The Shaughnessy Report: The Designer Roundtable Roundup


Reading time ( words)

Every year, I attend SMTA Atlanta, just across town. You have to love a local trade show! No airlines, no jet lag, and no hotels. It’s a small show; it would fit in a school gymnasium. 

Regional tabletop shows like this may be the next big thing. Fees for exhibiting are so low that it’s hard to justify not exhibiting. Some companies had their local reps manning the booths, but I talked to exhibitors who flew in from all over the East Coast, including one technologist from Canada. If you can tie in a few customer visits, the trip can pay for itself. 

But for me, the highpoint of SMTA Atlanta is the Designers Roundtable. This informal gathering usually draws about a dozen PCB designers, some of them ex-Scientific Atlanta veterans. It’s moderated by UPMG’s Pete Waddell, and we bounce questions off the designers for an hour or so. It’s very informal, and it draws many of the PCB designers in metro Atlanta.   

This year the roundtable had 15 attendees, up from 12 last year. Two of the new attendees were under 35, which surprised all of us. They design medical boards, which isn’t such a surprise; that’s one segment that keeps on growing. Most of the designers attending work for Cisco, Siemens, Sienna, NCR, and a few other smaller firms. 

A few takeways: None of these designers thought much of solder mask-defined pads, because they create more problems than they solve. 

  • They don’t trust CAD vendors’ libraries, and there’s not much love for OEMs’ libraries either. One designer said he spends hours re-inventing the wheel designing footprints he’s used before. 
  • They didn’t see much hope for the new “pay per use” license being floated by companies like ANSYS. One designer said that soon they’d all be back renting mainframe time like it was 1987 all over again. 
  • As always, most designers at the roundtable have a love/hate relationship with their EDA tools. One Cadence user said he really loves his tool’s horsepower, but he’s glad Dal Tools makes Cadence tools work better.   
  • None of these attending designers, or even their companies, use signal integrity or EMC simulation. One designer said, “All of the simulation in the chip is already done.” 
  • Most of these designers don’t like updating their EDA tools because each new rev of the tool contains even more errors than the previous rev.  

To read this entire article, which appeared in the May 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

Share




Suggested Items

HDI, A-SAP and mSAP: A Designer’s Point of View

10/26/2022 | Cherie Litson, CID+, Litson1 Consulting
HDI—high-density interconnect—designs require some different thinking on the part of the designer. One of the first things to consider is whether you need HDI, and if so, how much. The HDI option comes into play as soon as you purchase any components with 0.5 mm pin pitch. The number of these components and other specifications of your design will determine the amount of HDI you will need. Here’s a quick list of HDI options.

DFM 101: Final Finishes ENEPIG and IAg

09/29/2022 | Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits
One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability. Final finishes provide a surface for the component assembler to either solder, wire bond, or conductively attach a component pad or lead to a pad, hole, or area of a PCB. The other use for a final finish is to provide a known contact resistance and life cycle for connectors, keys, or switches. The primary purpose of a final finish is to create electrical and thermal continuity with a surface of the PCB.

Happy’s Design Tips for Material Conservation

08/25/2022 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
For this issue, Happy Holden provided a range of options for designers who are seeking to conserve materials in their next design. He also offered an example of the relative cost index, or RCI, that he developed at HP exclusively for PCB design. With this RCI, designers can figure out the relative cost of a new design compared to an eight-layer through-hole board. We hope you can use this handy formula on your next design job.



Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007 | IPC Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.