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62 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2021 Feature Article by John Watson ALTIUM Anyone who calls themselves a "geek" has probably uttered those famous words from Star Trek's opening: "Space: the final ontier. ese are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!" Most PCB designers would agree that we know precisely how Captain James T. Kirk felt because we oen feel the same way when starting a new design. We are launching into something that we ultimately don't know how it will turn out. We don't know the difficul- ties we'll face or problems we'll need to fix. While we can control the design process and use our skills to make reasonable decisions, there are oen huge hazards awaiting us in the "unknown." One worsening problem for all designers is component procurement. Every component has both static and dynamic information: static is the parametric information, schematic symbol or footprint; dynamic data is the sourcing. Actually, it is incredibly dynamic and constantly changing, which can cause significant problems in your design. Component availability is so volatile that it changes by the hour. It doesn't make it any easier to select com- ponents at the beginning of a project as you don't know what final components will ultimately end up in your design. From the start of a design until you eventually drag it across the finish line, significant prob- lems can occur and it's anybody's guess what might happen. One of the standard rules in design and engineering is not to make assumptions as this introduces a tremendous amount of risk into the design process. But, it seems this is what's happening when we select specific compo- nents in this current environment. Causes of Component Shortages If we were using the defense readiness con- dition (DEFCON) alert state to illustrate the component shortage's seriousness and sever- ity, we would easily be sitting at a DEFCON 2. Overcoming Component Selection and Sourcing Challenges

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