Tuesday, February 20th

Author Archives: Peter Brissette

About Peter Brissette

I write about technology, especially Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing.
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The Rebirth of Silicon Valley Hardware Manufacturing

The Rebirth of Silicon Valley Hardware Manufacturing

Are we experiencing a rebirth of Silicon Valley hardware manufacturing? High volume manufacturing of hardware is not something commonly done in Silicon Valley, with much of that work finding its way to places around the globe. But a large amount of new product development, prototyping and low volume production seems to be firmly positioned in the Valley.

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Don’t Be Surprised By Markings on a PCB

Don’t Be Surprised By Markings on a PCB

In the days of the old Model T Ford, you could get any color you wanted – as long as it was black.  Not that long ago it was the same way for printed circuit boards, of course, the only color available was green. Today, there are many color options for both solder mask and silkscreen.  Green, blue, red and every color combination in between. Some designers, in fact, go… Read More

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10 Tools & Articles Every PCB Designer Should Have In Their Toolbox

10 Tools & Articles Every PCB Designer Should Have In Their Toolbox

By now, 2015 may be a distant memory. But for us at Bay Area Circuits, 2015 was a year full of interesting articles and updates to our most frequently used engineering tools. We’ve got a lot of useful new content coming your way in 2016, but in the meantime, here is a compilation of the top ten most viewed tools, guides, and blog posts from the Bay Area Circuits website for… Read More

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V-Scoring for Printed Circuit Boards

V-Scoring for Printed Circuit Boards

Bay Area Circuits recently installed a new Accu-Score AS-100-MAX V-scoring machine in our Silicon Valley facility. This new scoring machine will not only improve the quality of the printed circuit boards scoring process, but also shortens manufacturing process time.  Both big wins for our customers.  In this post we’ll share a little more information about V-Scoring to help you understand exactly what it is and when to use it. Let’s answer these basic questions: What… Read More

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The Gerber Format; an Interview with Ucamco

The Gerber Format; an Interview with Ucamco

For engineers new to PCB design, the term ‘Gerber files’ will quickly become a part of their everyday vernacular. And as such, it’s a topic we’ve covered frequently and will cover again today by going straight to the source via interviews with our friends from Ucamco, the Belgium-based company who owns and maintains the Gerber standard. But before we get to that let’s start with a quick introduction. Containing data… Read More

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Technical Tip for a Successfully Manufactured PCB – The Netlist

Technical Tip for a Successfully Manufactured PCB – The Netlist

Designing a printed circuit board poses many challenges. It can be exhilarating to complete a design and send it off to manufacturing but later deflating to receive boards and identify a failure that could have been prevented. Was a mistake made in the design or did the manufacturer make an error? Providing the manufacturer with a ‘netlist’ in addition to your design files and fabrication notes is one way to… Read More

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Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

Cross Section Analysis: Inside a PCB

How can the internal quality of a printed circuit board be inspected and verified using cross section analysis? Recently we published an article that talked about IPC Inspection guidelines that provides an overview of the standards used in the inspection process of printed circuits boards. One of the many inspection processes that measure the quality of the circuit board is called a Cross Section Analysis or Micro-section. To complete the analysis… Read More

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Advantages of the Gerber X2 Format

Advantages of the Gerber X2 Format

Last year, a new Gerber format was released call Gerber X2 (or version 2) by Ucamco, owners of the Gerber standard. If this is news to you, Ucamco has put together an excellent 5 minute intro video which can be found Gerber X2 Introduction. We thought it would be helpful for designers to hear from a manufacturer regarding what we see as the significant improvements; after all, the X2 format… Read More

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Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Introduction to IPC Inspection Guidelines

Acceptable Quality Level Before discussing IPC Inspection Guidelines, it’s important to understand the meaning of the term Acceptable Quality Level (AQL), also referred to as Acceptance Quality Limit. It is an inspection standard that prescribes the range of the number of defective components that is considered acceptable when random sampling those components during an inspection. The Acceptance Quality Level determines the maximum number of defective units, beyond which a batch is… Read More

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What is Controlled Impedance and How Is It Measured?

What is Controlled Impedance and How Is It Measured?

