Archive for April, 2017
The printed circuit board assembly (PCB) has revolutionized our lives in ways that could not have been envisioned when they were created early last century. Now, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the PCB is becoming more and more complex and some worry that designers are not keeping their skills up. This has become a concern when people talk to low volume PBC manufacturers in particular. New Electronicsandnbsp;tackled this topic earlier this year.
According to New Electronics’andnbsp;reporting, the importance of the PCB was highlighted at the 2016 Electronics Design Show (EDS), which drew more engineers than ever before. The Director of Sales for Altium UK Phil Mayno put it simply when he says, “The PCB is important.”
Mayo led a workshop at the conference. According to him, “For decades, the humble PCB has been the cornerstone of all electronic products. Today, perceptions of the PCB range from a simple interconnect medium to a fundamental component of a complex electronic system. Regardless of the perception, the reality is that modern product design is now more than ever reliant on the PCB and its associated electronic technology.”
Mayo believes that some low volume PCB manufacturers and others do not understand the true value of this piece of technology. He thinks they underestimate the need to keep up their skills to design and make PCBs. He says, “And thatandrsquo;s where designers start looking for things like simulation and magic wands. But they still need to know about component placement; especially with devices like DDR memory. Itandrsquo;s knowing about interconnect; itandrsquo;s about what I call andlsquo;proper engineeringandrsquo;. While these are things that arenandrsquo;t taught, they are also difficult to learn ‘on the job’.”
The Abaco Systems EDS presentation, Design Services Manager Ian McCormick said, “A PCB is a complex 3D puzzle with several conflicting requirements, including: component density; a restricted number of layers; signal integrity; controlled impedance; and thermal and mechanical constraints. It’s a jigsaw puzzle without a picture and only the shapes for clues. Engineers need to place components for efficient routing while satisfying mechanical, thermal and signal integrity requirements. But only one solution will satisfy all.You need a knowledge of electronics, but you also need to be artistic, creative, logical and good at problem solving.’
Mayo thinks the development and proliferation of the IoT has made things more complex. Of this, he said, “It (the IoT) has created something of a smokescreen.” He believes that the IoT would never have been created and would fall apart without PCBs.
To Mayo, one way the IoT is changing things is by changing the scale. He says, “The IoT device might be made in millions; volumes beyond the experience of most UK companies. That brings real business challenges.”
This development has complicated the process of manufacturing for many low volume PCB manufacturers. Mayo notes, “One low volume PCB manufacturer I talk to is being approached every day by companies looking for prototypes. Some are proper start ups with real ideas, some are makers, but few, if any, of them have the skills and knowledge needed to specify a PCB.”
The IoT is not the only new thing changing up the PCB landscape and creating a need for more qualified designers. Another area that has been growing is the area of LED lighting. Mayo says, “This market includes e-mech companies who need to come up with innovative MCU based solutions. That means a PCB and they also donandrsquo;t have skills in house or the right mindset. But PCB manufacturers canandrsquo;t afford to educate their customers and it becomes an almost self defeating problem as most PCB designs will be low volume.”
There are tools available to low volume PCB designers and manufacturers. The key to using them is knowing how. Mayo adds, “Altium Designer can draw 1andmicro;m traces. But good luck in getting a PCB with 1andmicro;m traces manufactured.”
Is there a solution to these problems? Mayo thinks that there is. He says, “Designers need to get out more. There are exhibitions, conferences and other good sources of information out there. But companies also need to invest in proper training otherwise the issues will only get worse.”
Ethernet Cables are categorized (cat) into various parameters; which distinguishes them from one another. This category is subject to change with the addition of new testing standards and the introduction of new cable features. It’s through these categorize you can quickly place each cable to its specific application. These cables include Category 5 (cat5) cable, Category 5 Enhanced Cable (cat5e) and Category 6 cable (cat6).
These Ethernet cables are manufactured differently, but they all consist of 4 twisted pairs of wires, which helps to prevent any current and interruption that might occur in the pairs.
Cat5 Ethernet Cable
As earlier mentioned, this cable consists of four twisted pairs of copper wire with an RJ–45 connector at the tip. This network cabling option covers a maximum length of 100 meters, anything thing above this length without the support of a bridge could result in network interference. Among the three ethernet cables, cat5 cable is the slowpoke of the bunch, but it handles speeds of 0.1 Mbps at up to 100 MHz bandwidth. Now, this is slow, a really slow connection. Over the years, there has been an introduction of faster and durable cabling options, which render obsolete all cat5 cables out there.
Most cat5 cables are unshielded; they depend on the twisted pairs of copper in mitigating crosstalk and signal interference. In fact, they are connected through a quick connect block, and a modular connector makes it possible to transmit telephone and video signals. Due to the slow connection this cable offers, it was superseded by other better and faster options, cat5e and cat6 cable.
Cat5e Ethernet Cable
A bulk cat5e cable is the most commonly applied network cable in first-time installations, and just like the other three cables, it’s made of twisted pairs of wires with a bandwidth of 100 Mhz. The physical design of Category 5 enhanced cable is similar to that of cat5, but now with other specifications, crosstalk is significantly reduced. Why is this cable so popular? It’s because is suitable for keeping signals on various channels from disrupting each other.
Additionally, this cable offers superior transmissions speeds of 1000 Mbps at 100 MH over distance 328 feet. However, Cat5e cable lacks tighter twists than its successor, Cat6 cable. These twists favor a too and from communication on each pair, something that a bulk Cat5e Ethernet cable fails to support. Generally, Cat5e tend to produce high delays and skews than Cat6 cable.
Cat6 Ethernet Cable
Category 6 is the latest improvement of the bulk Cat5e cable. At 250 MHz, this cable can connect up to 10 gigabits, and it offers the fastest and the most secure network cabling solution. With the internal separator built in this cable, pairs of wires are distinctively identified, and the perennial nuisance of crosstalking is eliminated. Experts recommend Cat6 as a lifetime ethernet cable for all network connection demand.
Whether you choose a snail-speed cable, Cat5 or a lighting cable, which is Cat6, it’s important that you find a cable that offers high-speed network signals with less interference and at a reasonable price. With individuals and companies shifting from a bulk cat5e cable to the super fast, cat6 cable, categorize will render each other obsolete.