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58 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 Picking a Prototyping Strategy No matter how simple or complicated your electronic project, PCB prototyping is part of its journey from concept to reality. This pro- cess of turning the design into something physical can teach you a lot about what needs to be tweaked and improved before your PCB is ready for full production. There are a few different approaches, ranging from various DIY options to commercial prototype fabrica- tion. But before you can prototype, you have to design. PCB design and initial testing usually hap- pen with CAD tools and circuit simulator soft- ware. These tend to target high-speed, high- frequency, mixed signals, and even RF designs. However, a lot of these software packages have a big price tag that can be prohibitive for a part-time designer or hobbyist hoping to take advantage of their testing features. Fear not. There are still cost-effective approaches to pro- totyping available. Since no two projects are the same, your ap- proach to prototyping should be flexible. Your needs will be different every time. Are you go- ing for fast-and-dirty prototyping? Do you need a quick turnaround time? Will it be easier for you to use a DIY prototyping technique? Connect the Dots by Bob Tise and Matt Stevenson, SUNSTONE CIRCUITS

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