the millions that matters.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-all that's very important. There's another example. If I'm a designer and say: hey I have a high-density IO/IC. My fast rise times I have some termination issues but I'm on a 300 micron pad batch and there's no way I can put a discrete component on my surface. To go ahead and terminate, I have too far to go. I have too many of these line. So I have IO of hundreds of traces, maybe a thousand traces, and I do it but guess what? If you're able to take every trace, every logic trace coming off that that IO and I build a resistor as part of that trace - to have a trace it has just a little of the copper removed - leaving a resistive element behind.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's a resistor built-in trace which is one of our products: ORBIT Ohmega resistors built-in trace - you can terminate every one of those drivelines - they're underneath the IC package, so they take up no board area. They terminate off that driveline, you improve impedance now, naturally reduce line delay, you also save money because now you literally have hundreds of resistors in a square inch of area or a couple square inches of area, and it saves a lot of cost by not having to assemble and put those discretes on your board now. So cost is a big driver. I just mentioned a couple of them. Densification is as well, but our material also is essentially inductive free. So you know, it means that you have less inductive reactance with fast rise times. So what happens; you get less EMI coming off your board, it's a cleaner signal. Our materials, also because of that, used in certain applications for absorbers or, R cards where they used us, that resistive film, to suppress some of the EMI coming off for-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-interesting</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-as a shielding agent. So there's another application. So we're used extensively, not just in power dividers and R cards and absorbers, but obviously as terminators, as in filters, pull-up/pulldown resistors and now we're seeing a lot of activity in heater elements. We're in the military aerospace uses a 'cell' so my active laser activation where they have tiny resistive elements on PCBs that can go ahead and activate a laser for laser guidance for smart munitia, missile systems, or  heater elements that can go ahead and maintain heat on critical components in avionics or even in space based applications. Or our product is used in satellites and even in deep space probes. We were on the Mars Express Beagle 2 Lander, on the surface of Mars where we have an Ohmega heater, key critical components up to above minus 15° C. It would work great if the parachute did not land on top of the lander</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">and prevent the deployment of the solar array but hey it was a great application for our product.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well it's again - I think just such a surprise - or at least it was to me, when I learned about one: how old the technology is and two: that it's really because of complexity and just all the different things that are going on in the industry right now that it's growing - it's growing at a quick pace.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Significantly so, we've had a wonderful record year; every year is a record year. But that's the nice thing, that the resistive film is like a blank slate. What you do with it is a new assignor and so yeah in the 80s it was all ecologic termination and then it goes into power dividers, and they're still doing all that stuff. But you know what's happening now is, we're saying, it’s utilized in so many different ways so we talked about the MEMS microphone. Well there's new sensor technology, there's accelerometers or other there's other MEMS-type sensors who use us. Now we see automotive sensor technology that says: hey, we could use this, not only is it obviously super-high reliability, been out for decades you know, can be done in high volumes, very cost-effective, density impact identification. But there's some critical components you could use in automotive, 5G technology-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What about IoT Bruce, it seems like ideal for IoT, provided the cost-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-in IoT you're saying?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The Internet of Things well that's why I'm talking about sensor technologies. IoT is a combination of a lot of things.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Technologies are getting into it, we see our stuff on flexible materials, and wearables.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Your wearables, yeah that was the other thing I was wondering about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wearable devices, we can get smaller home devices, home audio devices, and as things get thinner, smaller, everybody wants things densified. So getting rid of the passives especially, really allows you to do that. So yeah IoT is a big thing, automotive, even memory devices going to DDR4, going out to DDR5 , those fast data rates are causing needs for termination again, and 'Genic' has approved the embedded resistor within some of the DDR4 structures. So memory is another area. So between sensor technologies and automotive, and home devices in things like memory devices, and things like heater microfluidic heater bio biomedical type things you know. We have micro heaters on an embedded board, you can have fluid come in and have basically a breakdown to the protein to do analysis,  they use us for things like that. It's pretty exciting - so yeah it's been around for 45 years but guess what, we think that the new technologies, the new applications, it's almost like just starting over again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I can see that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Especially, we have the reliability long-term use, high volume low volume, high density/low density, so many different ways of doing it so, that's nice to have that background, make people feel good about using the technology, but knowing that all these new things are developing. I mean I can't wait for the next 45 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well a couple of things I wanted to ask you about what made me think of calling you and wanting to do this - sort of a side note - is, you hear about passives being on allocation and all of that and I'm like: I wonder if Bruce is seeing an uptick just because people are freaking out over automotive buying up whole lines - I don't know if you're seeing that, it was just a curiosity I had?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well yeah I know what you're saying, we definitely see an uptick, and now part of that uptick within the context of the of the industry. First off, I do want to tell your audience, especially your designers, we've been doing this for 40 - 45 years plus, as I mentioned - 46 years. I'd like to say that I was only 2 years old when I first got introduced to technology-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -We're going with that; I was three, you were two - let's go with that!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But we also have designers at our company whose job it is to work with the design community, particularly a PCB designer who could help them optimize their design, who can develop real footprints of resistors. What we don't want your your listeners to do, is reinvent the wheel; we want you to use our knowledge, talk to our people - say: hey here's what I think I'd like to do, I have an application I want to use, does it make sense for your technology? If it doesn't, we don't want you wasting your time. So ultimately you're gonna say, we're not gonna use it anyway we want you to have an optimized design because we want you to be successful. So think of us as an extension of yourself, of your team.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We're part of your design team we're there to help and assist. If you go to our website   </span><a href="https://ohmega.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">ohmega.com</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, there's a lot of white papers, there's a lot of good information there that people could read and reference. But more importantly is the communication with our staff, technical people who can really help you. Now talking about in general, the industry, there is an uptick in that. We talked about passive, so I mentioned it; we're in filters and MEMS microphones, resistors and capacitors and in one case, one of the capacitive materials, the embedded capacitor material FaradFlex, which is a embedded capacitor material, it's produced by Oak Mitsui. So Ohmega Technologies, my company and Oak Mitsui, got together and combined the material and had our resistive material on their capacitor material so we'd have one layer resistive capacitor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What? My head just exploded!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What we did was we found that it's pretty simple, from a technology standpoint, to stick two technologies, each separately have its own complexity but working together really worked very well. Importantly enough it had such synergistic effects in terms of improved power, lower RTC characteristics, or change of resistance to function the temperature down to almost nothing, the stability is astounding over a wide temperature range that we applied and we got a jointly held patent for the combined technology which we have in the US, and also all over the world now. So it's a joint technology pact between Ohmega Technologies and between Oak Mitsui and Mitsui Mine in Japan for this technology, and we see applications where if somebody wants to get a resistor and embed it, they also want to embed the capacitor. They get rid of capacitors that are passive. A lot of times they want to get rid of resistors too. So it goes hat in hand with a lot of those.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">In general, there is a lot of movement in the industry to embed it, but it's a growing thing because of densification, growing needs for real estate, smaller, thinner, lighter. You touched upon something and that is material sources, right now  the industry is going through some uptick. I think part of that's military aerospace that has increased the amount of funding and a lot of military programs, but also other areas. So we've seen that as well and our products are used in a lot of stuff. Radar systems F-35, F-22, a lot of missile systems, Eurofighter,  just all over the place. A lot of satellites, a lot of SATCOM, a lot of other things like that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot of radars on the ground as well, but we're seeing that uptick because the IoT, as you mentioned, in the Internet of Things, there's more and more sensitive technologies being demanded into a lot of different product. People are amazed at how many sensors go into so many things these days and the key with a lot of that, is densification, smaller, faster, cheaper - so that gets hand-in-hand with the 5G, the automotive, self-driving cars that are coming up; a lot of the sensors the Lidar, other sensor technologies are going to self-driving automobiles and what everybody says is: hey, this all sounds great, but you know what?  If I have a printed circuit board not using a computer and I have a failure in that it's okay. So it's annoying my computer goes, I swap a board, I put up a board, but I cannot afford to have any failure. I cannot afford to have anything go wrong, if I'm in an automobile that's driving itself, do you have room for any kind of failure? And so it's taken very seriously in the industry and going to a lot of these conferences and hearing the talks, the people involved with testing a lot of these are very concerned. They have to have absolute... as tough as it was, they have to make it even tougher for testing. Nothing can fail, so a lot of that comes into what can we do to improve reliability? Hey let's get rid of solder joints.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We want a kind of thing doesn't cause something go 'ding' and fly off a board anymore - or you know X&Y; expansion or z-axis expansion, all those things. Get rid of those solder joints, mechanical joints, improve the reliability while you enhance, densify, improved electrical performance. So we're saying that that's going on right now. And the other thing is that   companies are concerned about, the industry is facing some interesting things right now in the printed circuit industry copper lead times are really out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, that's crazy too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah the industry is getting smaller and smaller, yet at the same time the end-users and designers have to rely more and more on fewer and fewer resources. So we've been around since like I said 1972, so for 46 years we've been supplying this technology and we have never ever not been able to supply this in those 46 years. It's important for us that, A) we manufacture everything ourselves we make that resistive film we test it, we have test facilities which make sure that the product is what it should be before it ships out the door. We have hands-on manufacturing that's critical we don't want to subcontract making our product because we feel it's too important to our customers. They're relying on us. If we subcontracted, what would happen if whoever we had make it, went out of business? Or they sold the business; I don't want to do it anymore, and then we can't get product, our customers can't. We don't want to rely on someone else; that's number one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Number two, we have very good close working relationships with our raw material suppliers. Most of our raw materials are USA-based, we get them in from the US you know. We want to have a critical supply chain. When you're talking about scarce resources like copper and other things, it's important that we have that kind of relationship with our suppliers so that we always have product. We're always there to support our customer needs when they need it, how they need it, and that to me is very, very important because a lot of companies are coming to us saying: oh yeah we're giving two months lead time on getting product, and how are we supposed to deal with that? And say what about you guys? I said: you want some of our stuff we'll ship it tomorrow. To us that's very important. Customer; you've got to go ahead and satisfy customer needs and especially their concerns that's absolutely critical in the industry today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and it's refreshing because we get in this weird cultural thing as a business and it's like: Oh faster, cheaper or we're gonna be the lean supply chain and buy out. We get into this whole frenetic thing, but we forget if we're not meeting any of the customers we'll be out of business. So I really love that philosophy. Now as far as our listeners go Bruce, we're gonna share all of this in the show notes right. Everything that's on your website I encourage it, so we're going to supply all those links and the website you guys, if you're interested you can call </span><a href="https://ohmega.com/contact/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Ohmega Technologies</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> directly, get the help that Bruce alluded to. But they have a really great website with some really neat things that will go into even more depth than Bruce has gone into so far.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thank you so much. So Bruce, as we wrap up here. First of all, thank you Bruce is joining us from IMS in Philadelphia today even though he's - at Ohmega in Culver, so thank you for hopping out of the show for a few minutes to give our listeners a treat, so thank you for that. When I wrap up the podcast I always like to have a little feature in here called 'designers after hours' because most of us techie weirdos have a little bit of a right brain and have interesting hobbies I've found. Is there anything that you do after hours that is creative, compelling, interesting or otherwise, or do you have any after hours? do you just work all the time Bruce?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Do I have any after hours? That's a good question.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we encourage people to call us and that keeps me rather active and the staff at Ohmega and we welcome that; please, please, please call us, email us, we'd love to talk to you and listen to you. As to me yeah I enjoy travel, I enjoy writing you know, I always have . Now it's mostly technical things or papers that I publish. But you know, I love doing fiction as well, I do do that and I get very involved. Between that and having a lot of crazy grandchildren running underfoot, that keeps me going.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That fills up your plate. So also, would you say you are a geek or a nerd?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I'm sorry?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Would you say you are a geek or a nerd?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good question, I'm probably more geek than nerd yeah they've cleaned me up over the years, so I think I'm more geeky.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I would say you're more geeky, but you are walking on the razor's edge my friend. You can you can dip into that nerd space pretty easily.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Oh man, and I've been so good I haven't cracked any jokes, you can be mad about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Here I am, now you're telling me I'm close-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-no, no only in the best kind of way that you like go into this nerdy space of technology but that's really -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-you want to know something; it's been a long time, I've been doing this a long time and I'm so excited - it's like it's a renewal if people get that I'm excited about technology about where Ohmega fits into technology it's because I really AM. It's genuine, our president Allan Leve, over at Ohmega Technologies,   here's a guy who's had the same kind of passion. So every time we see something, we're always sending articles: look at this it’s neat isn't it? So if you call that nerdy, you call that geeky, that's fine. You know what we call it being enthused with technology and how we fit into that technology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-because I've been called a nerd and a geek I'm gonna drown myself in a Phillies steak salad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-extra cheese and onions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No - when I say you teeter is only because I remember when I was working at Transline Technology, you came in and you were showing us how it's done, how it's processed as a board shop - and I remember listening to you going: this guy totally knows his stuff and it was so articulate and I'm like, boy when I grow up I want to be able to talk like this. Like Bruce Mahler does, man he's got it going on! So that's why I say-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-just wait until I grow up really.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-well it is an exciting time in technology there's no grass growing under our feet so I share your enthusiasm for everything that's in the market and you're seeing everything so that is really exciting. Well thank you again for -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-thank you I appreciate it Judy, the opportunity to spend time with you and spend time with your audience, and hi to everyone out there - look forward to talking with you, look forward to working with you and like I said; a lot of exciting things out there right now in our industry so we're working in the best industry out there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We are, now we're gonna send poor Bruce back to booth duty where he can stand in a booth. Sorry to send you back to booth but thank you so much. Again this has been Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack Podcast and Bruce Mahler of Ohmega Technologies. Thanks for tuning in again until we hear or talk to you next time always remember to stay on track.</span></p>
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Surface Finishes on Printed Circuit Boards with Mike Carano, chemist and expert on surface finishes
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What finish should I use for my PCB Design? There’s no one single answer, it depends. Meet chemist and surface finish expert Mike Carano, the Vice President of Technology and Business Development at RBP Chemical, industry leaders in high performance chemical technology. Mike emphasizes a key question when it comes to surface finishes, “What are the reliability requirements of the environment?” Learn about the chemistry behind different finishes, fabrication and get tips for avoiding corrosion in unexpected environments in this episode of the OnTrack Podcast.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul><li style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Mike was </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=OEZPAyhIdUQ"><span style="font-weight:400;">Inducted into IPC hall of fame</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">.</span></span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">RBP Chemical - veteran owned small business, based in Milwaukee, founded in 1954 as a supplier for the printing industry and over the years evolved into surface finishes and also carry product lines for Embedded Medical Devices and Semiconductor and Mining industries.</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><em><span style="font-weight:400;">On using solder mask over bare copper method</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> - prior to going out to assembly the copper needs to be made pristine. </span></span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What are the surface finishes and which to use when? 50% of industry using hot air solder leveling (HASL), a surface finish with a long successful history.</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Other surface finishes: Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG), Electroless Nickel Electroless Palladium Immersion Gold (ENEPIG) - which is common in IC substrate, packaging industry. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Future of surface finishes: Tin-silver, Direct palladium copper </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What finish should I use? There’s no one answer, it depends. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Are there common examples of things that can go wrong? ie. High frequency design applications - ENIG is a well known issue that most engineers learn about the hard way.</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Where is the final product going to be used? Is it a domestic product or for the military? </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Reliability first, cost last. Cost should not be driving force.</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The environment is what really matters i.e. Shock-drop or Brunel fracture - consider for mobile phones, ENIG - tin-nickel bond, not tin-copper, corrosion environments, temperature extremes</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">What are the reliability requirements of the environment? </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">The most high quality board fabricators have strong process control and automation in place to ensure chemical stability. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Board designers are looking for electrical performance. Need to ask about the environment. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">I would put every designer in a circuit board fabricator for a week and let them build a board they design. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">To learn, you need to practice and get practical information on building the bareboards. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Creep corrosions on the mill automation machines because the OEM is specifying the finish. </span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Japanese techniques i.e. Shokuku chemical</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Most substrate work is done in Asia; IC substrate packaging at its best is in Japan.</span></li> <li style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Advice for learning: IPC courses, CID and CID+ training is one way to learn more.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.rbpchemical.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">RBP Chemical</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.iconnect007.com/index.php/column/156/trouble-in-your-tank/159/?skin=pcb"><span style="font-weight:400;">Trouble in Your Tank</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=OEZPAyhIdUQ"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC Hall of Fame Interview Video</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?Pageid=Mike-Carano-Long-time-IPC-Volunteer-Inducted-into-IPC-Hall-of-Fame"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC Hall of Fame induction</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?pageid=Classroom-Training-and-Certification"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC courses</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://hdpug.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">HDP Users Group</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> (HDPUG)</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.smta.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">SMTA.org</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone it's Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast. Welcome back we are glad to have you join us again today we have a very unique topic and speaker which was actually brought about by Mark Okumura who is the Senior Principal Hardware Engineer from ETS Lindgren who reached out to me and asked me about the topic of surface finishes and lucky for you I happen to know </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">the</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> guy who is a chemist and expert on surface finishes. A longtime friend Mike Carano from RBP Chemical. Before Mike and I get started, I wanted to please invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn or on Twitter, I'm @AltiumJudy. Altium is on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and also please know that we're recording on YouTube in case you want to see our sunshiny faces. So Mike, welcome thanks so much we’re delighted to have you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for inviting me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's good to know friends in high places right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I have friends in low places.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't believe it, well maybe, so Mike, I’ve got a question. First of all let's talk about your background a little bit so as a way of introduction Mike Carano was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame a few years ago and I had the privilege of doing the video interview that was highlighting his induction into the IPC Hall of Fame because he has served on so many committees and boards for IPC, but he really is the go-to guy on chemistry. So Mike, tell us a little bit about your background how you got into chemistry specifically related to the printed circuit board electronics industry?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well sometimes Judy, things happen by accident really, chemistry and sciences were always a love of mine so I always liked to experiment - my parents got me the chemistry set, and   everything from blowing up golf balls to me making things at home, everything from even experimenting with making wine that's chemistry - that seemed like a good thing to do right? I also realized that probably owning a vineyard would not be in the immediate future so onward and upward with chemistry, particularly the area of physical and advanced chemistry electrochemistry working on a Master's Degree, I happened to be walking up on campus one day back in 1980, 24 years old, and there's a gentleman standing outside this building and he noticed my chemistry books he says, hey come here I want to talk to you, and I thought, oh what's this about? And I noticed the sign on the door there, Youngstown Ohio City Electrochemicals, and he asked me if I wanted to interview for a position there. Well it was perfect because graduate school was more part-time. I was doing some teaching assistance and what do you know, I interviewed for this thing on surface finishing chemistry having no idea really what I was getting into, but I did. The idea was finishing my Master's degree, and go on and do something else - maybe do this for two years - well 39 years later here I am still in the industry. In some way, shape, or form, so that's how I got into this and as the company, Electrochemicals in those days, founded primarily on the metal finishing industry - you know, surface finishing for doorknobs and bumpers and decorative plating. Well the company was just then getting into printed circuit board chemistry and a lot of people didn't even know what that was in those days because it was a fledgling industry there was mostly - remember Judy way back then was the 80% of the industry was really run by the OEM...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-So digital equipments the the Adelphi’s, the Delco’s the IBM's, but pretty soon there was that switch, and then I got involved in IPC and pretty soon was formulating chemistries and technical service, traveling globally around the world was fascinating for me, and here I am today, and still in the industry in some way, shape, or form. You know, you evolve, you continue to evolve matter of fact, just like surfaces they've evolved.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Where we are today, I'm sure they'll continue to evolve in the very near future.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah for sure, so can you give us a quick overview, I know you were Chief for many many years and now you're with RBP can you give us a quick thumb nutch of RBP?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely, great opportunity, company privately owned (veteran owned) small business, our company is based in Milwaukee Wisconsin and was founded in 1954 and has been privately held since. The current CEO and majority owner is Mr Mark </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Kannenberg, </span><span style="font-weight:400;">he's my immediate boss, Mark served in Vietnam, he's a West Point graduate and also a Harvard MBA, but he always wanted to kind of get in the business of owning his own company even though he had many, many opportunities. So he's now been running RBP for these last 30 years. Under his control the company has grown beautifully - initially, the company was founded as a supplier of materials and chemistries for the printing industry, newspapers, newsprint magazines, but over the years also evolved into surface finishing, surface treatment and printed circuit board chemistry, which is the company today, because as I said it continues to evolve. Today and we have four major product lines the printed circuit board and photochemical milling chemistries. We have a great product line in the area of embedded medical devices, and we also serve the semiconductor and the mining industries with some specialty additives. A lot of people don't understand the connection but there's a connection all the way through the platforms because the chemistries are basically adapted to work in all those industries which makes working with RBP fascinating for me - the diversification but yet the the continuity and the familiarity - so great opportunity and I've enjoyed it immensely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good, thank you for sharing that Mike, so let's jump right into surface finishes. I'm sure most of our listeners who are engineers and designers will be familiar with surface finishes but let's just go back to our ABCs for a second and just define surface finishes for us for PCBs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure that is the part of the board that is really going to be used to prevent oxidation of the base metal, as you know, typically we have copper as the base metal if you're using the solder mask over bare copper method where you basically put solder mask down that nice green stuff and the copper is showing, you have to make that copper solderable, you have to preserve the solderability so typically, prior to that board going out to the assembly operation, the copper has to be basically made pristine with a finish that does not oxidize so that you can join the component leads, whatever they may be, whether they be surface mounts, through-hole, BGA, QFNS, QFPs, they have to be able to to wet that surface and form a reliable joint. So the surface finish is critical for that application and for that end product.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> So tell us - give us just a rundown - of what the surface finishes are and then we're gonna jump in to which one to use when.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sure well, here in North America and primarily for the military, we're still using - at least 50 or so percent of the industry - uses hot-air solder leveling. Basically you're taking that solder mask over bare copper board, flexing it, cleaning the copper and then dipping it into a molten solder pot to coat the surface. But over the years, due to a lot of other constraints, one of them was to get rid of lead. And even when we have lead-free, hot air leveling, the other surface finishes have evolved, as a matter of fact, have taken center stage primarily outside of North America. With these surface finishes are we hear the term </span><span style="font-weight:400;">ENIG</span><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><span style="font-weight:400;">which is </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold</span><span style="font-weight:400;"> we also hear about Electroless Nickel Electrons Palladium Immersion Gold also known as ENAPEG, and while that may be an expensive finish, you see that used quite a bit in the packaging industry, the semiconductor packaging IC substrate industry. Then there is OSP Organic Solderability Preservatives, which is actually the only one of these to be non-metal-containing and then we have immersion silver, and immersion in tin, and again we expect that there’ll be other additions of these finishes coming up in the near future. Potentially a tin silver or direct palladium over copper to get rid of the gold altogether. There's a lot of movement in this area to enhance the surface finish reliability at the same time managing costs because you see how precious metals like gold and palladium can contribute significantly to the cost of that board. Which then makes you wonder, okay what finish should I use and when should I use it? So that's a rundown of our finishes and each one of them - I can tell you this Judy - when people ask me, and I travel all over the world, what finish should I use...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-no one finish fits all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a loaded question isn't it Mike? It depends, that's the answer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It depends right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well as I mentioned in the beginning, this gentleman Mark Okumura reached out to me and said, are you ever going to talk on your podcast, or do you have any information about surface finishes? Because in his particular case - and this is just one of many many high frequency application engineers and designers - have found out the hard way that if they use </span><span style="font-weight:400;">ENIG </span><span style="font-weight:400;">the </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold</span><span style="font-weight:400;">, that if it's high frequency then we have the skin effect and then the signal begins moving through the nickel and the nickel is lossy, and unfortunately that's a well-known issue it's been going on forever but it seems like people have learned that the hard way, unfortunately one at a time, that's just one example. So can we talk about when we talked a few weeks ago, about environment playing a huge role on how to make a selection on your surface finishes. So can you jump into that a little bit?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What I mean by environment is, where is that final product going to be used, and let me just preface it this way, if you're in this industry, whether you're in the printed circuit board industry directly or you're an assembler or you're an OEM. Choosing the final finish for that product may be the most important decision you make, because it is going to impact that long-term reliability of least of that solder joint now as I’m saying solder joint,  I'm using it interchangeably with lead-free as well. And compounding that, is again, where are the boards going to be used? Is it to finish in harsh use environments such as automotive under the hood, military aerospace - and that's one application. But then, what about consumer items like mobile phones, smartphones, desktop computers, smart tablets, household devices. You don't need a product or a finish that adds $9 a surface square foot of the board if you're using it in a washing machine in your house, or in a microwave, or even a desktop or laptop computer. Now military aero things like class 3, or class 3A that have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can't fail - you can't fail. You may look at that and you say, well do I need ENAPEG, do I need ENIG? Do I need to make the OSP also work? And some people really are surprised when they find out that OSP’s a very reliable finish. It's not wire bondable but in terms of reliability in forming the copper tin in a metallic, and having a reliable solder joint, it's fantastic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So think about that, it also happens to be the lowest cost finish but I am of the opinion, and I asked somebody this, and I listed ten </span><span style="font-weight:400;">things </span><span style="font-weight:400;">I have cost of the finish at the bottom, because that should not be the driving force of what you put on the board. It's the environment where the board is used and then you ask yourself other questions. Is cosmetics important? Do I have to have a shiny silvery finish or don't I need one? I'm worried about shock drop, we know for example, if something I have in my hand drops a lot like a smartphone. you worry about brittle fracture of the components - actually fraction when that phone hits the ground - we've all dropped our phones and the mobile phone companies, the Apples of the world and the Samsung's, conduct shock drop tests all the time because that's important criteria. You don't want to spend money on a new phone, drop it and find out the components fell off. So that's why you don't see ENIG used a lot on the smartphone, you use things like something that makes it much stronger - copper tin and a metallic bond - whereas with ENIG, your tin is formed with the nickel so it's a tin-nickel bond not a tin copper one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I see.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, we all know, and there's been hundreds of papers published by many, many companies and fantastic researchers around the world, showing that the tin to copper in a metallic is much stronger than the tin to nickel in a metallic. So that's something to consider as well, not just the cost. But you might use ENIG in medical devices, we know the military is starting to look at ENIG as a final finish, but they also do some things to ensure the reliability of that component as it is attached to the surface. So there's a myriad of things to look at - oh and corrosion environment - </span><span style="font-weight:400;">in terms of creep corrosion</span><span style="font-weight:400;">, and that's an issue and silver tends to be somewhat prone to creep corrosion, but in an industrial environment kind of outside, or in a clay modeling studio or in a paper mill where sulphur is emitted. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's interesting. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, if you told me, well I'm making this part because I work for General Motors and I'm modeling, I'm gonna use clay to model my next car and I'm gonna have all these computers hooked up inside that studio, I think I'll use boards with silver on them. Well you probably don't want to, your work is gonna be lost, so that's one consideration. As I said shock drop is another, but again where are you using the final product? Industrial automation, using it outside, base stations, all of those things. Industrial controllers where we're subjected to not just environmental contaminants,but maybe significant vibration, temperature extremes etc. So always look at the environment where you're using it and what the reliability requirements are. Can you afford the warranty, what is the warranty when you take something back? If it's inexpensive, you can use an inexpensive finish but if the cost of failure is great, you should rethink that finish which you're going to use and how you're going to use it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That totally makes sense to me. You had mentioned that a lot of people think that OSP is generally a sort of low-tech product, but you were pushing back against that when we discussed that, why is that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well 25 years ago OSP was what you would call the single attachment finish - one reflow, maybe one through-hole, and that was it. It lasted four to five months whereas the other finishes, like hot air leveling - one year, two year shelf life - that's changed. Companies have made significant improvements in the reliability. Also the the ability of the OSP to reduce oxygen penetration on the copper, and that again is what you're trying to do, you're trying to prevent the underlying copper from oxidizing so that when the solder melts and spreads on the surface, it spreads and encapsulates the leads on the side on the components and solidifies and it's a highly reliable. If the surface is oxidized even slightly and doesn't wet properly you've lost your reliability, but OSP has come on strong now and you see it in automotive under the hoods, major telecommunication companies using it for the reasons of getting away from brittle fracture, you see them in smartphones - a significant number of smartphones - and I have experience in those areas so, I'm talking from personal experience - the reliability is there with the right finish. Now the low-tech you find, if you buy a low-tech OSP from somebody you've never heard of, you’re taking a risk, but the companies out there - two or three that are making significant contributions to the performance of OSP - they've upped the game significantly. Many of them are fifth-generation molecules, these are synthesize organic azone molecules, that just do a fantastic job, and I would not hesitate to recommend it for numerous applications.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's interesting how that's evolved over time, I wasn't aware of that until you mentioned it to me recently, and that's some of the magic of chemistry that just runs in the background of our industry until sometimes - it seems like - until there's a problem.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We don't talk about it, so I'm glad to sort of have this discussion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That’s a good point, to that point Judy, when Black Pad showed up what people will call brittle fracture...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-it set the industry back 15 years for ENIG because they didn't understand it, they wanted to blame the phosphorus content of the nickel deposit, but that turned out to be incorrect, it turned out that the cause of that was the galvanic effect. When you put immersion gold on top of nickel you're not electrolytically plating it, you're doing an immersion deposit, also known as galvanic cells, so to deposit on nickel, some nickel actually has to corrode and leave the surface, so that the gold can take its place. And that's the main difference of an immersion deposit. Well, what was happening because of the way things were being run, pH, nickel morphology, roughness, etc that galvanic effect was significantly large, causing this corrosion - significant corrosion - to take place on the nickel surface, and that would impact negatively the formation of the solder joint. And there you would get brittle fracture, you drop something, It breaks. So, things are better now, but I still would be very careful, if you told me, I'm gonna put ENIG on my board today, I would say do a first article, make sure that the board design you have, will not end up with this issue.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good advice and, for people who are listening. Again - you're going to hear me say this over and over again - and I'm not going to apologize for it, is that you need to get into a board house, find the time because most really good, world-class board houses - you're going to go in and you're going to be surprised to see... and Mike can talk about this, the complexity of the labs they have in place to make sure that their chemicals are stable and doing what they're supposed to do. Mike, I imagine you've spent just more than a little bit of time inside of board houses discussing chemical balance and, if you would, jump in on what the choice of surface finish has on the fabricator and why the designer should know about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right yeah, well first let's go back to your first question about these board fabricators the ones that are high-quality board fabricators and I'm looking at not just on the surface finishing side, but also other aspects of the circuit board fabrication including electroless copper, direct metallization, the amount of control that they have in place, process control automation, to keep plating and other the key ingredients within a very tight operating window. And that's not difficult if you invest the time, and you have the commitment to ensure that. I can’t tell you how many times Judy, have been in situations where I've had to troubleshoot a problem because someone said I've got this issue, I've got that issue, you go there and you find out that they were running the chemistry basically way outside the window. Well, why'd you do this? Well, we only check it once every two shifts. Well, you can't have a high volume operation like what you're doing and then check the chemistry once every two shifts and I'm telling you, 90% of these problems that I see related to process, are related to incorrect use of the chemistry and mishandling of the controls that are available to you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now does that mean that the fabricator needs to work much closer with the supplier, but if the supplier is already doing this for them, the fabricator needs to take some responsibility. But again, I've been with a number of companies who have complete failure analysis labs also in their facility. So, they take it to a very high level, they're basically their own qualification facility to ensure that they understand where the issues are. They categorize every defect and those are the kinds of ones you want to work with.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely, and I've worked for shops like that where they literally had PhDs in chemistry renting the lab. They were doing their own cross section and when suddenly, there's a spike in volume - if you're not on top of it and you don't have those people and all of a sudden - whoops production went up, but we're still checking our bass at the same rate we were before. And then like, oh what happened? Well there's all these things that need to be taken   into consideration and adjust it accordingly. So, what other fabrication considerations are there that that maybe designers or engineers that are designing boards would want to consider as they decide what they're going to choose?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well good that's a good point, and you and I know design is important, because there's this conundrum in our supply chain. The fabricator is looking for design for manufacturing and the designer is designing something to work in a certain fashion. Electrical performance, dielectric spacing, and and they don't take into consideration potentially what that does, how that impacts the bare board fabrication process. That's a very significant right? What - and I'm gonna go back to this - because I find this to be an issue as well on the assembly side boards come into the assembler, they come from somewhere, and they call me and say I have the the plating is lifting from the surface when we assemble, or the solder mask is lifting well I said do you did you specify the grade of solder mask, do you even know what solder mask is being put on the board that you're bringing in to assemble? Well no. Now I find out - it's very easy for me to find out - that they’re using, the fabricator... wherever, typically not here, are using a low $10 a kilo solder mask because no one specified it. And of course, that $10 a kilo or less solder mask is probably gonna work beautifully in a handheld child's toy, it's not going to work very well for your medical device. And you're gonna have all these other problems. So I think, I hope the designers would get more involved in understanding the difficulties in making a bare board and also understand: just don't specify ENAPEG because it sounds great, or sounds sexy. Because number one, you're probably not paying for it, somebody else has to pay for that ENAPEG and at $12 and $10 a square foot.   Understand - and this is where the board designers are looking for the electrical performance - do they ask where the board is going to be used? Is it going to be in a harsh-use environment, is it going to be in a benign environment clay modeling studio? These are the key questions for them. Typically what I see designers do is, say this is how the board should be built, these are the layers, these are the holes, and you should use this material with this dielectric constant. That's all great, but it's not enough.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And  I've been teaching this advanced troubleshooting course with printed circuit board fabrication for years, and you'd be surprised at the number of designers that actually take that course, and they ask the craziest questions. Which tells me they haven't been outside of the board fabrication, outside of their design studio. Understand that you need to live with that a little bit I would put every designer at least in a circuit board fabricator for two weeks and have them build a board that they designed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yep I agree it's hard - we encouraged that here a lot - and almost every guest on here says the same thing. Because you and I've been around the block a little while, and understand that there's time constraints for them to get out. However the long-term cost of not getting out there and not onboarding. And this is another plug - you and I've been around IPC awhile - this is another plug for CID and CID+ training, as well because there you onboard some of these things that may be outside of the obvious things that are around manufacturing and assembly. So Kelly Dack wants to start field trips on every CID course. I'm like, yes let's do it!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know, to me that would be fantastic, and to be honest with you and being heavily involved myself in an IPC, one of the things that I've suggested that when CIDs and the CID+ students earned their certifications, they should also have to get some understanding in coursework and practical on the bare board fabrication. You should make it like you did in college, the practicals, you just didn't do the book work, you had to go into the lab...