Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

Technology


Product Development

As a process, Product Development can be handled a number of different ways. And if your product only requires input from a single technical discipline which you are very experienced in, then you can usually predict everything you need to do and just make sure it all happens the right way.

But if the product is complex, involves many disciplines, and has unknowns about the technical direction to take, then it can sometimes resemble a roller coaster ride more than it does a straight forward journey. And there can be unexpected bumps along the way.

Our most recent employee brought this video to my attention and I thought it covered this topic really well. We used it for an in house lunch and learn session so I recommend you check it out to. It isn’t short so you might want to set aside a time you can sit back and enjoy it.

The presented is Andrew “Bunnie” Huang and the conference he is presenting at is linux.conf.au 2013. 

Quite a list of things you can run into just getting a fully package embedded computing device ready for market. The HDMI Man In The Middle exploit was my favourite part.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

The 4th Industrial Revolution

This is the first in a series of posts looking at the 4th Industrial Revolution that is now upon us. To understand why this is a big deal, it is worth looking at the previous 3 Industrial Revolutions.

This material is based on presentations made by Dr. Martin Schlegel who is a consultant providing regular updates to the South East Business Networks as well as working with overseas organisations working in this area. He even has clients in Germany.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0

Industry 1.0

This is the first of the mechanical automation to create a huge breakthrough in productivity and consistency of production. The earliest examples are steam and water driven textile mills and weaving machines. These completely change the way cloth was produced in the 1800s.

Industry 2.0

This is the production line. Now you might immediately think of Henry Ford here, but he was not the first by a long shot. Early examples are meat production moving away from shopping blocks where all of an animal was butchered to a line where at each station a different step of the butchering took place.

Regardless of the example, the modern production mass volume technique was now in play.

Industry 3.0

In the 1970s the advent of computers and PLCs meant that production lines could be controlled by IT systems. And with Electric control for many processes this allowed automation of production activities at an unprecedented level. With QA systems and the ability to do automated inspection you could guarantee quality at very high production rates. This dropped the unit production to lower levels than was possible in the past.

And this is as far as many have gone. 

Industry 4.0

We have smart machines, sensor that communication, high data rate wired and wireless networking and  a range if identification technologies including optical and RFID. If you put that together with Industry 3.0 automation and IT systems you can now have Mass Customisation. Industry 3.0 focused on high volume, low mix, high quality manufacture. Industry 4.0 takes that and adds high mix, self maintaining machines, automated order to delivery scheduling and the ability to create reliably customised product just as readily and cost effectively as Industry 3.0 ensured reliable quality of high volume products.

Internet Of Things

Internet Of Things

Although Europe, and Germany and Switzerland in particular, have been looking at this for 15 years now; the difficulty with getting the language clear and the benefits obvious shows that we are still in the emergent phase. The Cincinnati meat processors might have shown the world what was possible in the late 1800s, but adoption took time. The adoption time will be less with this next revolution because of modern technology but it will still take a while for us to fully comprehend the advantages and to establish best practice. The biggest change will be in our thinking.

For some useful extra reading on the topic, I recommend the following articles:

And Dr. Martin Schlegel‘s top 6 tips for Australian businesses wanting to capitalise on Industry 4.o are:

  1. Transform into a service manufacturer
  2. Merge Industry and Internet Culture
  3. Open Innovation and Collaboration
  4. Develop new Business Models
  5. Focus and Set Priorities
  6. Value Security and Customer Privacy
Dr. Martin Schlegel

Dr. Martin Schlegel

We will look at several of these more closely in future.  I’ll leave you with the Bosch presentation on implementing Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Victorian iAwards 2015

Last year at the Victorian iAwards 2014 , our client Rectifier Technologies Pacific took out 2 categories for Victorian. This year we are pleased to have 2 clients as finalists and at the iAwards ceremony this evening they both took out merit awards for their category. A merit award means they were judged to be within 5% of the category winners and so also qualify for inclusion in the National iAwards.

iAwards VIC Merit

iAwards VIC Merit

Sustainability

Rectifier Technologies Pacific received a Merit Award in the Sustainability category for the RT18 425V High Efficiency EV Charger Rectifier. This is an important technology breakthrough in high efficiency electric vehicle charging and we were pleased to see them received recognition for that. Software we developed for them is part of the product.

New Product

And Skynanny.net received a Merit Award in the New Product category. 

Skynanny.net iAward merit certificate

Skynanny.net iAward merit certificate – New Product

We are very pleased for Jason and Lynne who have had to persevere through a lot to get to this point. The combination of Bluetooth Smart, Qi Wireless Charging, 3G communications and GPS tracking in a device the surface area of a business card was a big technical challenge and deserved to be recognised.

