MAGAZINE

EMC for PCB design is anything but black magic.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) problems are often responsible for redesign cycles during the PCB design process, but once engineers and designers understand the basics, they see there’s nothing mystical about it.

EMC is the branch of electrical engineering and physics that deals with the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic waves (in the E and H fields). These can cause undesirable effects in electronic devices, including functional interferences, malfunctions, or even physical damage.

Generally, two fundamental aspects are considered. First, the emission referring to the unwanted generation of electromagnetic energy and its transmission to the sinks, along with the necessary countermeasures to reduce such emission. Second, the respective susceptibility to interference relating to the operation of electrical/electronic equipment (or components) that become “victims” of unintended electromagnetic interference (EMI).

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Solving “track and trace” problems, even in reverse.

To get a sense for how blockchain can address issues in the electronics industry, it may help to start with a story about an earlier technology. A young electrical engineer in 1980 had a job interview with an industry veteran who asked if he had ever heard of a thing called a “vacuum tube.” The young engineer admitted his semiconductor class had included a one-hour lecture demonstrating how field-effect transistors worked like vacuum tubes.

“When I was in college, they made us take a semester of tube theory because they thought it might be useful some day!” the veteran exclaimed. His outburst highlighted a common theme in emerging technology. More than 50 years later, it was easy for the next generation of engineers to see the number of new products enabled by vacuum tubes, even though by that time solid-state devices had already largely replaced them. But during the 1920s, when vacuum tubes represented the latest innovation in technology, it was difficult to see they would lead to radar, FM stereo, television, and rock concerts. In the same way, it’s doubtful the creators of the internet anticipated using it to watch videos, hail rides, or monitor a newborn baby in the crib.  Even those of us lucky enough to apply the latest advancements in technology are unlikely to foresee all the ways new technology will be applied.  

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I left the US for Japan almost seven months ago and finally returned last week. Business meetings, sales calls and other work activities is mostly done via the internet in Japan.

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New (and different) industry programs fill (wide) gaps of academia.

In the 2020s, receiving an undergraduate – or even a graduate – degree in one’s chosen area of expertise is no longer enough to start a career, let alone sustain one. We must all be lifelong learners to keep abreast of new information, technology, and processes to flourish. Continuing education is not an option; it is a must. The PCB design occupation is no exception. Cue scores of passionate subject matter experts, eager to impart decades of knowledge gleaned from on-the-job training, higher education, face-to-face interaction, and teaching in a time when the industry struggles to replace veterans who are retiring at a rapid pace.

In March, PCD&F reached out to the creators of emerging online programs available to those interested in perfecting design and layout of printed circuit boards. First, PCD&F spoke with Michael Creeden, CID+, and Rick Hartley, BSEE, CID, via Zoom about their new self-published manual, Printed Circuit Engineering Professional, and the instructor-led program that accompanies it: Printed Circuit Engineering Designer (PCED), available from a national training center.

Creeden and Hartley, who coauthored the 400+ page A-to-Z reference guide with Gary Ferrari, CID+, Susy Webb, CID, and Stephen Chavez, CID+, are directors of the nascent Printed Circuit Engineering Association. PCEA is offering those who complete the program a new certification, Certified Printed Circuit Designer (CPCD).

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