Powerful Prototypes

Column from: Duane Benson

Duane Benson is a technology journalist and consultant operating as Positive Edge, LLC. He has 30+ years of experience in the electronics design and manufacturing industry as a developer, executive, speaker, and writer.

November 11, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: Small Computer Modules

Duane Benson has taken a rather long hiatus from building things—probably the longest in recent memory. For this column, he half-steps back into the design world by looking at a product someone else designed and built—the µduino (micro-duino).
July 29, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: A Trip Back to the Basics

Duane Benson recently designed a motion-sensitive lapel pin for the 2020 Open Source Hardware Summit, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, here, he shares lessons to learn and reviews more fundamentals from this project.
May 27, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: The Work World in 2021

While being at home, Duane Benson has been completing what life will be like once all of this is over. While he's excited to get back to the boards sometime, many things will change for the better. Duane shares five ways he sees the working world being different in 2021.
April 22, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: Why Datasheets Matter

Some parts just look cooler than others. One of Duane Benson's favorites is the edge mount high-speed RF connector. Unfortunately, "I like the look" doesn't necessarily translate to "it is easy to build." The edge mount connector requires a proper footprint and a match with the PCB thickness, and this is where the datasheet comes in.
March 25, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: Manufacturing in an Uncertain World

In the best of times, electronics manufacturing is an exercise in taking chaos (in the form of data and information of multiple non-aligned forms and formats) and creating order (in the form of a working PCB). As I write this, the coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic, and the primary theme of the day is uncertainty. Duane Benson shares four things you can do to better ensure that your projects can be built and improve your habits.
February 26, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: An Open-Source Adventure

Duane Benson describes the latest board design project he has been working on in his off-hours—a motion-sensitive lapel pin—including compromises, mistakes, and lessons learned
January 08, 2020

Powerful Prototypes: Five Technological Shifts in the New Decade

Depending on your perspective, we are either starting the last year of the old decade or starting the first year of the new decade. But regardless of what you call the decade, a lot of change is in store. Duane Benson shares five of the more significant technological shifts directly ahead of us and how to respond.
December 11, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: Cost Reduction in Design

Getting custom electronics manufactured is not cheap, fast, or easy. Fortunately, there are ways to keep costs down and yields up without adding cost. Duane Benson shares six ways to keep costs down and yields up that you can do without a lot of effort.
November 20, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: New PCB Fab Technology—What You Need to Know

Exotic materials have been around for a while, but being “exotic,” most of us could safely ignore them. However, as clock speeds increase, and board sizes decrease, some of those exotic materials are getting close to mainstream. Duane Benson shares some of the newest terminology you might see in your daily electronics adventures and will need to be familiar with when venturing beyond a standard, rigid FR-4 PCB.
October 30, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: Panelization—What Is It and Why Would You Want It?

We see orders for a single board, and we see orders for thousands. “A few thousand” falls way outside the realm of “prototype,” but in the startup and open-source worlds, the lines are blurred. Once you order more than about 50 boards, a few things change; for example, you should consider ordering your boards in a panel, also called arrays or a palette, of multiple boards.
September 19, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: Never Assume—A DFM Story

I write a lot of words about DFM and best practices for PCB layout. Working for a manufacturer, I regularly see the results of not taking DFM seriously. DFM is something never to be taken for granted at any point in the design cycle, and I mean at any point in the process.
August 14, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: 5 Common Myths About Solder Mask

Before parts are added, a typical PCB has four ingredients: substrate, metal, solder mask, and silkscreen. Solder mask, in particular, seems to be looked at as a great place to cut when costs are tight, but Duane Benson disagrees. Read on as he dispels five common myths about solder mask.
July 10, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: The Ideal Bill of Materials

A good portion of a quality electronics build is simply the result of clear information. Not long ago, I wrote about the set of files containing the information required by your manufacturing partner to ensure a quality build.
April 18, 2019

Powerful Prototypes: Moisture Sensitivity—What’s the Risk, and What Can You Do About It?

I recently traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a week of beignets, fried food, and urban exploration. It’s a good thing that parts of the exploration came in the form of walking as some level of exercise was needed to compensate for the lack of greens and heavy emphasis on the word “fried” that went along with most of the food.
March 28, 2019

Proper PCB Storage: Top Three Hazards

Overall, our modern world could not exist without PCBs; they are everywhere, but they aren’t items to be taken for granted. Like most technology, PCBs need proper handling and storage. PCBs don’t last forever and are even more vulnerable before the parts are soldered on. The solderable metal surface is very thin and subject to a number of potential problems, especially if not stored properly.
February 11, 2019

Seven PCB Cost-reduction Design Tips

Like everything else in the modern world, design decisions can have a pretty big impact on your manufacturing cost. Here's a list of seven design decisions that can make your manufacturing more affordable.
January 17, 2019

Eight PCB Assembly Tips for 2019

It's now 2019, and all I'll say on the coming year is that we are in for a wild ride. The last few years have been pretty crazy, and 2019 looks to continue that trend but amped up. While predictions might be fun to muse upon, they really won't help you get your job done. So, here's my top eight pieces of PCB assembly advice for the coming year to make up for that.
December 24, 2018

What Is Your Supply Chain Telling You About Components?

Right now, many, many parts are in short supply, or unavailable with extraordinarily long lead times. Allocation is the word of the day and substitutions are your friend. Sure, electronics components shortage happens every now and then in this industry. It's a periodic nuisance, but what should you do for the long term? Read on.
December 07, 2018

Electronic Manufacturing Files: What We Need for PCB Assembly

As PCB assemblers, manufacturing is all about taking data and delivering good working circuit boards. It can be just data, as in full turn-key, data plus some parts, or a partial turn-key or a kitted job. Regardless of whether you're sending parts and boards or having us buy everything, PCB assemblers need good data, and a lot of it.
November 28, 2018

The Future of PCB Designs

Duane Benson designed his first PCB using tape and etch-resist pens from RadioShack. He penciled the schematic on graph paper, drew the layout directly onto the single-sided copper-plated board, and then etched it. At the time, commercial PCB design wasn’t too different. In his column, he talks about the advancements in PCB design and the key considerations when designing boards.
November 14, 2018

Top 5 Things to Know When Moving from Hand Assembly to Robotic Assembly

A lot of factors go into the decision to hand-build or outsource circuit boards. When the decision is to outsource, there are a few important things to consider. Some things that work fine when hand soldering may stand in the way of quality, repeatability, and reliability when machine assembling. Here are some of the most important considerations when changing from hand-build to outsourced.
November 07, 2018

Top 5 Ways to Mitigate PCB Component Availability Problems

The electronics design world is by now aware that we're in a very serious period of components shortages. Allocation and shortages hit every few years, but this one seems to be the worst in recent memory. It could be a problem until 2020 and the supply chain and world of components manufactures will likely be a different animal coming out of it. Here are five things you can do to minimize the effects.
Copyright © 2024 I-Connect007 | IPC Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved. Log in