Skynanny.net celebrate with Successful Endeavours and Zain Digital

Skynanny.net celebrate with Successful Endeavours and Zain Digital

Our congratulations also go to Zain Digital for their work in development of the App and Web Services that supports the product.

The list of winners and merit aware recipients can be found at Victorian iAwards Winners 2015.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

PACE Zenith Awards

The PACE Zenith Awards 2015 celebrate the process control and automation industry’s many and diverse successes. The PACE Zenith Awards bring together some of the biggest names in Process Control, Instrumentation and Automation to celebrate, recognise and award companies and individuals for their key contribution to Australian industry. 

 The awards winners were announced at the PACE Zenith Awards dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney on June 11th 2015. 

 This year we were finalists in 4 categories with the Power and Energy Management category having 2 projects selected as finalists.

Successful Endeavours Finalists PACE ZENITH 2015

Successful Endeavours Finalists PACE ZENITH 2015

The categories we were finalists in were:

  • Water and Wastewater – for our IoT Monitoring Platform + Telemetry Host

  • Best Fieldbus Implementation – for our IoT Monitoring PlatformTelemetry Host

  • Power and Energy Management - for our IoT Monitoring Platform  + Telemetry Host and the ABB CQ930

  • Transport Power and Infrastructure - for the ABB CQ930

PACE Zenith Awards - 5 Finalist Certificates - Successful Endeavours 2015

PACE Zenith Awards – 5 Finalist Certificates – Successful Endeavours 2015

 

PACE Zenith Awards 2015 Winners

So we didn’t win a category, but it was a great night and I always enjoy being part of celebrating what is good in Australian Manufacturing. The winners on the night were:

  • BEST FIELDBUS IMPLEMENTATION = Sigma NSW
  • FOOD AND BEVERAGE = B.-d.Farm Paris Creek
  • MACHINE BUILDER  = H.I.Fraser
  • MANUFACTURING = ANCA
  • MINING AND MINERALS PROCESSING = Sigma NSW
  • OIL AND GAS = H.I.Fraser
  • POWER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT = Mescada
  • TRANSPORT, POWER AND INFRASTRUCTURE = Sage Automation
  • WATER AND WASTEWATER = Sage Automation
  • YOUNG ACHIEVER AWARD = Aaron Deal, Honeywell Process Solutions
  • PROJECT OF THE YEAR = H.I.Fraser

 

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

This was our first time at these awards so we learnt a lot about the process and hope to be back next year.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Also referred to as a PCA, the Printed Circuit Board Assembly follows on from Printed Circuit Board Manufacture. This is where the components are placed onto the Printed Circuit Board and the electrical connections formed.

In this post I will focus on volume manufacturing techniques. We also make Printed Circuit Board Assemblies in house by hand loading very small quantities. This is appropriate for prototypes and Niche Manufacturing quantities.

To start with, lets look at the 2 types of components we most work with. The first type is the Through Hole Component. These have pins that go through the PCB to make electrical connection. These components dominated PCB Assemblies until the 1980s when higher PCB loading density requires a change of technology. They are still widely used where mechanical strength, tall components, heavy components or high current levels are involved. An example is shown below with the connectors, relays, transformers and removable components as Through Hole with the Surface Mount Components toward the centre: 

Through Hole Technology

Through Hole Technology

The second type is the Surface Mount Component or Surface Mount Device and the overall process is referred to as Surface Mount Technology or SMT. These devices do not require holes through the PCB to mount them and so can be placed closer together and it also improves track routing options because tracks can run on the other side of the PCB without having to avoid the through holes. An example of all Surface Mount assembly is shown below in close up:

Electronics Hardware

Electronics Hardware

 Printed Circuit Board Assembly Process

The infographic below was provided by Algen Cruz of Advanced Assembly in the USA. Algen also provided a brief explanation to go with it and I have added that as well. You can click on the infographic to view a larger version. 

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

 ”Design-for-Assembly (DFA), although not as well known as Design-for Manufacturing (DFM), needs to be taken into account during the design phase. And the first step in being able to design-for-assembly is to understand the assembly process. This infographic features this process by showing how a board goes from an unpopulated printed circuit board (PCB) to a final product, ready to be packaged and sent to consumers.” Algan Cruz

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Endeavour Awards 2015

This year we were finalists at the Endeavour Awards in the categories of Australian Industrial Product of the Year and IT Application of the Year. We didn’t win either category but the competition was pretty tough and I was pleased for ANCA for beat us for the Australian Industrial Product of the Year and also won the overall award for Manufacturer of the Year. The full list of winners are announced at the Endeavour Awards Winners 2015 official winners list.

