What are the telecom PCB design considerations?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: November 21, 2022
Telecom PCB

When it comes to designing PCBs for the telecom industry, there are a number of things to consider. Right from the PCB materials to the kind of testing required, there are factors unique to the industry; not to mention the fact that there are generally tough deadlines & budgets to work with.

Here are some of the PCB design considerations to take into account when designing for the telecom industry.

Telecom PCB Design Considerations

The specs

To begin with, it is extremely important to understand what is the size of the product, how the final product works, who are its target users, what are the features desired, and more. Additionally, it is important to think through how the device is being powered. Once you have thought through all these aspects you can rest assured that there will not be costly errors at a later date.

Software or Hardware? 

It is important to determine whether you can add hardware components or software code to complete some functions. Each of them comes with its own set of advantages & disadvantages:

Hardware Advantages:

  • Fewer security risks.
  • Needs analog signals.
  • Debugging is easy.
  • Less chances of failure.

Software Advantages:

  • Easy to update.
  • No requirements of costly materials.
  • Troubleshooting is easy.

The Microcontroller

Simply put, the microcontroller can be likened to the brain of the product. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the microcontroller wisely. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • What are the programming options – In making the choice of the microcontroller, you can go with one that has internal memory or one that can interact with external devices. Similarly, you can go with one that has a one-time programmable option or reprogrammable.
  • Whether or not the controller needs built in peripherals.
  • What are the internal RAM requirements and can an external RAM be used for expansion.
  • What are the technical considerations to get the microcontroller running.

Once you have an idea of the components required, the next step is to work on the schematics. You need to have the details such as the names, ratings, pins component values, and more.

It is imperative that you ensure that the bare board has enough space so that all the components can fit in.

Do not miss the fact that there has to be enough soldering mask between every pin. If this step isn’t done correctly, defects will soon surface.

PCB Component Placing and Routing 

You need to make sure that component placement is done correctly so that the PCB can function effectively. Component placement also has a strong impact on thermal management as well as electrical noise, so it needs to be done with care. As a thumb rule, Components should be arranged in the following order:

  • Connectors.
  • Power circuits.
  • Precision and sensitive circuits.
  • Critical circuitry components.

Some of the other guidelines to follow, include:

  • Place similar components facing the same direction. This will help reduce errors in soldering.
  • When plated through-hole components are placed on the solder side, it is important to see that components aren’t placed directly opposite.

Quality Checks 

This is a very important step once the PCB is completed. There are a number of tools such as a Design Rule Checker that can come in handy to spot any errors in design. Additionally, an Electrical Rule Checker is important to see that all specifications have been adhered to.

To sum up

It is imperative to follow six crucial steps when it comes to PCB designing:

  • Conceptualization of the board.
  • Draw the circuit schematic. When creating the schematic, it is also important to create a detailed bill of materials (BOM) that contains information on all the components.
  • Define the mechanical constraints of the board.
  • Ensure proper component placement.
  • Ensure good routing that improves signal and power integrity.
  • Run quality and manufacturing checks to ensure all requirements have been met. In case the design does not pass all the checks, you need to revisit the previous steps and make necessary changes.

At Technotronix, we have over 4 decades of industry experience. Importantly, we have dealt with a wide range of telecom providers. We are therefore well-poised to understand the various issues than plague the industry and how robust testing can help overcome these issues. To know more, please explore our PCB manufacturing services for Telecommunication Industry!

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Primary pcb heat dissipation techniques to protect your circuit board!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: October 27, 2022
PCB Heat Dissipation Techniques

One of the main considerations when it comes to ensuring the efficacy of a PCB is to make sure that the heat generated is dissipated well. Needless to mention that high temperatures can lead not just to issues in performance but also to the complete breakdown of the PCB. Before we look at some of the effective ways of heat dissipation in a PCB, it will be worthwhile to look at why heat is a problem, in the first place:

Issues caused by heat in PCBs

Although PCBs are designed to handle some amount of heat, excess heat in PCBs results in the following issues:

  • It can lead to disruption of circuit lines.
  • There is a chance of oxidation of components.
  • There could be loss of structural integrity.
  • It could lead to incompatible material expansion rates.

All of these issues impact PCB performance. It is imperative therefore to equip the PCB with effective heat dissipation techniques. Let us have a look at some of them below:

PCB Heat dissipation techniques

1. Cooling Fans and Heat Sinks
It stands to reason that cooling fans add a stream of cool air & bring down the temperature of the PCB. Typically, cooling fans are used when it comes to high current power supplies. In addition, heat sinks are also commonly used to dissipate heat. Simply put, these are thermally conductive metallic parts that are attached to heat-producing components. The heat sink ensures that heat is transferred & dissipated over large areas.

2. Thick Copper Traces
Thick copper traces work particularly well for high-power applications that offer a large surface for heat distribution as well as dissipation.