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-apply what you just learned from the book, because if you couldn't resort to practice, at the end of the day you </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">can't</span></em><span style="font-weight:400;"> practice it. You've not learned.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And as we both know, the cost of ignorance in these areas is so high, like avoidable mistakes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Costly...  I've seen an entire clay modeling studio shut down, a paper mill shut down, because, again the paper mill folks were buying the controls from the OEM who was specifying the boards to be made but the finish... So the poor industrial automation company using these expensive controls were wondering why these inexpensive instruments are no longer doing what they're supposed to do. And they find out that there's creep corrosion in there because the OEM specified immersion silver or bought the board somewhere cheap where the individual companies decided to cut corners, like they do, to meet the cost. Like not putting enough gold on, not putting enough nickel on. You know, there are specs for a reason.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There is, absolutely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that's obviously a discussion for another time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's a whole other podcast, and then there's everything you're doing - HDPUG - which is another podcast I'd like to get you on for as well. I want to put a pin in our conversation right now because I realized, in the beginning I failed to mention to our listeners that you may hear some background noise here. There's some... well, what I was telling our producers is, we're building a better podcast but it’s noisy in here, but really what's happening is we have some construction and of course it's overhead in the green room here in our La Jolla office, so it's directly overhead, on this day of course, so please, please excuse any background noise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Mike, you sit on boards for international companies as well as companies here and you are a respected and trusted advisor. You mentioned to me about things that the Japanese are doing that are very innovative and that is that they're mixing finishes and doing selective finishes can you tell us a little bit about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and this is if you can see the IC substrate side in the Japanese, or the ones who really made miniaturization go. I mean they understood how to make things small, not just lawn mowers and engines like Toyota Camrys and things like in the Prius, but they figured out early on how to do it with circuit boards and and putting more functionality on the chip. Matter of fact, that's where OSP was actually invented was in Japan, in those days it was called pre-flux because it was in the rudimentary 1970s day, but they pioneered the OSP and matter of fact, today the leading OSP company in the world is Shikoku Chemicals out in Japan, they continue to evolve that chemistry and I trust them immensely.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, going back to that question what you do is, in the IC substrate market, where you've got a complex chip that has to have gold leads or gold wire bonding, you have on one side of the substrate, nickel gold, and then you bond the chip with the wires to that feature. But then on the flip side, which is going to be a BGA feature, you have bare copper which is OSP. So they have the BGA balls on the bottom side and the IC substrate - the chip actually, the the die as they call it - on the top side. So you have ENIG - selectively on one side and bare copper meaning OSP - on the other and of course it's a flip chip. So with the IC substrate or the IC chip in there, you marry that BGA to the Barriss surface of the copper board meaning an OSP, and you've got this fantastic package, if you will, instead of doing it all in the nickel gold or all in ENIG and handle it selectively. And they've developed these processes, and they've also developed a selective imaging, if you will, to make that happen. but it's relatively easy to do, once you understand the ramifications and how to make it work, and make sure you don't get an OSP that doesn't say, ‘attack’ the exposed nickel gold. All these things, it's pretty pretty intricate, but it's been around for some time and with a lot of success so I've selected ENIG as they call it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting, so I was just gonna ask you, what does that do to cost and process ? You're saying it's not difficult, how about cost implications?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there is an additional cost of putting the second imaging step down to protect the board from plating where you don't want it to go, but instead of doing the entire IC substrate in nickel gold, you're doing just one portion of it where the wires from the chip are placed,  from the die so, that does help you significantly in the long run. It also makes the BGA perform better because you're marrying basically tin to bare copper making another opportunity there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Do you think that will find its way here into North America?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, the thing is there's only a few fabricators here who do work in the substrate industry, most of the substrate work is done in Asia for the Amcor’s and the Intel's and the Samsung’s so you see a lot of the supply chain there. Some big American owned companies in Asia are doing it in volume, but again, if you want to see IC substrate packaging at its best it's the Japanese.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yep they’re the leaders,and they've been doing that for 30 years, so they tend to be ahead of their time, but now the time has come.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well it's interesting to get your perspective on sort of a global scale, as well this has been great. Our time is coming to a close here, but will you please share with us links to any white papers or slide decks or anything you have? Because I think how I want to wrap up is Mike, if you are a designer what would you do with all this information? And we've kind of shared it sort of anecdotally and quickly here, but if you wanted to learn more about this where would you go, and what kind of things maybe can you share with our listeners that we can throw on the show notes so they can maybe get better at this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well very good. I would encourage you designers who haven't taken an IDC course outside of design - I encourage you to take them - you look on the IPC website. We just had Apex where, in addition to technical papers, there were workshops on a number of different subjects including my Advanced Troubleshooting course, but there were also courses on the Basics of Bare Board Fabrication, and some of the instructors do a great job of giving you the tour, if you will, of the very basics. So you can get a feel for how the board starts with bare laminate, actually starts from the design, and actually ends with the finished product, going out to assembly from a manufacturing standpoint, and you can follow that up by taking the Advanced Troubleshooting, so you can understand where some of the problems and technical issues come from when the board is fabricated, with the various chemical steps and the mechanical steps like drilling and plating and immersion gold and silver. Whatever you need to do, that would be something you should do, and also watch for IPC Tech Ed, where they're going to be putting more and more of these courses. Standalones in different parts of the company whether it be San Jose, San Diego. We just did a course in Boston back in April which was well attended, and we just had the High Reliability Conference in Baltimore a few weeks ago, which had a high military aero content to it. But there's a webcast as well. And also, I encourage you to look at the IPC website - </span><a href="http://ipc.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">http://ipc.org/</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Go through the technical papers, look for the events that are going on there but obviously at every Apex there will be this myriad of courses to take, and I encourage you to go to your boss and say, look this is something I think will benefit me, and you're gonna send me there anyways for the other events, so why not get there on a Sunday and take this course?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah good advice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">SMTA is another good place that has a lot of technical papers and seminars and webinars related to things like surface finishes and design for reliability etc. Matter of fact, IPC actually has a Design for Manufacturing workshop that is taught by some really highly-skilled people too, so that might be something that a designer would benefit from. Again, because the designer or an </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">actual </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">designer is actually teaching the course from experience because he lives it...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-let me build bare boards...   I'm talking like Gary Ferrari and Susie Webb and those folks, they've actually built boards but they also design. Happy Holden and he's built boards, he designs boards, he understands - they get it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That would be an interesting perspective for all those out there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay good, that's great stuff. Well we'll make sure to attach the links to IPC and I know they're doing a lot with education right now, and so I'll make sure - and if you have anything to share with me please do - and we'll make sure we also include links to RBP Chemical.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah,</span> <a href="https://www.rbpchemical.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">https://www.rbpchemical.com/</span></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And then we will share anything else that you want, and I'm hoping I might be able to twist Mike's arm to come teach a surface finish course at Altiumlive in October. But we'll see, he's so in demand, hie’s a popular guy - but if I had my wish, that's what we would do because I think it'd be a great place again hope to have about five six hundred designers there so I think they would benefit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Mike thank you again, you're a dear friend, and thank you so much for always freely sharing your information. Mike also writes a column for PCB007 Magazine, called Trouble in Your Tank, and that's where I learned a lot and actually how I became friends with Mike as I was asking him if I could please take some of his content and repurpose it for blogs I was writing. So we'll also include that link to his column. So Mikey, thank you again you're a dear contributor and friend to the industry and thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to do this with us it's been fun.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, thank you Judy, thanks for inviting me. I appreciate it, you have a great day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks you too again. This has been Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast and Mike Carano of RBP Chemical. please join us again next time - until then - always stay OnTrack.</span></p> <p> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Mary Elizabeth McCulloch and Project Vive’s Medical Device Innovations
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Speech Generating Devices and speech assistive devices on the market today are expensive. Insurance policies are complicated and not everyone who needs one is always covered. Meet Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, she’s changing lives by ​giving a voice to the voiceless with Project Vive and </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.projectvive.com/our-technology.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">Voz Box</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. A recent biomedical engineering graduate from a family of engineers and makers, Mary and her team are inventing Speech Generation Devices in new wearable forms by working closely with the people who most need them. Listen and find out how Mary and Project Vive are using low cost sensors and changing lives by leading the development of innovative medical devices and technology.  </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">It was really all about the access, not just in price, but in the sensors.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Low cost sensors that could change someone’s life. These are sensors in our cell phones that can be used, and we’re really adapting that for the disability community. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Wearable for independent communication - worked closely with the person using the device so that the design was modified to fit real life.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Loop of instantaneous feedback - Gave the person using device a voice and a vote. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">People with disabilities are problem solvers. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">This is about innovation that is informed by people within the disability community.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">This is a great way to break down the stigma of disabilities. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Cisco - 100k prize</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://projectvive.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Projectvive.com</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> - accepts donations via fiscal sponsor</span></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.projectvive.com/the-team.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">Project Vive</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://youtu.be/aXb33hsxW3s"><span style="font-weight:400;">Meet Arlyn</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjIv2ewiJgUweHqOHxuaAYA"><span style="font-weight:400;">Project Vive on Youtube</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/mary-elizabeth-mcculloch-developed-voz-box-and-project-vive"><span style="font-weight:400;">Learn more about Mary and Voz Box</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://resources.altium.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium Resources</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:center;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.projectvive.com/beta.html"><strong>Let us know</strong></a><strong> if you know anyone who needs Project Vive technology. </strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:center;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Or read more about Project Vive in this month’s </strong><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/pcb-design-blog/mary-elizabeth-mcculloch-developed-voz-box-and-project-vive"><strong>OnTrack article</strong></a><strong>.</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:center;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack podcast. Thank you for joining us today. If you've been listening to our podcast I would equate today's podcast with being the desert or the cherry on the sundae. It's a great story and a great woman that I look forward to sharing with you. Mary Elizabeth McCulloch who has a startup called ProjectVive. Before we get into our conversation with Mary Elizabeth please remember to connect with Altium on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and I would also love to connect with you on LinkedIn or on Twitter, I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and also, if you prefer to watch this on YouTube rather than listening just go to </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's YouTube channel</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, click on videos and you'll see all of our podcasts there. So that is all the housekeeping. So let's get into the good stuff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, about a week or so ago I got a message through LinkedIn - an introduction to this young lady Mary Elizabeth, and she was telling me about her company and we've since connected, had a couple conversations and I'm so excited to share what this young innovator has done. So Mary Elizabeth, welcome my dear I'm so glad to have you and thank you for taking the time to to meet with me today.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you it's such an honor to be on this podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Ya no, it's truly our honor. You know technology does so much for us in our lives but what you're doing is such a great human story. So tell us a little bit about your educational background and tell us about your parents and background, cuz I think that does a lot to set up your story?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, yeah awesome. So I guess educational background; I studied Biomedical Engineering at Penn State, I graduated spring 2016. I was always really interested in Science and Math in high school - what else? So my dad, he was a Physics major at Penn State, he's gone into Engineering for really his whole career. He's worked a lot with CNC controls in the milling machine industry and then my mother, she has a Biology Degree, a Mechanical Engineering degree, and some Biomedical Engineering graduate work - actually on the artificial heart at Penn State - so you know my family's background and my own.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Impressive. So you shared with me a little bit about - I had asked you: did you always know you were gonna go into engineering? So tell us a little bit about the things you and your dad used to do when you were young cuz I think it speaks to your story?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so, growing up my parents really had an interesting - or an interest in - farming and fixing things around the house and not going out and buying something new and really just trying to understand how to repair motors like rototillers, tractors, things like that and I guess my dad would also buy little chemistry kits for us to work on in the basement and yeah, we kind of had a blast with that. But also, my parents always really encouraged me to try new things, and one of those new things was to go, after I graduated high school, to Ecuador and I decided to be a Rotary Exchange Student and so I spent a year in Ecuador and outside of high school I decided that it would kind of be cool to volunteer in an orphanage, and this orphanage specifically was for children and adults with disabilities. And this is kind of one of the things that it I had never really had this like experience coming from you know a student who grew up in the middle of Pennsylvania and there I was and I really was taken aback by a woman who was in a wheelchair sitting by the window who had cerebral palsy and couldn't speak. So I started asking her yes and no questions - wasn't getting a response back and then after, a couple days of working with her saw that she had voluntary movements. If it wasn't a blink of an eye and I figured out what was a yes movement and what was a no movement, what was a tremor, um and started kind of communicating with her in this way. And I - it kind of hit me that there were a lot of other individuals not just only in this orphanage but in this country who had these type of disabilities and didn't have someone there who was asking them these yes and no questions and figuring out what they like to do, what they didn't like to do. And then really the lack of opportunity because of their disability that they had. And I was, you know, 18 years old at the time, was going back to the United States to major in Biomedical Engineering, and I really thought you know, I would really like to create something to fix this and who did I tell - I told my dad - and my dad right away, was like: you can fix it, you can - we can figure it out you know, just like these little ideas that I had growing up that dad just was - got really excited about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I mean they're - I guess I didn't go into it a little bit, but growing up there was sometimes like when I was learning how to draw flowers and stuff he's like: we could, you know make, a milling machine that would draw these into bed boards and you can program it that way, and anyway, it just kind of was a natural thing for my father to just when that inventor side of me came out, for him to encourage that and not be some crazy idea but something that yeah would take a lot of work but I knew it was something I was really passionate about and you know I'm 26 now, and I'm still just as passionate about it and I'm really glad that my dad pressed me to move on with it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I was so impressed in our conversation where I almost felt like you were set up in this life to do the work you're doing because I remember you saying that when you were answering the yes and no questions, that you could see her countenance light up and she was in a better place after being able to communicate and I don't think any of us can imagine what it would be like to live with the frustration of not being able to communicate in a fluid way. And there are speech assistive devices available to people that are mostly affluent so what's the cost of speech assistive devices, on the market for people who have the money to buy them?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so you know, a speech generating device isn't just you know, a box like a tablet, it includes things like a mount, to put it on their wheelchair. It also includes different sensors you know, if they can't do direct selection and select on a board sometimes they need a sensor and that they can control with their foot, or even with their eye movement. So if you're looking at a full speech generating device, for a low-cost one six thousand dollars, for a full one you're looking at fifteen thousand dollars and sometimes even more, so it's a thing that has you know, made some headway on getting covered by insurance. But having a communication device covered by insurance can cause issues as well. Because sometimes it's not medically necessary, and then of course, people that don't have insurance, that can be really hard to get one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And is that kind of the disconnect you saw I mean, obviously people that are in Ecuador don't have that reach or that capacity. So is that sort of an area of compassion for you to go: they don't have access?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah absolutely. It was - it really was all about the access and not just in the price but also in the type of sensors to give people access to you know, control speech generating device not just with a finger, but with eyes. And knowing that you know, there's so much technology out there and I know in the beginning we prototyped with Arduino and Raspberry Pi and these really low-cost sensors that could like change someone's life and just like you said, can you imagine not being able to communicate and connect with someone? And to think that these low-cost sensors could allow someone to make relationships, to share their dreams with and that was definitely one of those things that you know, as a freshman engineering student really gave me a passion to bring these types of sensors that we are using every day you know, in our cell phones and in all this technology all around us but really adapting that for the disability community.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So once you were in college, you have this idea, your dad's encouraging you. What was the next step for you? How did you start innovating and deciding to actually make a device?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so I guess as soon as that, the first thing I did was decide that I was going to make a device. I think that was just like that was...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -that was a first step right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That was the first step. The training and the business model, that kind of all came later, but I guess the first thing that I did was, I took a trash can, I carved out two sticks, put a potentiometer in the middle of them and hook that up to an Arduino Mega and basically wrote a program that allowed someone to calibrate it to say what angle, or the threshold that they needed to to make a selection. And then had these WAV files playing that basically went through menus. So for example, one was like food, the other was emotions and so if they kick the foot and they move the potentiometer for the angle that it needed, with the width of threshold that would open up the food options and then they could you know select something like: I want to eat, or I want to cook, and then yeah made that a checkmark. Then I made a glove, so that somebody who could just you know, twitch their finger also press a finger on a surface and really the whole time I was thinking about the individuals that I worked with in Ecuador you know. At one point I was like: Christina could use this..</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- Ah, I love that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-she was really - and she still is - I actually just saw her last summer, she's doing wonderful. But um really great foot control but nonverbal cerebral palsy like the things that she could do with her foot, I would give her you know my cell phone, and she could click down on a button. So I was thinking like, what is - - what are ways that I can create something that was wearable for independent communication?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because a lot of times these people didn't have caregivers that are around them all the time to make sure that their communication device was in the right position. But then as soon as I had a working prototype you know, it was like I gotta test this you know. Let's see if this works and if what I'm doing is completely you know, not gonna work and that's where I found Arlyn. Arlyn is from Johnstown Pennsylvania, she has cerebral palsy. She's in a residency home and she also has great control of her feet - very strong legs, similar to Christina. And we used the foot sensor for her to share her poetry for the first time. And were able to really adapt our program to do that, and right away there were things you know, that didn't work. We tried an insert into a shoe, and she was like you know that doesn't feel comfortable I don't want anything in my shoes - and really just started this design process with her you know and seeing what she would be comfortable wearing and also what was working and what was efficient. And how did that integrate into her daily life and be something that she did want to use to communicate every day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I love that you were collaborating with her, and that you gave her a voice to say, I don't like that in my shoe right. So to create this loop of instantaneous feedback, you gave her a voice, but you also gave her a vote on how she would interact with this device, how would I - that feels good, that doesn't feel good, this works for me and, by the way, for those that may be listening or watching, I will share the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXb33hsxW3s&feature=youtu.be"><span style="font-weight:400;">videos with Arlyn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, they will make you tear up instantly. It's - this woman is a poet and her poetry is beautiful, and she is now sharing her poetry for the first time in her life because of Mary Elizabeth's ingenuity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and Arlyn you know, she - she is so smart, and really our design has so much of her in it. And I talk about this sometimes, I know I talked about it with you. With people with disabilities - just you know - being problem solvers because they have had to overcome hurdles their whole life. Like Arlyn, she sets her VCR with her foot, so many people don't even know how to set their VCRs she's doing it...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's hilarious [laughter] </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-so many people don't even - caregivers who come around, they don't know how to work this VCR and you know, to make sure that, that experience and that perspective that she has, is </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">in </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">this assistive technology that we're developing and I think it's a really important population that really gets overlooked in technology and innovation and especially innovation, for the disability community.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you have no idea how much I just love you and what you're doing. It is such an amazing thing. In just the few videos that you have Mary Elizabeth, you can see the light in her eyes and you can see the camaraderie between the two of you and the deciphering and working together on how to make this the best fit for her - it's really a beautiful thing. And so, at some point in college, you got it working right, you got a working prototype right? And did you show that to your dad at some point or how?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -Oh he was involved in this, this whole point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh he was, okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-he you know, he had  and still does - in CNC controls, so you'd have little parts that we would need to mill out so we'd be talking you know: can can you make this design for us? We didn't even have a 3d printer at the time so - we have a 3d printer now which makes rapid prototyping - but yeah, yeah he was you know really alongside of us. But also it was, taking engineers - and a lot of times you know this happened with us - was people that had all this tech skill but never interfaced with people of disability and seeing where they could apply their skills, and how much an impact that could make on a life, and on many lives. And I think really, for my father, that was you know, a really aha moment, because you know a lot of times - people with disabilities - when you meet them for the first time, and if you're not used to it - you might think that they don't have anything to contribute, and that they don't have ideas because of their communication disabilities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And me - when my dad saw Arlyn give us design advice - he was like: oh my god you know, here is this woman in the middle of Johnstown with all these ideas. We've been working in our lab and on the bench for a year, and like we didn't come up with these things, and right away she was like: hey why don't you try it just as you know, a switch here, and place it here, move the -  let's categorize the menus in a different way to make them more optimal and just all these ideas and it was really just a great way to break down the stigma of disabilities while helping people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I love, you know obviously, I've been in this industry for a long time and I love what technology can do you know, for people's lives. And I love that you've been able to make that connection. I love that, hearing about your dad that his eyes are so wide open and I think that is something you've really made me aware of, that makes complete sense to me now, it seems like an obvious thing is people that are not speech capable would be amazing problem solvers, they would have to be and so to have those as your collaborators. What a genius idea right, plus they're gonna be the ones using it so also to have a vote in how this is. So, you continued to develop it and then did you patent it at some point?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so actually, my freshman year I filed for my first patent - provisional patent. Full application my sophomore year, which is a awesome you know. Two and a half - three years waiting to hear back from the patent examiner - but we were awarded our first patent November 2016.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exciting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it happened like two weeks before our IndieGoGo campaign went live, so there was just a lot of excitement going around that and yeah, so that was our first one down, hopefully many more to go, and we're always innovating new things around here. But yeah that was a huge, huge accomplishment for me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah not many have their first patent awarded while they're in college - that's pretty neat. So you got your patent, and tell us about - you had mentioned on the phone about - I think it was in your junior year about Penn State coming up with a Young Entrepreneur program and so you started filing for some competitions or some things that would actually give you some funding to help move you forward?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so really in my junior years I kind of had this realization that if I was gonna make the impact that I wanted - a large social impact - I was gonna have to scale. If I was gonna scale, I would need a really sustainable business model to fuel that. So luckily right around ProjectVive's birth, Penn State and President Barron launched the Invent Penn State initiative which started Happy Valley Launchbox, which was a no-cost business accelerator downtown for students and community members so I, we applied for that - we were the first ones in - and so being the first cohort team, it was like an empty building, no one was there at the time, and yeah it was actually really cool for us 'cause we went from like being a dorm, to like having this awesome space. But then, they had, an NQ competition where we pitched ProjectVive in front of a shark tank kind of set up at our University, and it was actually aired on WPSU and we got $17,000 from that - which was huge for us at that time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a lot of money yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and that really just gave us validation, that what we were creating was something that was needed. It also pressed us to do a market analysis and realize that wow, there are so many people that need these type of devices that just can't afford it, or don't know that it exists. So yeah I took advantage of that in college.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, before we go forward. Something we didn't mention, but I think it's good to insert here is - so jumping ahead for a moment - what is your plan to market the Voz Box at one, two, go to market?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so you know I really have a passion for developing countries and also South America. So two things of how we're gonna go to market: One is - there's a lot of trade shows for people with disabilities - so there's ATIA the Assistive Technology International Association, ASHA, and where you can set up a booth and speech-language pathologists, parents, teachers and also a bit of alternative communication users, or people with disabilities that use speech generating devices will come to learn about new technologies. So that's definitely one way. We're also doing kind of grassroots - by reaching out to local disability organizations here in State College, that also have chapters all over the world, so and definitely all over the US - Easterseals, we've done a collaboration with them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what is your price point right now -  we're projecting, I'm not - we won't hold you to this but what's your projected price point that you'd like to sell it for?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah our projected price point is $500.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">$500 ?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's for the full communication device. And then also, we're gonna be doing a lot of open source devices that can help you and ways of creating mounting systems on your own, to even get that lower.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's incredible. Like I see that as such a, I mean, lowering the barrier to entry to almost anyone right. Because I wanted to mention the price point before we move ahead - and so you won the $17,000 then you entered a couple other competitions tell us about those?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so we applied for the ALS Association and Prize for Life Assistive Technology Challenge, where we were one of five out of 87 teams, it was an international competition, and we were flown out to Ireland where they brought in...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Yeah, and they brought in ALS patients from all over the world to try out our technology which was a really important thing for me. I've had two uncles who have passed away with ALS and even though I had a lot of work with people with children and adults with cerebral palsy ALS is a terrible disease and 75% of people with ALS will lose their voice. You have two to five years to live after diagnosis, and to see our devices, that I had created you know, thinking of specifically people in this orphanage but then realizing that people like my uncles could also use these devices. We had someone from Iceland, another person from Japan. We've developed also these little blink detector glasses that you can basically blink to select, and he used those and he loved them, and he was able to spell out a word and just to see someone from Japan, to meet us in Ireland try out our devices, and realize that so many people around the world - not only with cerebral palsy - but with ALS and Rett Syndrome, it just really opened my eyes to the impact that this could have. And also getting this support from the ALS Association was really awesome.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's an incredible story. You have a </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjIv2ewiJgUweHqOHxuaAYA"><span style="font-weight:400;">video</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on that also right Elizabeth? Okay, so we're going to share that one as well in the show notes. And the last award that I think you mentioned to me had to do with Cisco right? So tell us about that one. Well I'll let you tell the story, but because I know you had an IndieGoGo campaign too, and a patent, you had lots going on. So spell it out however - how you know - I may be getting these things out of order so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Actually you're not.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then - this is actually last summer - we applied for the Cisco Global Problem Solvers, a challenge which was inaugural, it was also the first Global Problem Solver Challenge that they've had. Some recent projects these days are the guinea pig for everything. But yeah, so we applied for that , and I really could talk about my mission, and working with you know, people in Ecuador, and just the low price point and how this - this wasn't just for people in the US, for people in Ecuador, but also we did a little work with a professor in communication disorders, who was in Sri Lanka, we sent a device out to to her where she used it with a boy who was 17 years old , with cerebral palsy. And it's just so many places in the world, don't have access to this type of technology. And in schools and education also, in just adult community life. So we applied for that, made a video for it, and they had this People's Choice Award. So the main award was for $100,000, and the People's Choice was for 10k. And I got everyone to vote for us, you know I sent out to my professors, 'vote for us'! you know ProjectVive, all my friends and family and all of Arlyn's friends and family too. Then that - the day that they were gonna announce it, I kept on refreshing the People's Choice page and all of a sudden I realized that you know this team from Costa Rica won, and I was like, oh man you know, we didn't get the people's choice! And then I checked my email, and it said: 'Congratulations Grand Prize Winner Cisco - - $100,000.'</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh, you won a hundred grand!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know, and I was like, what's going on? That's not 10k, and that I mean, I'm still - I still can't believe it. And you know this - it's been a couple months now - but that just really pumped into our research and development and got us to where we are right now in creating our final product. And yeah, we're just really, really thankful for that support.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's amazing. I gotta say I'm not surprised, but it's the best story ever. And then so lastly, tell us about the IndieGoGo campaign and - and your Road to Ten Voices that ended up being more than ten voices?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so we did an IndieGoGo campaign: Journey to Ten Voices and we - I was actually in Ireland for like the end of it - but we raised enough for 14 voices actually, so that was really exciting. And really yeah - that's really allowed us to reach out to the community. For instance, a recipient of one of our Journey to Ten - well 14 Voices - was a 16 year-old, who lives an hour outside of State College and he's doing great. And we also helped him out with a wheelchair gas pedal so he not only is using his speech generating device with an e-sensor, but is also able to independently move around which has been so cool and he's just learning so much from having a device that really wasn't reliable before we helped him. And then you know, just learning from another person, so it's been really cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's something else, we have pictures so when Mary Elizabeth introduced herself to me on LinkedIn she sent me a screenshot of him getting his Voz, and you've never seen a kid smile this big in your life you know. I thought he was gonna rip his ears off with a smile - he was just so happy and it just makes -  you can see me also, I got this smile-grin talking to you this whole time. It's just a beautiful story. So now you have seed money right? And so tell us where you are now, and kind of what the next year or so holds as you forge forward?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah - so really, it was a great thing that this whole time we've been working with users, also talking with you know doctors, and teachers that we did the I-Corps Program, where we interviewed 50 people from all over the world. Parents, speech-language pathologists, doctors, teachers, augmentative alternative communication users themselves, and really took one - you know, the user testing that we did, our feedback, what we've learned, the market analysis that we've done - and then also these interviews, to test our assumptions and make our final product. So really what we're developing now - it's the next thing of our beta product and creating something that we believe is going to be able to scale, that we can bring to places like Ecuador and Sri Lanka, and that we're gonna be able to make a sustainable business model on because I know I talked to you about this. We really want to make sure that once we give a voice that we don't take it away, and I think that it's been a great thing that during college I've been able to experiment and test and really have this quick feedback loop and creating something that will make a long lasting impact so that's what we're doing now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think that really shows so much a vision on your part actually Mary Elizabeth, because I can't imagine - again I can't imagine giving someone a voice and then having to take it away right, that would be so devastating, and that you've had the foresight to make sure that it's sustainable and and that you're looking at it, not only from an engineering and visionary, but a very practical standpoint to make sure that you're gonna build a solid business. So I really appreciate that about you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah there's got to be someone there to answer the phones when something goes wrong.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, right so I love that you're actually building a sound company and and having good mentors and, and helping you along, and that you have a really solid vision on this. Well what else do we need to talk about? So you're heading towards a scalable product. I think I'll insert here that I got to meet Mary Elizabeth's and project Phoebe's CTO, Trip what's Trip's last name?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Miller.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Miller, I got to meet Trip Miller and we had a call, so one of the roadblocks that they ran into, is that they were using basically a free design tool that got them this far but they they needed something farther and God bless Altium. They were able to sponsor Mary Elizabeth and ProjectVive, and give them a license of Altium Designer, so they've been having a lot of fun trips - being like a kid in a candy store...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know, we really have, I mean the trouble that we have gone through and also just working with other collaborators and not being able to get the right schematics for them and and having to basically transfer, not only our Altium files or -  I don't want to say that exact names -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I know, I was trying to avoid that too. Some companies' schematic...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[gestures] yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But we've just been able to very quickly start up and I know that it took us about you know four hours to start up our other PCB programs and with Altium, like within an hour, we were creating traces, which was just awesome. So we are so excited and just being able, it's - it's accelerated our development and we're very thankful for it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We feel lucky, we feel like we get to remove - we get to have the privilege of removing a roadblock for you and just let you charge ahead my dear, so good good for you and Trip. And I'm really glad that we really have the privilege, to do that for you. So we are gonna list in the show notes everything about ProjectVive, the Voz Box, your - like anything you want us to share, let's share it because it's a beautiful story and all of us that love technology, love to see kind of the social aspect of doing good. Doing good in the world, through use of innovation and technology and you're kind of like a STEM-girl poster child which is really fun for me as a woman in tech to see how you came up, and your parents, how they inspired you, and this is really great. What else should we share with the listeners? Have I skipped anything - what else can we talk about, have we missed anything?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Um you know, if you really do feel moved by ProjectVive's story, we do have a fiscal sponsor, so we accept tax-deductible donations and if you go to </span><a href="https://www.projectvive.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Projectvive.com</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> - you can hit the donate button or just support us, like us on social media and share our story, and if you have any family members that would be interested in our technology, let us know and we would love to help.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Great - well thank you this has been the highlight of my day and we will also be sharing Mary Elizabeth's story - I've interviewed her already and she will be also in the OnTrack newsletter, coming up in June, and so keep your eyes open for that. If you do not subscribe to the OnTrack newsletter, you can go to </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">our resource hub</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and subscribe - there's a newsletter tab there, and you can subscribe. So if you're not already subscribed, you can subscribe there and again in the newsletter we'll include all these links in that because we certainly want to put her on the Altium platform, and celebrate all this young innovator's doing. So Mary Elizabeth, you are the best, thank you so much for spending your time today I know you're a busy woman and we'll stay in touch and thank you again for all you're doing, we just think you're wonderful.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you so much Judy, and thank you so much to Altium, and we're just very blessed, thank you so much.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you. Again, this has been Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast with Mary Elizabeth McCulloch of ProjectVive, we look forward to hanging out with you again on this podcast. Until then, remember to always stay OnTrack.</span></p> <p style="text-align:center;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong><br><br></strong></span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Commodore 128 Principal Engineer, Bil Herd on Best Practices for Learning a New CAD Tool and the Wild-West of Early Home Computer Design
