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April 2014 • The PCB Design Magazine 57 Mark Toth is the business development manager at Cadsoft Computer. article THE INTERNET OF THINGS DRIVES NEW PCB DESIGN APPROACH continues only fully understood by designers who have been doing PCB CAD for many years. Luckily, as open source designs become more common place, and as more and more professional designers join commu- nities like element14, it becomes easier and easier for new designers to get help and tips from industry veterans. A truly community-driven design platform makes the barriers to entry lower than ever before. Once engineers have honed in on the bill of materials that fits the project budget and are ready to fabricate the PCB, very often one has to send it off and wait. Users should be able to access instant quotations for their small volume PCB fabrication and take advantage of quick- turn prototyping service from reliable, high- quality service partners through a one-click in- tegrated "PCB quote" link. Prototyping is as much about mechanical fit and manufacturability as it is about func- tionality, quality and performance. Designers are packing more and more components onto smaller and smaller boards into smaller enclo- sures, placing unprecedented demands on de- sign, analysis and simulation tools. Ed McMahon, CEO of Epec Engineered Technologies: Many are resorting to exotic and/or aluminium- clad PCB materials that are blind/buried via tech- nology to fit all of the required functionality onto their circuit boards. Choose a design solution that not only easily places those features into your de- sign, but also allows you to clearly and accurately communicate to your PCB fabricator what you are trying to accomplish. Many design products allow you to use the features and test them in your design, but do not give the fabricator the specific data they need to manufacture the product. While there are a plethora of commercial products available (most of them expensive to very expensive), there are relatively few that are low cost and lend themselves to the notion of "virtual design chain integration." For which- ever path you choose, it is important to weigh factors such as openness and capacity for inte- gration, ease of use, flexibility and community affiliation. It is this ease-of-use that is increas- ingly becoming important to balance how com- plex design can be accelerated while keeping the upfront design costs low. Despite the increasing levels of semiconduc- tor integration and readily available systems- on-chips for many applications, not to mention the increasing availability of highly-featured development boards which can be used out-of- the-box, electronics product development in many cases still relies heavily on custom PCB design. Even for one-off developments, the humble PCB still performs an important role; it's a physical platform for your design and it's also the most flexible ingredient to pull any electronics system together. PCBDESIGN by Real Time with... NEPCON South China Phonesat 2.4 has phoned home. The tiny spacecraft that uses an off-the-shelf smartphone for a brain has completed checkout and sent back data confirming all systems are "go" for the spry spacefarer. Phonesat 2.4, a cube approximately four inches square, weighs only about 2.2 pounds, and was developed at nAsA's Ames research Center in Moffett Field, California. it is confirm- ing the viability of using smartphones and other commercially available electronics in satellites destined for low-earth orbit. Data from the satellite's subsystems, includ- ing the smartphone, the power system and orien- tation control system are being downlinked over amateur radio at a frequency of 437.425Mhz. NASA's Latest Satellite Phones Home

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