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PCB Calculator Programs

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I thought we should have a post that we collect useful PCB guidelines, tips, tricks and calculators in.


Here's some contributions:


1. UltraCad's PCB Calculators and Tools

2. Saturn PCB Design Toolkit

3. High Speed USB Platform Design Guidelines

4. Dave Jones' PCB Layout Tutorial

5. TI's PCB Design Guidelines For Reduced EMI

6. Altera's High-Speed Board Layout Guidelines

7. SMPS' Power Supply PCB Design Guidelines

8. Maxim's General Layout Guidelines for RF and Mixed-Signal PCBs

9. High Voltage PCB Design

10. Op Amps for Everyone - Chapter 17: Circuit Board Layout Techniques


I think I touched on most of the important design topics. Low noise A2D pcb design is one I didn't track down yet.

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Yes! Emphatically YES!


You'll need to craft a 50 ohm trace from your RF module out to the antenna connector. How are you going to do that? What are the proper dimensions for that trace? Unless you know the dimensions already, you ain't gonna know.


What happens to the impedance of that trace when you decide that you need a 0.100" thick PCB instead of a 0.062" PCB? Just plug the dimensions into the calculator and out pops your routing information.


Another scenario that you alluded to is high speed differential traces. Granted, I doubt they would ever be used on an MSP430 but I've had to use them on FPGA designs where I was trying to get data in and out of the chip at 600MHz! It's a combination of RF and Transmission Line theory at that point. If you upset the impedance of those tracks with a misplaced 0603 resistor then BLAMMO you're dead in the water and you've wasted $2000 or more on your PCB.


It's all about signal integrity. You have to find it and struggle to keep it. There's an entire industry built up around SI and PCB layout.

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On 4/9/2013 at 11:26 PM, PolkaDot said:

While we're here, can you recommend or link to any recommended software packages?

Much appreciated  :smile:  

We (San Francisco Circuits) wrote a pretty massive PCB design software comparison article that compares 5 of the top CAD packages.

And, along the lines of high speed design tips, our RF PCB manufacturing page has a handy table of RF material selection based on application/industry.

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