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Page 64 of 97

JANUARY 2019 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 65 Use All of the Resources Available to You This may seem puzzling at first. After all, you are probably already working with a great set of PCB design tools that give you an incredible amount of versatility and power. But are you using the tools that you have to their fullest extent? Are you using all of the features and functionality that the tools have to offer you? There have been many times in my career where after doing something the same old way for a long time, I found out that there was an easier way to do it. Perhaps there was a simpler menu pick or keystroke shortcut to use, or a way to accomplish the task using only three steps instead of five. The point is to keep your eyes open for better and more efficient ways of doing things in your design tools. There are probably a lot of them; you just have to find them. Try taking a look at some of the user chat channels and tooltips from your CAD vendor. You may find something that will save you a lot of time and effort that you never knew existed before. In the same vein, there are often advanced features in our design tools that we simply have never used. It could be that our design process hasn't required their use, or perhaps they seemed too difficult to learn. In some cases, we don't want to take the time to add a new process to our already overloaded schedules. But these tools are designed to help you, and you may be missing out on some functionality that could solve some of your design problems. Supply Chain Management This issue of Design007 Magazine is dealing with the challenges of supply chain management. The entire design community is being confronted with the problem of parts becoming more expensive and not as easily available as they used to be. Finding parts when you need them and for the price that you can afford has become more important than ever before. This search can cost a lot of your time and effort to find what you need. You may even be spending extra time and money on additional staff and resources to help you. Did you know though that many CAD tools can connect you online with your preferred component vendors for pricing, availability, and the latest data sheets? Without knowing which tools you use, I can't make a blanket statement that your specific tools can do this, but I do know that many tools out there have these capabilities. You can use these tools to help find the parts you need for the price that you want to pay that will be available when you need them. You can then pull those parts into your library and directly onto your schematic while consulting their online data sheets and other information resources. There are now so many other features and functions in design tools than the simple place- and-route tools that we are used to using. Do yourself a big favor and take a look to see if you may already have some of these useful features that can help while saving you time and effort. It's taken a lot of years, but I've come full circle and am ready to admit that my dad was right all along. A job worth doing is worth doing right; we just need to find those better ways of doing it. DESIGN007 Tim Haag is a PCB design consultant based in Portland, Oregon. To read past columns or contact Haag, click here.

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