What is it about PCB's that make them such an interesting piece of engineering?
I'm asking myself this question as I sit here on a Friday evening after a week of fairly intensive work on PCB design documentation etc... From my point of view I create a multitude of different board designs from single layer power supply application boards to multilayer test boards being used in instrumentation. Each of these types of designs have their own frustrations and delights I suppose (sorry couldn't think of a better word) so what is it?
The answer isn't simple and the fun isn't in the documentation it has to be said, but then it never is, but as most PCB designers know it's a necessary part of the job and normally do it well! Every design though no matter what it is you're doing, how big or small the board is has at least one point where the challenge becomes apparent and you're sitting there with U2 (or whoever) blowing your ears out and you think right - how do I do this?
Perhaps this is it, perhaps it's not just the signal integrity, the EMC, the mechanical constraints or for that matter how it's going to fit into the case... It's all of it. PCB design isn't playing with coloured lines to join the dots. It's the challenge of putting all the bits of the puzzle together, all the constraints, the requirements and then after all this the requirements that the designer places on themselves to create a functional, manufacturable PCB design. And when this has been completed and all the problems solved you sit back look at it and think not only thins is good, but the sense of satisfaction gained from completing it really is like nothing else. It's like completing the Rubik’s cube from a mess (not that I've actually done this).
For me that's what PCB design is about and there is nothing like being given a good meaty juicy project from scratch and letting the creative spirit loose to carry out a design like this. That's why I find my little PCB design world so exciting.
Simon Farnell CID