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bil Herd shares stories and design wisdom from years of experience as a hardware engineer, most famously at Commodore. Starting out self-taught, Bil found his way to working around brilliance and some of it rubbed off a little. Learn about his interesting journey from TV repair to Commodore, Hackaday and beyond. Today, Bil is self-employed</span><span style="font-weight:400;"> and focused on networks, high-level architecture consulting and hardware projects.  </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">I never forgot how to do hardware design. It’s fun to be able to do that. I’m working on an Altium project right now. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">You get to be imaginative for a couple days, and then you spend the next couple months paying for it looking at every single line item, every footprint and trying to catch where your brain was wrong. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Commodore Hardware lab, splitting bus for video and hired to lead the team shortly after.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Going after a swag bag offered by Adafruit from an MIT Open hardware conference resulted in a video series with Hackaday.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Almost all the errors I’ve made in CAD systems were related to parts I’ve made. For parts and footprints - you need to have someone check your work.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">To start a new CAD system - make a trash board, force yourself through. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Process to start learning a new CAD system: Open CAD > Get Overwhelmed > DRINK</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Making a board on a new CAD tool. First I make a trash board knowing I won’t use it. Then make a real board, using all the rules. </span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bil_Herd"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bil Herd Wikipedia</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://hackaday.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Hackaday</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://hackaday.com/author/williamherd/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bil Herd’s Hackaday Videos</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>See all show notes and video <a style="color:#000000;" href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast/commodore-128-principal-engineer-bil-herd-on-best-practices-for-learning-a-new-cad-tool">here</a>. </strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone, this is Judy Warner with Altium's OnTrack Podcast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Welcome back.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Our audience continues to grow and we thank you for joining us again, and I want to give a shout out to Steven Newberry from LGS innovations who took away always marking his diodes with a K, and so many of you have chimed in and help driving actually who we have on the show and the topics we discuss. So thanks so much for joining. If you would please connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Twitter and Altium is also on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and remember we're always on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> as well as on your favorite podcast apps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So thanks again for joining and hold onto your hats because we're gonna have a little bit of a history lesson tied in with today's best practices. So today our guest is Bill Herd, who is actually a figure of history and he has a Wikipedia page that you will have to take a look at. So for those of you that are probably, I don't know 40s and above, might remember the Commodore personal computer. It was one of the first, I'll let Bill fill you in all the details, but I remember vividly when I was in my early 20s, my dad coming home with a Commodore 64 and it was all the rage and he thought the world is forever changed and I'll never ever use all the 64k that I possibly have.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Bill, welcome and we're so glad to have you and can't wait. We're gonna tell some stories, you're gonna give us some design wisdom, so thanks so much for joining us.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My pleasure. Actually I do describe myself as a recovering Commodore Engineer the active recovery never stops you've just gotta keep trying to get better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, I'm sorry but based on the background behind you I'm not sure about your recovery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay - I've relapsed a little [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, briefly tell us what you're - are you working now as a Consultant, you know like your own entity I forgot to clarify that with you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah actually I'm self-employed so to speak, I owned an ISP for about 15 years and had 16 people and we did all that and then it ran its course as ISPs do, and so I do a lot of networking and high-level architecture consultation, but I never forgot how to do hardware design. So actually you caught me in the middle of doing an Altium project right now, where we're going to a limited quantity but I just went through all the steps - all the dirty little details getting a PC board out, so it was kind of fun to still be able to do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I love the way you put it, 'the dirty little details' there's a lot of those right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You get to be imaginative for a couple days and then you spend the next couple months paying for it by looking at each and every line item and every footprint and trying to catch where your brain was wrong you know, way back in the beginning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well, so I also noticed you have - as I've gotten to get acquainted with you a little bit - back in the days of Commodore and the early days actually of the personal computer business the words nerds and hackers weren't really around but seeing you sit there in a Hackaday shirt with that lab behind you, I would say you are the quintessential original geek or nerd what do you have to say about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, one - we did call it home computers, back then the PC hadn't been invented yet, and I also mention I've never been to school for any of this. I was a - basically a high school dropout - and ended up in the service, and went back and almost got my degree. I own like a library book for the money $3.42; for a library book, in English class where me and the teacher just couldn't make it work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So about three years later they sent home my diploma with my sister just going: here you'll need this someday. I used to say I was self-taught but what really happened, self-taught got me into a couple good places and then the education really started; working around really smart, really brilliant people, that's where I got the education that made it so I could do a product from beginning to end. So I was fixing TVs, got my TV Repairman License at the age of 17, in Indiana. You know and sometimes they'd answer the door and didn't want to let me in, because I got long hair and I'm carrying tube caddies and they're like: who are you? I'm like, van out front, TV repair, and people fed me cookies when they saw me fix their TV sets.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right well we will share Bill's </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bil_Herd"><span style="font-weight:400;">Wikipedia page</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and there are some awesome pictures of this long haired hippie, with this cut off denims...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey don't tease me about the shorts, it was 1980.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey I'm sorry, but I wore shorts just like that so yeah, so we will share that because there's a lot of history and fun and great pictures that I think you'll enjoy hearing. So tell us a little bit about how you got into the whole Commodore thing and then we're gonna dig in and give our listeners some really practical advice on those nitty gritty details you talked about, and then we'll wrap up with some more fun stories. So just briefly give us an overview of Commodore and Hackaday?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay if I back up just a little bit - I started at a digital scale company in Pennsylvania making instrumentation, so there I learned to do very accurate stuff with very good grounding. I understood analog and RF spectrum and all that, and it was all hand taped right. Well a guy named Terry Fisher who I just got through working with again, so after 35 years, we're still doing it and he was on Altium this time. So when I got to Commodore I had the background for how to make something expensive work. And then you just take that and you just shake it and it comes out of your head cuz now you've got to make it cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And people are mad at me these days because they say: oh I have a 30 year old Commodore and it just failed! I'm like: it was designed to last five years. You should have put a switching supply... what? To put a dime more into it I'd have been fired if I did! So I got my job almost by accident at Commodore. I mean, there's a whole story here and I'm going to - let's just say I blew the interview like three times and still got hired. You know what, not even taking in my resume you know? But so I got there, and they didn't know what to do with me, and I read in a book that I was actually hired as a Technician. They just knew they could use people like me and then they sat me down, the guy was named Benny Prudent, and he said: well here, study all these software manuals. So now I was gonna be right for a programmer - I could do 6502 programming.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But for a disk drive - I'm like: that sounds like the most boring thing in the world, but sure. And then I walked into the hardware lab and I saw what they were doing - they were splitting the BUS for the video - which back then I was doing it at home - and that's why I said: I just built something at home where I actually don't wait till the vertical retrace time to ramp and two weeks later I was in charge of the project. The guy was leaving, they didn't have anybody else, so now I'm a Project Leader at Commodore within a couple weeks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh, it was like the Wild West was it not?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh absolutely and I loved it and I brought a certain 'animal house'  to that, because we had lost a lot of talent. I mean there was people like Chuck Peddle who designed the 6502, he's gone, but his cigar's burning in the ashtray. The chair's still warm right. So you knew that these people had been there, but they're gone - and there's these kind of older, stogier guys and me. And pretty soon it became an environment where shoes became optional, so we definitely made it into what we wanted to and you have to do that when you work 20 hour days.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy so you're sleeping in the office or not sleeping?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My record was 11 days without leaving. I had an air mattress, I would actually hot bunk with the technician so I would get something designed like 2:00 in the morning, check the air mattress out and they would build it for me and I'd go catch an hour to sleep and then they'd come back and kick the air mattress and say: it's built, and   just taking showers out of the sink - things like that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we'll talk more about some of your fun Commodore stories because I know we'll really want to dig into those a little bit more. But tell us also about your involvement with Hackaday?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's actually interesting, that I used to watch Adafruit's Little Saturday Night Show right and they would do this thing where they'd give something away and usually it was a product and I didn't go for that as much because I could just - their products are so cheap I could just buy one. But one time they had been to the Open Hardware Venue - a conference - and it was actually at MIT I think - and they asked a question and I went right to a web page, found the answer because they were giving away the swag bag, so I said, </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">that </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">I'll go for! So in the swag bag was some cool things but one of them was a - it was like an Octopart - only it was somebody else's version of it. Well they're owned by the people that owned Pacada.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I start talking with them, I ended up a Beta Tester, and the guy realized I just never shut up, that I'm always telling stories right? And so pretty soon he puts me in touch with Mike the head editor at Hackaday, and I'm doing the same to him only in emails, and finally he's like: all right that's it, write stuff or shut up, and so we came up with the video format because it just - it works for me - it works for my personality and I am a high school dropout which means my English ain't so good anyway, so the video works better for me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well we will also share those for listeners </span><a href="https://hackaday.com/author/williamherd/"><span style="font-weight:400;">here </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">- I've seen a few of them and he is perfectly suited for that. So I'll share that as well for you wannabe hackers. So let's dig into some immediate content that I hope will help engineers and PCB designers that are listening to us. You have told me -  how many EDA tools have you used over a year period?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I made it all up, hardly any at all [laughter]. No it had to be like seven, eight, or nine, depending on how you count them and to what degree. But going back to the 1980s when a workstation cost fifty thousand or a hundred thousand dollars and you couldn't get them as a home user or even as a small business and so, we started it. We started with hand tape and the cool thing with that is, if you can do good hand tape, you can use a tool like a CAD and do more. But you still have to be good to begin with right? You have to understand the principles and nowadays it's more common for engineers to do their own PCB layout but I'm still of that school that: do what you do really well, and use somebody when possible that does what he does as good as you, that's why I use a guy like I said, Terry Fisher.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">He's as good and he knows when to ask me questions and I know when to shut up right so we have a good relationship for that kind of thing. And we started on Mentors, which actually we designed chips with, but he started on a system called a side card, and it was a card that plugged into the backs. Well when he'd start moving parts on the PC board everybody's computer slowed down right. These chip designers and stuff because it's on the VMBus, it's taking the cycles directly, so they give Terry his so - he actually he goes by Fish. They gave Fish his own VAX so now he's got a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar CAD system to lay out pc boards and so that's the 1980s, and in the Mentor, we - I hadn't really even seen a real mouse like we use until Sun's came out. It had a scratch pad so I actually grew my fingernail into a point so that I had a built-in stylus on my index finger - so yeah  just genetically modified kind of you know... [laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's funny - so with all of those changing of tools which most people that I know, that are designers, once they get proficient on a tool they'd rather die than change tools because it can be such a painful process. So tell us about changing tools. If you have to do it, what is the least painful path?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well management will always want you to do that right in the middle of a project right and that's - it's pretty key to not try and - we actually moved our hardware labs right in the middle of a project one time too. Just kind of in the same... But if you're going to change programs, realize that they're just tools, and after you've changed a couple times you start to go: okay I know how this play goes and and you do a couple of the same things and you sometimes learn and really appreciate your old tool and sometimes you learn that hey, the new tool's better. But they're no two the same, especially in CAD where there's so many complex things. So I think people picking up tools - I saw it a lot with EAGLE - what they did, and they did an amazing thing for the maker industry and the home users - even though I hate the program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">if you're a professional, you just go: what, I have to drag the trace off the screen to hit the menu? this is like somebody put a GUI on a command line program. Well guess what? EAGLE's were GUI on the command line program back in the old days. So you know the false attractiveness of something like EAGLE was, it did have huge libraries right, and especially for boards because I mean these, Arduino boards - I can't deal with the mechanics of them, they're not on the center's, I'm used to all that - but what you really have to come down to when you do a CAD system is, realize you've got to make your own parts at one time or another, so you might as well get proficient at it. And if you're using libraries you might just be using somebody else's problems.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So even if you do use somebody else's library - it's like you've gotta still vet the part. Right, so just realize that you're going to have to make your own parts. And then there's things like BSDL importing and stuff like, if you're doing a 250 pin FPGA, you don't want to hand-do that either, so there are tools to help you avoid the mistakes. But almost all the errors I've ever made in CAD systems are related to the parts I've made where - I actually have data books here not data sheets - a guy said: yeah you use the word book don't you? And while you're looking at the book, making the part, I've done simple things that I'll never catch myself - by having like D7 to D0, instead of D0 to D7. When I see what I think I want to see, and that's it, the mistake is in there until somebody else catches it. So we used to always have somebody else check our parts you know, in footprints or the same way I still think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's the first thing, is realize you’ve got to make your parts and then I recommend you just sit down and trash a board - try not to ruin your library in the process - because you could screw up libraries right. But then throw that board away and start again. This time trying to obey every rule you know how, and actually even if you don't produce the board actually obey all the rules, look up every command you don't know that you actually need, and that's kind of how I started a new CAD system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So for our audience, Bill sent me a few notes for the point of our conversation here, here is a note that he wrote: Starting a new CAD, do a couple of projects early on - sort of what he's talking about right now - his first line is, 'open CAD - get overwhelmed - drink' [laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, it can be overwhelming! It's like my drill sergeant said when I went through basics: 'we know it hurts gentlemen, you don't have to tell us' and we're like, oh I'll keep my pain to myself. It's the same thing: I'm supposed to be overwhelmed, okay let's you know. So you open it again, and you start looking for what you know. So there are some things you need to learn the quirks of upfront. Like how do you do a BUS? Everybody does it slightly different, that nomenclature, whether it's curly braces, brackets, whatever. And an 8 10 dot dot 8 zero -   it might be low to high, it might be either way, but you got to learn those things. And interconnects, how to make sure that a part's really hooked up. One CAD system I was on, was called Ulti Board by National Instruments, and the DRC wasn't catching the fact that parts looked like they were hooked up, and they weren't. Well, how do you catch that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well yeah, how do you catch that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so you've got to - you go around jiggling your parts and it's stupid you know, so do a good DRC and you know, Ben, when he looked over my shoulder to check my router - from Hackaday, Ben Jordan. He gave me an - actually a compliment that I took, which was: oh it's nice to see you have all your DRC errors fixed. Well I'm old enough, I don't remember fixing them, but I'm old enough that I know I would have fixed them. Cause that's it, that's your last chance to catch that you have a net floating, even though you don't know it. Whether it's a misspelling, even capitalization change, something like that. So yeah, you got to learn all those dirty deeds and details.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was just talking to John Watson on this podcast about a week ago, we talked a lot about libraries and the same subject. It's like a theme that most headaches seem like they begin and end with the parts libraries   and even having a data sheet that's correct or hasn't changed in the last five minutes. How do you address that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I still have data books [laughter] - no, it's still like going over it, and over it, a couple of times and having somebody else look as well. I'll still take a highlighter to a schematic sometimes just if I feel I'm getting confused, out comes the highlighter to help me get more confused.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-at the end hopefully I get it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's funny! Okay (I keep bumping things sorry about that) so okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Let's talk about hidden nets...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay go!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I hate them [laughter] hidden nets are where somebody thought let's show up DIP package or something and we know we are hooking it up to +5 and grounds so there's no point in cluttering the schematic with it. Well my attitude is how do you know it hooked up to +5 and ground? Nowadays it's 9 +5 and ground is +3.3, 1.2, 1.0 - - so yeah whoever came up with that, they need to have something I don't want to say something bad happen... [laughter] They need to miss a CES deadline or something themself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's the invitation for failure is what you're saying?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you can't check it, you make assumptions and that's where problems start so yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Would you say that making assumptions is one of those easy pitfalls for designers to fall into?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, thinking SOIC is a size. It's not you know, there could be white body, skinny bodies, and it's like: oh but the picture looks like -  no. You better learn to have - one thing is you have to learn with new CAD packages, is how to measure things. And you need to do that, and then look to see oh it's .43 inches or  ... and I - one time I almost missed the fact that the the lead pitch was 0.5 instead of 0.75. That wouldn't have fit!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That would have meant instant failure. You made a comment about assembly drawings being readable what did you mean by that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know as parts got smaller the silkscreen no longer - it's not as important because of assembly techniques but if you still want to measure - you can't get that little silkscreen anywhere near the part sometimes, so you end up with an assembly drawing where you had to like put all these silk screens where you now want them inside the outlines and all that so it's like you can't use the silkscreen for an assembly drawing like the old days. You have to do a whole new one if you want to be able to find the part. But now these days what I do - but I'm working on a really dense... or troubleshooting, I actually keep the CAD open and I do the -   jump to component - and find it that way it really is faster to use technology sometimes...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter] sometimes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Sometimes, at least I don't hand etch my boards anymore.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Remember that, the seventies?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I always say, because I was in the bare board industry for years, sales and marketing-wise and we would take people, walk through and do surveys, plus I actually worked on a shop floor for a short period of time like, I'm gonna die of heavy metal exposure man, the chemicals we had in there. I remember walking into a planing room at the first board shop I worked and my skin just burning, yes burning, just poor ventilation and there was sulphuric acid in there. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm told you can't have plating or PC board manufacture in New Jersey, that they've just kind of made it so you can't do that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there's that - there's a little bit of toxicity going on in the chemicals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and at Commodore we made the ultimate printed wiring board printed circuit board right which is a chip - it's just really, really small, and we polluted the groundwater and you can look this up, but we had to buy dedicated lines for like 11 neighbors, and then we had those golf course sprinklers in the back aerating the ground water. Well my first day there I mean they're just literally spraying it in the air hoping the VOCs evaporate right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I parked too close my first day there and I come out and my car's covered with this sticky stuff right and not only that, I had parked under a tree so now the leaves are stuck to my windshield with this and to try and peel them off - they just break - and they're like: oh yeah dude, don't park there man, that's in the water.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Like I said, it was the Wild West days I mean.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Still a Superfund site I'm told.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I bet, like it's frightening - it's frightening and I'm glad we've gotten our act together a little bit environmentally oh my gosh because literally we could all die from those toxic...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I remember the day my dad brought home mercury to play with you know. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I remember my neighbor was an engineer - he brought home mercury to play with and we'd watch you know, roll it around on our hand or whatever, crazy! Forget about playing with it - you know putting it in your teeth we would like, oh here, pour it in my hand, let's roll it around, isn't that cool?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and you put it back in the jar and it's never quite as full as you started right because you're leaving a certain amount on the floor...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good memories but we might die young, just saying...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter] So when you start a new CAD program, do you just jump in and start designing? How do you take that on if you're gonna take on a new CAD, what's the way you approach it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well  as I said, I kind of I go in knowing I'm going to do a trash board, it's all about just hooking some stuff up knowing that you're making mistakes and then I try and do something more real and try and really obey the rules and that's where it starts - that's how you're learning from page to page cuz every CAD system's slightly different, but it's kind of like how you think. You drop a part, you try and put a wire on it and the kind of mistakes you'll make is not having a clear way knowing how you want to do all the resistor values in the world right. Do you make a part for each resistor value, or do you use a generic part and assign the values? And those are things you just have to figure out yourself on each CAD system I think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I mean, I honestly don't know how it's done. I have lots of compassion for my engineering friends who are also laying out boards who really got no serious, formal training in PCB design, but alas they are laying out boards and then they get thrown a new tool like... So do you just hop on it and jump in and swim?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Remember, it's a tool too and they have some really great tools like things that'll help you plot RF noise on the ground plane or thermal or something but you know, at the end of the day that's not necessarily real life. It's a tool you know, so it's an opinion, and it might be a faster, better, more colorful opinion than we used to get with an old thermal probe. But you just got to kind of try it and if you work around people who can look over your shoulder they'll save you a lot of time - especially hot keys and stuff like that. And that's probably one of my pet peeves is I don't like having to rely on hot keys and that was even before I lost a finger, so now some of the hot key combinations are literally beyond this old man's ability to do without using my nose and stuff it's...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How did you lose a finger?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I tore it off!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Dare I ask?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I just caught my ring on something and I stepped eight inches off something - it stripped it off the bone, we have pictures on the web of that also. But I used to work at a trauma department and I've flown with a 103rd combat medics, I've been captain of a rescue squad. So I look down and I just go: I know where I'm going today - I didn't even tell my wife right. I figured she's away at a quilting bee, having a good day, the next day I was: Hi, uh, lost a finger and she got mad at me for not telling her.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I would get mad at you too... just saying like: oh Chee how's the quilt work? Good what did you do? I just lost my finger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, yeah well my son actually looked at it and we took pictures - by the way I had to wait half an hour for an ambulance and being a former ambulance guy that was just like -  that was an insult on top of injury literally. But I wanted him to think of it clinically and not be freaked out by it so we took pictures and stuff like that and then I told him, I said: well I'm going to - don't tell your mother - but I'm gonna leave with these ambulance people now and I'll be home probably tomorrow, because I know how things work, and he comes running to the door and he goes: dad, dad what's the key to unlock the Xbox? I'm like: okay you're gonna be fine by yourself. First time he was by himself, he's thinking about the Xbox so, all right!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh you crack me up. What else do you want to talk about relative to CAD tools? I'm looking at my notes here - you were talking about something - you talked about the buses, nomenclature and index based even that you'd said you hate those. So what else did we not cover?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think the main thing is just how productive can you be? How well is it designed? And I was impressed by early CAD, which came out at like $4.99 in the 80s and we were like: whoa! I mean it's like that old monochrome purse, now there's PCs right -  late 80s and the things you can do where if you copy a bunch of address lines, you can tell it when to paste it, auto-increment all those address lines as if I was continuing to do them. So if I grab a 0 to 7 and I paste it, now 8 to 15 is done for me. Well you can fly, when somebody has thought of things like that to do, you can go rogue. And it has to be controllable - sometimes you go, no I really wanted a zero to seven and -  but there's tools like that, that can really make it. So, just the ability to double click and there's a new segment just like the one above it, tools like that are real important to me where I've just spent too many hours drawing in each line by hand.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, yeah I love when - well since I've been here at Altium, one of my fun parts of my job has been to help connect our developers with hard-working designers where they can say: do it this way, we don't work that way you know, it's really nice when CAD tools will actually get together with the guys that are watching and just watch 'em work and go: oh   - because again it's easy for developers even if they've laid out boards - to make assumptions right. So I really love it when tool manufacturers actually take that into consideration and I love that we're doing that more and more these days. BOM distributor integration?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Uh it's probably the one thing we didn't have in the old days BOM integration where, and even picking the footprints, we had a three-ring binder of IPC footprints   and that was always a step where errors could occur. I'm thinking this way, PCB designer's thinking that way, wrong footprint gets in there. But then even now, we can with Altium, for example, you see the part as it's a digi-key or arrow and you can make an attempt to select a part. Now; sounds great, but you end up getting into trouble when you go: oh wow, now I have to redo it for real, for the auto, for - I still call it auto insertion - for the pick and place. You know or, guess what? The stock status isn't quite what you thought it is, there's a delay in there and so now you're stalled, so you still have to, I think in my world, I still do a final BOM as a spreadsheet literally. But I get a lot closer in the tool. In the old days we were using microfiche if you didn't have the data book right? So nowadays it's integrated so it - again you have to be careful - it's a tool, it won't do your work for you and that's the thing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was just going to say - I've worked with also like hiCAD and now KiCAD... however they pronounce it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know, I never know how to say it either.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and it was good in that you could add modules to it. It was bad in that you could add modules to it. I kind of wanted already the 3d viewer working - ready to play with it and stuff like that. I'm really impressed with Proteus instead of EAGLE for that low-end market, not up here where Altium is, but that's when I was shooting  little two inch by two inch boards for Hackaday and I'm doing a complete design every month and doing a video, and so I design it and it gets a minute of video time right. Then I throw it away to start on the next one. So it's called ARES and unfortunately the other one is ISIS, (nobody likes that name anymore), but that's the product name and they have an amazing auto router in there that'll get you a good completion, whereas if you've ever tried EAGLE it's like why do I even try the auto router you know? So that turns out to be in, and they singled out the maker market by including Arduino in issuing 80 mega parts in simulation and firmware simulation so now you can simulate it as if you've written the code. You don't even need to build the board to see if it works. And that's a cool feature. And we didn't talk about simulation - almost all CAD tools these days do include SPICE of some sort or a SPICE portal or something like that, and that's useful if you're down in the analog stuff especially. Again still just a tool. I've seen SPICE lie horribly to you,  and you think it's going to work and it's really an artifact of zero volts or something like that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there's a lot of talk these days about - because so many really capable designers like you, and like many people I know have learned this over a lifetime right - so if you're a new designer where are you gonna on board that outside of just one-on-one mentoring? Like any clues?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's some good YouTubes out there, but I haven't found where you can -  one, I don't have the attention span to watch somebody else work for five hours to pick up a couple tips right. So it's in the YouTubes showing you what they want to show you, but the best way is literally to be near somebody that's really good at it that's -  unfortunately that's the best way - it's almost always like people almost pair off in engineering where one guy's learning from another even if they swap roles later that day because he's better at something else. That's just kind of the way it ends up going. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yup, so I think what you're saying is find a mentor if you're not really good at it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right yeah and vice versa and mentor others. So I was talking about the wire, on each and every C128 board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, oh yeah actually Ben Jordan snuck that to me. So let's go into war stories a little bit and let's talk about 'the wire' also I'll get a screenshot of this I think Ben or do you have it? [Bill reaches over to show C128 board]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's so cool okay for - oh my gosh okay, so for those of you that are listening to this on the straight-up podcast you need to go to this portion and look at the </span><a href="https://youtu.be/CPeMJtoVa70"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> just to see this giant board that he's pulling out of the Commodore 128 and look at the keyboard.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This is what we call a 'barn door stop' it's too big to be a regular doorstop and that keyboard I designed by looking down at my BT 220 and I said, hey it works for me it'll work for future users too. I'll hold it up to the microphone for users at home right</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But there is a wire on each and every... we made 5.7 million of these.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh okay. Wait before you go into the wire story, give us the stats on Commodore 64 going towards it and compare that to the Apple because I thought it was really interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah the - and actually I narrated a video by a company called Junk Food about the - called the 8-Bit Generation, and I learned some things - our version of history wasn't quite as clean-cut as to who was the first and the best computer company out there so I'll give a little props there. But we often said, Apple's just using our parts, because we made the 6502. Well that's the processor they used, but we made the chip.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So in our minds Apple did come out and they were first to get a floppy drive and some color early on, but then we come whooshing by them with the Commodore 64 whereas they sold 5 million of the Apple 2 that you're always seeing on every show about the 80s right. You see a show about Silicon Valley: 'we created the home computer' I don't agree, sorry I'm from Commodore I am a competitor and we made 27 million Commodore 64's we had all 64K, we had these cool color chips and sound chips that they didn't have and we could do animation because we have these things called Sprites, except Sprite was trademarked by Texas Instruments so we had to call 'em movable object blocks, but everybody called them Sprites, so you could write a game right and the blocks are moving themselves around, you're not having to rewrite that whole screen and everything so it was an amazing computer and we called it the 'Apple killer' because we actually stopped talking about Apple.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah then my boss wanted to kill Sinclair, remember the Timex Sinclairs?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They're little tiny door stops now - I actually did use one of those for a doorstop and then the marketing department saw that and so suddenly every door in marketing has a Sinclair holding it open...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's so funny I don't even remember that one which I'm kind of surprised. I was kind of tuned in at that time but not </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">that </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">tuned in I guess.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It was a $50 computer and actually, when the basic ran, the screen would go to crap because it couldn't share the BUS, remember I talked about that earlier, and then they came out with a color one and and it was cheap. I mean the Commodore 64 was $299 - by the way the Apple 2 was like $1500, $1700 and we're $299 - and then we did something like we lowered the price to $100 if you send us your old computer. So people were buying Sinclair's for $49, sending them to us to save $50 and that's of course 50 1980-dollars so this was - if you can see it through the microphone here - this was the one of the family that we called Ted and this was basically the Raspberry Pie of the day, it's all in there. The one chip does the video and the sound, and there's a processor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh and the video sound chip runs all the D-RAM and does all the crazy interfaces to the keyboard. So it's literally like very close to a single chip board even though there was nine in the original - nine chips - yeah you cracked open an IBM PC and there was 280 something like that. That's crazy and even the 128, as big as that was, had a couple couple tens of chips in there. So and then Jack Turmel unfortunately left Commodore and this product I was showing, this Ted thing. Without him there to drive the vision, that product kind of failed and we even had a talking version. We had snagged the guys from TI Speak and Spell, which was a big thing in the 80s and we had them working at Commodore, so we had a talking version of a computer with a desktop that Apple tell you later they invented the desktop. Well no. The guys at PARC invented it but we had one, it was just our founder left and it floundered without the founder.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Crazy, okay show us the wire.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, so then the 128. What happened was I had gone to a CES show and by the way CES shows drove everything for us, Consumer Electronics Shows, mostly cuz if you ask them if they'll move it a day so you can hit your schedule they'll say no, so the CES show is - this is a scheduled date you cannot miss - you can't miss it by five minutes, you can't miss it by a day and so we decided - and by we I mean the engineers, we didn't even really tell management about the C128 till it was too late and then we would do things to it. Like I added a z80 processor so it became - it's Commodore 64 compatible - so suddenly nobody's going to complain at me because there's no software, can run all the old software, but then turns out the z80 cartridge didn't work very well on the Commodore 64, so I just put the z80 right in the board and after the PC board Rev was done I said: oh by the way I added the z80, they knew they couldn't tell me to take it out now or we'll miss CES.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then pretty soon the guy would be: I had a great idea to leave the z80 in there   you're like, cool go tell marketing, take a doorstop with you right. So one of the things we did is, even as we're getting ready for the CES show - it was January 6th that year I think - we're already getting ready for FCC, so we're working on the final production and that's all in five months. I started this near August and we had six -  five or six customized C's that needed to be done and so again that was our wheelhouse - this is custom, this is custom, this is custom, that - one of the other ones in here - and we're going like the wind right. Well right near the end, the z80 stopped working reliably. It wouldn't boot CPM 20% of the time, and me and my boss were fighting. It's bound to happen right, he'd already gotten his bonus I think to let me go around barefooted was like wearing thin right. But the - - oh, I lost my train of thought that almost never happens when you get old… [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You fought?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh I was fighting with the boss and he said: fine, I'll give it to somebody else to fix that problem! I said: fine, I'll take a shower and go home and get a nap! Right, so for a week, I mean I had a great week. I caught up on my hygiene,  (I won't tell you some of the other things you do when you're full of testosterone when you're young). But he comes to my office Friday, and in my mind he puffed on his cigar (you could still smoke in the office back then). I don't know if he had a cigar that day, but that's my memory and he goes: fix it or you're fired. I'm, oh sure I can do that, you're ready now for me to rejoin the workforce?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Absolutely, I'm clean, I get along with people, and I just happen to luck out where I'm -   the oscilloscopes of the day weren't like the Tektronix MSO scopes - like I got back there, I had to turn it up real bright, and then I would stare at it and then turn and look at a wall and I would see the reverse image and I go: there's a glitch right there - I'm pointing at it so someone can see it because he hasn't burned his retinas staring into the light - and they think I'm nuts, and I was right. There was a glitch on this A10 line, when the z80 was the processor, but when the 6502 was the processor there's no glitch. I mean it's right around when the D Rams were doing something and so it comes down to understanding how a signal propagates down and this is part of PC board layout right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I liken it to when the 6502 was driving the length of the line that drove it all the way to the end, like playing a flute correctly, but when the z80 drove it from an extension down the line it was like blowing into one of the holes on the flute and it's kind of not - and so I got a standing wave, where the wave’s going back and forth and bouncing into itself and it just happened to do it on A10 at the wrong time and I caught it on the scope in an hour. Of course nobody believes me right, so and the way I made it work, was I took that wire that I showed you that's redundant. There's already a trace on the PC board, I just soldered this again so now it's actually a loop right it can't bounce - -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Ah it had a return path, okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah or propagates like this,  but either way it's not a standing wave anymore at a certain spot, and it just happened to be that spot was the multiplexer for the D-RAMs and they think I'm nuts right because not only do I fix it an hour, I fixed it with a wire! So we ran 10,000 units to prove that Herd's gone off the deep end and we got a hundred percent pass rate on it. It actually fixed the problem. So now the wire drives me nuts because there's 5.7 million wires out there and people said: why didn't you just change the PC board? It's like: because actually I found it this time, if there were no tools to do anything, if I change the PC board I might have moved a glitch to somewhere I can't find right. So the devil you know - and that's how it ended up going out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's crazy  - and from by the way - having a background in EMS. For an EMS provider, to have to put a wire on five million boards, that's crazy nobody would do that today but it's cool!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We called it post solder assembly and it's horribly expensive that's five point seven million dollars. It probably cost $1, the wire was a penny and 99 cents to put it on there, so we just did that. There was one other fun issue with the schedule of the 128.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">At one point - and see we didn't have real deep analyzers and stuff - so when the processor goes flying off the tracks because the memory is corrupted you'd go, well when in the last two minutes or two million cycles did the corruption occur? Because the analyzer's not going to catch it, unless you're so lucky right. So one of the things I noticed is, it would corrupt in the video memory and the video's memory is being scanned 15,000 times, 60 cycles a second and so I took a light pin and I put it on this spot on the screen right where the corruption would occur and I sent my analyzer, so soon as the spot on the screen occurred the light pen triggered my analyzer. And it's actually a commodore light pin - I still have it - was actually plugged into the joystick port of the system on troubleshooting and it turns out - it was called ground lift, and you're probably familiar with that. There was a stub of a little over an eighth of an inch on the ground pin of a DRAM multiplexer, and it's inductance mixed with the capacitance meant it would come off of ground when you went to switch a whole bunch of zeros to a one - except for one - that other one became a one also it just dragged everything with it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, got it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and I also took - literally another little piece of wire - fixed it and then I yelled at Fish to fix. That one I made him fix but the only way we could catch it in that case, is I used a light pin to catch this little 1/8 inch piece of trace that was just playing with me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you know what I love about these stories Bill, is that I think it's lovely to tell them and show people what a Wild West it was and how we solved, but people like you solved things really simply because now we sit on all these really complex tools and really we stand on the shoulders of people like you right, who were innovating back in the day where we did not have the complexity of tools or things and it's easy to take those things for granted now because so much can just run in the background and you so I think it's fascinating to hear these really - like these MacGyver ways that you figured out how to fix it - you're like the original PCB design MacGyver dude.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So one other quick story and it goes right to that - about the tools and the software simulations and things and it's the day I knew I was working in the right place. And this isn't my story - this actually is the chip designer stories for the Ted, for that thing I showed you. They had design roll checks when they laid out an ICs that told him if two things got too close to each other, but they didn't have an electrical rule check to tell 'em if it's supposed to be shorted together or not, so they turned a corner. They had like A7, A8 and A9 cut right across the other to address lines and it shorted 'em out, and they had no way to check that - unless they hand looked at every plot of every layer of what made up an integrated circuit. Well they - meanwhile cost a quarter million dollars to do another run. So what they did - I'm in the hardware lab, and the guy goes: okay turn on that - turn on the microscope light. Okay turn it off - good we're in NTSC mode. And I turn and I look and I'm like: did you just flip the status of a register with photons while looking at it under the microscope? And he goes: yeah uh huh, and I'm like: AH I'm in the right place, this is where I wanna be!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and they didn't have the tools that told them if what was on the schematics, what made it onto the chip. So yeah and they would spend five months, with a ruler actually called a scale, checking the plot. That's the only way they could do it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's amazing well thank you for sharing this - unfortunately we're running out of time. But thank you so much for sharing your history and your ingenuity and the stories of Commodore and giving our listeners really some practical ways of just jumping into a new tool, if they have to right, nobody likes change but I'm sure you would attest to that overall has probably helped you become a better designer to go ahead and jump in and you could probably jump into a new tool easily now it probably doesn't freak you out as much as it used to.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If you know you're going to be overwhelmed, then you're right on schedule when you get overwhelmed - and then you just go back into it and you know, how do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time - same thing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just acceptance that it's going to be frustrating and this is the cycle.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that you'll screw it up and then fix it, just don't ruin your libraries in the process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, well some good, good wisdom. So thank you again Bill for your time, it's been a delight to hear about everything and I just by the way - best background - those of you listening, you really need to go look at the YouTube version of this, because his lab looks like you'd all want to go live in it man it looks like there's everything in there it's awesome. What's up with the penguin by the way? There's a penguin, that looks like it's standing on your shoulders?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">On the telly, it used to be on top of the oscilloscope but now it's just with you so that's that's a Monty Python penguin, that's from our era right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Totally, that is so funny!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, well thank you again for joining myself and Bill Herd today on Altium's OnTrack podcast. I'll make sure to share all of his colorful links and Wikipedia and videos from Hackaday and thanks for joining us again. We'll see you next time - until then remember to always stay on track.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong> </strong></span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

John Watson, Senior PCB Designer at Legrand North America on Altium Nexus
