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16 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2023 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 Altium's John Watson is a longtime designer and design instructor, not to mention a Design007 columnist. He's been dealing with RF issues for years; his previous employer, Legrand, is one of the pioneers in smart light- ing and data center solutions. John discusses the differences between designing RF and "typical" PCBs, how to avoid the missteps and miscues that can bedevil new RF designers, and why the tiniest details can make or break an RF design. How does designing PCBs for wireless communications differ from designing a traditional PCB? e basis of any basic PCB is a balance of phys- ics in a controlled situation. When RF is intro- duced to the party, it's the equivalent to having a Bud Light on the hammock in the backyard vs. a full-blown kegger with all your neighbors and friends. When it comes to RF, everything becomes even more essential and critical to suc- cess—the physics change with high-frequency signals. e term radio frequency (RF) refers to the oscillation rate of an alternating electric cur- rent or voltage or a magnetic, electric, elec- tromagnetic field, or mechanical system in the frequency range from around 20 kHz to around 300 GHz. at envelops many of today's elec- tronic systems. Also, by definition, RF exists to transmit radiated information from one point to many points. erefore, the emitted energy must be controlled in a specific area on the PCB level so as not to cause problems. Is RF the black magic of the PCB world? It is commonly believed to be, but I would disagree

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