3. Heat Pipes
Heat pipes come in handy as they absorb heat with fluids such as acetone, ammonia, water or nitrogen. Once the fluid absorbs the heat, the vapor is released by the pipe. In turn, the vapor reaches a condenser where it condenses to a liquid. This method of heat dissipation is both reliable as well as cost-effective. Also the method is hugely popular as it is largely maintenance-free.

4. Right Board Materials
Choosing board materials that have heat-dissipating properties is extremely crucial. For example, choosing a polyimide base is important. Similarly, flex PCBs are known for their large surface area–to-volume ratios.

Aluminum PCBs are yet another great choice for their heat dissipation abilities. They are particularly suited to be used I case of high-power applications. Alternately, for high temperature projects, copper PCBs are a great choice.

Among nonmetals, ceramic PCBs also work well on account of high thermal conductivity and low coefficient of thermal expansion.

5. Thermal Via Arrays
The use of thermal via arrays help in increasing copper’s area as well as mass and thereby reducing thermal resistance. They also allow for better conduction of heat. In fact, the use of thermal via arrays along with pads, takes away the need of deploying heat sinks.

6. Copper Coin Technology
Embedding small pieces of copper in the PCB, particularly directly under the component that generates heat, has been found to be extremely effective. The high heat conductivity of copper makes sure that it conducts the heat from the component and sends it to the heat sink. The coins can take the following shapes:

  • T-coins
  • I-coins
  • C-coins

7.  PCB Layout
It is important to follow some best practices for heat dissipation when it comes to the PCB layout. Some of these best practices that assist in heat dissipation, include:

  • Placing temperature-sensitive parts at the bottom as opposed to the top of heating devices.
  • Stagger parts for improved ventilation.
  • Placing a thermometer in the hottest area to be able to evaluate the heat generated.
  • Installing heat sources far away from each other.
  • Placing heat-generating components downstream of the cooling fan. In fact, it is imperative to study the air circulation of the PCB & then place high heat generating devices accordingly.

With the above techniques, you will be able to make sure that heat is effectively dissipated & that it does not come in the way of the effective functioning of the PCB & hence of the device.

Technotronix provides a one-stop solution for PCB manufacturing services with specialized support, reliable testing, and multi-functional features. In case you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email at sales@technotronix.us or call us at 714/630-9200.

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LED PCB design guide – What are the design considerations?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: October 20, 2022
LED PCB design

The use of LED PCBs must quite an extent become ubiquitous with many applications making use of them. In fact, the use of LEDs in standard printed circuit boards is quite a technological revolution. They offer several advantages including but not limited to:

  • Low Cost.
  • High on efficiency in terms of power consumption.
  • Compact structure including their light weight and small size.
  • Resistance to dust & moisture.
  • Improved lifespan, and more.

To avail of the many advantages offered by LED printed circuit boards, however, it is imperative that some key design aspects be kept in mind. Here is a quick look at some of them.

Key considerations in LED PCB design

Component placement

One thing that is crucial when it comes to LED PCB design, it is proper component placement. With the right component placement you can not only ensure easy manufacturability but also ensure quality.

It is important to maintain a certain distance when it comes to placement of components on the board else it can lead to overvoltage. It is therefore important to consider two aspects:

  • Creepage or the shortest distance between components.
  • Clearance or the distance between components measured through the air.

It is also important to ensure that the components are not placed near the PCB outline. Placing components towards the edge can lead to dislodging of components.

Also, it must be kept in mind that all Surface Mounted components follow the SMD PCB design rules. Through-hole components similarly must be placed on top of the board so that the number of steps required for assembly, are optimized.

As for blind and buried PCB vias they should not be placed too close to SMT pads as doing that can mean that the solder can migrate away from the pad. In such situations, there is the possibility of a faulty joint. As a thumb rule, therefore, a distance of 0.025 inches or more should be maintained between the vias and the SMT pad.

PCB materials

While considering the PCB design, it is also important to take into account the material used. The two popular choices include FR4 and IMS or what is known as Insulated Metal Substrate. In choosing the PCB material you need to be mindful of the fact that it not only ensures that excess heat is removed from the board but it also provides electric insulation.

When it comes to the metal base layer, aluminum is a popular choice as it ensures thermal management.

Thermal management

High temperature can impact the longevity of LED lights. To ensure thermal management, therefore, the following are used to dissipate heat:

  • Aluminum Cores
  • Thermal Vias
  • Heat Sinks

For thermal management it is also important that the right component placement be undertaken.

Tracking

Careful tracking is a prerequisite in order to ensure there are no short circuits or crosstalk. If there is proper trace routing, you can rest assured that there is no interference from other networks. The right track width also goes a long way in preventing overheating. It is also important to pay due attention to:

  • Tracking Space
  • Mounting Holes

Finishes

The finish of the board helps in protecting the copper as also offering a soldering surface. Some of the common finishes include:

  • HASL
  • OSP
  • Electrolytic Nickel
  • Electrolytic Gold
  • Immersion Tin
  • Immersion Silver, and more.