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">John Watson and his team of 50 PCB designers at Legrand are beta partners in using Altium Nexus, the new Altium solution that takes Altium Designer and pumps it up with a healthy dose of project management capabilities. Find out why John is more excited about Altium Nexus than Altium Designer 18, and how he and his team have combat rogue libraries to tighten process and improve quality. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <h2 style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></h2> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Defining Your Design Process: What?, How?, Why?</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">5 mil boards was once amazing but now… old news</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Getting Parts You Can Trust</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Project Management in Altium Nexus - Streamlining and auditing processes</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Increasing the reliability of the design.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">LeGrand closes the loop - did we accomplish the why and what? </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive is where you rub shoulders with leaders in the industry; 2 days of great learning.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Passing the Torch - There is a concern that there are more jobs than there are designers.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <h2 style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Links and Resources:</span></h2> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.i-007ebooks.com/my-i-connect007/books/printed-circuit-designers-guide-fundamentals-rf-microwave-pcbs/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://pcb.iconnect007.com/index.php/article/109096/power-integrity-by-example-ebook-available-for-download/109099/?skin=pcb"><span style="font-weight:400;">Signal Integrity By Example</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.ni.com/white-paper/10582/en/"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB Design: Prototyping and the PCB Design Flow</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> (National Instruments White Paper)</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.ipc.org/"><span style="font-weight:400;">IPC</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.saturnpcb.com/pcb_toolkit.htm"><span style="font-weight:400;">Saturn PCB Design Tool</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Favourite White Papers</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/whitepapers/top-10-dfm-problems-that-affect-every-design"><span style="font-weight:400;">Top 10 DFM Problems That Affect Every Design </span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://resources.altium.com/whitepapers/adopting-signal-integrity-in-your-high-speed-design-process"><span style="font-weight:400;">Adopting Signal Integrity In Your High Speed Design Process</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Best PCB Design Books:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Printed Circuit Handbook</span><span style="font-weight:400;"> by Coombs & Holden</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">High Speed Digital Designs: A Handbook of Black Magic</span><span style="font-weight:400;"> by Howard Johnson and Martin Graham</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Find all Episodes at: <a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast">https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast</a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone this is Judy Warner with the </span><a href="http://podcast.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thanks for joining us again. Today we are here at the La Jolla headquarters of </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium </span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">and I have with me, John Watson of Legrand and we're going to have a great talk today about, just design in general, and then some of his vast experience. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Before we get going though, I'd like to invite you to connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altiumjudy?lang=en"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Twitter and Altium is also on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. So if you are listening on the podcast be also aware that we record simultaneously on video. So, if you want to see our beautiful faces you can always tune into </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium's YouTube</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> channel and click under videos, and you'll find that we are recording here in-office, which is a rare treat because we do this a lot on Skype.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So John, welcome to the office.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure being here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah thanks for joining. So, why don't you start by sharing with our listeners and watchers about what you do at Legrand, and because you really have kind of a wide... you do a lot! I don't know how you, if you have any time at home ever?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, no I don't. No I'm the senior PCB engineer for Legrand, and we are a conglomerate of several divisions of what's called the building control systems and these divisions could basically go around the world; and in each one of these divisions we have designers, PCB designers and librarians and people who work on schematics and everything else. So I'm responsible for that, I'm the Administrator also, responsible for kind of mentoring them and training them, answering any other questions that they may have that come up. So we also then make sure that we constantly have the PCB designs that we're working on moving, flowing through there, so that's basically what I do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, what I thought we'd talk about today, based on our recent conversation is, you kind of drill down to sort of the basics of designs - now tell us about how many designers you have overall at Legrand?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We have about 50 right now, 50 designers and a lot of those are, some of those are in Asia and the rest are in America here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so you started talking yesterday or... yeah it was just yesterday, we spoke right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You kind of talked about what I will call the why, what, how and when.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, I thought that was an interesting way to sort of distill down the design process, but can you start talking us through that. Kind of start with the why and the what?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, I think as designers we'd love to jump into the how, we'd love to: give me the schematic and let me dive into the PCB, let me start laying copper down.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, but we we never get back to taking a step and really what has brought this on has been your new Nexus system with your design processes and your design flow charts that you guys have created. It's really caused us as a company, to take a step back and and ask, first off, ask the question: what are we doing? It may sound simplistic but the what is a direction pointer, it's an objective, it's the goal that you put up there and a lot of times it's kind of skimmed over...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">In designing, because we want to get to the how, we want to get to - we want to get to the interactive routing part of this you know. And all the exciting tools that we can use and all this and that, but we never take a step back and determine are we pointed in the right direction?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Are we accomplishing what we want to start with?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, and I would actually take what we do is, we actually take it a step further back and we ask why are we doing this?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The why is the foundation, the why is the motivation of why we're doing this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because what we have seen - what I've seen in PCB design - now I've been in this for about 20 years and what I've seen is that we actually, have different parameters - people look at PCB design differently. In the company, somebody for example the PCB designer, looks at a design and he's looking at: okay, here's my schematic, here's my PCB, here's my trace routing and everything else, you know. The part procurement people; they're concerned about okay, is this part even available?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How do we buy this part? How do we buy this component? How do we do this ? Then you have upper-management who looks and says how quickly can we get this thing to market.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's their concern, they're not concerned about the routing. The, designer gets into the details and he's all, yeah look at that I'm doing the... doing differential pairs!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah whatever, when do I get it back? [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly, the upper management people, they're actually sitting there going, oh we really don't care. Does it work? When can we get this to market? I've had been asked that question several times by Vice Presidents of companies and things like that, and you say in interviews, they go: we have such a terrible lead time in our designs from concept to market and by the time we get this whole thing through the process we're gone... the market is gone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, one of their major concerns is, how do we speed this whole process up?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And one of the things that I've always pushed on, is the best way to do that, and accomplish it is, first off, know why you're doing something. What are you doing that gets you pointed in the right direction and how are you gonna do it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And that then brings in the how. And and once you get that established, then you can start talking about how we're gonna do this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And what tools we're going to use and those things are not major in any way just sit down, in one sentence, what do you do?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right. Because I think, what struck me when you said that it's like well, yeah of course but sometimes we breeze over that because we're all making assumptions but I think, what you're saying is, five different people could be making five different assumptions and they're assuming they're all on the same page.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So unless you spell that out up front...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You're right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-And the direction is clear, it can get messy real quick.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Right, and as I said, what has really brought this on has been the Nexus system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, I should mention to our listeners and watchers that, John and Legrand were part of our Beta group for Nexus, so they have been really instrumental in working with us giving us great feedback and also really showing us, instructing us, as much as we're instructing you I think.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Oh yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's been a real strong partnership, so he's way down the road from most people that are just starting to onboard Nexus now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we're very excited - I'm actually more excited about Nexus than I am Altium 18, and Altium 18 I tell you, you guys knocked it out of the park. I'm actually more excited about Nexus because this, this is beyond PCB design, you guys have taken this now beyond the PCB. You've taken it into the Project Management area. You've taken this whole design process, and I have project managers now, that have seen the Nexus system and they go: we can use that, we can use that process. The project managers now can look at the process, see whatever area that they're concerned with, they can now look at that process and understand where it's at. So you guys have now taken the whole PCB design process and kind of put it on it's head and you, you've caused me at least, to rethink this whole process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Which is really exciting to hear from somebody who's been laying out boards and even instructing other people how to lay out boards for 20 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's exciting to hear.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's very exciting, but I think this would work in any situation to  understand what you're doing and how you're going to do it and having a clear plan is going to be vital. Especially with the environment we live in today, I mean especially with the whole electronic industry and where it's headed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well, it's gotten so complex that it's hard to get your head around it sometimes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh it is always...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean,  and any one part of that, the design process is incredibly complex, the manufacturing, sourcing parts is incredibly complex and shifting all the time, and nothing's static.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right so it's like you're shooting at a target that's moving all the time, and you're trying to get you know... what do you call that - a bull's-eye.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, exactly I remember, several years ago, about four or five years ago, when I was sitting at PCB West and people were amazed about how they were now going to be able to do five mill traces on boards!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> You know, and it was supposed to...people were gasping, oh that's amazing you know?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And now that's old technology. Think about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's just stunning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is, it’s absolutely stunning, but it tells you, it tells you not where we've been, but where we're heading. What's the industry going to look like in five more years? What's the industry going to look like in ten years, and it's exciting, it's an exciting time to be a part of this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I agree it is an exciting time and I think that those of us in the electronics industry that’s part of what motivates us is, is the excitement right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And being on that forefront like seeing what is next right, and what can we do. Yesterday you talked to us about the Item Manager, would you touch on that slightly and how that sort of impacted your own design process?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, one of the important parts for us was when I first started at Legrand, we had various designers who were using various libraries but the bigger the organization the worst that can be.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The harder it is right, it becomes much, much more difficult the bigger a company becomes. But it also brings in a lot of risk with the PCB design, when what I would call 'rogue libraries' are used and you know, when someone creates their own library or things like that - and we had a lot of libraries...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Like how many, how many designers how many libraries we talking about?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We had about, at that time, we had probably thirty designers and we probably had over 900 libraries that were total and our library set and Item Manager is a great tool that you guys have placed into Altium, that allows me to look at a design, and look at the sourcing for those parts for those individual components and what it does, is it identifies whether a part is what you guys call managed or unmanaged.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So a managed part would be an example of a part that is under the vault system, or under a specific library. We specifically use the vault system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And what it does is, it tells me where the part came from, whether it's managed or unmanaged first off, and where it came from. And then, if that part is managed, it then tells me what the life cycle is. It tells me if there's been updates done on the part, or whether there's new a new part for that in the library so it will say that the part is out of date or needs to be updated.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so, and then you simply go through a small process to update those components in that design. But we use it a lot too when we are bringing in a new design and we're comparing it and we're starting with the design review process, we want to know where those parts came from.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that's our first question, is we say, ok where are these parts from? So it tells us managed and unmanaged parts. And then we want to know, if those parts are managed, are they up to date with our library?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So then we use that a lot - the item manager is probably one of the biggest tools we use, because that tells us exactly where the design is at.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you're ensuring them that you have the most current revision of any given part, at any time so that's what you said kind of like the risk mitigation or increasing the reliability right of the design?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Before you actually make the board?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You don't want to get to that point. Yeah I was saying yesterday about, we've all been in this industry any period of time. You've put all the work into a fabrication and you play your part down and you get everything nice and shiny and everything else and and then you create your Gerber set and you send it out to a fab house and the fab house builds the boards you know. Then they go over to the assembly house, and you're sitting there and your phone starts ringing like, I'm sorry but the part that you gave us doesn't fit on your board okay, and you have to make that, what I call the long walk to the manager's office, where he then has to toe it you know, you just have to tell him: excuse me but we just spent so much money on this project we spent three months on this, and we have... it's the boards are useless we can't build the boards and we've all been there I mean...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It happens to everyone and that speaks not to the ineptitude of the designer but the complexity of the process and the craziness of managing component libraries and keeping that up to date because the data is fluid and rolling all the time, and parts are coming in and out of the supply chain and it's a very difficult thing to track.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a very difficult thing to track, but what we try to do is where there are steps that can be taken to definitely lower the risk of that situation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you told a story yesterday which made me laugh but also, made me gasp at the same time. So why don't you - you know what I'm talking about right, about the weekend - so why don't you share that story, and sort of what got you to that place of, coming from a place when you had all those designers and hundreds of libraries, and discovering that when you did a root cause analysis that most of the problems were either from footprint problems or component problems and then you did what about it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well what we did was you know this, I'm the sort of person as you know, it's a little thing called baptism of fire I guess we'll call it, but we had so many libraries in our system and people were using their own libraries and different tools that they had developed. I mean, they were setting up their own things so we had about over 1,200 libraries at that time, and when we ran things through the Item Manager, we would see 'Joe's library.' Well, Joe we need to have a chat. Yeah Joe, that's not going to work anymore. I mean, we need to because we had to centralize, that was the biggest problem, we had people that had rogue libraries and they were causing problems, failures, they were costing the company money.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, which back to your point is when the manager’s agenda is to say; if we miss our window time-to-market heads will roll okay, so you drilled down and said: okay what's causing that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And you're like... rogue libraries?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Rogue libraries, and what we did was after work on a Friday evening after everyone had left I basically went in and deleted all the libraries, so that was an interesting Monday morning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I would've liked to be a fly on the wall that Monday morning did you show up for work on Monday?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes I did, because I was going to be there because basically it had to be done. The integrity of a PCB design which means that we try to put out the highest quality board that we can put out the very first time - we don't have time to do four, five, six spins of this the very first time, how do we have a high integrity board? Well number one is our libraries - I want all designers pulling a single part from a single library, that has a single footprint, a single sourcing and everything was in line and everything was correct, and that was how we began to basically rebuild our libraries.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and that is, at that time is that when you were onboarding Vault, or you had vault but just all these rogue libraries?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All the rogue libraries yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you just we shut them off and said, there's one place you can get components.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right exactly, and that was our whole purpose for getting the vault system was a single library source, that was it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Tell us a little bit, we had talked several months ago, and I was really impressed with your whole vetting system really, that you've built internally of making sure. How do you make sure that the parts that you're putting in the vault are known, good parts and that they're verified and that they're up to date?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, well what we do is we, first off in the part itself, we follow IPC standard for our part creation we use the IPC 7351 and the IPC standards are our guideline for creating parts, and what we have now done is, because of Altium's sourcing capabilities now, we're able now to see sourcing. One of the greatest features that I have now looked at with Altium 18, has been your active BOM feature. The ability to take a BOM and throw it out there to all the vendors and suppliers and get feedback from them to determine what is the quality, what is the probability of this part, and we've actually taken several of our boards that are in production right now, through this active BOM process and what we got back was, we would get red flags on components. We would get notices like this part is end of life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And on active parts that you're building?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That we're building.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh boy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we would get, you know, red flags stating ok, this part is the end of life, this part is not recommended for new designs, this part is obsolete and it was a situation where that was the information we needed really.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That gives us the red flags, not at the end of the project, not after the fabrication's there, not after the assemblies' done or started and after it's gone to the customer especially, it tells us at the beginning, the very first day when our schematic is complete we run it through the active BOM feature and we get the red flags, because a lot of times, what designers do is, they will either copy a design from a previous design or they will simply lay down a part. All right, that's their job, that's the double E's responsibility. What has happened now, is we have been given the ability and the tools to make sure that we are using good parts. So if I run a board now, through the active active BOM feature and it gives me a red flag, saying this is not the best part, this is not recommended for new designs, then I can go back to the EE now; and I can say, you know what we should consider not using this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Preemptively and proactively, before you're to the expensive part...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly yes, and so that now, we're able to constantly keep our sourcing information up to date so that we know exactly who we're buying the part from. And then also whether that part is deprecating in the lifecycle.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So how many parts are is Legrand managing inside of your vault in your library now?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right now we have about 5,000 6,000 parts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And how do you... so using the active BOM is one; but didn't you tell me that you have a system of verification before things go in or out, come out your vault?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just an internal process?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's an internal process that when anybody creates a new part it's given a life cycle of 'new' so that tells us it's a new part and what we then do, is we very go through and verify it, a verification process of that part. We'll pull up the data sheet, we'll verify the footprint, we'll verify the 3D model, the schematic symbol of course, and everything else and before then we can change the lifecycle to 'released', to where it's now available. So we make sure that, this is one of the features, also on Item Manager, it will tell you if the component lifecycle is new or if it's in a release state. So we can actually see: oh that part hasn't been verified yet, so we can then go in and make sure that everything's perfectly okay with it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How nice, by the way, to have that clean of a library. like I think that's really rare, I don't think that's something everybody could boast about. I don't know, maybe I don't know.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh I wouldn't say it's too clean, it's a effort it's a constant...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well yeah I'm sure it's something you have to continually manage?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you constantly have to manage it, you constantly have to keep a look at and watch after it, a lot of times we have components that pop up there and they just don't match - nothing matches on the datasheet or anything and they easily get deleted. So we try to keep in control of that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, you'd mentioned to me about, that in your multiple locations, you have three different PLM systems too?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How does that come into play?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we have different divisions, and each one of those; some of those have different PLM systems, and they also have different numbering systems for the part. So for example, you can have like a 1K resistor, 805 resistor, that you have in your library. Well for us there's - for one division - it's one part number, for another division it's another part number, and for another division it could be another part number. So what we did was, we actually set up parameters inside of that part. We set up, what's called a CPN, a Company Part Number, so we then set up a list of company part numbers that we would use for that single item, so we could put in there then, all the different part numbers. So whenever anyone lays that part down, they're also laying down all the information for that part. So all the information, for whatever division is going to use it, so it makes it very handy to then integrate the whole process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So now that you've got this centralized and cleaned up and nobody wants to kill you anymore for deleting their parts - tell us how the overall, now kind of backing the camera up here, what's the overall effect that it's had actually on your quality your time to market, you know, the role of sanitization. What has that done for you guys really, as a company?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's really helped to streamline the whole process because once we're starting with good information from the library, then we can talk now; what we're talking about is how are we going to streamline - how we're going to standardize our process, how we - we want to make sure that all the designers are first off, they're starting off from the same sheet, they're starting off at the same location, so they're all working from the same library. They're working from the same templates now, and they're working from the same guidelines, procedures, things like that. So what has helped is it's streamlined. Basically taking a design through different divisions and it can be handed off from division to division and it can just be carried, and continue to be worked on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Without the disconnect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Without a disconnect without - except for a couple of people - I'll tell you...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There's always those couple people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah there's always a couple people. I have to tell you that there's the one person in particular he, what he does is, the convention is, in Altium, is that the component layer is red, and the solder side is blue, well what he does is he'll go and he'll swap those.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Just to mess with your head.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just to mess with my head right. So but it's - other than that, once it's done, is it's called us to streamline the process, so now with the Nexus system coming in, we are going to be bringing that online, with the Nexus system coming online, we are now looking deeper at our processes, looking further about our process, and I'm kind of looking at it in the way of where, if you have a set process and you have a set group of people, a team that is responsible for certain tasks, then we can actually have milestone setups in our process where we simply say, at this gate keeping item, or this moment of our process, we want to do for example, a design review-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh like an audit...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-of an audit, of where the design is at and then also, we can assign people specific tasks in that process. So basically, we can go from there into then checklist... we say, ok we give a checklist to an individual that says check one, two, three, and four is it correct?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what we're looking now at, is streamlining our entire design review process, looking at decreasing our time to market, decreasing the time that that board is in design, and the Nexus system is going to definitely be a major part of that whole process. Because with that then, we're able to go into web reviews, which we're very excited about doing. Being able to do web reviews and have people actually go onto a website to look at this, they don't need to have Altium installed and go through the licensing and all this and that, they just get the email and the link, and they go in, review documents. So that's really exciting for us, but we're actually seeing a quicker time to market we're seeing better, improved boards, and it's really helped us also to do a self-audit which means that when we do a fabrication of a board for example, and we then go into assembly, what we then do is, we do a DFM we do a design for manufacturing review. We then look at the board and say, okay now what was the design flaws here?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What was then - we also do a build review - from an assembly house they come back with a report that says, oh we had this, and this, and this issue. Okay so now, what we're able to do is that drives the design from there, then we look back at our libraries, whether we need to improve our footprints, or do we need to improve in some way, our process. Or we look at the specific layout, or we look at component problems and such like a build review, then we can look at our design review checklist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's like, it sounds like an ongoing real-time, optimization of your entire process.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah. Whenever you begin a process and you go out and you do that process, we're closing the circle. We bring it back to the beginning: say, did we accomplish what we started out to do right? We talk about how we, talked about it at the beginning, 'why' and 'how' or we talked about 'why' and 'what'.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well at the very back end it gets looped back there did we accomplish, why, what we were doing? Because I'll tell you, a lot of times, we can start a project and we can - and we just kind of go down the primrose path of design and we never get to what we were accomplishing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right that can't happen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And and we never get to it, we never accomplish it, and a lot of times those sort of designs and those sort of PCB just kind of die by the wayside. That was fun, that was a nice fun project.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now let's go do another one!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Let's do another yeah. But I always said, I've always told the designers that I work with, I said: look you do not get paid for designing, you don't get paid for designing. This company is in business for one thing, and it's not to pay you to be a designer. It's a company, we’re in the manufacturing field now, not maybe in a service area, but in manufacturing. You're here designing because you're building something that ultimately needs to be put on a shelf somewhere and someone needs to buy. We're here to sell stuff and a lot of times we lose sight of that - we lose sight of the fact that, oh well this is a nice fun project, but do we ever accomplish what we started out to do?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So what we try to do is, we're definitely trying to constantly improve our process, and constantly improving our designs and things like that, and I think that's done through our review process and looking at the very forefront of what what are we accomplishing? Did we do it? How well did we do it you know?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And where did we maybe fall down and how can we improve that. Here at Altium internally, we call that a post mortem. We've set up a process we said, well we're gonna go through it and then when it's done, we come back and we do what's known, sort of in the marketplace, as a post mortem and go, well how did that go? Did we do what we set out to do at the beginning you know, so it's very much the same of what you're talking about.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because if you don't come back and do that check, you could be left to center by the time you get to the end but you're like, oh that looks good, it works yeah, and you miss the target, but it's together, and it's functional. But you missed the mark right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's not a board of high quality, you got 98%, you missed that 2%. I'm actually concerned about the 2%, how can we improve the process, how can we make this quicker, how can we better this?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right well it's...I'm just in awe of the work you do actually John and I never get tired of hearing you talk about it because it's it's refreshing, and you've got a big team and it's a complex process but the discipline that you've brought to it is just, it's really impressive. So now I'd like to ask you about - is there anything else - first of all, that I missed that I asked you about..</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't think so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, so now I want to just kind of put a microphone in front of your mouth and do a self-serving moment here, it's not really self-serving. But last October you were one of our speakers for Altium Live. And you had a lot of really positive things to say about that. I would like your honest input, because hopefully you'll be back again to speak at </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/altiumlive-2018-annual-pcb-design-summit"><span style="font-weight:400;">AltiumLive</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, I'd like you to encourage other designers, that maybe didn't have the chance to go. Tell them reasons why you found it valuable and so on and so forth. So if you would?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I - it was of course - it was the first one so, and it was phenomenal and I felt, when you first told me, I first heard of it I thought about AltiumLive, okay this is going to be a three-day or a two- day commercial regarding </span><a href="https://www.altium.com/altium-designer/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium 18</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and you're going to sit there and just see the demos and you guys are just gonna pat each other on the back as designers, and everyone's gonna you know - but it didn't turn out to be that way, what happened was this was far more than just about Altium 18. This was about the design process, this was about designers, this was an opportunity for designers to rub shoulders with some phenomenal people and some of the leaders in the industry and this was just two days of, just great learning, to hear from experts, to hear from the people that are the leaders that's the only way I can really describe it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They really are, I mean, the keynotes we had were thought leaders.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They were, they were phenomenal, just absolutely! Mr. Holden...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah Happy Holden.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-was just phenomenal I've been reading one of his, my favorite books, it sits on my desk right now it's The Printed Circuit Handbook.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Isn't that a great book? This thick. Is that thick yeah. [gestures] But Happy doesn't ever sign up for anything that is short.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Brevity is not his skill in life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But it was a phenomenal time and I'm really looking forward to October I mean, to have it again, and I understand we're gonna add the one day?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We are gonna add the day on the front end because and we're doing that, again, we really are trying to make it all about people like you, and and not make it an Altium commercial because I think EDA tool companies in general have been absolutely guilty of putting on, what they call user conferences, but it's like, we're going to lock you in a room, and beat you over the head with our products - see if you'll buy some more stuff from us right. So we try to really focus on what do you guys want; what's the value to you, and again this is a complex world we swim in so let's just bring all the experts in, bring on this. And of course we did launch Altium 18 and we talked about Nexus there, but only you know, 45 minutes on day one; 45 minutes on day two - that's all, the rest of the time it was not us at all - it was about celebrating designers and the and the craft of design but when we did the exit surveys we asked.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What did you like, what you didn't like? And most of the feedback was largely good. But the one piece of feedback that people gave us is; gee I wish there was just a little bit more that was actually tool training, getting into some of the more advanced features that maybe during the workaday world, they don't have time to just sit down and learn and drill deep into some of the advanced features. So we've added a day on the front end that we're calling Altium University, and then we're gonna just do tracks all day, on the first day. And it's optional, you can go or not go, you know. If you're an expert and you don't need initial training, you don't have to go. But at least it's there and we've kept it out, so that we can kind of stay, design - somewhat design agnostic - on those other two days and really give you good depth and training and bringing in the experts, wait til you see, so far for AltiumLive - this is like breaking news right here, really you're the first to know...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my goodness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, since you've been so generous with your time... so three keynote speakers that we have signed up right now is Eric Bogatin...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh right!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I bet you've read a few of his books, Rick Hartley, and then a young buck by the name of Jeremy Blum, who has worked at Google, went to Cornell; sharp Electrical Engineer and he's at a start-up now called Shaper and so he is like 'Forbes 30 under-30 Technologist', and he's like the startup whiz-bang kid. So that'll appeal, I think, to the younger designers and I haven't picked the fourth yet, but stay tuned - I'll keep one secret to myself. Those are three for San Diego. Dan Beeker will be joining us in Munich and I haven't decided yet, we're still working on the other ones in Munich, but it should be another great lineup of keynotes and I will put out a call for presentation soon so, and I've already inked you in, so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes you have.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You don't get a vote.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I know, and you're probably gonna ink me into Munich also.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Good, good whatever we have to do to suck you in. So thank you for the AltiumLive commercial.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right I would just add to that, I would just add to that, I would just say, that if you, if you're kind of sitting on the fence about going or not going. Go, you won't be sorry, you won't be sorry I can promise you that. It's definitely a great time; it's a learning experience, it's a time to rub shoulders, is a time to kind of get away from your job - kind of get away from all the hassles. For those of you who are going to be in the cold areas of the country, such as Montana in the middle of October, I would highly recommend you to come please, come to beautiful San Diego where it will be a chilly 72 degrees.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">On Coronado Island with water on both sides of the hotel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly, so it's gonna be a great time, but above that, it's gonna be a great learning experience. It's going to be a great time to come learn and grow, I'm really a senior, not just in age, but also in this industry, and one of our concerns is, and one of the concerns that was brought up in PCB magazine, just last year; was how there's a mass exodus right now of PCB designers, and that there is a vacuum happening that there are now more jobs available than there are designers and that is not just a concern for me, it's also a challenge, a challenge to train and to teach the younger generation coming up. To teach them and train them about this whole thing. It's a phenomenal industry, it's a cutting-edge industry, but it's not something where somebody, you know, they grow up they're four or five years old; mommy when I grow up I want to be a PCB designer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know, I always say we all got here by accident, you know, it's like some windy road that landed us here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I started off in my career as an Electronic Technician and I started in that route and finally got pulled into the PCB design area and I actually started off with Protel 98...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You are dating yourself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Way back when, so and but it was phenomenal. It was it was a career that is now, is always changing and I love it, it's just... but I would highly encourage everyone to be there and to make sure that you come there to learn because that's the whole purpose of it. It's not going to be a three-day commercial for Altium, it is - this is about you - and what you need okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you I'll give you your $20 bill later [laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Check is in the mail...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you plugged that way more than I'd hoped for, so thank you for doing that. But I know you're a fan, and I appreciate it. The feedback you had was music to my ears because what we intended to deliver, you said we delivered so, yes that makes my heart sing and and being an - by the way - I won't give away this secret but I will put a little hook in you...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Either your age or your weight...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No neither one of those, no.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Before AltiumLive, or at AltiumLive when - I first want to say thank you - that you are one of the people in the industry that are training up the next generation through the people you're training out of the ground so I really appreciate how you personally contribute. But either before or at AltiumLive you will hear something very exciting from Altium about things we're gonna be doing. Extremely proactively, help grow up the PCB design community and in a way where they can go out and use any tool they want but we have an intention to help grow that next and we hope people will use Altium, but we're not...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, it's not required. That's good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-so stay tuned.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> I am really excited about that I mean, that's an exciting...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's coming and I feel really privileged to be in the place I am because, like you, I have been around a little while and luckily Altium is a generous EDA company and they are allowing me to step in and do some of these things.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I thought your big announcement was AltiumLive, this year is going to be Altium 19.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh shocker, spoiler alert!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium 19! You heard it here first!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">At least we're consistent.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We're consistent yeah. I'm glad you guys got, many years ago, you got away from that 2010-like the 2010 stage I don't know how many are still here, but you did the summer and the winter release. It was like a fashion show was like so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Our summer line!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Your summer line versus your winter like</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">well then if we killed off teams of developers we decided to stop. Or they're like, why does it keep crashing? Maybe we should only do one release a year...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just saying... no. Well thank you again, this has been a blast always great having you...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you for having me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-thanks for teaching us and being such a great contributor to the industry.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, we appreciate you, appreciate what you're doing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you again. This has been Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast and my friend John Watson from Legrand. Please tune in again next time and until then remember to always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

Flex and Material Sets with Chris Hunrath
