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MARCH 2019 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 27 Johnson: Out of the entire design flow—coming up with the concept of the circuit, building up a schematic, all the way through to getting an assembled board, bench testing, and now doing your own designs every day in the real world— what was the hardest part or the biggest cogni - tive step for you? Burt: The most difficult part was the layout de- sign of the components. To lay them out in a fashion to use the least amount of space while still being accessible, to be placed if it's a sur- face-mount component, or to be soldered if you're using a through-hole component can be challenging. Also, getting the traces to their proper destination is also a factor when you're placing components on a PCB and de - signing. Another hard thing for me was designing where each component needs to go because if I put a component in a certain place, other traces don't have very far to go to get to their next destination. The other part might have a harder time, so you might have to jump to another layer, but then more layers add more cost to the board as well. If you want a sim - ple, two-layer board, then you have to come up with a pretty smart design to keep that cost down. Keeping a cost versus size versus organi- zational scheme when you're physically laying out the components in the program was also tough for me. The first time I built it, I changed my design multiple times—maybe three differ - ent designs—and ended up with the one with the least amount of trace length and the fewest board layers. Johnson: Sounds to me like you spent a lot of your time getting a smart placement before you did the routing. Burt: Yes. It's very important to practice because it takes a lot to get good. By my third PCB, I got quite good at it, and it took me just so much less time—an exponential drop in time. The first board I built took me so many days and weeks to get it right. The second board was a little less, but it still took me a long time. With the third board, I improved quite a bit and was able to do a simple design within hours. At first, even a simple design would take me so long, so practice is very important. To get started early is also very important as well as having a class on it to practice. Johnson: You're transitioning into the industry now, and you interviewed with a test and mea- surement company in the area, right? Burt: I did. Johnson: How did your PCB design experience contribute to how that interview went? Burt: I was able to show not only my software experience to the company but also my hard- ware and circuit design experience to them. With electrical engineers, it's important that they know how circuit designs and PCBs work because everything in the industry is on a PCB. There aren't breadboards; there's even testing usually done on the PCB. I was familiar with that and showed them that I had experience and an interest in it. They believed it was a ben - efit because I wouldn't have to learn how a PCB works for their designs. Instead, I can go in right away, interface with their designs, and contin- ue where they've left off in the design process. I think that was important to them, and I defi- nitely think it helped me versus if I had no idea how to do a PCB. Johnson: Especially for a test and measurement company. Burt: Exactly. All of their products are analog to digital. That's essentially everything that they do, which requires custom-designed circuits. Of course, those are going to be on a PCB, so it's always great to have them right in front of me to show them, so they can look and be impressed. Johnson: Good luck with that opportunity, and thanks for taking the time to talk with us. This has been great. Burt: You're welcome. Thank you. DESIGN007

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