The pros and cons of each finish need to be carefully ascertained.

To Sum Up

When it comes to LED PCB, we need to ensure that the following challenges are suitably mitigated:

Heat – The design should ensure that there is optimal thermal management so that longevity is maintained. This is because the temperature of the LED circuit has an inverse correlation with the longevity of the LED.

Color of the light – Once the temperature of the LED circuit increases the colors of the LED can change. Therefore proper heat dispersal is key.

Efficient PCB design, therefore, is a key aspect of manufacturing the right LED solution. It is imperative that you choose the right partner who has the requisite industry knowledge and can also ensure that the PCB designs are customized to the bespoke needs of your applications.

At Technotronix, we are fully equipped to handle your LED PCB manufacturing requirements. With over four decades of experience in delivering high-quality, on-time, competitive price products, you can bank on us for your PCB requirements. In case you have any questions regarding LED circuit boards, please feel free to contact us via email at sales@technotronix.us or call us at 714/630-9200.

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A comprehensive guide to improve automotive PCB design!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: October 13, 2022
Automotive PCB Design

Printed Circuit Boards are an integral part of almost every automobile. In fact the use of sophisticated PCBs has led to the incorporation of revolutionary features in automobiles including but not limited to keyless start, automated parking, autopilot & more.

The board design & layout has a crucial part to play when it comes to improved performance. Here are some deign guidelines to follow that can go a long way in improving efficiency.

Automotive PCB Design Guidelines:

1. Component Placement

Both the placement as well as orientation of components have a big role to play when it comes to the performance of the board. Some thumb rules to follow, include:

  • Ensuring that similar components are placed in the same direction.
  • If you are undertaking wave soldering, the components should be parallel to the direction of the wave.
  • Ensure that inductors come with spaces in between.
  • Inductors should be kept at right angles to each other to prevent crosstalk.
  • The analog & digital components must be separated.
  • Ensure that tall & short components aren’t placed adjacent to each other.
  • High power components should be placed away from other components in order to ensure proper dissipation of heat.

2. Proper placement of leads

  • Leads should not be placed too close to each other.
  • Ensure proper grounding under the leads.

3. Signal Routing

For layers that conduct high current, the use of 2-4 vias is prudent. To ensure proper signal routing, the following principles come in handy:

  • Power and ground planes must be placed on inner layers.
  • Sensitive signals must be protected from noise sources.
  • Use of shortest tracks is advisable.
  • In routing the traces, the direction should be horizontal on one side and vertical on the other.
  • In fact, the vertical & horizontal layers must be placed alternately.

4. Thermal Management

It is imperative that thermal management techniques be employed such that heat is effectively disseminated. Some of the ways to do it include:

  • The use of copper planes & signal vias helps improve thermal conductivity.
  • In terms of placement, the signal vias must be placed closer to the components with surface pins.
  • Where there are high-power components, it is important that heat sinks be placed.
  • The use of metal thermal pads is also prudent.
  • Solid-filled vias also help transfer heat effectively.
  • Using metal core for the board is yet another effective strategy.
  • The use of high Tg boards is also recommended.

5. Design Rules

Some of the design rules to follow as practice include:

  • Ensure that there is appropriate spacing between components.
  • Similarly, the spacing between the power supply & ground wires needs to be adequate.
  • Ensure that the PCB layout connectivity is in sync with the schematic.
  • The outer rim of the power layer should be reduced in order to avoid short circuits.
  • Ensure that you verify the signal integrity, power integrity as well as electromagnetic interference.
  • Check to see that the ground connections are adequate.

To sum up

No marks for guessing that automotive designs will continue to get more and more complex. In fact with advanced driverless cars, the complexity will only go up. It is therefore extremely important that automotive design adheres to the following standards:

  • IATF 16949
  • IPC- 6012 Class 3
  • AEC-Q100

In fact, IPC-6012 offers a number of guidelines for automotive PCB design. Some of these specifications include:

  • The position accuracy of holes allows for a tolerance of 100 microns.
  • There needs to be a minimum drill hole size.
  • The hole wall separation needs to be no more than 40% of the dielectric thickness.
  • Ensure that there si no contamination before application of the solder mask.
  • Post the soldering process, preconditioning needs to be undertaken to look for cracks, open & short circuits.
  • Solder Mask parameters need to adhere to IPC- 6012DA.

In addition, if Class 3 boards are being manufactured to cater to crucial applications, the following points will come in handy:

  • The PTH should be 15 mils over the diameter of the lead.
  • The internal annular ring should not be less than 1 mil while the external. annular ring should not be less than 2 mil.
  • Pattern tolerances need to be adhered to.

Adherence to the above pointers will ensure that the PCB design for automotives can cater to the most complex applications.

Technotronix is a skilled and experienced professional in providing secured automotive electronics and PCB manufacturing service. We have state-of-the-art equipment and an experienced team that can deliver quality PCB assembly and prototypes that do justice to the ever growing and dynamic demands of automotive industry.

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