Tuesday, November 19th

Author Archives: Peter Brissette

About Peter Brissette

I write about technology, especially Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing.
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Trace Routing for a 0.5mm Pitch BGA

Trace Routing for a 0.5mm Pitch BGA

Dog-bone routing is preferred as it is lower cost and less risk of soldering issues.  It also provides space for 0201 decoupling caps to be placed directly opposite the BGA pins.  You should be able to use a 6 mil via drill and route the signals on the inner layers using ~3.3 mil traces.  The trace can increase width or join a diff pair as soon as it exists the… Read More

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Measuring Structural Resonances – Part 2, Printed Wiring Board Traces (A Simple Technique for Determining the Resonant Frequencies of a PWB Trace)

Measuring Structural Resonances – Part 2, Printed Wiring Board Traces (A Simple Technique for Determining the Resonant Frequencies of a PWB Trace)

Figure 1. Measuring the Resonant Frequency of a PWB Trace Abstract: Using a shielded magnetic loop to measure the resonant frequencies of printed wiring board (PWB) traces can be a useful tool in scanning a PWB for potential problems as part of an overall evaluation of a board. A method of doing this along with an example are given. Discussion: Most traces on a printed wiring board should not be resonant, especially digital… Read More

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Measuring Structural Resonances in the Time Domain – Part 1

Measuring Structural Resonances in the Time Domain – Part 1

Figure 1. Experimental Setup with Parallel Plates and Connecting Wire   Abstract: Oscilloscopes are more common in most engineering labs than network analyzers or spectrum analyzers, so measurement methods that use oscilloscopes maximize the return on lab equipment for many companies. A method of measuring structural resonances using an inexpensive pulse generator and an oscilloscope is described and results are presented. Discussion: In the June 2006 Technical Tidbit, I described a method of using… Read More

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Common Circuit Design Flaws That Cause Operational Problems (problems fixed long ago are still showing up in designs)

Common Circuit Design Flaws That Cause Operational Problems (problems fixed long ago are still showing up in designs)

Figure 1. Circuit Board With Common Design Flaw Abstract: Common circuit design flaws at the board and system level cause many operational problems. Some of these flaws were understood and fixed years ago, yet still show up in designs. A few common problems of this type are discussed and examples given. Discussion: In my consulting work, I see a lot of operational problems in systems that are caused by common circuit design flaws.… Read More

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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