EDA / PCB Design

The world of electronic design automation is broad, covering everything from the simplest PCB to the most complex custom device. But without such tools, designers would be unable to create innovative consumer and industrial products.

In this section, New Electronics provides technical insight on the latest PCB design packages, as well as on the design tools essential to the creation of devices such as FPGAs and ASICs.

Programmable matter could make evolutionary hardware a reality

First realised 20 years ago, evolutionary hardware design continues to fascinate a small group of researchers. The attraction is not difficult to understand; instead of trying to design behaviour or structure into a system manually, you let the system determine for itself how it should work. Just like biology – only you need it to happen in less than a few million years.

1D to 3D HMI solutions

Just a few years ago Touch revolutionised input: mechanical buttons, keyboards and sliders were replaced by static plastic or metal surfaces. It meant that operator interfaces could be incorporated into a device, and unobtrusive and modern design became increasingly common on the factory floor. Capacitive touch is based on a capacitor whereby the human finger acts as the actuator for the capacitor. Ingenious designs also enable proximity switches to be implemented as well. In this case the control system is only active shortly before it is activated, reducing energy consumption. This is known as ‘1D’ input.

Minimising costs for wire-to-board connections

Wire-to-board connections incur high costs when handling large quantities in mass markets. However, using the right connection technology this expense can be prevented. It's often worth considering the use of tried-and-tested technologies that enable cables and circuit boards to be connected at little cost.

Monetising innovation

Electronics continues to find itself integrating deeper and deeper into the lives of consumers, and the ubiquity of smartphones, electric cars, entertainment systems, and energy-efficient homes and lighting should be creating a boom time for the industry. Indeed, it is hard to find products where the electronics is not now firmly the glue that makes everything work and come alive.

How to design increasingly complex boards in less time

Boards are becoming increasingly complex, with more components being placed on smaller areas. According to figures from Mentor Graphics, layer counts have stayed the same during the last five years, but area has dropped by almost a third and densities have risen by 25%.

Starting a new lifecycle for ETX/XTX applications

The first generations of Intel's popular Atom processors have now been discontinued. For ETX/XTX-based designs, congatec modules with the AMD Embedded G-Series APU step in as perfect successors offering all the required features. Hence, a new lifecycle for these legacy systems and consequently an increase in the ROI of OEMs' applications is possible.

Opening up the design process

Collaboration has always been the cornerstone of any successful manufacturing business and especially so when customers are becoming more demanding and products more complex. As the supply chain evolves so there is a growing need to share product data more effectively and despite significant progress in recent years it remains a problem. Attempts to solve interoperability bring with it a host of technical issues.

A recently developed board format is being targeted at low power, high performance applications

There is no shortage of board formats available to product designers – and it seems there is always room for a new configuration to be introduced. One of the more recent formats to be unveiled is SMARC – short for Smart Mobility Architecture. The format was developed by SGET, the Standardisation Group for Embedded Technology. SGET was launched at Embedded World in 2012, with founding members including Advantech, congatec, Data Modul, Kontron, MSC and SECO.

Inter plane stitching for optimum high speed digital signal integrity

With operating speeds running well into the Gigahertz region during the past decade, engineers must be ever more vigilant when it comes routing circuits on PCBs. In this contributed article, Robert Trautman says whether you do your own routing, hand it off to another group within your company or send it out to be done, it is now more important than ever before to fully understand the transmission line effects of the copper traces and how they affect high speed digital signal integrity. To read the complete article, click here.

PCB based system brings increased flexibility to satellite test systems

The proliferation of artificial satellites is quite staggering; almost 7000 satellites have been deployed to date, around half are still in orbit and something like 1000 are still active. It's no exaggeration to say that modern life wouldn't be the same without satellite technology and so it's not surprising to learn it's a growing industry.

Raspberry Pi and Arduino cater to the masses

Raspberry Pi has been a phenomenon. As it celebrates its second birthday this month, it was hoped that it would have sold 2million units. In fact it passed this milestone back in October 2013. While Arduino can't quite match the unit sales, it does have more hardware options and flexibility.

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