One of the most common examples of controlled impedance is the cable that connects the antenna to your television. That cable may be a coaxial cable consisting of a round, inner conductor, separated from the outer cylindrical conductor commonly called the shield by an insulator. The dimensions of the conductors and insulator, and the electrical characteristics of the insulator are carefully controlled in order to determine the shape, strength and… Read More

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Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

Surface Finish Characteristics & Applications for Printed Circuit Boards

The PCB Surface Finish you select may be the most important material decision you make for your electronic assembly. The Surface Finish you select will influence the cost, manufacturability, quality, and reliability of the final product. Just a few years ago, nearly three fourths of all the electronics were produced with SnPb or Hot Air Solder Level (HASL) as the finish. Today, other surface finishes have emerged, including: ENIG, ENEPIG,… Read More

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Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

Functional 3D Inkjet Printing of Solder Mask

The traditional solder mask process is in danger.  Digital inkjet processing has reached the point where it has become a viable option in the PCB manufacturing industry. Equipment for such an application has been around for a number of years with emphasis placed on printing legend or nomenclature on panels. However, the application of solder mask with the same type of equipment has shown real promise recently. New equipment such… Read More

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

An Overview of LPI Soldermask and the PCB Manufacturing Process

For many years the only color you would see on a printed circuit board was green.  Maybe a military influence?  The color of the printed circuit board is only a small part of the consideration for the circuit’s design today. Liquid PhotoImagible soldermask, commonly called LPI or LPISM is a two component liquid ink that is mixed just prior to application to preserve its shelf life and is a relatively… Read More

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Our Top 10 Most Viewed Content in 2014

Our Top 10 Most Viewed Content in 2014

Who doesn’t like a good Top 10 list? We added more new content to our website in 2014 than in any year previously and thought it would be interesting to share what was most popular.  So, enjoy our compilation of the top 10 most viewed tools, guides and blog posts on the Bay Area Circuits website for 2014 – and, Happy New Year! #10 Countersinks and Counterbores for Printed Circuit… Read More

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

Bare Printed Circuit Board Electrical Test

We can perform a visual inspection following the manufacturing process of a printed circuit board to find any potential problems. While that may work fine for a two-layer PCB, for multi-layer PCBs, it is almost impossible to visually inspect the internal layers once the board has been completed.  Therefore, visual tests are done on inner layers prior to lamination to find any problems and correct them.  However, the only way… Read More

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Things that Scare Electrical Engineers

Things that Scare Electrical Engineers

We all have fears. This Halloween, there are probably a few extra that come to mind. The most common fears we share have not changed much over the years. The top five most common fears are: 1. Fear of flying 2. Fear of public speaking 3. Fear of heights 4. Fear of the dark 5. Fear of Intimacy Any of those in your top five?   However, when you are… Read More

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UC Davis Formula Racing Team – Powered by BAC

UC Davis Formula Racing Team – Powered by BAC

This past summer, Bay Area Circuits had the privilege of sponsoring all of the bare printed circuits boards for the UC Davis Formula Racing team. The boards were used for a variety of sensors and controls in the vehicle.  There were sensors for wheel speed, throttle position, steering angle, tire temperature, and other functions.  The system would then dynamically allocate power to individual motors on the rear wheels. The team… Read More

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Standard Gerber Declared Obsolete

Standard Gerber Declared Obsolete

A couple months ago, Ucamco, the company that maintains Gerber specifications, released an “Open Letter to the Gerber User Community” and stated “Standard Gerber is now technologically obsolete.” Here is why. There have been a number of important updates to the Standard Gerber format in recent months.  Ucamco has made changes to improve the format and has renamed the new standards as Gerber X2, or, Extended Gerber. For many years now there have been challenges when… Read More

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The Basics – SMT Laser Cut Stencils

The Basics – SMT Laser Cut Stencils

Solder paste stencils in the world of manufacturing electronics and printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) are not so different from the stencils we were all made familiar with in grade school. . They are designed for the exact same purpose: to ease the process of applying a medium only to specific areas for your intended project while protecting the unexposed areas.   Solder Paste Stencils What is a laser cut… Read More

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The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things

Technology is always advancing at an ever increasing rate.  One of the segments of that growth is called “The Internet of Things” or IoT.  Wikipedia defines it as “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing like devices within the existing internet infrastructure.” Sounds great, but what does that really mean, and is there any impact on manufacturers? The basic idea of IoT is to find a way to “embed” an… Read More