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38 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2021 A Few Pointers • Visit multiple assembly and fabrication shops for both prototypes and production. Many designers haven't been inside a board shop in decades, if ever. Ask questions and try to understand these processes, because many design mistakes are related to improper DFM and DFA practices. • Take an IPC-J-STD-001 training course and learn how to solder parts onto PCBs. Learn all the terms, definitions, and acronyms. When I first started in CAD design, I felt almost like I was learning a new language. • Learn every component package. ere are only 50 types of standard packages. What functions do they perform? Resis- tors, capacitors, diodes, and inductors comprise 80% of the parts on a typical PCB design. Learn the reference designa- tor chart, as well as the basic component lead forms: gull wing, rectangular end cap, J-lead, castellation, bottom terminals, BGA, CGA, LGA, through-hole, etc. • Familiarize yourself with the major CAD vendors—Cadence, Siemens, Zuken, and Altium. When you pick a CAD tool, learn every feature that it has. Read the user guide. • Read books by high-speed design experts such as Lee Ritchey and Eric Bogatin. When reading content that focuses on signal integrity, be sure to understand the importance of a well-designed reference plane for your return current. Again, ask questions. I would also advise young people who may be interested in PCB design to get familiar with math, especially geometry. High school and college geometry courses are very impor- tant and knowing Cartesian coordinates and the Pythagorean theorem are a must. In the early 2000s, IPC predicted that the PCB designers of the future would be electri- cal engineers, and we're seeing evidence of that trend today. So, go to college, at least get a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and take draing and geometry classes. You can take online classes today, and all you need is a computer with an internet connection. An electrical engineering degree will open the door to employment at the entry level. en you'll be ready to really start learning PCB design. DESIGN007 Tom Hausherr is president of PCB Libraries.

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