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50 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2021 manufacturing to end up with the envisioned product. is always takes a great deal of creativity and imagination—creating balance when we have conflicting demands. Making sure that our design can be properly manufactured. Escher designs are great in a 2D plane, but difficult to produce in 3D. And that's one requirement of the "art" of PCB design: It has to perform as advertised. Because others need to interface with our designs, the designer has to be able to visualize the finished 3D form. As an example, take an eight-layer board. It should be pretty straightforward, but it's not. When you mix multiple power rails, RF, and digital signals on one board, get ready to be very creative. I can't tell you what will work all of the time, but I can give guidelines to get you going. The Art of Applying the Science First, gather the facts. ese become your building blocks. is includes component conf ig urations, power rails, impedance requirements, current requirements, space available, keep-outs and keep-ins, deadlines, cost constraints, etc. Attend those planning meetings. at's the best place to pick up on the intent of the product design. en, learn from those who have tackled the issues before. is helps give you some guidelines. Read articles from Design007 Magazine, go to conferences, take a course or two online, attend PCEA Designer Council meetings, talk with others, etc. Talk with fab- ricators and assemblers so that you're aware of the terminology they use and issues they have to resolve with other designs. Also, use the tools. ere are many design tools out there; some are free. ere are also many design tools built into your ECAD soware. Learn how to take advantage of these. Other tools may not be as obvious, or they may be a little too expensive. Find oth- ers who have them and use their knowledge. Collaborate a little. Now the real processing begins. Put those blocks together to fit in the space allowed. is is where you have to apply your visualization skills, imagination, creativity, and patience. Yes, this is an art in itself. It could take multiple arrangements before you find the one that will work for all the criteria you've gathered. Don't worry about making mistakes. Every artist makes mistakes on the way to their masterpiece. Each design you complete gets you closer to understanding what works and what doesn't work. Being able to recognize that what you're doing isn't working is just as much of the process as finding out what does work. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Sometimes I find myself wanting the design to be perfect before I start. So many iterations go through my head before I start putting parts down, probably a holdover from my tape and decal days back when it was difficult to make changes. Once I get going, then things really start to move. I love the ECAD tools for that. As with all art, no two trees look exactly the same, and no two designs will be exactly the same. So even when we learn how to do a thing, we have keep relearning how to do it slightly different each time. Don't get stuck in a rut. Keep learning new technologies and methods. Lastly, there is one quality that 99% of all the designers I've met have in common with every artist I've met—passion for their work. Like creating anything, designing a PCB is a process of taking materials, manipulating them, and making a product. It is collaborative, uses all our senses and strategies, and ultimately leaves us knowing we have accomplished something that others can value. DESIGN007 Cherie Litson, MIT CID/CID+, is the principal of Litson1 Consult- ing. She is an instructor with EPTAC and Everett Community College.

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