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;"> The rise in flex applications across all industries from medical to automotive, aerospace and military uses means more opportunity for material suppliers to innovate and meet demand. Here what industry expert Chris Hunrath has to share, from general guidelines for designing circuits unique for flex and materials that can be autoclaved over and over. Listen in to this week’s OnTrack expert to learn about flex and material sets.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Medical applications (i.e. instruments for surgery), automotive, aerospace, military </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Foils - as you go thicker, its harder to make electrodeposited. More bend cycles out of rolled and yield</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">General Guidelines for designing circuits unique for flex:</span> <ul><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">In general, avoid circuits making turns or bends in bend/flex area - don’t make the circuits go in different directions there and also avoid plated holes in those areas.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">From a stackup standpoint, balance the construction. Thinner is usually better. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Look for opportunities for cracking at the bend point.</span></li> </ul></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Cross hatch ground planes have multiple advantages.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Pyralux HT, DuPont - new product with unbelievable thermal performance. A continuous operating temperature. Imagine a flex circuit that can be autoclaved over and over.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We are a material sciences company. There are really unique ways to put these building blocks together. </span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/electronic-electrical-materials/flexible-rigidflex-circuit-materials/brands/pyralux-flexible-circuit.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">Pyralux HT</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">See all the show notes</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone this is Judy Warner with the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Thanks again for joining us. Today we have another incredible subject matter expert that you'll be familiar with because we've had him here before, which is Chris Hunrath from Insulectro and we're going to talk about flex and material sets and all kinds of really great things. So hang tight for that. Before we get going please, I invite you to connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, I share a lot of things there for designers and engineers and on Twitter I'm</span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;"> @AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span> </a><span style="font-weight:400;">and </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Today Chris has some Show and Tell and so I encourage you if you - Chris will take time to describe what he's showing, but if you want to see it, feel free to go to our </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/AltiumOfficial/channels"><span style="font-weight:400;">YouTube channel at Altium</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, click under videos and you'll see all our podcasts there. And you can click on </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HythkjgTy3Y&list=PLJI43BCRnVwYw665Vv9ZclKLDsAmAvoE3&t=0s&index=20"><span style="font-weight:400;">this podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and then you'll be able to visually see the materials and things that Chris is referring to today - and that's always available by the way - on YouTube so we record simultaneously in video and in audio so just know that's always an opportunity there for you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Chris, welcome back, thank you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks, Hi.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for joining again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So at the end of last time's podcast, we were talking about the rise in flex applications and sort of the increasing amount of business actually Insulectro's doing around flex materials, new materials are going out so I really wanted to take this opportunity to learn about what is driving this uptick in flex, what applications are driving it  , what the cost, performance implications of that is, and so let's just start with what is driving this uptick in flex?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So a lot of it's medical, you know, and the way electronics are finding their way into medical applications. Actually it's everything, it's automotive, it's aerospace military - military has always been a big user of flex, but of course you know, all the new inventions that are used in medical applications - certainly some devices are implantable and that's something that's not new, but then we're seeing a lot of applications where instruments are being created that are used, for surgeries and things and they use flex circuits and that's because you can make things very small which is always an advantage when  it comes those applications and we're even seeing some applications where the products are reused. They're being sterilized, autoclaved, what have you and then they're being reused. But lots of new techniques, lots of new devices being developed using flex. Most people are familiar with traditional flex applications like your laptop screen, very often the interconnect between the main system and the screen is a flex circuit. You know the old flip phones all had flex circuits, your inkjet printers had a dynamic flex circuit between the printhead and the actual motherboard and the printer, and actually that's something I do want to point out is, you know we describe flex applications in two main buckets. One is dynamic flex and the other is the flex to install and it's just exactly what it sounds like is flex to install. Typically you're only bending the circuit once or twice to fit it in whatever it needs to go into and then that's it. Whereas dynamic flex, the part’s flexed in use many, many, many times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think that something that most people can relate to because you can see it, is the flex inside copy machines right, you can see that dynamic flex moving again and again and so are the materials - the entire circuitry is rated to have X amount of dynamic motions for the life of, it or how does that work?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah actually that's a pretty good point and that can become very complex. A lot of it has to do with layer count, the base material. You know the most popular base material for flex circuits in reflow assembled PCB - a little different than printed electronics applications - where you're using conductive adhesive, but if you're doing reflow assembly, the most common material's polyimide film, and one of the most common materials is Kapton, but the thickness of the materials, the type of copper circuitry, the thickness of the copper foil - all those - play into a number of bend cycles even the type of copper, whether you use rolled annealed, which is very common in Flex, versus electron deposited-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -well that can get very complex. There are some good design guidelines out there by IPC and others you know. Again I always shout out to the board shops, some of them have good teams that help people   choose the right construction, right stack up to get the most bend cycles out of the device.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Are those the two most common types of copper used in flex by the way Chris? Is a rolled anneal an electroless?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh it's electro- deposited.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm sorry electro-deposited okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah - and yes but unless you're dealing with very thin foils rolled annealed is the most common. That's what we call 'RA foils' the most common. Actually I have a sample here. This is some Pyralux clad. You can't see the dielectric inside, but it's got rolled annealed copper on both sides and it can vary from - you used to be limited to half ounce or 18 micron and thicker so a little side note on foils: as you go thicker it's harder to make electro positive foils because it's more plating time on the drum. With rolled annealed it's the opposite, thinner foils are harder to manufacture because you need more rolling processes to make the foil thinner and thinner and thinner.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I see.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You used to be limited to 18 micron or half ounce, now we can get rolled annealed coppers thinner, down to 9 micron or quarter ounce. You can get a rolled annealed, but the structure is much better for flexing because the grain boundaries are in this direction platelet-type, overlapping grain boundaries which is better for bending. Any foil boundaries are like this and if you bend it you can cleave the grain boundaries in. You get more but it's not that easy - foil doesn't work and flex but you typically get more bend cycles out of rolled annealed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay very good. That's something actually I didn't know and it's something I've talked to my friend Tara Dunn, who's in flex - and it's just something that's never come up so I think that's kind of an interesting point. So, you mentioned with military applications - because my background - military was always SWaP right, Size, Weight and Power - so are those the same type of things that drive the other applications - obviously in smaller spaces - we can fold things up on themselves and get them into smaller packaging. When you talk about the dynamic, what other kind of things sort of drive the desire and the fit for flex?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So something that's applicable to both military and medical, is you want to reduce the size, so I have here - this is a 50-ohm SMA coax right. It's basically one circuit, you've got the shield layer, the shielding around the center conductor - but this is one channel or one circuit and I have here flex, and you can see how many circuits you have on this piece. So, imagine if you had to have one of these - for each one of these-</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">For each channel right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now if you - depending on the design, whether it's strip line, micro strip, and whether or not you have   in-plane shielding, it might be every other one's a signal. But still the weight and size is the difference between having cables right, which I'm holding up right now, versus having a flex circuit is huge right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And in the case of medical, some of those traces can be as narrow as 20 micron. So you can fit a lot of circuitry into a very small space. And you know depending on the on the medical device. We see some of our customers will build circuits that are very, very long and very, very narrow, and you can imagine how they're used in surgery and other medical applications. And you might have twenty circuits on that part but it's in a very, very, very small space.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh that totally makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now - just to be clear 20 micron circuitry - it’s not easy to do, it's doable, not easy to do, but certainly 50 microns is, most board shops can do that these days and  again you can fit a lot of circuits in a small space and of course they can flex, they can bend. But in the case of rigid flex where you have a rigid part and bridged with a flex part - and here's another example where you have this -  is not necessarily rigid flex but you'd have components here and then a connector here. You're replacing all these cables right, of this section, so that's how it drives weight and space and even reliability. Fewer interconnections tend to be more reliable so that really helps. So flex has been growing quite a bit for us, for our business and so, a lot of its based on DuPont Kapton and DuPont Pyralux products and then they - there's a B-stage system for laminating the different layers and of course the core, or the clad material as the foil on both sides and then our customers will print and etch to whatever pattern they need and put those layers together as building blocks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right so let's talk a little bit about design for flex since most folks listening here will be engineers or layout folks. What are some things that people need to keep in mind about designing these kind of circuits that's sort of unique to flex?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So there's a couple of good - again some good guides out there - both by IPC, DuPont has flex manuals, for different types of categories. Whether it's multi-layer, single sided, double-sided flex, they have some good guidelines on that, but in general what you want to avoid is you don't want circuits to make turns or bends in the bend area. So, for example, I'm going to use this one is an example again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">If this is the flex area in this middle section here, you wouldn't have the circuits go in different directions in that area, so you might want to keep them. You want to keep them basically parallel in that area and you also don't want plated through holes in those areas. Again these are just real general rule - basic guidelines. The other thing you want to avoid is what we call an I-beam effect, where you have circuits directly above each other with a dielectric in between. You want to stagger them. That helps, again - more important for dynamic flex than bended, to install, but it's important not to have the I-beam effect because that could lead to cracks...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-concentrates on bending. And in general from a stack up standpoint, you want to try and balance the construction. Thinner is typically better. There's again - there's all kinds of iterations there's - if it's a multi-layer flex - there's loose leaf constructions where you wouldn't necessarily bond the different layers together in the flex or bend region. You'd have them not connected. A bookbinder system is another way to do it where depending on the direction of the bend, the layers that are on the outside of the bend are actually longer. The layers on the inside - and again the fabricators that are skilled in that know how to space that - and to change the length of the circuit. But you know from a simpler standpoint, or from a more general standpoint thinner is typically better balanced. Balanced constructions are typically better   for flex.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well balanced construction is always a good idea, I'm just saying but I could see that right. Because I think you - what you're saying if I'm hearing you right, is you have to look for those opportunities for cracking right, or stressing at the bend radius, because that makes sense right. Just from a physics standpoint it makes sense that things would want to give or pull right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, when you bend a flex circuit the other side compresses against it right, and every circuit will fail at some point. It's a matter of how many cycles you get out of it before it fails.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right how do you measure those cycles by the way?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there are some standardized tests and there's an MIT bend test - there's some other testing that's done to see how a particular material, or even a design or stack up performs where it's bent repeatedly until you get failure. And then you can - you can rate the stack up or the and/or the material. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Where can you get that data? You mentioned IPC as a source. Is there any other thing - resources you could share - that I could share with the listeners where they could maybe look at some of these readings?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah actually so DuPont's website, the Pyralux website, has some data on that and certainly some of the folks there could put your listeners in touch with some of the design guidelines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Okay alright I know some folks there if you and I can't find him through the website then Jonathan just came in to talk at IPC designers Council Orange County I'll reach out to him see if...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh Jonathan Weldon, yeah he's a great resource for that. So speaking of Jonathan Weldon, he's been working with HDPUG; they've been looking at shield layers or for reference planes and they've been looking at the difference in solid planes and cross hatch systems, and so this is just a simple - this is actually a simple test circuit microstrip construction where you have a reference plane on one side and your tracer on the other. Imagine if there were a strip line construction and you had copper on both sides with your transmission line in the middle, one of the challenges with all PCBs, and especially with flex, is absorption of moisture and then that moisture released during assembly causing delamination and one of the things that you can do to mitigate that is to bake the parts. Well if you have soft solid copper areas - baking does not work as well - because the moisture has got to go around the copper it can't go through it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So cross hatch ground planes are great for two purposes. One is, it's a moisture egress for baking, the other advantage is it's actually better for flexibility it makes the part more flexible.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hmm, that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The downside is the high frequency applications - you can run into some issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So and one of the interesting things that Jonathan and company, they were looking at, was the difference between a round opening and a - what's typically used as it's..</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Kind of a diamond shape?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly, exactly and really it's more of  a square turned on its side, but yeah the diamond shape versus the you know... It's funny how a circuit design is always in orthogonal patterns but that's not necessarily the best way to go and anyway the round shape was better for signal performance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, for the high speed applications?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it makes sense because if you took a circle that fit inside a square you actually have less open area so...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This is true okay, alright.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so there's some interesting data on that but I would recommend to a customer, depending on their   their frequency bandwidth bit rate, depending on what kind of design it is, that they would look at using an open plane. It works basically with a screen, for lack of better words, versus a solid plane because the reliability goes way up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay now you just made me think of something. Last time we talked, we were talking about prepregs and glass, being reinforced right. When you're using adhesive systems for flex, I'm assuming they're non-reinforced?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a more stable material though so tell us a little bit about that, about the stability, the dimensional stability?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so - so really in flex circuits the Kapton film, a polyImide film, because it's a thermoset, it is acting like the fiberglass in your flex circuit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You don't have skew issues because there's no glass, so you don't have micro-DK effects. Now if you do have a crosshatch plane, you will have a different - you'll have a micro impedance effect if you would. But that usually doesn't change with differential pairs unless - again depending on where you put the traces - but you don't have the fiberglass micro-DK effect at all. Now, Kapton's interesting - it's very thermally stable but it's not as mechanically strong as glass reinforced laminate. So it tends to change more from mechanical distortion than it does for thermal. It's not shrinking like epoxies do when they cure. Certainly when you - when you remove all the copper (and I actually have a piece here) this is a piece of Pyralux AP, with all the copper etched off. This is 100 percent polyimide, used to have copper cladding on it and the copper's been mostly etched off. You can see a little bit of copper left  from the tape I use to run this through an etcher, but the material is pretty strong but it can distort mechanically, more so than thermally. So again this is kind of like the fiberglass in a regular PCB, and then you'd have B-stages of some sort, to put all the layers together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So the actual substrate is creating the stability in the case of flex? Okay that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a polyimide film, in the case of Pyralux, which is a DuPont branded flex material it's based on Kapton film.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay so we talked about ground planes, we talked about where to not put - - is there any other sort of design for flex things that you'd want to mention that are just rather commonplace?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so there's a lot of things, for example, you could use a pad that's a little bit larger than you would normally use that would go underneath the cover. Now let me backup a little bit and talk about cover lay. So what cover lay is, it's basically Kapton adhesive laminate, that is the flexible equivalent of solder mask. Now unlike solder mask which is used in PCB, which is photoimageable, cover lay has to be mechanically formed and then laminated over the circuitry. So you have openings and this - again this is a another good example - you have openings in the cover lay I don't know if you can see that on this? But there's openings on the cover lay for each individual pad and then that's laminated over. One of the ways to get more reliability out of the pads is to make the pad a little bit bigger than the opening in the cover lay. So you have cover lay over the perimeter of the pad - it's kind of like what we call solder mask defined pad and rigid - except you're doing it in flex, and that's that's one way to get reliability. But there - again there are a lot of different things in flex that you should be aware of, and that's where some of these design guides and things...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay well we'll try to track some of those down and put those in the show notes because I think that would be really helpful to have something kind of, tangible. Something I remember learning from someone else, is also talking about tear dropping pads?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes. Is that something that you would recommend as well?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's good for a couple of different reasons. One is that the more material that goes under the cover lay, again helps mechanically support the pad. It's also important - typically you don't put holes or pads into your bend area, but it could be an area where you could concentrate bending. So in other words, you go from a trace to a pad, that's going to become a concentration of - right at the edge of the pad - concentration of stress and so if you do the teardrop, that distributes that stress over a larger area and helps prevent circuit cracking. But again, you would try and avoid that in your design. We would make that a bend area. And actually, speaking of rigid flex, one of the things that you would typically do is the cover lay would go into the rigid portion only 50 mils.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -Okay and then you would keep the cover lay and its adhesive out of the plate through hole areas in the rigid portion and rigid flex - and that's also a 'keep out' region for plated through hole so you wouldn't want plate through holes going through that region. So again a lot of this stuff is spelled out in some of the manuals that you get from DuPont and others.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Alright, I'll reach out to Jonathan and - and you and I can scrounge up some things and we'll make sure to include those here. Last thing I wanted to talk to you about - which I was just stunned by - is that you told me that DuPont has come out with a new material that has unbelievable thermal performance. Can you tell us a little bit about that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so - classically in flex, you have your your B-stage, or adhesives that are part of the package, and then you have your core materials, which are your building blocks and you print and etch your core, just like rigid, and you would have - you would put them together with either your rigid or your flex adhesives to make a multi-layer system. What's different about this new product, it's called Pyralux HT, and in fact, I got my Pyralux HT mug here...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Nice, nice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-but instead of using acrylic or epoxy adhesives to bond the Kapton layers together, you would use this thermoplastic polyimide layer. It's got a very high melting point and thermoplastic's already used in PCB, people familiar with EPI-P and LC, those systems. The only way thermoplastics work in PCB, or reflow assembled PCB, is to have a high melting point otherwise it would melt at assembly. So this is a piece of the thermoplastic polyimide that DuPont manufacturers. It's the HT bonding film. This could either be a cover lay or it could be an adhesive layer to put - to make a multi-layer PCB. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-But the nice thing about this, is it has a - 225 Celsius operating temperature, which is very, very high.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What does that convert to in Fahrenheit?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh gosh - 225 C it's over 400 degrees Fahrenheit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I see, 225 - - Fahrenheit okay I wasn't hearing you correctly, so it was Fahrenheit okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh no - hang on, 225 C, I should know all this without me - - 437 Fahrenheit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you know, some applications...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and that's an operating - continuous operating temperature? Which is crazy, cuz some materials can take that heat for a little while but not continuing operating temperature right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, so most PCB materials that go through a reflow assembly, which is either done at 260 Celsius, depending on the type of solder work, or 288 C, they can withstand that for a short period of time most PCB materials survive that. It's the operating temperature most epoxy systems will come in around 130 to 150 C operating temperature - maximum operating temperature.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's wild, so I'm guessing - so what are the applications where this will be exciting news?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So applications where you had, fiberglass, coax or some other applications like that where you had   wired - high temperature wired connections - or cable connections, you could replace now with a printed circuit board. So engine compartments, aircraft engine compartments, aerospace, down hole, I mean there are a lot of different applications. Even from a medical standpoint. Imagine making a flex circuit that could be auto plated over and over and over again. You don't have to worry what's gonna...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was gonna ask you about that earlier. I don't really know what temps they autoclave at but you mentioned that before that medical applications could - to cut autoclave to kill the bacteria, but like what's the normal temp of an autoclave, how many times can you do that?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we have one customer that builds some parts that are autoclaved at 135 C but it's with steam, and it's hard on circuits, it's hard on electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah seems like that would be.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But for HT it wouldn't be any issue because you're nowhere near on the melting point. Now it will absorb some moisture, which could be removed from - could be removed with a bake but a lot of applications it won't matter if the assembly is already done. It doesn't really matter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know there is some change in the transmission properties of the material when it absorbs some moisture. Again that could be removed with a bake but that is one of the challenges with reusable medical devices, is sterilization and how well the materials hold up, and an HT would be good for that. The downside of HT, is it does require a 600 degree lamination - Fahrenheit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay well there you go, so how many board shops have lam presses that go up to that temp?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we took a look at our customer base, and it's not a lot of them, or some of our customers had laminate, or have lamination presses that are capable, they're rated that high, but they haven't been turned up that high for a long, long time. So it's funny, some of our customers have started making some HT, all the weaker heaters, that the press might be 10 years old, they turn it up for the first time to a higher temperature; they start popping heaters and they have to go and replace them. But actually we're seeing a trend though. A lot of our customers are buying laminating equipment and right now that's a whole 'nother story because lean times are way out on equipment in general, but what we're seeing is people are making sure they have that high temperature capability and it's not just for something like HT, it's for LCP and FEP as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They have some good properties, electrical and and signal properties.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a big deal these days.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Performance wise they're very good.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right they're harder to fabricate but they do have some good properties you know. Even - we talked about last time - repeat glass-reinforced PTFE materials, some of them require high  lamination temperatures.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah they do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah all right. One more material I do want to mention - sorry - so this material actually is a Teflon Kapton laminate it's called...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-wait hold on - Teflon Kapton? Oh okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's called 'TK' - it's a Pyralux product from DuPont and so it has a core of Kapton to act as the XY stabilizer, but then it has a Teflon material on both sides and again, this is a building block but it's very low loss, and very low DK. So a DK of about two and a half with a very, very low loss. But unlike glass reinforced Teflon systems, this has no fiberglass so, no skew and no detrimental effect from the fiberglass. It's using the Kapton instead, as the stabilizer, because if you had a piece of - I should have brought out a piece of Teflon - but PTFE films you can easily - it can be mechanically stretched.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, one time when I was in the RF and microwave board space, I had the board shop I was working for take all the materials like Rogers, Taconic, whatever and I had them strip all the copper off and I went   like the 4000 series 6000 series 3000 series all the way up to 58, 80 and strip off the copper. Because when you see them clad, they don't look that different from each other. But I'm like here's Teflon - this is like a piece of rubber, and imagine heating that up, exposing that to aqueous hot processes and so I think that really helped people to understand how vastly different they are and I think it was a good visual actually to help people understand how radically different these are and when you start stripping off all the copper and you have fine lines and all that then it's - it's a whole different animal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">TK material is - the core material is nice because the Kapton layer does provide mechanical strength. Again though, the TK, instead of requiring 600 degree lamination, it requires 550. So it's still a high temperature product which requires the right press book, the right materials, and lamination, and it also requires a press being capable. And the other too is the board shop needs to get accustomed to the dimensional changes during the lamination process with these materials.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Again - a lot of it's mechanically driven, but you need to know how to work with it so that's something I think the boardshop needs to have experience with.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well and I imagine that you're not going to see these materials outside of sort of high performance or high speed capable board shops?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-I don't know if that's true I guess I'm looking to you for an answer in there but it's an assumption I would make.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Here's the interesting thing about AP, AP by itself, is actually pretty good electrically. It's the adhesive layers you use that incur a lot of the loss. So then if you get into the thermoplastic systems that have better electrical performance, now you're getting into the temperature range. So it's one of those give-and-take situations, but you can mix and match the materials to some degree. You could use, for instance HT bonding film with AP clads, your operating temperature would default to the AP operating temperature, which is still pretty high at 180 °C, but electrically it's pretty good. You get away from the acrylic and the epoxy adhesives, which aren't great electrically, in terms of loss, dielectric constant so yeah, I think as I think as board shops become better equipped with high temperature systems, you'll see a broader use of these materials.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, I mean the market is going to drive us there one way or the other right, if there's a demand then the board shops will do what they need to do. One thing - a comment I want to make about that is - I was in one board shop and I was stunned and then just felt like wow I could've had a V8 moment, is they were providing really high speed, high performance circuits to some high-end military stuff, and they had moved completely away from rigid high performance laminates and used multiple layers of flex materials and the performance - and I'm like - oh well that seems like an obvious, but I had no idea that was even happening. Is that something you have seen, where they just use...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, if you wanted to get rid of skew completely you could use a film based system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it was crazy, I mean that makes sense and I'm sure there's some challenges there cuz I could tell they had to rigidize the bottom, or put some kind of carrier or something, because they didn't want it to flex quite that much but they just stacked these film systems on top of each other and I'm like huh, didn't know you could do that but they were clearly doing it on a routine basis so that was interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I've seen some board designs where you might have 12 cores of Pyralux...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah,right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and then use regular rigid prepreg as a bonding system so and the board's not - when it's all done, it's not flexible it's rigid.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is rigid, but it's a weird - it's weird to see anyway...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I actually have a board here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Ok let's see it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Unfortunately it's single sided so it's kind of like a potato chip, but because there's only one layer of copper and one layer of prepreg, but this is actually DuPont's AP product with Isola's tachyon prepreg, and it's a spread glass prepreg. So you have the spread glass prepreg on one side and you've got the Pyralux AP in the other. So you minimize how much glass is in here, which really drops the amount of impact or micro DK effect which would lead to skew and other signal performance issues. So there are lots of different ways you could use the flex materials even in a rigid design.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I did see that and I was shocked and I - it's something I hadn't heard a lot about. Anyways well, we're about out of time today, again. But thank you so much, every time I talk to you, I feel like I learned so, so much and it's fascinating to me where the industry is going and what's happening with flex and it's exciting it's really an enabler right and these high, high temp products and that so it's a really exciting time to see. We always break through one way or another it's just interesting to see who gets it done. So it's very interesting to see what we're doing with flex.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh thank you Judy for  giving us the opportunity to talk about some of the materials we supply but yeah it's - these are all building blocks and, I kind of view it as a material science company in tech...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You are yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-we provide all these different building blocks to meet the need of what the customer needs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And there is - and there's really unique ways to put those building blocks together so it's fascinating to learn about. Ok so something I didn't ask you last time, but I'm gonna ask you now. Are you a geek or a nerd? [Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So the best way I heard the two described is the difference between a geek and a nerd is - a geek is the one who gets things done.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh interesting okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I would like to think I'm somebody who'd get stuff done, so that would put me in the geek camp but in any case.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Alright check geek, and the second question I have for you: on a scale from one to ten how weird are you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter] Oh gosh, I would say - five.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I'm sorry but if we're in this industry we're at least 5 or above. I think we have to be a little wacky to do what we do - okay well thanks I appreciate it so much and again, we were talking on the phone yesterday we have more to cover, so I'm gonna for sure have you back again and talk about printed electronics which is on the rise and you know a lot about. And also I'm very excited to talk about - oh there it is!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Electronics, that's a whole other - whole other world of electronics and yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wait, wait, wait bring that back and tell our listeners what exactly that is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So this was printed with a zebra label printer where the - and no changes to the machine by the way - but the special foil is put into the system where you normally put a roller with a pigment film, so instead of printing a black label you're printing metal foil so yeah, it's kind of interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes what is that for?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well this is something did for me at our booth this is just an antenna but you could really you could make electronic designs on the fly now...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Dude, you're still not answering my question here. What is that intended for?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I'm gonna use that for an antique stereo I have. I have an antique FM stereo the tube, old tube radio, I'm going to use that as an antenna.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I see - oh see definitely five-weird. I say I'm gonna make that matrix instead of the hot crazy matrix I'm gonna make like the geeky-weird matrix and so yeah - you're at least at a five -high and a geek.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But anyway printed electronics is pretty exciting, I mean and again, it's all material science based. As the materials get better you're gonna be able to do more things. Higher conductivity inks, higher temperature inks, I mean there's all kinds of things you can do in that area. Typically the substrates are different - they're typically lower cost, lower temperature capable substrates, but you could - you can make all kinds of things so we'll get it the next time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay we'll definitely do that and the other thing I'm excited to talk to you about - because I know nothing about it - is paste interconnects and you shared a little bit, so anyways we have at least one or two more podcasts ahead of us, so for our listeners; stay tuned and we'll make sure and share everything Chris has talked about today and hook you up with resources through DuPont, HDPUG, IPC, wherever we can find and we'll make sure and share those resources that will help you lay out a better flex and onboard as much information as you can.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Chris, thanks again, we'll see you next time and we'll tackle another hot topic. Again this has been Judy Warner with the OnTrack Podcast. Thanks for tuning in and thank you to Chris Hunrath from Insulectro, we will see you next time. Until then, always stay on track.</span></p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

DFA Tips from Duane Benson at Screaming Circuits
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits shares DFA Tips and a piece of history as he shares the story behind the scenes in developing quick turn prototypes. Listen to learn how one entrepreneur brought fresh perspective to the business that led to great success. And see why Screaming Circuits is uniquely positioned to handle all the leading edge components that PCB designers have available.  </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Screaming Circuits was founded on the premise to get prototypes built quickly. It was a struggle to get small volume prototypes built and a market need was discovered. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">For prototyping - going abroad invites its own set of risks.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">A traditionally 6-8 week process, Screaming Circuits does in hours.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We don’t specialize in a vertical industry, so we see a lot of the leading edge components. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Layout isn’t taught in schools or its self taught. The experts who knew how to make layouts work perfectly have retired. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">We built a business around stuff being wrong. Stuff isn’t going to be right when it arrives to us and we have to fix it.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Why are we having a problem sourcing parts? </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Personal interests? Photography and decaying industrialism.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.screamingcircuits.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Screaming Circuits Website</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://blog.screamingcircuits.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Screaming Circuits Blog</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Downloadable </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://scrm.it/CircuitTalkDL"><span style="font-weight:400;">Circuit Talk</span></a> <span style="font-weight:400;"> </span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter: </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://twitter.com/pcbassembly"><span style="font-weight:400;">@pcbassembly</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://twitter.com/duanebenson"><span style="font-weight:400;">@duanebenson</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Screaming Circuits on </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="http://www.youtube.com/user/screamingcircuits"><span style="font-weight:400;">Youtube</span> </a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast. Welcome back to another podcast session with us. As always we have another incredible guest with us today but before we get started I wanted to invite you to please connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm very active there and share a lot of resources for engineers and PCB designers and also - I don't think I shared this in past podcasts - but we are also recording this on YouTube as well as just an audio. So you can always go to YouTube and go to the Altium channel, look under videos and you'll find these also in video format if you should prefer to listen to this and watch it in video format. And also with Altium, you can always follow us on Facebook LinkedIn or Twitter and we love engaging with you. We always love to hear from you about subject matter experts or subjects you'd like to hear or learn more about. So, without further ado,  I'd like to welcome our guest today who is </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Duane </span><span style="font-weight:400;">Benson of Screaming Circuits, out of Canby, Oregon, correct Duane?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Canby that's correct. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So Duane welcome, we've crossed paths for several years now and it's a delight to have you and learn more about Screaming Circuits and EMS and how designers can do things to to be more effective in the design for assembly and just learn about Screaming Circuit’s model, which is a very unique model by the way, I'm eager to jump in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thank you I'm really happy to be here thank you for asking me to participate in this.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My joy. So why don't you start out by telling our listeners a little bit about who and what Screaming Circuits is, because it really does have a highly unique model, and kind of the why behind you guys started the company and created this model?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well it started back in 2003, actually that fifteen years ago now. Yikes..</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, I know, how did that happen? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So about that time our parent company Milwaukee Electronics they had a number of customers that were struggling to get small volumes of prototypes put together back in the back in the olden days - if I can use that term. Prototypes quite often were sort of slotted in on an ‘as available’ basis. So say you might need five prototypes and the EMS company would say, well we’ve got a big run going on and I can put you u on the machine in two weeks so you can get your prototypes then. And two weeks come along and something else came up, so another week... Even going back before that, back in my day they didn't focus, for example, building a prototype.We'd have a big bag of parts and some blank circuit boards, and we'd hand them to this poor technician on a Friday afternoon and the engineers would go, could you have these built up by Monday?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it was becoming a real struggle to to get prototypes, get small volumes of any sort built and a couple of our customers came and asked us and said, can you can you help us out with this? It's just not working and the Milwaukee Electronics’ management thought about it a little bit and thought, why can't we short-circuit the process?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No pun intended right? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Laughter. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So the management experimented a little bit and then decided,  , there's an actual business here. So back about that time they brought Jared Store out here to start up what they called the Screaming Circuits division to focus specifically on getting prototypes done quickly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mm-hmm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And  , from that time the initial focus of the initial business was basically Jared with email and phone and one of our partners Sunstone Circuits, they built the blank circuit boards - the raw fabs. They'd give us a call and say, hey one of our customers needs some prototypes built, can you guys do it? And that's how the business started.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So you guys created the synergy. Now I've had the pleasure of meeting Jared once at least, through the phone and email and Jared was young right? He was the son of the owner so, I have to insert that. Because I kind of love that those of us who are kind of old dogs in the industry - I kind of love that he said, well why can't we do this? And he just kind of, like you said, a phone and a thing and just said why not. Because he wasn't constrained by the way things were done in the past which I kind of love that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly he was a young entrepreneur, in fact, I don't know if he'll want to admit this but this was his first job out of college this was kind of an experiment for him to get into a career, into business and he did a fantastic job. Basically by ignoring all of the old rules.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and then in 2004 - well somewhere between late 2003 and early 2004 - we first went online with a very, very simple quote system. We boiled it down into six different factors and based on that, came up with a quote and it was all kitted at that point. So we'd say, hey it's going to cost you this much, send us your kit, send us your files, and we'll build them up for you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now since that time, when we were talking earlier, it seems like it's morphed into not just specifically prototypes but just quick-turn. It could be quick-turn pre-production quick-turn production even right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The world of manufacturing of electronics has really changed in the last decade and a half  . There was a time when electronics were not going to be designed and built in this country. Back in the 90s, when I was working for InFocus again, everybody was outsourcing everything and then over the next decade after that, it was all going going away.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And there was going to be nothing but high volumes manufactured offshore. Well about the time we started doing this, coincidentally the open-source hardware movement came about with the Arduino and some of the other things that came with that. Kickstarter showed up and that really changed the hardware design dynamic. It lowered the barriers to entry to building a hardware company and over the last decade and a half the hardware startup has come back with a vengeance. The problem is, as manufacturing is really, really expensive - unless you're doing super high volumes - so these companies would run a Kickstarter, they'd sell a thousand of an electronic board and nobody would build it for them. So then,  , they'd then run off into into Asia and they toured all these shops and these people would either say, no that's not enough or they’d change the design, steal the intellectual property and, you can't. There's little details like that so, getting a hundred or a thousand or five thousand is extraordinarily difficult. And yet there's an awful lot of companies that sell just that many of something.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it's really interesting that it morphed into that niche right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You had, it sounds like you had everything, in place to fill it right? You'd built it to do address prototype - traditional prototypes - and as the market changed you were kind of ideally positioned to address those kind of start-up Kickstarter things. So you and Sunstone have worked together in parallel, I take it throughout this process? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes they've been our partners since the beginning, and at this point they build the vast majority of our circuit boards and we do, if necessary, go elsewhere. Or if a customer sends us the boards or requests something else, but the vast majority of our boards are built by Sunstone. They're about ten miles away over in Mulino Oregon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another big city like Canby… </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Laughter - well compared to Milano Canby is the big cities...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes well it's a beautiful area. So, tell us about what you would see in a given day and then I would like to ask you to jump into speaking to designers that may be listening, and go into kind of some DFM tips and tricks. But before we do that, tell us about what are you going to see in a day?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">To get a picture of what happens there at Screaming Circuits there's two factors that are pretty important. One is a traditional EMS company. We we see about as many different jobs through here in a week as a traditional medium-sized EMS company we'll see in a year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the other factor that's important to notice, is that in - using that term the olden days - getting a quote and an order for a project might be a three to four week process going back and forth with all the files, component availability, making sure   the design works and then after you place the order, you've got the NPI process which is another three to four work weeks. So, you've got a six to eight week process that we do in six to eight hours.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How is that possible? I mean we may not have enough time here Duane, but I've been in the EMS industry and it’s an extremely complex process, just getting the components you need and making sure they're right and there's not obsolete parts, and that you've got a clean BOM, and it's so complex. How have you condensed it without giving away your secrets?