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36 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2022 e production team is always excited when the first shipment of boards for a new elec- tronic device comes back from the PCB manu- facturer. Anticipation builds as the engineer connects the first set of components, puts everything together, and gets ready for that first test. But when something goes wrong—a tiny pop, a sizzle, a puff of smoke, or nothing hap- pens at all—the mood can turn from excite- ment to frustration. e engineer performs a postmortem and discovers a pinhole melted into the integrated circuit (IC), and then the culprit (a missing decoupling capacitor) led to a completely predictable voltage spike. The ABCs of Clean Schematics Where did the process go wrong? e engi- neer is certain that they put the capacitor in the right place. However, on closer examination, perhaps it is not close enough to the IC pad. Is it the fault of the PCB designer? Chances are that the designer will claim that they put the capacitor right where the schematic said it should be. In a case like this, the fix is easy. e designer and the engineer get on the same page and produce a new design in 15 minutes. Unfortu- nately, the current batch of boards is now only useful as a set of coasters—delaying the project and potentially creating budget overruns. is is a common issue for electronics manu- facturers, and it is completely avoid- able. Good Schematics Are Good Communication When engineers start to put together projects, the schematics are vital to good communication with the PCB designer. eirs is a team effort. e schematic is where the engineer thinks through the proj- ect. However, by the time they hand it off to the designer, it needs to be a clean, comprehensible document that isn't vague and doesn't confuse. Most importantly, the engineer needs to communicate everything the PCB designer needs to design the right board for the project. Connect the Dots by Matt Stevenson, SUNSTONE CIRCUITS

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