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42 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2021 Feature Article by Nick Barbin OPTIMUM DESIGN ASSOCIATES e proverbial saying "garbage in, garbage out" holds true in the electronic product devel- opment world. PCB designers stand squarely in the middle of a busy information intersec- tion flowing with inputs and outputs. Missing or bad information at the beginning of a design project will undoubtedly lead to board re- spins, increased costs, and most importantly, a delayed product release. e same can be said about the PCB designer who doesn't provide a fully checked and comprehensive data pack- age to the downstream manufacturers, i.e., "throwing it over the fence." Certainly, there is only so much a person can do with wrong or missing information, but to help ensure the success of a design project, it is incumbent upon the PCB designer to have systems in place to manage the flow of infor- mation through documented standards and guidelines, effective communication, and a series of checks and balances. It is important to understand that most electrical engineers are not PCB designers, and many do not know exactly what informa- tion is required. erefore, it is up to the PCB designer to be proactive and to request all the information and specifications needed for the project beyond the obvious items (schematic, mechanical, and BOM). is can be accom- plished with a design specification document as we employ at Optimum or just a document checklist of items, such as the items listed below: • Component datasheets and application notes • Placement floor plan • Stack-up, copper weight, material, via spans, etc. • ICT or flying probe requirements • Copper constraints that address impedance, timing, topology, current, etc. • Board nomenclature details/special notes As with most things in life, effective com- munication is key to ensuring information is not missed. At Optimum, every design proj- ect begins with a kick-off meeting (via Zoom these days), preferably with all the stakehold- ers present, but at a minimum between the Eliminating 'Garbage In, Garbage Out' With Checks and Balances

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