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well there's a lot of things that matter if you're building a hundred thousand of something or a million of something. At that point fractions of a penny count and you're going to spend a lot more time quoting. You're gonna have to worry about getting large quantities of components if you need 20 of a board you can go to Digi-Key and get the parts for a buck, that would cost you a quarter of a penny if you bought them at high volume, and that's still fine now, that's part of it and then you don't have to worry about some of the inefficiencies that would absolutely kill a high-volume manufacturing manufacturer. You don't have to worry about those because if you have to tweak things by hand, while that is more expensive per unit, if you're building 20 or a hundred or a thousand it doesn't matter quite so much. So really what we've done is, we've stepped back and we said, what is important and what is not. The objective is to get working boards into an engineer's hands as quickly as possible and you'll notice there aren't things like how do we make it the absolute least expensive, or things of that sort, it's about getting the working board's as quick as possible so you focus on just the things that matter for that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, you mentioned when we talked a few weeks ago, about it becoming what you had called a transactional model, which is really a different industry and you can go online, place your order in a very transactional fashion, but it also speeds up your time to market, and gives you something highly valuable?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes it does, we don't we don't spend an awful lot of time on the financial component of it. For the most part you give us a credit card and we start building so we don't have to worry about the bank component of it. For larger companies we do, because some people, the government or whatever, they have to operate that way. But for the most part you just give us a credit card and that again cuts some time out of it. We also look at each order as an individual transaction, that's why we call it transactional manufacturing, or unforecastable. We don't have to worry about the fact that you're not gonna need exactly 500 every month for the next 24 months. In traditional EMS, you have to worry about that, you plan for that. We don't worry about that, we don't care.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's interesting as well it's neat model and I see it as a real enabler. So, congratulations to you guys. All right, let's dig in and give our listeners that are designers and engineers some tips around DFA. The way that you and I originally came to know each other is, I had been blogging and writing and then I came across a little publication you put out called Circuit Talk in which you were doing what I was doing, which was giving designers some really immediate tips to apply to make their jobs hopefully a little bit easier and so, I think you've done a really nice job of that. So can you talk about why you started Circuit Talk and then go ahead and share some of those tips or tricks that are around design for assembly that's gonna make designers’ jobs easier and smooth the time to deliver a good product in time to market.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thank you. You  know the volume of jobs that we get - it does lead to chaos of sorts - but it also is a huge advantage in that we get to see every single mistake that anybody's gonna make. We don't specialize in a vertical industry so we don't only see mistakes related to a certain type of component tree. Name a component that's leading-edge, we've undoubtedly seen it and, so we see these things - and it's not just beginners, it's not just experienced designers, it's not just big or small or university - everybody makes the same mistakes. It's so complex and there are so many variables, so many new types of components. Geometries are shrinking and in parallel to that people have less and less time to design these things. Quite often layout isn't taught at schools, or it's self-taught. The experts who knew exactly how to make a layout work perfectly have retired now, or they've been let go, or things have changed so fast they can't keep up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Mm-hmm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So we see these problems every day. Case in point, one that I write about quite often relates to the QFN Quad Flat-Pack No Lead, and then the DFM. The DFM leads along one side. They have this big metal heat slug in the middle, looks like a very simple component, it's cool, it's small, has great signal characteristics. But most of the CAD software, when you try and use a QFN, the footprint is wrong. It comes from the library with the solder paste layer, not designed specifically for the component, so you've got to imagine flipping a QFN upside down. You've got a little row of contacts around the outside - very small - and then a big giant heat slug in the middle that covers almost the entire component. So most of the library components we found have a full aperture opening, so the solder paste layer is completely open for that heat slug in the middle. And what happens is you end up with too much solder in the middle, so the part floats up and the connects on the side don't connect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh boy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and this is even more prevalent with some of the open-source CAD software, or some of them with a lot of user-generated content, nobody told those folks how to make the footprint properly. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I see.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Quite often the manufacturers, in their data sheets, even specify it that way. But what you need to do is, to modify the footprint so in that center pad, you get somewhere between 50 and 75 percent paste coverage. So, you take out the default paste layer for the center pad and you put in a little windowpane-looking thing - problem solved.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Interesting. Yeah it's a little scary, unless you have a partner that's on the ball to what you can accidentally pick up off a data sheet or how to interpret that data right? So okay well, that's a good one. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another one we run across these tiny little micro BGA's 0.4 mm pitch, some of them even 0.3 mm. I've actually seen a 0.24 mm pitch BGA. Yeah, some of the rules change with the bigger BGA's. You want non-solder mask defined pads, so you want the solder mask opening to be slightly larger than the little pad where the BGA ball’s gonna sit down.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">With some of the 0.4 mm pitch BGAs, you want solder mask pad or defined pads, otherwise you get bridging. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah, that makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it kind of depends on the geometry of the solder ball, but that's a pretty common error as well. So you see these things that component manufacturers haven't fully studied, haven't fully published and they are  just setting people up for problems.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and what I have found - and not just in relation to components - I have talked to people who manufacture either components, or they manufacture laminates, and what's not widely understood is that sometimes the studies they’re doing is us.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we’re their guinea pigs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, and then we yell and scream and we give them back data and then they produce overtime accurate data sheets. I was stunned to hear that, but it's absolutely true. They need to get stuff to market because the market is demanding it, and the testing is so complex and so widespread, and the applications are so widespread, that they can only go so far. And then the rest of the data has to come from real world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah the the hardware industry really is paralleling what the software industry did.  We had open source software then open source hardware. With software, we started calling it ‘beta test the world’ because you couldn't beta test anymore, it's too complex.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, it’s too complex, so we become the beta testers and I don't think that's often understood. When I first understood it my jaw about dropped because I'm from the old school, like you are and it's like; wait nothing would ever go out that was not fully vetted or understood and tested, and things have just gotten so complex. And so there's just a hard limitation there, it's not a bad business practice or whatever, but it's a reality that I think is wise for designers and engineers to keep in mind - another encouragement to work closely with people like you, that can say, we've seen this already a bunch of times, we know what's going to occur here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah we've built our whole business around everything being wrong basically, start to finish. It sounds kinda funny, but It's all about this stuff probably isn't going to be right coming into us, so we've got to figure out how to make it work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't know, like what happened to the world Duane? This is not how we started but here we are. Another thing you talked to me a little bit about, you had mentioned one time in a conversation, about polarity markings.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah. That's that's maybe third or fourth in terms of the issues that we see here with diodes especially. Capacitors somewhat, but diodes even more so. Any kind of ambiguity, when you're dealing with machines, it's a problem. If you've got a barrier diode for example, it's backwards from what you would consider a conventional diode. So if someone marks it with a plus and it's a barrier diode and they're expecting us to know whether the plus goes to the anode or the cathode, we're gonna put it in the conventional manner, not knowing it's a barrier diode it's gonna be backwards so you can't use a plus to mark a diode. You might think minus, Also, does that mean negative or is that the lion on the diode symbol you can't do that because it doesn't tell us anything you've got to say K for cathode not C - because then we might think it's a capacitor, or the full diode symbol the down - lot of people will put in silkscreen, the mark that's on the bottom of a surface mount diode...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Uh-hu.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-which at  first glance seems like it makes a lot of sense - but only if you give us the exact diode that you got the marker off of. I've seen two diodes 0.603s in the exact same package from the exact same manufacturer just a couple characters off, in the part number, and literally, on one the mark is the anode mark on the other it's the cathode mark. I've got to I've got to do a datasheet and I have a clipping from that data sheet on the Screaming Circuits blog that shows that it's got this part anode mark, this part cathode mark. I made the same mistake myself. On one of my boards I put the little marker on there and I gave gave the company the orientation and the CAD files, and then I made a substitution because one part was no longer available and used the other one - same thing but it was backwards because I went from cathode mark to anode mark.  So, remove ambiguity. A few years ago I would say, it's okay to mimic the silkscreen - just give us the exact part. But with supply chain availability being such an issue right now, I would not rely on the mark that's underneath the diode because they can reverse if we have to substitute something.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay I'm gonna put a pause there and talk about what the heck is going on with supply chain. Stuff about diodes like these, very basic building blocks to design, why are we having problems sourcing parts?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we've been told a couple of things from suppliers. One is, they're telling us that the automotive companies are buying up literally an entire line. They'll come to a component manufacturer and say this particular part: I need all of your production, all of it and so there it goes out of stock. Internet-of-Things companies - the super, hyper-mobile devices are also causing issues because they're increasing the demand in the super small components. Well then the companies that make the parts don't have fab capacity to also make the larger ones so, some of the component manufacturers are telling us that they're going to stop making some of the bigger form factors 1206s 0805s even 0603s may become even more and more scarce because if they can make 0402 or 0201 to cover all that range they'll do it and not make the other form factors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Holy... I don't know what to say about that - if I was a design engineer I'd be freaking out - this puts people in a really tough spot!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It really does and it's gonna change the way some things are designed. We have always had a policy that we will not substitute anything without explicit approval. Even looking at a bypass capacitor - 0.1 microfarad 16 volt bypass capacitor - in some cases you need exact parameters. There’s parameters you need to be exactly the same so you can't substitute. But there are also plenty of cases where it's just sort of by guess and by golly: yeah it's a 0.1, it could be 16 volt, 10 volt, 25 volt, 50 volt, whatever. If that's the case, people are gonna have to start being really flexible in terms of what they will accept for a component and maybe at some point the industry will have a flag on a bill of material that says: this one's engineered so it has to be exact. This one, just make it close. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Another thing, our industry is changing so fast, it's just a big reason why Altium and I've   decided this podcast would be a good idea. Same reason why your Circuit Talk publication is a good idea because it's like we can't get the education out fast enough or get the news out. Like holy cow, why can't I get this capacitor? It's not a unique form factor specialized BGA they're capacitors! This is like bread and butter, so it's been puzzling to learn about that and I'm just really interested to see how these component manufacturers are going to deal with this and and again how designers are going to be forced to think hard about these parts it's really strange. Anyway sorry for taking a little side trip there. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's important, it's a significant issue. We're being told this could last until 2020 and when we get out of this allocation, the industry is going to be different and, as I said, a lot of the bigger form factors consider moving all to 402s. It's more difficult to deal with these smaller ones but those are the ones, when the component manufacturers catch up, it's going to be in the smaller form factors because they can sell them to people building small devices as well as big. So think about that, be very, very careful when you're picking the specific component and tell us, and other manufacturers like us, what parameters are important.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Goodness that’s a great tip. You know I hadn't thought about it until just this minute when you were talking; I'm wondering if this will drive an uptick in embedded?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Embedded like embedded passives?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Uh-hu better passives.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't know I've been waiting to see that. I joined this company in 2005 and embedded passives were in the news at that point, and I actually made a prediction on the Screaming Circuits blog, that in ten years - I think I said -  80% of the passives would be embedded passives. I don't know that we've ever seen one. I guess technically you wouldn't see it because it's inside it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No but you would know it was there, because I know it from my board manufacturing past, you would know cuz you would have to process it differently. It's a different process but I don't know what the cost trade-offs are there, but I've met Bruce Mahler from Omega and I've met some of those folks, and I'm just wondering if this allocation will drive, but I don't know what the cost trade-offs are or performance comparative. That makes me think, I need to call Bruce Mahler and get him on the blog because it's an interesting thing to ponder in lieu of what's going on in the marketplace.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Anything else you would mention off the top of your head that's something you see repeatedly that's a design for assembly thing that you would recommend designers to take a look at closely?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well the polarity, the QFNs, BGAs as I mentioned. Something that isn't necessarily quite so obvious is the data files that is an important part of design for assembly. Ambiguity on a board is bad, ambiguity in a data file is bad. Bills of Materials, if there are parts in there that don't match the board, that's probably 80% of the jobs that come through here, have some sort of a Bill of Materials issue. So, double-check that that's accurate and that it matches your CAD files. If you can give your manufacturer the intelligent CAD files like an ODB++ or IPC 2581, that significantly reduces the chance of error, but then there's a little irony in there too that a lot of board houses still prefer Gerber's so we have seen cases where someone saves and then; oh yeah, I can give you the ODB++, but they forget they made a slight change and so now we have Gerber's that don't match the ODP++ so, make sure all of your files are consistent. Make sure the Bill of Material is clear and finalized. All in all if you add up all of the files issues that we see, that's probably one of the most common problems. I mean, I run into those problems for myself. I designed some boards and run up to the factory here, and I know how to do this, in theory I know how to do this, but I regularly make mistakes that my co-workers chide me for. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I think again, that leads to the complexity of the data that's available. The data sheets; whether they're right. I mean it is such a complex thing and it amazes me that we can even manufacture circuit boards and then put components on it and come out workable sometimes. Because it is such a complex process, I'm really glad that - actually I appreciate it - I don't understand all those steps but having worked for for both a really high end EMS that sold to tier one’s, very complex boards, and also having worked for a variety of board shops. I really appreciate the complexity in both those disciplines, and I think sometimes because a board shows up as a line item on a BOM that complexity sometimes can get lost on you. But yeah we're building things, even here Altium, into our own tool that helps, like an active BOM, things like that, that hopefully help. I think design tool manufacturers like us, I think we're doing a better job helping in that regard.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right yeah, definitely!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well the last couple items I wanted to talk to you about... well thank you for all that by the way, and again, we will share in the show notes your website. The Circuit Talking, I would recommend to anyone who is listening or watching - that you subscribe to Duane's blog or just Circuit Talk or whatever and we'll put all the links in because again, he's got his feet in the fire and runs up against these things as he said. Because they're putting through such a width of product. Like I used to work for an EMS, and like you said, it was a vertical. So we worked with military Tier one, and so the type of bores we saw was a niche, but you're seeing everything.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, literally I mean we worked on a camera board, the electronics of it, for National Geographic - it's a plexiglass globe, they drop it to the bottom of the ocean, it's got a chain on it and when the chain rusts through the camera bobs to the top and they pick it up again. We've got stuff being built for the 2020 Mars Rover so, literally down in the ocean up into space and and anything in between, we've built Ardium base stuff, real simple things, through holes; we built a board with five thousand placements. It's just all over the place and it's just absolutely the most fascinating place I've ever worked certainly, because of that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I can see that and again, kudos for you - it's easier to do a quick podcast or write a blog post or produce a Circuit Talk that can go out to thousands of people and get that information out in that kind of global sense and be helpful right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah rather than tell one person at a time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly it's kind of a scalability of getting that knowledge out, so I really appreciate what you've done over the years. One thing I wanted to ask you about which it was a fun thing is about; I don't know six to eight months ago, I had the privilege to go with the Altium team for the first time, to a Maker Faire because we have Circuit Maker and Circuit Studio - Circuit Maker is free and and now we've bought a company called Upverter, which is also free, and in the cloud, and we also have Circuit Studio. So, we went there with those products and because of my position here as Director of Community Engagement, I hadn't had any exposure really to the Maker community, other than seeing stuff online, and I went and it was like drinking from a firehose. It was so much fun… goofiest things... it was so much fun. So, I'm walking the aisles, kind of collecting things to write about, or learn about, and I come across Duane Benson, wearing what looks like rap swag around his neck - it was like a clock you were wearing right, or something - he looks like a rapper and I'm used to thinking of him as this Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits and here you are, like fully immersed in the Maker space, and you had designed this device and had LEDs on it and I'm like: what are </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">you </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">doing here?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So tell me about how you've come to serve Makers. It doesn't seem like, from a profitability or a business model, that it would be a market that a company like Screaming Circuits would address. So how'd you get there Duane?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you could say that I'm a bit of a method actor, I mean I love... I've been designing small circuit boards for a very long time and writing the software for them for a very long time and one way of looking at it, is I'm a Hacker and a Maker who happens to be lucky enough to have a manufacturing facility. But more specifically, those Hackers and those Makers they are starting businesses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes they are.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Many of those businesses become our customers whether they be crowdfunding or bootstrapping or getting investments, they are the future. The Maker community has a lot of students in it. It has a lot of weekday engineer weekend Hackers, it has a lot of people who aspire to start a new business and just such a wealth of creativity. And part of our mission I always like to look at, I'm just one person, we're just one company but if we can make our tiny little corner of the planet just a little bit better then we've been successful and all of those people who want to design electronics...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">M-Hmm..</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-We know what they don't know. I mean, we know what kind of problems they’re going to run across before they do, and so if we know what they don't know why don't we pass that off? And some of those people will have boards built with our competitors. Some of them will build them themselves, some of them will have us build them. Whatever, we're helping them understand this industry better. And we are helping them build better boards. That's what we really want to do. That's why we're at the Maker Faires ultimately. It does always have to lead back to more business for us, and it does. People see Screaming Circuits, they get the Circuit Talk and they read it, and it's Circuit Talk a Screaming Circuits publication so all of that winds its way back eventually, to helping the business here, and that's how we can afford to do it. But if we can help the business build and grow the business and help these budding designers - everybody wins. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This is why I love you, and love you guys. I just I love that philosophy, I love that approach. I try to live by an old Zig Ziglar thing and this reminds me of you and Screaming Circuits’ model that you just explained. Zig Ziglar used to say, you really can't have everything you want in life. If you just help enough other people get what they want. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's kind of knowing unconsciously that if you put good things out in the world, and you do the right thing, and you're ethical, and you have integrity, and you serve people, that good will come back to you and and you'll do okay. And I think that's a big key to your success actually, by kind of leading with service and and not ignoring the bottom line. We are in business to make money, we have to do that, or we're not in business anymore. So, I really appreciate that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we're wrapping up now and I think you've listened to a couple of these podcasts now and so two questions for you. One are you a nerd or a geek?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter] I’m a Gunerd… </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's the best answer I've ever gotten yes you're a Gunerd.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, there was a time when those were really pejorative terms but I think nerds and geeks have taken it back and said, you know what, no we're not going to be ashamed of liking technology and loving it,we're proud of it. I mean, yeah so I’m a Gunerd.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh, I'm totally gonna steal that and use it somehow Duane, that will come back to haunt you later I promise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the other question is, but I think I know what the answer is, if you've listened to podcasts. I always ask designers and electronics professionals in the end - this is ‘designers after hours’ - so because there is so much creativity involved a lot of people, like you said are Makers or Hackers, or they play a musical instruments or they're sculptors or whatever. So, what is your kind of guilty pleasure that you like to do after hours?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It would have to be photography. I chase animals around and take pictures of them, animals, landscapes, and then I have sort of a weird passion for old, decaying industrial sites as well. But photography would probably have to be my passion when I'm not playing with electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's so cool. Do you have a website where you share any of that or is it just mostly personal stuff and you keep your photos and share them with friends and family and whatnot?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's mostly a personal thing I have had them on websites before but it's just my thing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And and what do you mean about industrial sites?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, old decaying, industrial and rusty factories. There's a place here just north of Canby Oregon City and we've got a waterfall on the Willamette River and most people think of waterfalls as pristine, and nature and that's all wonderful, I love that. But this one: back in the 1800's they started building paper mills and  they built a set of locks. It's the oldest - well till they just recently closed down - it was the oldest continuously operated locks west of the Mississippi. And so now, you overlook the river from a nice restaurant and you see this shut down, decaying, industrial plant and - well no it's not the beauty of the river - but I see a sort of beauty in the symmetry and in the the way people constructed these things. It's almost like an architectural dig, you can see things from a hundred years ago, from eighty years ago, from sixty years ago, and you can see the evolution of that, as this thing built up and then as they abandoned it, and there's just for some reason...  I really enjoy that that sort of a view as well as the natural views as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They do have a really unique aesthetic and things have changed. It is kind of like a little time capsule and the rest is actually beautiful and sometimes the design itself is beautiful. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well thank you again, this has been fabulous and I'm sure we can talk more and more, but thank you so much for giving me so much of your time and sharing DFA tips and the story of Screaming Circuits, and we wish you continued success and we'll certainly share the website and Circuit Talk. And if there's anything else you'd like to share with us, give me a holler and I'll make sure we include those in the show notes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thank you very much, it's been a privilege to be on the show here, thank you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Again this has been Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack Podcast and Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits. we look forward to seeing you next time until then always stay OnTrack.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;"> </span></span></p>
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Lee Ritchey and High Speed Digital Design
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">When Lee Ritchey “got through launching things to the moon” his career took off (in Silicon Valley...before it was Silicon Valley!) and he is now widely regarded as one of the premier authorities on high speed PCB and system design. He is the founder of Leading Edge and author of Right the First Time. </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">Lee started as a microwave engineer who designed chips that went up on the Apollo </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">ICs and “faking” logic</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">High Speed design courses first offered at Berkeley.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">He wrote the books to make the students happy and provide the coursework that didn’t exist.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">High speed signal path losses - how do we control skew? Where does it come from? </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;color:#000000;">And what’s the answer? Spread glass.</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/lee-ritchey-0716ba3/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Lee Ritchey</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Linkedin</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.speedingedge.com/products/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Right the First Time</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.speedingedge.com/products/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Lee’s Digital Library</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Lee Ritchey’s </span><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.altium.com/live-conference/retrospective/2017#Where-We-Have-Been-and-Where-We-Are-Going--The-Paradigm-Shift-of-PCB-Design"><span style="font-weight:400;">Presentation at AltiumLive 2017</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> in Munich</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><a style="color:#000000;" href="https://www.freelists.org/"><strong>SI forum</strong></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> - an email forum that is a very good resource for SI questions.</span></span></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">All one needs to do is send an email to: </span><strong>si-list-freelists.org </strong></span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Type </span><strong>subscribe</strong><span style="font-weight:400;"> in the subject line to become a member.</span></span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><strong>Disclaimer: </strong><span style="font-weight:400;">We respect the unique perspectives of all of our OnTrack podcasts guests. Therefore, we choose to offer their uncensored opinions in favor of full transparency. However, all opinions expressed are exclusively those of our guests and do not reflect the views of Altium or our employees.</span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone, this is Judy Warner. Welcome back to the </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight:400;">OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. If you would please subscribe, and let us know what you'd like to hear more about here on OnTrack.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Today, another amazing guest Lee Ritchey, who truly needs no introduction. But if you haven't met Lee before - Lee is considered to be one of the industry's premier authorities on high-speed PCB and system design. He's the founder and president of Speeding Edge - an engineering consulting and training company, some of you have read his book. He's author of 'Right the First Time' and he has a very illustrious, amazing background, and we also had the privilege of having Lee speak last year at AltiumLive in Munich, so I'm delighted to have this conversation with Lee. Not too long after Design Con, so I know he'll have some great wisdom to share.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, before Lee and I get started, also please connect with me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> or on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight:400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> and Altium is also on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/altium/"><span style="font-weight:400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight:400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">. Lee I'm going to start with a very high-level question. First of all, welcome. It's good to see you again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks for the invite.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Always my pleasure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, you're known as the high speed authority in our industry, but how did you get there? How did you, out of all the paths you could have taken sort of in your technology field, how did you end up kind of going down this rabbit hole?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I started out as a microwave engineer on the Apollo program, which as you probably know, was a long, long time ago. And the company I went to work for was in Silicon Valley, when it was not yet Silicon Valley. Well, after we got through launching things to the moon, NASA decided, well we're done with that, and lots of us - like sixty thousand of us - had to go find something else to do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I was in Silicon Valley and integrated circuits were starting to be a big play and the big jobs were designing things with integrated circuits digitally. And so I interviewed for a job designing equipment for testing digital integrated circuits, and got the job. And said, oh now I’ve got to go learn something about logic. So I went to bookstores and got books and I faked it, and that's how I got got my start. And of course, since I was already in the microwave end of things, transmission lines were already part of that, and that was what you had to be good at if you wanted to use ECL, and the high speed computers back then were ECL.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's how I switched from microwave to what everybody called digital, and for a long time digital was slow enough so you could pretend it was digital, but I never did and always designed on transmission lines and so, as the speed went up all around the industry, everybody needed to learn how to do something with this high speed stuff. And I had a design company from '82 to '92 where we designed pretty much all the early work for Sun, Silicon Graphics, Cray - people like that, and invariably I would get a new client and the engineers knew nothing about high-speed design. So I'd spend two days teaching them the basics so that we could design their board. Out of which grew the courses that I do now. Which I first began to offer at UC Berkeley, and the complaint after every course was: there's no book, there's no textbook, and that's where the books that you mentioned, came from as I  had to write those to make the students happy at UC Berkeley. And in 1999, we decided that we didn't like working for companies so we started Speeding Edge.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's it, that's how I got here by - almost by accident.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I always say, most of us got here by accident. I mean some EEs take a nice, clean, straight path, but even they don't take that straight path., I know I didn't end up here on purpose either. But that's interesting, I didn't know that's how your book came to be. So the last time I saw you, you were actually speaking at DesignCon. And how often are you teaching these days actually ?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Most of my classes are private and I would guess about every two months or so.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There are two-day, three, and day classes so, that's about as often as I want to do that. I don't know if you've lectured for 14 hours in a row, but it kind of wears out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I don't think I know anything about anything enough to talk for 14 hours, maybe raising kids I don't know - like I don't think I know about anything to talk that long so now we - now we know for sure, you're way smarter than me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh no, I just came from a different path that's all.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you and I were talking recently, preparing for this call and we sort of went down this path talking about PCI Express. So can you kind of talk a little bit about the evolution of speed and the extremely acute curve that we've taken in the last couple of years?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All right, well maybe let's start with PCI itself, which is the Bus architecture that is in - has been - in all the personal computers that you can buy, that's what PCI stands for: Personal Computer Interface, and it was a parallel Bus that you might have seven or eight plug-in cards, all on this Bus. That CPU could talk to any of those, any time, and then originally there was - it clocked at 33 megahertz, and it wasn't too long before the CPUs got faster than the Bus, and all of a sudden we were - what we call - IO-bound. We couldn't get any more performance out of a PC, because the Bus was too slow. So we upped the speed to 66 megahertz, and then a hundred, and for a lot of reasons they're too complicated for today, we couldn't go past 100 and that block limited how fast you could make a personal computer. And so we realized the architecture had to change. And the reason is that if the CPU can talk to any spot in the backplane at any time - to do that really fast, you have to have really, really short connections and that was not realistic. So we turned to an architecture that actually is old. The difference was signaling protocol, that is in PCI Express, has its origins way back with IBM. I was using it in '74, where we would connect two boxes to each other, where we couldn't do that with a parallel Bus, because the the noise in the background was too high. And so that's not a new technique adjust that early on, as you know, the guts of a computer is a parallel architecture meaning lots of bits switching in parallel, and the differential links that we're talking about here are serial.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So at each end, you had to go from a parallel Bus to a serial stream on the line, the other end - go back. And at that time, the serializers and deserializers were extremely complex and expensive. So the only reason you'd ever do that, is there were - if you were stuck, you couldn't do it any other way. Well as we'd gotten to where we have a billion transistors in an IC, these serializers and deserializers are what we call basically free. So all of a sudden it doesn't cost much to go from parallel to serial and back. And the advantage of that is, you can - you can drive... Well let me start from - in a parallel Bus were either series or parallel terminated - if you're lucky, you can drive that at 2 gigabits per second, that's very hard to do. With a serial Bus - we can drive them and we are right now driving them at 32 gigabits per second, which you could never do any other way, and this is how we're getting all the performance we need in the internet. Everyplace else is with these serial lengths and that's what PCI Express is. We switch from a parallel Bus to a serial Bus, to allow us to go faster.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, when you have serial links there, you can only have a driver and a CI receiver on the same net. So how is it the CPU's going to talk to six or seven devices like it was doing with the old parallel Bus? And the answer is, we have to have a switch chip somewhere so that we can switch between the CPU of whatever we want to talk to. Well early on, those were expensive chips, so we only use PCI Express in real high-end PCs like a gamer would buy. But we've now integrated those switch circuits right in the CPU so it's not an extra part to buy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So it's everywhere. So pretty much everywhere we've got PCI Express, well in itself it's not really all that big a deal because the early PCI Express was - well depends on your point of view - as fast as 500 megabits per second on the line and that's not special, to these terms. The rub is, we have started to go up the performance curve where we've got Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, and so on. And Gen 3, which is it just about around the corner for everybody - it's 8 gigabit per second. That's not slow, and we start to see things that we could ignore at lower rates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The one we're going to talk about today is not lost - it's the thing we called skew. Skew is the fact that the two sides of a differential pair don't arrive at the receiver at the same time - and some numbers on this, the most common until recently - most common data rate in switches and routers for the internet, was 10 gigabits per second. Where one bit is 100 picoseconds. And I did a test board in 2013 at DesignCon where we discovered 62 picoseconds of error in a path which is almost an entire data bit at 10 gigabits per second - which destroys the work. The link does not work and of course, we've got Gen 4 coming in at 16 gigabits and Gen 5 at 32 - where 32 of the bit period is only 30 picoseconds. So that error I just talked about, is two whole bits which means, nothing's gonna work right? So the question is, where does this skew come from?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So is that, Lee let me interrupt you for just a moment. Is that what you - the course a you taught this year at DesignCon, was that your focus?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes well the bootcamp, I call it 'Getting to 32 gigabits per second' which covers a number of things, skew being one of them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Of course the first worry almost everybody had, is loss. So we had this flurry of activity to make low loss materials and smooth Cochrane on and on like that. At the same time we were doing that, I see manufacturers figured out a way to improve their circuits so that loss is not a player anymore - not a big deal anymore. For example, the latest Vertex I guess their Vertex 8 or 9 from Xanax, at 28 gigabits per second, the Lincoln tolerates 38 GB of loss. Meaning that we start out with say a thousand millivolts and we wind up with four at the receiver, and it still works, so all the drive to have the world's best, lowest loss laminate is not a player anymore. Skew is, skew's killing everybody. All these laminates from people like Rogers and - you mentioned one earlier - I can't remember.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Taconic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Taconic are simply not necessary - not necessary. At any rate, skew is just - and that was the theme of DesignCon this year. It is how do we control this bloody thing? So my impression - I guess that comes up next - is where's it come from?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, where does it come from Lee?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well if the two sides were different to pair with different links, that would be, I think obviously, one way that can happen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But pretty much everybody else had to design physical links to a few mills, so that tends not to be what the problem is. The problem is - and these are what we call micro defects or micro effects - the glass cloth in laminates you know, on average has a pitch between threads of about 16 mils - between 16 to 20 mils - Traces are 4 or 5 mils wide, so there's a huge difference between the width of a trace and the spacing of those glass fibers. Well, laminate is a mixture of glass and resin, and the dielectric constant of glass is on around 6 and the dielectric constant of resins is less than 3. That means that the lower the dielectric constant, the faster the signal is going to go.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if I had one side of a differential pair on the glass, and on the other one in between, there are two different speeds. That's where the problem comes from.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now along those lines, I was just talking to Chris Hunrath from Insulectro, and he was talking about spread glass. What do you think?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's what the answer is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay cuz you know I've been here at Altium a little over a year and I guess I missed the spread glass thing, but I'm like, that actually sounds like it makes sense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I and my colleagues have been the drivers of spread glass.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Really? Tell us about that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well so we found - I've got to confess - we found out by accident,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's how all good inventions are found right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, and it had to do with - let me think about when that was - about 2005, we were trying to improve the uniform distribution of glass by using two plies of thin glass, hoping that they would sort of average out. And I had a fabricator in Oregon who says: you know, if you use a single ply of 33:13, you could save some money. So we built the test board and by chance that was really spread very nicely and so we had no skew problems. So all of a sudden, we thought we've solved all the world's problems by just using this glass. And then we built our test board from a different weaver.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So and this weaver spread the glass in one direction but not the other?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So, if you were to get that DesignCon paper you'd discover that we had really good skew one way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">One direction - - [laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so back to square one. Why aren't people spreading glass? So we got to digging around - and it was for laser drilling of blind vias.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because, if you think about it, if you have like the classic 4 mil core was called 1080 glass. If you look at that, the glass bundles are round or not spread out, there are big voids between. Well so, if the guy drilling a laser drilled blind via wanted to get rid of the glass, he'd set the intensity to burn the glass and then go tear right through the backstop directly right, and so the laser drilling industry is the one responsible for spreading glass.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Like you said, complete accident.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is, and they don't care about signal integrity, they care about laser drilling - so I and a guy named Scott 'Hindiga' of Cisco, started going to IPC's sessions on 'Standards for the Last Week' with the intention of getting some standards for how you spread the glass. Well it was got a whole lot like herding cats.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What an IPC committee being like herding cats? I don't know what you're talking about Lee [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so around the table we had five or six weavers and they would not tell us how they wove their glass.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because it was proprietary?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, so he couldn't come up with the standard, and the only standard that the laser drilling people had was, you take the section of this cloth and they put it in the chamber and see how - put compressed air on one side and see how leaky it was. That's it - that's all there is today. If it was leaky, let's make it an X, and it was good. That would not be good enough for what we're doing here. So we are not done solving this problem, and there's about seven or eight different ways that people approach it. Now if you were at DesignCon this year, you'd discover two papers were presented by Cisco where, when they built the boards at five degrees to the weave, they got the best skew results. So that's how they're...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- Wow, yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Can you imagine what that happens to you in a fab shop if you say pop this artwork on their at 5 degrees?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-well I remember hearing about - from a colleague, he was an EE - they were actually at some point, because of the glass crossing and there being those bundles, they were actually starting to do it at - basically laying the prepreg at a diagonal. Do you follow what I'm saying?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-do you remember that? That was kind of going on for a while to see if that would help, and I think it did help a little bit but again, the expense. There's so much loss of materials doing that, that it didn't make sense, or there was the trend of making that weave super, super tight so at least it was consistent, even if it was lossy. So, I feel like we've been going at this from a lot of angles - but hearing from Chris Hunrath, at Insulectro, it sounds like some people are really moving towards that spread glass and getting some good results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh, that's my choice, but if you were to get the PCI Express Design Guide from Intel, they would tell you one of two things: you route all the signals at fifteen degrees through the X and Y-axis, or route them X and Y, and then you have the fabricator rotate the artwork 15 degrees on the panel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's in the standard for PCI Express.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I had no idea that was in the standard. I've heard about it, but that being - kind of anecdotally, but I didn't know it was actually written in the standard.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yup it's in the standard from Intel, and you can - if you imagine a backplane where you have a regular array of pins for connectors and so forth - there is no way to route it at a 15 degree angle, because it's constrained by the pin array that's X and Y - so that's not a choice. So that leaves you with only the choice of popping the thing at an angle on the panel and then - you've been around enough to know the fab shop's gonna look at you like you have lost your mind.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we're not doing that, we're not doing that. We found some weaves that we know are well enough controlled that we're succeeding without that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay good, that's good news. So this spread glass - so that's helping with the skew, you're saying, among other things?