Endeavour Awards Finalists 2015

Endeavour Awards Finalists 2015

It was a great night and a chance to share the evening with most of our team and a room full of people who are looking to be part of the solution rather than just contributing to the problem of being competitive in Australian Manufacturing. 

Endeavour Awards 2015 Australian Industrial Product Of The Year

Endeavour Awards 2015 Australian Industrial Product Of The Year

 

Endeavour Awards 2015 IT Application of the Year

Endeavour Awards 2015 IT Application of the Year

If you have been following us then you will also be aware we are finalists at the PACE Zenith Awards in Sydney on June 11th in 4 categories. Wish us luck.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Printed Circuit Boards

In our series on Electronics Design we have looked at the Electronics Design Process from Requirements Capture, Technology Selection, Component Selection, Schematic Capture and finally the Printed Circuit Board or PCB Layout. Now we have a design and the Electronics CAD files to make a Prototype. 

There are a number of steps involved in making a PCB and the following infographic provides an overview.

PCB Manufacture Steps

PCB Manufacture Steps

This infographic is courtesy of Newbury Electronics.

PCB Manufacturing Problems

That is a lot of steps. And there are things that can go wrong. The main pitfalls to avoid in the PCB Design Process are:

  • track widths too narrow
  • clearances between tracks are too small
  • acute angle entry to pads
  • component footprints have pins in the wrong place or the wrong size
  • component outlines are wrong
  • silkscreen or overlay over solder pads
  • via annulus too thin
  • mounting holes in the wrong place or the wrong size
  • PCB outline incorrect
  • PCB 3D profile doesn’t fit into the intended enclosure

 And there are a range of issues that can affect the PCB Manufacturing Process. These include:

  • misalignment of drill holes to tracks to PCB outline routing
  • internal cut outs missed / not routed
  • over etching or under etching of the copper
  • incomplete plated through holes
  • poor surface finish
  • poor FR4 and copper bonding or moisture ingress leading to delamination

Maybe you are wondering how a PCB ever gets made successfully? This comes back to undertaking the PCB Design with an understanding of both electronics engineering design principles and the process capability of the manufacturer into account. And when you get it right, the final product can be pretty awesome. A good example can be found at this post about making a Fine Pitch PCB

RGB LED Array Close Up

RGB LED Array Close Up

Next we will look at the PCB Assembly process.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

We have only just heard. You probably already know that we are finalists for the Endeavour Awards 2015 this year with 3 of our projects. Today we got the news that we are finalists in 4 categories at the PACE Zenith Awards for 2015. I’m sure at least one of you is wondering whether I spend all my time just applying for awards. The answer is no. I didn’t even apply for these. PACE saw the entries we put into the Endeavour Awards and decided they would also be good candidates for the PACE Zenith awards and asked me if it would be OK if they entered them for us. You can guess the answer I’m sure.

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

PACE Zenith Awards 2015

As a result, we are finalist in 4 categories for the 3 projects they nominated us for. The 4 categories are:

  • Water and Wastewater

  • Best Fieldbus Implementation

  • Power and Energy Management

  • Transport Power and Infrastructure

Both out IoT Platform (Internet of Things Platform) and Telemetry Host web hosted back end qualify for all of these, and the ABB CQ930 power factor correction controller and multi-bank or multi-stage capacitor controller supports the Power and Energy Management and also the Transport Power and Infrastructure categories.

 The awards winners are announced at the PACE Zenith Awards dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney on June 11th 2015. 

 Wish us luck.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

PCB Layout

After the Schematic Capture component of the Electronics Design  is complete, the logical connections for the electronics components have been determined. If the Electronics CAD package also supports it, you can add rules to guide the Printed Circuit Board Layout, also abbreviated to PCB Layout which we will use from here on.

The PCB provides both the mechanical support for the components and is many cases is a critical part of the circuit since the length of tracks, their thickness, their clearance from other tracks and the relative placement of components and tracks can significantly influence the final performance of the PCB. This is particularly true as power levels, clock speeds or frequency increases.

The Electronic Schematic defines the electrical connections between components, the value of components such as resistors, capacitors and inductors, the type of semiconductors used (silicon chips) and the connectors that take signals and power on and off the PCB. Each item on the schematic has to be linked to a physical shape that will go onto the PCB. This is done by assigning a footprint to the schematic item.

Schematic Symbol

I will explain  it works. The Schematic Symbol for an FT232RL USB Serial Interface device is shown below. This is arranged with the signals conveniently placed to suit logical connections and to make the overall Schematic easy to read and understand.  The signal name is shown inside the symbol boundary, and the pin number of the IC package is shown on the outside. 

