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28 The PCB Design Magazine • May 2016 by Andy Shaughnessy Kelly Dack has been designing PCBs for over three decades, at OEMs of all kinds. Now a PCB designer with a Washington state contract man- ufacturer and a certified trainer with EPTAC, Kelly enjoys waxing philosophic about PCB de- sign and design automation in general. I asked Kelly to answer a few questions about the direc- tion EDA tools are headed, and whether he'd like to see more control, or more automation in his PCB design tools. Andy Shaughnessy: You've been a PCB designer for quite a few presidential administrations, shall we say! In general, what do you think of today's design automation tools? Kelly Dack: I've heard them described by differ- ent designers as just different sets of hammers, in that they all get the jobs done. That classic meta- phor might need to be modified a bit. Take for in- stance a modern roofing hammer. With the help of a nail gun, utilizing pneumatics and standard- Design Automation Tools, Today and in the Future ized nails on reels, hammering a shingle onto a roof is now highly automated. The tool systems can be very effective, but often with automation can come frustration. My sister Karin recently purchased a nail gun to re-roof her garage. The gun kept jamming so she returned it to the store and came back with a different model. It worked for a while but then it jammed too. She ended up having to try different nail types and even exchange the gun again for a different brand in order to finish her roof. Any old timer watching the job would have said, "I could've had that job done with an old fashioned hammer by now." I think this story could be considered meta- phor for PCB design automation today. Design automation requires a consistent application and vision, budget, time, trial and error and re- petitive need in order to be considered an effi- cient PCB design solution. Shaughnessy: For your day-to-day design work, would you rather see more automation in your tools, or have more manual control? Is it just a matter of having the correct mix? FEATURE INTERVIEW

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