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It solves the problem.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It does?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's amazing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The rub is, you've got to be very careful who the weaver is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well can't you spec in a certain -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- What if I tell you that I had two weavers with the same stuff? That's the problem. When you say 33:13; there's no standard, that just means there's X in this direction Y in that direction, that's all that means.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Are there are prepreg providers that are - it sounds like there's prepreg providers that are doing it the way that you prefer. Or maybe other high speed...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There are, there are.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So do tell or can you tell?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well the Doosan material I mentioned to you before we started this, is one of them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And a couple of Isola materials are okay but nothing else is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's a good hint, it's a good hint, look I mean I'm doing this podcast hoping to have a takeaway - so I don't just bring up all the problems and then say have a nice day thank you for sharing that. Right that's the goal like: yeah I found out what works, good luck! No.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I have been seeing this word and this thing skews, so thanks for sharing that. One thing I could see as a potential problem - and tell me if I'm right or not - since that speed curve has risen so acutely, it seems like, the people who weren't previously doing high-speed design must be getting pulled into that space whether they want to go there or not right ? That - would that be a correct statement?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">When you and I were talking before this call about - let's talk about resources. About where these designers that are coming into this space I mean - speak just a moment about DesignCon, cuz I know you're pretty passionate about that show, and particularly giving out really good information?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">DesignCon is the only conference I know where the level of information you need in this area exists. It's where everyone who has done research, or has studies and that sort of thing that are advancing the state of the art, that's where the papers get presented. It used to be - that was it. There were no tutorials, no education, that sort of thing. But over the last four or five years, we've added several things. This year we had three all-day boot camps on topics that matter to people who are trying to get on top of things. I did one title ‘Getting to 32 gigabits per second’ which dealt with all these topics. Intel did a three-hour on 'what is this PCI Express and what do you have to worry about' for people who have not seen it before and if it was five years ago, you might see there was nothing there for a board designer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now you would say it's the place you go for a board designer. There was a time when the PCB West was, but that has - I've been keeping track of that for a while - not offering the kinds of things you need for the these topics and I'm not sure why. I certainly have been talking to people who run it saying that you've got to offer tutorials, you used to do that. We used to offer stuff for engineers and they quit doing that because well, the guy who was running it was a board designer and he considered design an art, and their art dropped the stuff that appealed to engineering. Now, that stuff has to be learned by the designers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It does, and as an old board designer person, I had to learn it from the board manufacturing side because I didn't realize - because I had left the industry for a while and come back, that things had sped up so much, that board designers all of a sudden weren't just dealing with: oh here's the specs, just adhere to the tolerances, do what the documentation says and have a nice day. There wasn't like now, high-speed board designers have to think about performance and all this wacky stuff. I mean the way we clean the board, the way we etch the board, the way we drill the board, everything can in a positive or negative way, affect the performance and it mortified me to think we got to a space where we could be completely IPC compliant and the board wouldn't perform as expected.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that's a good thing to observe and that is standards. By definition standards document the past by definition, and there are no standards group I can think of right now that has more behind the curve than IPC is, because they...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Why do you think that is? I have my suspicions, you're probably right actually, and you're more of an authority than me. But I'm just wondering why? What's caused that to happen?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well who's driving it? Well, volunteers are driving it. Where do they come from? Well when IPC was at its prime, the standards committees were all staffed by engineers from aerospace companies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the quality of the work was superb.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's very true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's not true anymore - not true anymore, who goes to the IPC now? I don't, nothing there for me...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Why do you think the committee's aren't run by aerospace engineers anymore, or the Intels of the world, or Ciscos? Why why do you think it's not?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I wish I knew.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I really don't know either, I thought maybe you'd have some...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">In the aerospace, that part of it, the aerospace contractors got out of the standards business and remember Jimmy Carter had a thing, The Commercial off-the-shelf Masters what... at any rate we're going.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah - faster, cheaper...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes and the standards bodies that aerospace had, lost their money for example.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So they lost their funding to focus on that kind of thing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I can see you probably heard of that. You know the last time it was updated? 1998.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How outdated do you think that is?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the update was to correct some spelling.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh, that's just plain sad, but they've come out with AS9100 and other things to replace it. I don't know the quality of those specs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well aerospace is on average about 15 years behind the industry now, it used to be the other way around.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, it's just really sad but I think that speaks to a lot of the way that politics have been run unfortunately, and the way things are getting funded.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes aerospace doesn't drive technology anymore.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, that's a crazy thing to think - to say out loud - I don't know, for you and I who have been around a little while. So, before we get too far off track, so DesignCon is definitely one place. Now because Design Con, if you pay to go to DesignCon, you can get all the proceedings. What can you do if you didn't go to DesignCon?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well you can, for a hundred bucks, buy all the proceedings for a given year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So someone could go on their website right now and for a hundred bucks buy...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">All the papers that were presented this year correct.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's amazing. Okay well that's a really good resource. Obviously your book which - because we were gonna talk - I went on your website and I noticed you're having some kind of fire sale on - I don't know if it's part one or something - but 'Right the First Time' - it looked like you were selling it and then it sounds like you now have a digital library of things you've published over the years?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's true, and back on the topic of the books. We have two volumes and there was really gonna be one but - I don't know if you've written books or not - but you start out with great enthusiasm and this long list of topics. Then I had a deadline which was a Berkeley class, and I was only halfway through my list. And so I said: okay, this is volume one, next year we'll do volume two and what you probably don't know is, our books are printed in color. You have to have that in order to illustrate a lot of the things that matter. No technical publisher will publish in color, none of them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Really, I didn't know about that I know it's expensive, but I didn't know that they wouldn't do it in color.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, so we were so focused, we formed our own publishing company and we went to a printer and said: we want to print this book. You see, there's a little secret about publishing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Bonus material!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> You have to give them a check for all the books before they turn the press on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh boy that's expensive.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So for each of these two lines I wrote a check for $50,000.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Crossed my fingers that someone would buy them, otherwise my garage would be full of books. Well, we sold out of volume 1 and volume 2 came along it sold faster than volume 1 did because it was a pull from volume 1. I am just debating, do I want to write another check for like $50,000 to get to print more volume one's, and the answer is no. So it became an eBook .</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh ok.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if you go on the website, when you buy you get them both, one's an e-book and the other is a hard copy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Ok smart.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Then 200 books from now they'll both be eBook.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You got smarter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">My garage will be empty</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter].</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I thought it essential that the books be in color.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That makes sense because some of those diagrams you can't distinguish between certain things without color being present.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No the color's for this industry. And so we are publishers and we sell our own books and people pay. I may be where I need to write volume through 3 and there needs to be a volume 3, to cover the things you and I just talked about. But I have told my friends - if I start talking about writing another book - their job is to slap me around until I get rid of the idea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I'm not gonna slap you because this speed curve's going ahead now, we need to learn about skew and stuff. So - and who else Lee Ritchey, is gonna write that book?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I have actually written another book, working newsletters and articles that are on that - and someone should put them together but it's not me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You know, we should get our friend Barry Matties to do that for you. Maybe he will.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You saw my distraction behind me which is the model railroad and that's more important.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay well I'm going to ask you about that, so I'm putting a hold on that subject, but let's cover a couple more quick things. One: you and I had an interesting conversation about circuit board manufacturers that are capable of doing good high-speed work and I made a comment and you corrected me right away because I said: well you know, board manufacturing hasn't changed that much in North America over ... blah, blah, blah. And you said, no that's not true. And I said except for places like TTM and you said which TTM?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So tell me what you meant by that and fill our listeners in you know, of that conversation you and I had, cuz I thought it was very valuable actually.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well when you say TTM, you're really talking about a dozen or so fab shops, which were acquired one by one. All have different capabilities for different markets, and if you're not careful and you get a bid from some - say TTM - they'll choose the fab shop that has the most capacity at the moment, which may not have the skills you need. And so I learned the hard way, you have to know what their capabilities are and when you give them the order, you say what plant is allowed to build the board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And they'll accept that request and send it to the best location?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">They won't get my business if they don't.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I am writing the check you will send it here.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, yes and if you don't do that you won't get paid.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah that totally makes sense. Well you and I talked about Stafford Springs which is a board shop, one of TTM's facilities I've always wanted to go through and it sounds like you've been through and that sounds like at least one of the locations that is capable of doing those high-speed designs?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's right, and another one is in Hillsboro Oregon. It was originally called Merricks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah I remember Merricks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and of course if I'm building small volumes it's my - my choice is a little place down in Orange called MEI.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's not MEI anymore.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No it's got another name.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's Summit Technologies which I agree they - I know Jerry Partita there - I hope to have him on this podcast actually because I think they've done a real good job there.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah so you're sort of testing out something that we all say explicitly. If you're designing for this kind of space you need to be in direct conversation with the engineer at the fab shop, so that you don't make decisions that are not realistic. So I always have got that guy at the other end when I'm designing a new board.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think that comes up again and again on this podcast by the way, people saying you have to talk to the key people at the board house which I totally agree with.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So let's talk about - I used to blog on Microwave Journal about what shops I thought - because I was working for Transline Technology, which is a really small board house in Orange County but they're quite good at RF and microwave. But I used to try, because I would see board houses say, sure yeah we do high-speed or the microwave because they've been built on say Rogers 4350 which processes much like FR4 - </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- not really  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- well not exactly but close. It's pretty stable but then they would take an order for something that was PTFE because they built some 4350, and then they'd fail and say, sorry we tried to build three times and we failed. And I kept seeing this happen over and over again. So I started writing about what I thought people should know, what they should look for in a good board manufacturer, i.e. what percentage of their work is high speed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So let's stop for just a second and clarify what high speed means.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Because RF & microwave is not high speed with respect to the digital world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes that's true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Actually RF and microwave were simple compared to digital boards. I consider them to be trivial.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah but some of the stuff you do on those for microwave boards are funky and weird.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's not because they need to be like that. That's because RF engineers say things that are goofy</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is true because again why I started blogging is because RF engineers were starting to lay out their own boards which was not a good model.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, remember I'm an RF Engineer, and so most of the stuff you see people asking for on those RF and microwave boards is goofy; it's not good engineering, pure and simple. At any rate, so when we're talking about high-speed I'm talking about, cuz this is far away the majority, of things that must be digital.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes high speed digital, yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and the people who can do that are good at laminating high layer type boards, and very rare in our microwave or high layer board count - almost never.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- Yeah this is true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It is two different animals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So if a guy says I'm a high speed fabricator and I make RF microwave boards, that's a different capability than what I need.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes it's true. So let's just talk about high-speed digital so you're right, somebody who can do high layer counts what would you look for laundry-list wise?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well at the top of the list, is boards like mine. If you're not making boards like mine, you're gonna lean on me, and I'm not ready for that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah good point.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it really is, that's my first thing, you're making boards with the same class that I want you to builm, if the answer is no I'm gonna go someplace else.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And I would say, and how much of their work is like your work because if it's a really small percentage that would make me nervous too.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah but it's my experience that if somebody's making high count boards, that's about all they're making.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah it's true, they kind of - they kind of aim at that. And they're good at it, they're busy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and they're busy and that's what makes them profitable actually. So and that also you will see in the equipment set.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">There you go, exactly - exactly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You won't see archaic… you'll see the most modern tools that gives them the precision and...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah exactly, a really good vacuum lamination guy can supply and will build a twenty four layer board with ten mill vias and 12:1 aspect ratios.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah. And so you've gotta go find fabricators who are in your sweet spot.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I agree with that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And so - and of course - if you're in it for a little while you figure out there's about six choices in the US.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah there's - it's true - there's not a lot and as you're speaking those are coming to mind I won't sell for anybody today but they are relatively easy to find.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Now - and now just before we finish that - six years ago, there were none in Asia because they were busy making consumer electronics.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I'm interested in your perspective on that, because I don't really know what that is - if it wasn't kind of cookie cutter consumer. So what's the state of the ability in China these days?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">We've got as good a capability in Korea and China as there is in the US.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I guess that's good news from a price point standpoint?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah and it's bad news for the American laminators though.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know I'm an American and I feel whatever but we gotta - - it is what it is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Don't forget not so long ago we made TVs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know we made a lot of stuff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's the nature of the business that we go where the low-cost labor is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes that's true.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, now back to your trains. So always at the end of the podcast here, which we are beginning to wrap up here, and thank you so much for your time. I always learn a lot from you Lee. You are working on - this part of the podcast I call 'designers after hours' because my observation has been, a lot of people that I know that are pretty smart engineers and designers, have neat hobbies after hours. So tell us about your after-hours fun?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well the one that you can see in the background - there's a lot of railroad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Let's see it, can you flip your screen that way without disrupting us?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Oh there it is.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Can you see it?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yip I sure can.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And the one you can't see is I repair vacuum tube radios.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You do what?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Old, radios vacuum tube radios.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just for fun - who still uses vacuum tube radios?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we're starting to get Wi-Fi guys who think that vacuum tubes are the way to go. But I started out making my spending money as a kid, fixing the radios. I've always been in there you just may know...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-so I'm just back to fixing old radios.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's kind of a fun hobby, but vacuum tubes - like that cracks me up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah you probably didn't know you can buy new vacuum tubes?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I didn't - I didn't but I was talking to someone recently and I - it cracked me up because I remember doing this as a kid so, is - remember going to like the drugstore - the hardware store and you could test the vacuum tubes?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, come on over I've got a tester.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No way - somebody mentioned that</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">- I was like whoa! Like my childhood came flooding back going with my dad to the store and sticking in the vacuum tube testers that's funny.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, good times - good times.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well we're about out of time Lee, so thank you again for your time. And I know we could go further and further but I will share the link to your information about your </span><a href="https://www.speedingedge.com/products/"><span style="font-weight:400;">books</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;">, and I will also share the link you shared with me for the design concept people that download white papers, and if you think of anything else just let me know and we'll put it on the show notes here. So we don't leave people feeling hopeless. We get them registered for DesignCon and get some papers in their hand, and get some books in their hands so they could do their job better.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">One last thing we talked about I oughta mention, if you can - if you do those - what do you call the thing we did in Munich?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh AltiumLIve.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah if you keep doing those I would argue you should start offering these training courses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> Okay, all right you heard it here from the mouth of Lee Ritchey.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I have to go show this to the CEO later - proof!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's been my pleasure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Thanks so much Lee. And we will talk to you soon again. This has been Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast. Thank you for joining us and thank you Lee Ritchey, have a good day. Have a good day. Bye.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-weight:400;"><br><br></span></span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><span style="color:#000000;"> </span></p>
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Upverter and The Future of Browser-Based PCB Design
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Making and checking parts is the most frustrating aspect of PCB design. Find out how Zak Homuth set out to change that and what is next for Upverter, EE Concierge and the future of PCB design in a browser-based setting.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></span></p> <ul style="text-align: left;"> <li><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Why the Upverter parts library? Verified parts at scale, in a high-quality way.</span></li> <li><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://upverter.com/features/verification/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Verified parts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> - free to use for everybody coming soon! </span></span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Verifying Datasheets, it’s a lot of work and at the heart of design frustrations. </span></li> <li><span style="color: #000000;"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">I wanted to take the magic of Github and Google Docs and create something for hardware designers.</span></em></span></li> <li><span style="color: #000000;">From concept to manufacturing in 20 hours.</span></li> <li><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">This is a conduit for bringing ideas to life.</span></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://upverter.com/features/verification/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Verified Parts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on Upverter</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A note about </span><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://octopart.com/blog/archives/2018/02/coming-soon-cad-models-on-octopart"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Verified Parts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> coming soon to Octopart</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://upverter.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Upverter</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://eeconcierge.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">EE Concierge</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/zakhomuth/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zak’s Linkedin</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://twitter.com/zakhomuth"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zak’s Twitter</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://sheerlygenius.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Indestructible pantyhose</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> + </span><a style="color: #000000;" href="https://youtu.be/I6p4JwDs_bo"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Funny Video</span></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hey everybody, it's Judy Warner with </span><a href="https://resources.altium.com/altium-podcast"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Altium's OnTrack Podcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Welcome back, we have</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">another amazing guest for you today but before we get started, please follow me on </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/judymwarner/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. I post a lot of things for engineers and PCB designers and I'd love to connect with you, and on Twitter I'm </span><a href="https://twitter.com/AltiumJudy"><span style="font-weight: 400;">@AltiumJudy</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and Altium is also on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/AltiumOfficial/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and </span><a href="https://twitter.com/altium"><span style="font-weight: 400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. So please </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">give us a follow.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well today I have a really extra special treat for you.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zak, I think I'm gonna destroy your last name so I can say Zak? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your last name is? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Homuth.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Homuth - see I would have killed it. So, this is Zak Homuth, he is one of the - are you a co-founder of  Upverter correct? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yes. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So Altium acquired Upverter and EE Concierge in August of 2017. So a lot of people have asked me why Upverter, what was Altium's interest in Upverter, because it seems like sort</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">of out of our lane. So I thought I'd bring Zak in today and let you hear straight from the horse's mouth. So start out by - if you would Zak - just telling us about what is Upverter, and what is EE Concierge, and what you were trying to create when you launched that company?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah sure, so Upverter is cloud-based, schematic capture and PCB layout. And what cloud-based means is, it runs in the web browser. You type Upverter.com into Google Chrome, it shows up and you can do your schematics, your layouts right there you know, order the</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">boards for manufacturing right from your web browser. You don't need to download anything, it's collaborative, which was kind of our big superpower for a really long time. Which is that a bunch of users can work on the same schematic, in the same layout, at the same time, in a very Google Docs kind of way. That's Upverter, and then EE Concierge came out of an experiment we ran back in 2015, trying to figure out what was the most frustrating part of doing a PCB design. And it turned out it was making and checking parts. And Upverter - until that point - had a shared global parts library and what that meant was every time I added a part, those parts were available for the community but without somebody checking those parts…</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah, that could be a nightmare. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Yeah it was - it was really scary for people, they were spending a lot of time checking parts, they were spending a lot of time making their own copy of a part that was already in the library, a lot of that you know, wasted duplicates...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can not have a messy library.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Yeah and so EE Concierge grew out of that. It was our attempt to clean up and verify and guarantee the quality of the parts inside of Upverter, and so we built a small army of Electrical</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Engineers all over the world. They work in an uber-like model where they can kind of log on, make a couple of parts, check a couple of parts, log off again. They can do it full-time, they can do it twenty hours a day, they can do it an hour a day you know, or an hour a week if that's what they want to do. And we built a machine intelligence to check all the work that they were doing to make sure that we had the best possible parts in the world inside the Upverter parts library and then, EE Concierge was born out of realizing that that's probably not specific to Upverter - probably every engineer has the problem.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah there's that.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-so we built a plug-in for Altium Designer so that Altium users could leverage these verified parts which inevitably caught the eye of Altium and one thing led to another but - that you know that's EE Concierge. It was this idea of verified parts at scale, and then kind of outsourcing at scale, for electrical engineering. But in like a high quality way.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right so, how many parts are in the library now?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah so there's about a million-and-a-half parts...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Holy cow!</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-in the Upverter library of those million and a half, about 275,000 are verified these days. And to</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">different levels of verified, some of them just have verified symbols, some have verified footprints. It depends on kind of what era of EE Concierge they were made in. But it but we've got about 25,000 like really, really rock-solid ones and they're the 25,000 that most people use.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's awesome. So what's the plan kind of going forward, to get the rest of them? You said you have some kind of machine learning to help you verify that. Like what's the path going forward to get the rest or - you know million parts like you said - not everybody's using a million parts right? There's infrequent wonky ones in there?  </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah there's kind of two answers to that. So how we make this maximally useful to the most engineers is similar to what Altium and Octopart did, after Octopart was acquired we worked really, really hard to make sure that Octopart was for everybody. It wasn't just you know</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Octopart for Altium, it wasn't just parts for Altium, it was Octopart for everybody, or CAD, you know Mentor, everybody. So we're trying to do the same thing with the EE Concierge, we</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">want verified parts for everyone. So in the next couple weeks we're gonna launch verified parts on Octopart, so we're taking that 250,000 parts and we're putting them on Octopart free for everybody to use. And you can download them in EAGLE, Altium, Upverter. We're working on Mentor, I think we've got Cadence or CAD as part of that, so like in any format, free. Just find them, download them, use them. That's what we want so that's kind of one avenue for the EE Concierge. And then the other is - this is a little bit more kind of futurist and out there answer -</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's okay. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But if you were gonna build an AI that could read data sheets, first thing you would do is have a</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">huge number of people read data sheets and enter that information very reliably into a piece of software, so that you can check it all. And so the kind of like dot, dot, dot - is we think if we get good enough at doing EE Concierge, and we do it for long enough, potentially we can read data</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">sheets with a computer, kind of our self-driving car version of the Uber model.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like and then part of me goes; and you're assuming the data sheets are correct?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yes it's a real problem and so we had to do a lot of stuff at EE Concierge to catch like, if TI ships a datasheet, and the datasheet has a problem, they'll rev the datasheet and then they'll rev the datasheet, and then not only that, but they'll reuse packages and they'll reuse symbols and the reuse bits and pieces of that datasheet across other parts that they make. We had to build a ton of stuff to be able to catch when they made an update to one datasheet and apply those changes to all the other parts to use the same bits and pieces of the datasheet. It's an ongoing thing - it's a hard problem for us but yeah it's a real - it's a real issue.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well it's like amazing to me that we're here like... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-at all [laughter]</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I mean just from being in like - I started in the industry way back in the 80s - and like everything was done by hand and all that, so just that we could possibly even get to that point - it's just so sci-fi to me - but it's amazing, it's so great. So tell us a little bit about how did you get it, tell us about your personal history and how you went down the Upverter rabbit hole and popped up here.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah sure yes, so I was kind of into software and computers before that was a cool thing I was on the internet pretty early, I was I think five or six when my dad brought home you know our first computer and you know I tore it apart and tried to figure all that kind of stuff out. I was building video games when I was seven, and... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-of course you were [laughter]</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-all that but I studied Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo in Canada and Computer Engineering is a little bit of Software Engineering, a little bit of Electrical Engineering, and then you know all the physics, and boring, normal engineering stuff that you have to do [laughter] </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Waterloo is a co-op University and so every four months you'd go to school, and then every four months you'd go get a job, and so I got a bunch of these cool jobs, kind of all over the world, I used it as an excuse to travel. And so I worked in Canada's capital Ottawa, for the insurance company that insures the majority of Canadian doctors, and so they had some really interesting data. And I built a search engine and a database for them to to be able to search when  wrong-side surgeries happen right, you know when they operate on the wrong lung or whatever. I built a search engine so that doctors could figure out the root cause of some of this error because that was important for the insurance company to try to prevent this from happening. So I did that, I worked in Germany for IBM, I worked in India for Infosys, and then I got a job in Waterloo working for a company called Sandvine and Sandvine build what are called deep packet inspection - telecommunications service. And so ISPs would install these in their network and it would sit between their subscribers - the people who use the Internet and the rest of the internet - and it would look at all the traffic that flowed through the box to try to figure out how much is Skype, and how much is YouTube, and how much is pornography and Facebook and everything else. Because if you think about it,  ISPs are kind of like the water utility. They know that they sold so much water but they don't really know what the water was used for, how much is watering lawns right, and so we were giving ISPs that kind of intelligence. Anyways, I started off as a lab tech, I tore the boxes apart, tried to figure out why they weren't working, put them back together and made them work and I kind of worked my way up to actually designing the box. So I designed two of them for Sandvine before quitting, and I quit because I was really frustrated that on our side of the cubicle wall there were ten of us working on the hardware that was so essential for this company to exist - but on the other side of the wall there were 300 software guys who had Git, and they had version control, and they had collaborative tools, and they could test their code by pushing a button on their computer. I had to carry a 120 pound server around a building, and use screwdrivers and shit to like - and that's, that's part of hardware - I never wanted to take that away from hardware but it felt like it could be easier and you know. We were using Mentor Graphics’ tools and I was frustrated by the archaic kind of 80s feel of it all you know? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-yeah.  </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I used a Mac at home - I couldn't use the software on my own computer if I wanted to, and I was trying to build stuff at home and this was kind of before IoT was like a thing. This is right before Arduino, before all that stuff. But I wanted to do that stuff at home and it was just so hard to do any of that you know from my Mac, from home, without a huge budget - it's an endless amount of time and at the time we were seeing cloud tools like Gmail and Google Docs and Github, kind of emerging and so I left, because I was pretty frustrated that if this is like the state-of-the-art, if like one of the most complicated telecommunications servers that anybody had built today, was built by some punk kid in this office in Waterloo, working mostly alone, using tools that felt kind of clunky and out of date, like there has to be something better than there and and so we left to build it and it was really no more complicated than: can we take some of the magic of Github, and some of the magic of Google Docs, and build a tool like that for hardware engineers and maybe it takes forever to disrupt Mentor, or Cadence, or Altium, or any of the big guys that have been at this for decades. But we assumed there were enough people like us that just wanted to spend two hours on a Saturday afternoon designing a piece of hardware. There must be something we can build for them - a little bit like Google Docs right, it doesn't have all the features, you can't make fancy tables, you can't do it all, but it's slowly taking over the world and we wanted to do the same thing for hardware.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well I think you point out something that I really noticed. It seems like there's a block of people that are like my age, the old 80s people and we've kinda just built upon old... and then there's the next generation that were five, okay I was 20 when I got my first computer, you guys kind of grew up with these things in your hands, and it I think it's kind of hardwired in your brain. So I think, there's more efficient, better ways to do things and we are building on old Legacy stuff, so sometimes we just can't see it.  And so I think it's really very exciting because I think people are gonna be: oh thank god, somebody's built something modern you know, on the cloud that thinks, and operates you know, which I think was the big draw actually for Altium, which we can talk about that a little bit later so - so the Upverter I was going to ask you, but you've</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">answered it partially, is why Upverter? Out of the various other things you could do, why didn't you go into - I don't know -  you have a very entrepreneurial spirit, so there's lots of things you could have done. Like why did you pick this one thing?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah, so when we started Upverter, I quit my job before I knew what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to build something, I knew I wanted to start a company, I knew I was kind of done with working for the man, and I recruited two of my kind of college roommates. So these are guys that went to Waterloo with me. We lived in this terrible, decrepit, run-down house next to the  campus, near the engineering buildings. You know we lived together, we worked together, we did our co-op jobs together we - you know we were thick as thieves. But I called them up and I said you know, how do you feel about quitting your job and like doing something new? And they both quit like the next day and so we got together in this old decrepit student townhouse and we wrote down hundred ideas of things that we were excited about, things that we were passionate about, things that we believed needed to be fixed. I was shouting loudly in the corner that we needed to build this  - this hardware tool that was the Google Docs for hardware. That was my passion, that was what I was excited about. But Steve and Mike, they had some cool ideas of their own. There was a bunch of stuff that they wanted to build that a lot of it is actually been built, and a lot of it ended up being quite substantially large companies. So our second pick our kind of the front runners....</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So what was on your cut list? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Yeah so the second pick was, we wanted to build drones, and this was before drones were</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">cool. We wanted to build very large-scale drones that would be towed behind container ships and provide a bigger radar footprint than the ship can have itself because it's so close to the</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">water and you'd do this for a bunch of reasons. But the really burning reason at the time was Somalian pirates. If you could fly one of these drones above a container ship, you could get ten or a hundred times the radar footprints so you could really move the ship before anything bad happened. If you wanted to. Anyways, a company ended up doing this, and started right around the same time that we did and ended up being acquired for something on the order of two or three billion dollars and so we missed that one a little bit. But but we just - we just didn't even know where to start on it. But it was - it was the second pick. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's crazy. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So we didn't really talk about this ahead of time, but you know I think I know around the time AltiumLive went down, there were people, kind of gurus in the industry, and they're like so -</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">ultimately it was in October, so and Altium acquired you guys in August and I remember some people, like it was like all the buzz, like what are you guys doing? Why that customer? And</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">so what I want to talk about is - who uses Upverter? I'm thinking makers, hackers, hobbyists and maybe EEs that want to be startups or do personal projects - like who do you think the Upverter audience is, and how's Upverter going to serve them, and how many people are on Upverter? Tell us about your ecosystem a little bit?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah so it's the 'misfits' mostly, these are the guys...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The land of the misfit toys! I like these guys! It really is, these are the guys that are unserved by the eCad industry at large, they're using operating systems or tool sets, or computers that can't run traditional eCAD, they're in funny parts of the world, they're students, they don't have electrical engineering degrees. In lots of cases they're the weekend warriors that can't steal a copy of the eCad that they use at work and bring it home, they're makers and hobbyists and hackers yes, but they're also - you know we helped some Nigerian kids put their country's first satellite into orbit... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's cool!</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> -and they couldn't have done it using traditional eCad tools. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's cool I love that!</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Yeah we - some of the first augmented reality startups were built using Upverter. Like kind of odd stuff like that where you couldn't necessarily use a traditional eCAD tool, you couldn't necessarily iterate at the cycles that one of those tools would let you you iterate at. But also like children on the internet, and you know Mac users and all that kind of stuff where you just can't use a traditional eCAD tool.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But misfits mostly, we think of them as kind of an - not really the next generation of electrical engineers - but but very much a different breed, a different type of 'doer of electronics'. Well it is kind of grass roots though I think that we are gonna see more amazing things, like drones being dragged behind boats, that are gonna come up organically and kind of like you, I think you're the perfect sort of head of this brand, like 'yeah dropped out of school, this wasn't working, I don't like it whatever, so yeah I can see that happening over the next five, ten, twenty years. I think we're gonna see amazing stuff out of that space. So how many people, I don't know how you quantify that, have used Upverter, or use Upverter or actively log on a month?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah-</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So how do you do that? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At the time we were acquired by Altium, it was a little over 50,000 people used Upverter,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">they use it in a very 'bursty' way,  they'll show up - they'll work frantically for two days - ten days a month, and then they'll disappear and we won't see them for a long time ,and then they'll come back. And we correlate that with their kind of idea cycle right. They'll have an idea, looking very excited about the idea, they'll work on the idea, they'll do that thing, and then they'll go away you know, probably because they built the thing and they want to play with it. It could just be that their focus has moved and they're they're onto something new, and then we'll see them come back, six months a year you know, a couple of days later - depends on -how much time and energy they put into their ideas. But that's okay for us, like we we never aspired to be the daily tool like somebody like Altium is, like we aspired to be this conduit for people to bring their ideas to life and you can only be as useful as people have ideas right. So if you have an idea every day, we can be useful every day.