FT232RL Schematic Symbol

FT232RL Schematic Symbol

Schematic Circuit

So this  is the symbol for a single part, an IC or Integrated Circuit. The Schematic Circuit or Electronic Schematic shows the connections to the other parts of the circuit. Below we see USB connector wired up the the FT232RL IC and the power supply bypass capacitors. The logic level UART signals are shown at the top right. This section of the Electronic Schematic provides the logical connections for a USB serial interface.

FT232RL USB Schematic

FT232RL USB Schematic

PCB Footprint

 Before we can do the PCB Layout, we have to associate the PCB Footprint each Schematic Symbol will use. The PCB Footprint for the FT232RL IC is shown below.

FT232RL PCB Footprint

FT232RL PCB Footprint

This is one of the 2 possible footprints for the FT232RL. This one is a 28 pin SSOP package.

Once each Schematic Symbol has a PCB Footprint, we are ready to do the PCB Placement.

PCB Placement

 The first step is to create the outline for the PCB and its mounting points, then to place each PCB Footprint so it is in the correct place. For some components, such as connectors, there is a specific place it must go. For other components, there is more freedom to choose the position and there are groups of components that must be in a specific relationship to each other. An example of this are the power supply bypass capacitors which must go very near to the IC they are supporting.

An example of a completed PCB Placement is shown below. This is a USB to RS232 serial converter.

PCB Unrouted

PCB Unrouted

PCB Routing

Now we have the components where we want them, we turn on the autorouter and the PCB is finished. Sorry but I couldn’t help that. The autorouting features of most PCB Layout CAD software packages are never as good as doing it yourself. They can be useful for testing the ease of routing for a particular placement. There are a lot of manufacturing considerations that need to be taken into account and track size requirements, either for current carrying or voltage drop, can be hard to define from just the schematic. And example of this is the main system voltage such as VCC. In some parts of the circuit the required current is low so smaller track sizes are OK, whereas other areas need heavier tracks. It isn’t easy to define this at the schematic level because they are all the same signal or Net.

The PCB with the routing complete is shown below. The selection of track size is related to the current the circuit needs to carry. A good reference for determining the track size is provided by the standard IPC-2222A.

PCB Routed

PCB Routed

PCB 3D Cad Integration

 It is also important to make sure the PCB will fit into a mechanical enclosure. Most modern PCB CAD tools, such as Altium Designer which we use, can create full 3D models of the PCB. Shown below is an example of just the PCB without the components showing.

3D PCB View

3D PCB View

 So there we have it. A PCB taken from the completed Electronic Schematic through to a PCB Layout.

 Next we will look at prototyping our new PCB.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Fine Pitch Printed Circuit Board

This example is from a project coming to the end of the Proof of Concept phase. So we have done the Electronics Design and also completed the PCB Layout. I can’t tell you what it does, but you don’t really need to know in order to appreciate the technology. This is an example of a Fine Pitch PCB or Fine Pitch Printed Circuit Board. And even better, it was made right here in Melbourne, Australia.

Pictures first.

RGB Light Emitting Diode Array

RGB Light Emitting Diode Array

Above we have the top surface of a Prototype PCB that drives a 16 x 16 or 256 RGB LED array. The size is 25mm square for the LED Array. You might also have realised that this is a custom RGB LED display. The display is driven as a row x column matrix. This top side has the 16 row drivers.

RGB LED Array Bottom Side

RGB Light Emitting Diode Array Bottom Side

This is the underside with the 16 x 3 = 48 column drivers. 

RGB LED Array Detail

RGB LED Array Detail

This shows some more detail where the Sea of RGB LEDs is sitting. They are in a staggered offset to reduce jagged edges on the image when it is displayed. 

RGB LED Arracy Close Up

RGB LED Arracy Close Up

 This final picture is a close up of the RGB LED array with a lace pin as a size reference. The RGB LEDs are 1mm wide and the pin head is a bit less than 1mm across. This is the smallest pin I could find.

Fine Pitch PCB Technology

Now for some technical details:

  • 4 mil track width (that is 0.1 mm)
  • 4 mil clearance (that is also 0.1 mm)
  • 0.25 mm via hole diameter

 The Prototype PCB was manufactured by PCB Fast in Seaford. We use them for our Prototype PCBs because they still manufacture in Australia. And that is part of our focus, maintaining manufacturing in Australia. So I was very impressed with the work they did and thought this was a great way to show what they can do. I was also impressed with the spirit of adventure Kevin and Leeanne had in taking this one on.

One day I’ll be able to tell you what it was for.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

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