Saturday, December 07th
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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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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

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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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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

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

Introduction to Drilling and Vias

It wasn’t that long ago a printed circuit board was drilled using a simple drill press.  The operator had to manually move the panel to the correct x and y coordinate and then pull the lever to drill an individual hole.  This process was repeated over and over again until all the holes were drilled. Today, it’s not uncommon for a PCB to have more than 10,000 drill hits of… Read More

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Introduction to InstantDFM; Reduce PCB Prototype Failures

Introduction to InstantDFM; Reduce PCB Prototype Failures

Has this ever happened to you? You have spent hours designing a new circuit board. You have checked and double checked every net, component and trace on the board and you’re confident your design is solid. Off to a PCB manufacturer to order a few prototypes. You receive the boards, load components, add power and…something starts to smoke. Ugggghh! What went wrong? There could be many reasons but more often… Read More

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Learn from a Fabricator; Time and Money Saving Design Rules

Learn from a Fabricator; Time and Money Saving Design Rules

As a PCB fabricator we’re frequently asked, “What are your basic design rules?” Typically what designers are looking for are some guidelines to follow when designing a PCB layout, though this could mean a variety of things. Over the years there’s been a movement towards designing smaller and faster electronics but smaller and faster can also mean more difficult to fabricate resulting in higher costs. While some may put more… Read More

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PCB Design Guide Basics

PCB Design Guide Basics

Circuit Board Components A PCB is a Printed Circuit Board and are made from fiberglass reinforced plastic with the copper wiring in trace form. All the circuit board components are held in position by soldering the components into place after drilling holes in the demarcated areas on the board.  The copper tracks which take the place of traditional wires are more effective and more resistant to damage.  They link all the… Read More

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5 Electronics Design Tips

5 Electronics Design Tips

Electronics Design Tips for anyone. Electronics Design can cover a vast array of technical options.  This article will focus on some of the basics. A schematic drawing is only one part of creating a design in electronic engineering. Your schematic should be able to be read and understood by others in the electronic engineering field. If you are good with your schematic, the reader of your design should be able to… Read More

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Ardulab Open Sourcing Space

Ardulab Open Sourcing Space

With space travel moving from NASA to private enterprises like SpaceX many new opportunities are beginning to open up.  One of those opportunities is from a group called Infinity Aerospace and their Ardulab project. Bay Area Circuits is a sponsor of the project started by students from Stanford University.  Here is what they had to say about it in their announcement. Infinity Aerospace is pleased to announce Bay Area Circuits… Read More

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Measuring ESD Stress on a PCB

Measuring ESD Stress on a PCB

ESD Stress Figure 1. Measured Current Through a Protection Device on a PCB (Vertical Scale = 50 mA/div, Horizontal Scale = 20 ns/div) Abstract: (ESD Stress) Measuring voltage stress on components on a PCB under ESD stress conditions can be difficult as the ESD noise can inject error in the measurement. Often this error is larger than the voltage of the stress to be measured. A method of measuring voltage stress… Read More

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PCB Chassis Ground Connections

PCB Chassis Ground Connections

We hope you enjoy another guest blog post from electrical engineer Doug Smith. PCB Chassis Ground Connections       Figure 1. PCB Chassis Ground Connection Abstract: PCB chassis ground connections are often needed in electronic equipment, but if care is not taken, the PCB and the chassis ground structure can become a hi-Q resonant circuit that may cause problems. Background information is given and techniques to avoid problems in designs are… Read More

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Pcb Array’s Definition of Terms

Pcb Array’s Definition of Terms

PCB Array – What is it? Also take a look at our new PCB Array Calculator 1.01. What do you think of when you hear the word “array”? Perhaps you think of an antenna array, or possibly some type of mathematical array or maybe even Video Graphics Array (VGA like the adapter connection from your PC to your Monitor). It is definitely one of those words in the English language… Read More

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Useful Toolkit for Troubleshooting and Characterizing Circuits

Useful Toolkit for Troubleshooting and Characterizing Circuits

PCB Toolkit Enjoy our guest blog post from electrical engineer Doug Smith. Figure 1. Troubleshooting Toolkit including Current Probes, Wire Loops, and Copper Tape PCB Toolkit PCB Toolkit: Abstract: Over the years, I have developed a tool kit of items that are very useful for circuit troubleshooting and verification. Components of the kit are discussed and references given. Discussion: In addition to the normal troubleshooting tools like scope probes, oscilloscopes,… Read More

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Routing Signals Between PCB Layers – Part Four Interplane Voltage

Routing Signals Between PCB Layers – Part Four Interplane Voltage

Here is another post from Doug Smith.  We really appreciate his technical contribution to our site.  If you have questions for Doug please add them to the comments below. Figure 1. Test Setup For Measuring Voltage Between the Planes on a Four Layer PCB Model (Measurement in the time domain) Abstract: Four layer PCBs are used in a wide variety of applications. However, usually it is necessary for some signal… Read More

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Routing Signals Between PCB Layers – Part 3 Interplane Voltage

Routing Signals Between PCB Layers –  Part 3 Interplane Voltage

Routing Signals Between PCB Layers –  Part 3 Interplane Voltage (Frequency Domain Measurement) (Spectrum Analyzer Screen at 10 dB/div Vertically and 100 MHz/div Horizontally) Abstract: Four layer PCBs are used in a wide variety of applications. However, usually it is necessary for some signal paths to be routed on both the top and bottom signal layers to achieve required routing density. Using a model of a four layer PCB with… Read More

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Routing Signals Between PWB Layers – Part 2 An Emissions Example

Routing Signals Between PWB Layers –  Part 2 An Emissions Example

Routing Signals Between PWB Layers –  Part 2, An Emissions Example Figure 1. Relative Emissions for Two Paths (one passes from top to bottom layer (plot with peaks) and the other stays on one side) Abstract: Printed wiring board, PWB, signal paths must often change layers in a board stackup. Under some conditions this can cause problems. An emissions example is used to illustrate the conditions where changing layers can… Read More

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Routing Signals Between PWB Layers Part 1

Routing Signals Between PWB Layers Part 1

Routing Signals Between PWB Layers –  Part 1, An ESD Example Here is another in our guest blog posts from Doug Smith.  You can learn more about Doug at his website www.emcesd.com. Figure 1. Signal Current Flow in a Layer Transition Abstract: Printed wiring board, PWB, signal paths must often change layers in a board stackup. Under some conditions this can cause problems. An ESD example is used to illustrate… Read More