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most people don't - most people have inspiration quarterly, or a couple times a year and that's</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">that's what that looks like. We have many thousands of monthly active users so thousands and thousands of people log on every month, to work on their ideas, and their little projects. And the average project is worked on for quite a small amount of time, relative to you know, what you would expect from other eCAD tools. We'll see products going from conception to manufacturing in like 20 hours or less. And so that's pretty amazing, if you consider that's two or three days of work.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That's unbelievable, so if - you said something earlier that I wanted to ask you about and that was - you mentioned that people can go into manufacturing. Do you have sources like fabrication, assembly sources that are related to Upverter?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah, and we've had this in a couple of different forms over the years. We've had, what we like to call the print button, kind of refactored a couple of times inside of Upverter. We're currently refactoring it again right now, and part of that is as a result of the acquisition. We have another</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">company we acquired, Siva, who does a lot of stuff in the manufacturing space, and we're refactoring our print button to use some of their technology and would be better linked up with Octopart, so it should be a better experience for our users as a result of doing it. But yeah,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">over the years, we've had a button, you click it, you give us your credit card number, and a couple days later something shows up in the mail which, which is what you designed. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Awesome. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-And we'll do that again in the very near future.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And it - was that assembled also,  or just the bare board? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-We used to just do bare boards, and then we experimented with assembly for a little while, the new - the newest, latest and greatest version - that we're working on right now will be fully assembled and it'll probably include whatever enclosure your device fits inside.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Oh my gosh, I mean I'm like ridiculously excited about this.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah, it's gonna be pretty cool.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Okay so I always ask - I don't always ask this - but I wanna ask this now. Okay, are you a geek or a nerd? </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I - - geek, but I don't know why. I don't know what the difference is really... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's just your gut - open question. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Okay, geek. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-I think you're a geek cuz I don't think there's - I don't think - I think... whatever [laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's something we ponder here on the OnTrack Podcast. What is a nerd and what is a geek, we've...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-big questions [laughter]</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We've decided what geeks are cooler; nerds seem more like, at least to me, physics - like...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-okay </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-children 'Coopers' </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-oh Science... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-yes more deep on the science side but this has not been proven, so if anyone wants to comment below and tell us what you think a geek and a nerd is, we're all ears. So but you were geeking out there, this is why I stopped you. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Okay</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-cuz I'm like, oh you are like totally geeking out and I'm tracking with you man, I'm like, oh this</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">is like - we're having a geeking out moment right now [laughter].</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So I was talking to our Head of Operations the other day, and I was just saying that during that AltiumLive, people were asking why would Altium, a professional e-tool, pick up Upverter, </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">and basically I think Altium has a vision to kind of embrace every level of PCB designer and also embrace and serve those 'misfits', those marginalized, or that don't have access you know, those that can pay for Altium Designer and they do it professionally, well great...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Yes </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But that we want to serve the wider community. So I was asking Ted Pawela about it, and he was saying - and I just wanted to get you to chime in here - is that sort of what we were </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">talking about earlier - is that cloud - I mean a lot of software programs are going to cloud-based. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You know there used to be security issues, but they've tightened those up - so technology is</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">moving towards cloud based, and if we don't sort of pay attention and go that way too, I think will be sort of left behind and that, also the next generation, or the new, or the upcoming, or the </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">grassroots, organically-grown innovators, I think are gonna - like you - are going to be cloud natives right, and are going to be frustrated, like you were when you were at Waterloo. And to</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">also meet those people where they are, not expect them to cough up the money or fit into our model, but figure out where they're going, and what their model is, and what their needs are. And so that was - that's what I think Altium saw as very attractive - seeing Upverter as a huge enabler to serve that community. Would you agree with those?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah - so when we were in the kind of acquisition process with Altium, I spent a lot of  time on the phone with Arum, our CEO, talking about kind of his vision for the future of Altium, and his vision for the future of electronics, and one of the things we talked a lot about was making</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Altium synonymous with PCB design. And part of that is, you can't just serve the tradespeople in the mainstream - there's a million people in their basements that have ideas, that want to invent stuff, and those things include electronics. You need to be there if you're gonna be synonymous with PCB design and so - so a big part of it was that. But then also a big part of it is like, the world's changing knowledge work's moving to the cloud, is becoming collaborative you know. The Windows operating system may or may not be the operating system of the future. You look </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">at mobile, you look at tablets, you look at what's happening with Apple, and you know all of that. They're you know, there's a version of the world where Altium is constrained  to only serving a chunk of a market because of the way we built our technology, and so I don't know, Arum obviously hasn't said any of this, but there might be a little bit of this that it is an edge on</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">the future. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well I can tell you that personally, it's a really exciting place to be, because I love that. I love</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">that you know, I interact a lot with University students and that. But we've also gone to you know, I went to the New York City Maker Faire and to see what people are developing is so </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">exciting. So to be able to serve that community, and see what they come up with, is just a blast. Like I love to see it, and especially like you had a start early with IoT like it's gonna explode what we can make. And like I said, they're gonna be making it in their garage, in their basement, or their shed... </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-It has to - it has to explode. Like we're talking about you know billions of devices all over the world...</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-billions like capital B.  </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-yeah like a hundred or two hundred thousand professional electrical engineers aren't gonna invent billions of devices; we need to include a bigger chunk of the world, in the design</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">of these things and you know, and then </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">- that's not to say the tradespeople won't have their place, like of course they will - but we need grassroots, we need people building stuff in their basement. And we need it at a scale that we've never needed it at, more than now. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I know, I'm really excited about what you're doing - I'm really excited what you guys developed, and I'm so excited that that you're part of our team. So sort of wrapping up here, I want to sort of segue into what I call 'designers after hours.'</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Okay.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, I don't think you have any after hours, you might get to have a beer after work once in a while. This guy's from Toronto and he's here an awful lot and I don't think you have any after hours right now, but if you did have after hours Zak, what would you do, or what do you like to do?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah well my wife and I bought a house in the Canadian wilderness about 18 months ago, and so my after hours, for the last 18 months, has been turning this kind of run-down cabin into a home for my family and so I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and buying a lot of power tools, and trying to figure out how to do all that stuff. But when I'm - when I'm here in</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">San Diego, and when I'm stuck here for the weekend, [whispers] I buy a couple videogames [Judy laughs] that's - that's kind of my thing.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Okay, and here's another super fun thing about Zak. I want you to share about - his wife is also an entrepreneur. So tell us about your wife's business cuz that's really fun. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah so my wife is a very successful entrepreneur, she started a company when she was quite young, that did eCommerce, and she sold that. And then she ran another company which was for angel investors, and she sold that. And then she did something with hair extensions, and </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">her new thing is called Sheerly Genius, and Sheerly Genius makes indestructible pantyhose. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And you can  hang a human being from stuff with nothing more than a pair of pantyhose.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is a </span><a href="https://sheerlygenius.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">video</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, we are going to share the link of Zak, hanging his wife... [Zak laughs]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">from a second-floor balcony with pantyhose - it is a real thing.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is a is real thing. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Okay, so what are the materials?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yeah so it's heavy molecular weight polyethylene, which is what the fiber is made out of, and it's special in that it's incredibly strong, but also a low denier - or denir - I'm not sure how you're supposed to say that word - but so it's a 30 denier fiber which is what you can make hosiery products out of, but it's incredibly strong. It's like the the strongest dental floss you could </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">possibly imagine, and she found a way to weave this into pantyhose but also to like wrap lycra in it so that it's stretchy - but it's still sheer, but it's like incredibly and ridiculously strong, so it will never run.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-It's like 'superhero pantyhose' you guys really you're gonna have fun watching this video that we'll connect below, and we will also connect to </span><a href="https://upverter.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Upverter</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and </span><a href="https://eeconcierge.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">EE Concierge</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and Zak's </span><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/zakhomuth/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">LinkedIn</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> profile, if you'd like to connect with him, and any other things that we think that..</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Sounds good [laughter]</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-you might want to connect to. So Zak, thanks again.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thank you.  </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-I'm so looking forward to working with you and seeing what we kind of collaborate with and</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">sort of reach  - reach to the grassroots-end of the design community.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">-Me too .</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I'm really excited about it so thank you so much for joining us.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of course thanks for having me.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This has been Zak Homuth, is that close enough?</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> -Yeah.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zak Homuth and Judy Warner with Upverter and Altium, and EE Concierge. And we will</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">look forward to seeing you next time.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Until then, always stay on track.</span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p>
Listen: podcast - audio/mpeg

David Carmody’s DFM Report Integrating Design and Assembly
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Do you know your fabricator? Meet David Carmody, Division Manager and CID+ at San Diego PCB Design. As a service bureau, San Diego PCB works on a variety of PCB design projects. Learn why David says, “You gotta know who you’re fabbing with” and how he is using DFM Reports to help customers integrate design and assembly in this episode of The OnTrack Podcast. </span><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Memorable designs in telecom space and the development board for Dragon II, a SpaceX project, for the capsule they hope to take to Mars</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Package on packages, dropping the DDR - removing the burden on the designer</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Palomar advisory program - student programs for learning PCB design</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">San Diego PCB acquired by Milwaukee Electronics, EMS and Engineering Services </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">DFM report - a “stoplight report” for customers before starting build - customers love it and it fixes issues proactively especially with packaging</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">A lot of engineers don’t know the manufacturing side and DFM reports can help with this</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">“You gotta know who you’re fabbing with” </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Will additive manufacturing processes be the answer? The business model remains to be seen. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">3D printing - you can’t print copper (yet)</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium User Groups - have Altium in the title but we don’t run them! We’d love to support.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Altium User Group in San Diego is very active and supportive. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Advice from a Pro: Always keep learning, it will keep you fresh and make work more fun.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">PCB design isn’t the only practice David has mastered - he’s a martial artist too</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;"><br><br></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-carmody-7498477/"><span style="font-weight:400;">David Carmody</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Linkedin</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://sandiegoaltiumusergroup.blogspot.com/p/meetings.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">San Diego Altium Users Group Website</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.sdpcb.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">San Diego PCB</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.milwaukeeelectronics.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Milwaukee Electronics</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.milwaukeeelectronics.com/manufacture/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Tecate, NM Manufacturing Facility</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast - welcome back. Once again I have another incredible guest to speak with us today, but before we get started please follow me and connect with me on LinkedIn. I try to share a lot of things relative to engineering and PCB design and on Twitter I'm @AltiumJudy and Altium is on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and if you'd please subscribe and give us some comments so we know what you'd like to hear more about that would be great.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So today again we have a great guest which is David Carmody of San Diego PCB David has a new title now: he is the division manager and he also has a CID. So David, welcome and thank you for joining me here at Altium today. So, we've known each other for a little while and I've had the benefit of being over at San Diego PCB and looking over your shoulder to some pretty wild complicated designs. So tell us a little bit about your day-to-day from the perspective of design bureaus and the kind of work that you see?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay, we do get a lot of different designs, a bunch of varied designs, so we see a lot of military application, we see a lot of new technology - wearable technologies and things like that as well; it is pretty much all over the map though. I mean we get a little bit of anything and everything just because of the the nature of the service entity. A lot of the more upscale - so to speak -designs are the real nanotechnology sort of stuff where we're cramming a ton of the little parts into a board that's less than a half square inch total in size, or we're packing everything into a big housing that has to get heat out somehow because, I mean, we're sending up high output micro processors into into space and there is no airflow so we need to get the heat out in other ways. So there's a lot of that sort of stuff that we do get to see and and play with and and learn from as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I think San Diego is kind of a neat place to work too because there is a lot of Defense here and there's also call comments and telecoms, and even in our local area, although I'm sure you see work from all over the country? We do we also have kind of some neat things right here in our own backyard.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh yeah.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So across that variety what would you say some of your more memorable designs would be? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was gonna say we do have have some telecom stuff that's gone on and those are those are fun boards just because they've got big processors on them and lots of high-speed lines, things like that. Most memorable, for me personally, would probably be a SpaceX design. I was able to design the development board for the Dragon 2.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh my gosh!we’re not worthy! Do you mean the dragon heavy that they just launched - the second Falcon that ever went?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah the the Dragon 2 which is the capsule that they hope to take to Mars one day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh so that that one!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah.  I did the development board for that so it's just basically a big processor board with a lot of RF communications on it and things like that and they're breaking out all the other boards from that, and that was a fun project. I got to be a part of that was really cool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, I sold some R4s to them and got to go through that facility a few times so I'm like a weirdo SpaceX geek and then we also sponsor the hyperloop pod teams for universities. So Ben that's helping us here with recording this; he and I got to go up and hang out at SpaceX and see them do that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I saw some of those pictures.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So sorry for being so weird but I’m a kinda SpaceX geek.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, it’s been fun. We do have a couple of space contracts we've worked directly with NASA and MIT and also with Space Micro so, we've definitely learned our way around the Class 3A specifications and we know that inside and out. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Not easy, really dense stuff. So you talked a little bit about the nanotechnology, is that where you sort of see the bleeding edge going? What are the the most challenging designs? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I was gonna say the packaging is actually changing quite a bit, we're seeing some things that the packaging is doing that's well, quite frankly, I'm not terribly happy with because it takes away some of our place - but things like package-on packages is coming around. That's really cool technology, I mean, you put down the DSP or the PGA - whatever it happens to be - and then you can drop the DDR right on top of it. There's nothing for us to do; it's purely an assembly process, if that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Wow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So that stuff is definitely interesting and removing a burden, so to speak, on the designer but yeah, then the package size itself is just getting smaller and smaller. We're being pushed into HDI technology more and more often. 0.3 millimeter BGAs are pretty common, 0.4s are all over the place now. I mean even big ones. So the 0.3 three millimeter BGA's are getting common. I've been able to work on things as small as 0.15 millimeter though. So it was a flip chip sort of design where we're pushing the envelope on that thing so it was experimental, and things like that. I don't think they actually ever built it was costly, that whole get up then but that's that the trend we're seeing. Just everyone's pushing the package design more and more all the time. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Something I noticed I took a peek at, even though I've known you for a while - I took a peek at your LinkedIn profile. I don't know that I'd ever done that and I like to ask people a lot, how'd you get into this industry? Because most of us didn't start out this way, but we ended up here. So did you start out there? I notice you took courses at Palomar College which is local here, and I don't know if they still do, but they used to have PCB design courses?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That they do I'm actually on the Palomar Advisory Committee right now and we're helping to restructure some of that stuff and try to join up a little bit more, their student base through there. They've got a pretty good offering right now to make it better but yeah it's still active and it's it's one of the few places that you can really go for formal education. So it's good that they're there keeping it alive, and not just keeping it alive but updating it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right, and that's kind of where you started out was it not? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It was.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Or did you just join them recently as part of the Advisory Committee, or did you start learning design there?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I did technically start learning some design there but it was an accident really.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter] See, my point is, we didn't do this on purpose.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No absolutely not. Basically I had gone through their program and really gravitated - back then at least - 3d was just emerging. It was all in AutoCAD, there was no such thing as SolidWorks, it was just coming around. So I ended up jumping into AutoCAD 3d mechanical sort of stuff and and did my degree on that and then got on to nothing but waiting list after waiting list. So at that point I was talking to a guy that I was working with, he goes: call my brother in law, he does something in computers. And I talked to this guy, he was a PCB designer at Intel - I'm actually working with him now, we recently hired him, but yeah he's working out in our Arizona office but he gave me some excellent time; never actually met him face to face at the time but he gave me some phone time and told me what to look for, and what this industry had to offer and gave me a couple of places to go after. And I went after both - I ended up getting an offer from both of them, but I liked the smaller business so I took that side of things and spent 12 years back at an ‘unnamed company’ as the Design Manager.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Laughter, well not as awesome as Sandy Opie…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I don't know, it hasn't been a year yet, so San Diego PCB was acquired actually by Milwaukee Electronics right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes it’s been about a year and four months now, time flies. So Milwaukee is a really capable EMS shop up in-  remind me? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's Milwaukee.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Oh is it Milwaukee!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes, their primary branch is in Milwaukee - okay this confuses everyone - because we have multiple brands out there now. So our Milwaukee electronics brand has most of our engineering services and the EMS as well there. Up in Canby, Portland Oregon, now that's where we have Screaming Circuits - that is our quick term prototype house and there is also EMS there as well. Most people don't know that but the factory shares the floor for that and then we also have - actually it's also called Milwaukee Electronics - despite that, it's in Tecate Mexico but they've got a huge building down there and they're there literally clawing the mountain out from being behind this building.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right I've seen photos of it, it's really quite lovely, at least the photos are, it looks really modern.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It's a very impressive facility. I was able to visit there and I had seen pictures of it when the shop floor was was only 50% filled; that place is full and like I said they're calling out the mountain now behind them, so that they can add on and I think gain about 30% more square footage. Growing like crazy. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">How has that been, that acquisition, for your customers and for you, there's obviously synergy there between the two firms so how has that been for you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The two companies, the acquisition itself was great, Milwaukee Electronics is a fantastic company to work for. I really enjoy all the people that are there. The synergy has taken some time to get things rolling, but I'm starting to see a little bit of a snowball effect and so we're starting to pick up some momentum to where Screaming Circuits is sending us customers back and we're sending them customers in and we're starting to get a collaborative database of the customers going right now, so that we can take a more active role on that and and really sell to both sides. There's been a little bit of crossover, but like I said, it took probably six months before I saw even the first crossover and right then another one happened, and then another one, but now we're up to where we're getting about at least one customer a week or something like that, that's doing some sort of crossover. so it's definitely building up speed. But it's still going to take a little bit more time.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So since our listeners and watchers here will are mostly engineers and PCB designers, what do you think the benefit is to collaborating design to EMS - what are the benefits you think that occur there?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">When you're collaborating, one of the biggest things that's coming out right now, is basically  DFM report that we've been doing, it's something that I've been doing for years. Say a customer has their own design team, they want me to be a second set of eyes - something like that. I'll go through the design either on a cursory level if you just want me to look at DFM/DFA sort of issues. Do you want me to look at your circuits, do you want me to look at this whole thing - make sure that you placed it correctly? I coined that a ‘stoplight report’ a long time ago, and basically it's just - we give a nice little green note if it's informative only: this looks good it was done right, give a yellow note if, hey you might want to look into this, you might have some potential issues or, hey this part’s hanging off the board edge you're gonna knock it off, this needs a correction before it goes out - and those are obviously the red items - so customers seem to love that. I mean it's really easy, real clear-cut. They can kind of skim through it, hit the items that they want and that is really building up some speed right now with with a few customers because they've had an internal source for a long time. They've been using Screaming Circuits forever, but Screaming Circuits is going: okay you're going into bigger yields, you need to fix these sorts of items - let's fix them ahead of time and that's what we're being utilized to do. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That sounds absolutely incredible especially now, because in the marketplace so many engineers are laying out their own boards. They may or may not have time or access to spend a lot of time with their fabricators our assembler, so I think to have that sort of oversight would be very welcome. I don't know if that's what's driving it or just having a second set of eyes what do you think? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Probably a bit of both, I mean the engineers obviously get EMI and and EM theory, they do that really well, so they they always lay out the board well for that. But they aren't necessarily the best packagers, most PCB designers are puzzlers so, we do the packaging portion real well that's what we like to play with. But if you’re a good PCB designer you're going to know the EM side and you're also going to know the manufacturing side. A lot of the engineers don't know that, so they don't really look at that. I mean, I've been given boards that were completely routed and they said: rip out all the routing because this guy did it with 6mm vias with a 12mm pad on an 80mm  thick board and so, it's just wrong all the way around. And placement wasn't bad on that…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">But the aspect ratio is the killer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-and he used decent trace widths, but I mean, the most problematic piece of the board, and he killed it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And like it's a good thing that companies like Altium and other EDA companies make such powerful, great software - but there's no place in the software that says: no, stop dummy,   you can run DRCs or whatever, but it won't necessarily flag it for for DFM if your aspect ratio is off or whatever, unless you've turned those settings on or off I can imagine right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yes but you can still improperly program DRCs too, you can say: hey I want 1mm holes on this board…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I've heard you and Mike Creeden say that a design tool is only as good as the designer.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-yeah you absolutely need that and I mean, someday in the future would it be great to see the tools incorporate that sort of stuff? Yes, but at the same time you’ve got to know how your fab works too…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And you don't want to limit yourself either because you could potentially create self-limiting things that are really irritating... </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-oh yeah. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So I think we're gonna just keep giving you powerful tools and you guys have to work it out.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah I mean, we can just zoom up and zoom up and, hey that via looks plenty big enough to me, I could put my fist through it, but not in reality. The packaging thing that I was referring to earlier that is just starting to drive this industry just because of big 0.4 millimeter pitch BGA. I'm working with a fabricator that can't quite do the the latest and greatest and all of a sudden that pattern starts to become a challenge that’s almost impossible to break out. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right yeah I don't know where this train’s going…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yup I don't know - it will stop somewhere at some point…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I know, I know, except it seems like we just keep creating some breakthrough so I'm keeping my eye on things like additive manufacturing, whatever we could do it 1mm, controlled trace and pull it off but there's no clear front-runner.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah, the additive processes are very interesting, haven't seen anyone really start pulling off a business model out of it. The 3d printing technologies is also very interesting but you can't print copper unfortunately, so they can't - yet at least - so there's some major hurdles there too that they have to go through.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">It'll be interesting. Well I wanted to shift gears a little bit because you, along with your colleague Randy Clemens here in San Diego, run a really solid Altium user group here and for those listeners that don't know this, Altium User Groups, they have our name in the title but we don't run them - they're completely run by the users, for the users they're very democratic and we just lend support and it's something that we've been talking a lot about here, is that we would like to grow the user community and help people launch groups. So can you give us a little bit of background and give us the do's and don'ts maybe, if people that are thinking about starting a local users group from what things have worked, when things maybe haven't worked, and how do we get more people to launch user groups?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Just sign up - just for a little background on that - there was a user group that was here for quite a while that was run by Bill Brooks and it had some traction, it was running for quite a while and then either the community or whatever, started to kind of drop off a little bit. Randy and I saw that as a bad thing basically, and we talked to Altium, talked to a few people here, and then put together a general terms for the the group. Randy has always done Google boards, the blog and stuff, so he's very good at that, he's got a pretty major Altium tutorial board actually that's out there. So he took some of that and ported it over and turned it into a San Diego Altium User Group Board, you can just google that: San Diego Altium User Group and you'll find his board. If you sign up you'll get meeting invites so it's really that easy. All of our IP, as it were, is all up there and and I mean fully freely distributable so anyone can go ahead and take that as a template and start porting it over. Randy would probably help if anyone asked to set up or clone a board but Altim is really great on this thing, they're really helping us out, they help promote it you guys are actually doing lunches for us and all of that, so we really, really appreciate all that support. Lunch is a good way to get people out - just feed them and they will come. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Exactly, you feed them and they show up. So we were restarting the group, it had a little bit of a slow start and it's kind of typical. I think we had all of three people show up once plus the the huge group of Altium group and San Diego PCB group because we host the location but no I mean our last last attendance was in the 30s somewhere, so it's it's doing real well now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">What do you think the benefits are to the users that participate regularly?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">One of the big things is we always bring Chris Carlson out for new updates and stuff so we can see things as they're coming out. He gave us a wonderful tutorial on 18 not long ago, really to help us all dive into it as as the interphase changed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I thought Randy was gonna eat us alive - he came out he's like yeah bring him - he had a slide deck going, and ‘what about this?’  God bless Chris Carlson, our senior FAE, he addressed most of those things and just said, no Randy we just moved it over here, it's just over there and we tackle most of it. But what I really appreciate is that Chris actually took four things back to our R&D team, and I think that kind of real-time feedback, it helps us make better tools right? And if we make better tools we sell more software, it's not rocket science right?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right and we're happier designers…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Right your’e happier and you’re productive and so I think it's a win-win and I think Altium is doing a good job culturally. So say you were in... I don't know... New Hampshire okay, and you knew there was a pretty good-sized design community what would you say the first steps would be to get something going?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">First of all, probably to clone that board that we've already got…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">And we will share this, by the way, in the show notes and we'll share that if you want to go take a look at it, because Randy has done a good job of kind of making a charter, it would be a good model to share.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;"> -so it's a fairly basic charter but yeah, clone that board, start marketing it against that, call Altium…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Me, call me I will help you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-so get them to put it out in a newsletter and a blog or something along those lines so you can start that foot traffic and then invite your buddies, invite your friends and get them to do the same.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I interrupted you there, so you said that Chris came out and you got to see the latest and greatest, Chris did a good thing on showing you AD18 - what other kind of benefits do you think the users see over time? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I mean we've already kind of hit on the the dynamic feedback and that's obviously great information, but just the user-to-user help is always nice too. I mean I've had people come in with a laptop and and open it up and go, look I'm struggling over here, what the heck do I need to do? What rule do I need to write to make this thing work right? And we can just basically rub shoulders and get things moving and get a workaround if it needs it just to move it along.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I've been really impressed since I've been down here for about a year now and just seeing the group it's just very active and it seems like a really healthy thing and yeah all I get to do, is use my card and buy you guys lunch and if you want a speaker we’ll send one, if you don't want one we won't interfere so I think that user-to-user and that you guys really get to own it, is sort of a powerful model because it's not like we're going to come down and spring a free sales pitch...</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah well, Altium doesn't go in they're not salesy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Yeah but we try actually, </span><em><span style="font-weight:400;">not </span></em><span style="font-weight:400;">to do it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">No, it's been fantastic for that.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well I wanted to bring this up because you and Randy spoke at AltiumLive and Randy took a little part of his time speaking to talk about the Altium user groups and I was so surprised! I'm like, well you can spend your time talking about that if you want Randy, but I didn't think there would be that much interest - but I happened to pop in the back door just to see how it was going and people were really engaged and then people came and talked to me after. I think there's kind of a hunger to do it. I'm just wondering... I just wanted you to share with our listeners, if people did want to do it they would see, oh here's some steps to take because I don't know, though, that maybe we've done a really good job of advertising it because we do want to stay out of it, we want to contribute but not inserting ourselves into an organic user’s group. So, thanks for sharing that part.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hm-mm yeah, for the AltiumLive, Lawrence Romine asked Randy to do a little bit of a spiel on that and yeah, there were a lot of people from LA that sounded like they were going to be starting their own, or a couple of them, depending on the demographics or Geographics up there and then there were quite a few out of state as well that that sounded like they wanted to start one.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I went to one in Utah, which I guess has been going on for a while. So, I got connected with someone actually at AltiumLive and we ended up connecting and there was like 80 people there to see Ben Jordan talk about AD18, I'm like okay, Wow! 80 - it was huge, but I think that group has been very active and been around for a long time so it wasn't like a new thing and they actually come from Salt Lake and south of there, so it was almost like two combined groups. So anyways, thank you for sharing about that. Any final thoughts?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Nothing that I can think of right off the top of my head.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well thank you so much for coming in today…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">-Thank you </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">You’re a good sport and we really appreciate you in San Diego PCB and thank you for sharing. Oh one thing I wanted to ask you was because the upper-end (age-wise) is starting to kind of age out in the industry and we're getting new ones coming in, what is one - since you're sort of a veteran designer - what is say, one or two pieces of advice that you would give to a young designer?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">The number one thing I would say is, never stop learning. I mean I got into a rut at one point where I wasn't learning I couldn't stand up on the the current trends, things like that, and that job got to be a drag, it really did because it's - overall - we did the same thing over and over all the time. It's very repetitive, but if you're standing up on the latest trends you always have something else to reach at and something else to go after. Always have the latest way to solve something too, so it just makes the job overall a breeze; makes it a lot easier to do day-to-day and keeps it fun and interesting.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Very good. Okay, last question: I said that was the last one but I like my very last, last question - I call this part of the podcast designers after hours okay - so there's people like you and I know in common, like Bill Brooks who started the Alts Music Group. There's the sculptor, I just spoke to Chris Hunrath earlier today, who's a scuba diver. So what do you like to do after hours?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Honestly Mike my side is a little sore right now because I did some martial arts last night so that's one of my little best-kept secrets, so to speak, been doing that for a long time done Tan Sido, got a third-degree black belt there, and then migrated over to Kung Fu and have a black sash. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Well, remind me to never make you mad! You’re so soft spoken and could kick my butt.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Pat's the one that always bounces that around the office but he's honestly the only one I’d ever damage too…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">[Laughter]</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">That's cool. See, another interesting after hour designer. Well David, thanks again and I know we'll see you soon again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">This has been Judy Warner and David Carmody of San Diego PCB. Thank you for joining us today we'll make sure to share our links below and please visit us again next time. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Until then, remember to always stay on track.</span></p>
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Why is Spread Glass popular? Chris Hunrath from Insulectro
<p style="text-align:left;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Why is spread glass popular? What can you use instead of FR4? Listen and learn from industry veteran Chris Hunrath, who joins us from the San Jose Insulectro facility for a deep dive into what material sets are used in printed circuit board assembly and manufacturing. Get expert insights and learn about new materials on the market to help with your PCB design before going to fabrication and assembly.</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"> </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Show Highlights:</strong></p> <ul style="text-align:left;"><li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">What is Insulectro? Operating for over 50 years, Insulectro provides materials for electronics, everything from laminates, prepregs, flex materials, copper foils, conductive inks, substrates, process chemistries, imaging materials and lamination materials. With 11 stocking locations, the newest in Toronto and 9 branches, Insulectro is a leader in providing electronic materials to industry. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Prepregs - 175 different types to cut from in San Jose facility alone!</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Spread glass is becoming more popular - electrical and fabrication benefits because it is more electrically uniform. No open areas, the filaments are spread across (aka fanned out or mechanically spread) and this has signal benefits especially for differential pairs. Better from a drilling standpoint too.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">New materials are gaining traction - with low loss that laminate at normal temperatures </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Insulectro distributes for both Isola and DuPont</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Isola’s line-up of high-speed, low-loss material sets - Isola has a suite of laminates that are low loss, some of them with DKs close to the teflon range and they laminate at the normal temperatures which makes a composite build much simpler. </span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Low-loss, low-Dk materials that can help with their signal integrity requirements</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><a href="http://www.isola-group.com/wp-content/uploads/I%C2%ADSpeed-Laminate-and-Prepreg-Data-Sheet-0417.pdf"><span style="font-weight:400;">I-Speed®</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> - Low loss system, not as cheap as FR4 but its close and could be a good next step for people looking to upgrade material</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Having the right material set for a design is critical</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Challenges are more often in the fabrication than the design</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Copper is a really good moisture barrier, you have to bake the parts prior to assembly.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">I’ve seen people underestimate the baking and end up with scrap. Moisture is avoidable.</span></li> <li style="font-weight:400;"><span style="font-weight:400;">Bonus Material: In Designer's After Hours, Chris Hunrath shares what kind of electric creatures lurk in La Jolla!!</span></li> </ul><p style="text-align:left;">  </p> <p style="text-align:left;"><strong>Links and Resources:</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-hunrath-a12b4288/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris Hunrath</span></a><span style="font-weight:400;"> on Linkedin</span></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.insulectro.com/"><span style="font-weight:400;">Insulectro</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/electronic-electrical-materials.html"><span style="font-weight:400;">DuPont</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.isola-group.com"><span style="font-weight:400;">Isola</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://hdpug.org/high-frequency-flex"><span style="font-weight:400;">HDPug Research on High Frequency Flex</span></a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="https://www.signalintegrityjournal.com/blogs/3-rog-blog-pcb-materials-related-topics/post/390-working-through-woven-glass-weaves">Signal Integrity Journal </a></p> <p style="text-align:left;"><a href="http://www.isola-group.com/wp-content/uploads/Understanding-Glass-Fabric.pdf">Understanding Glass Fabric</a> by Isola Group</p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Hi this is Judy Warner with the OnTrack podcast. Thanks again for joining us. Once again I have another amazing guest for us who is the go-to guy in PCB laminates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">I am with Chris Hunrath today but before Chris and I get started I would like to please invite you to subscribe, or to favorite us on your RSS feed, or you can connect with me personally on LinkedIn. I share lots of stuff relative to engineers and PCB designers and on Altium I'm at @AltiumJudy and Altium is on Facebook Twitter and LinkedIn.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So please give us a subscribe and a connection and we’d love to interact with you and hear more about what you'd like to hear on this podcast but I'm sure you're going to enjoy today's guest.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Chris is the VP of technology at Insulectro and I'm gonna let Chris go ahead and tell you a little bit about Insulectro for those three people on the planet who might not know who Insulectro is. So, welcome Chris and tell us about Insulectro.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">Okay thanks.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight:400;">So yeah Insulectro has been around over 50 years. We supply materials to the c