Category: engineering

New product released.  ThunderBlade V4.  It’s a external Thunderbolt 3 4x SSD.  With using 4 SSDs in RAID0 configuration and Thunderbolt 3 it should be one of the fastest consumer external hard solutions in the world.  It’s fanless thus requiring the large heatsink.  Those SSDs get really really hot and we had to go through 3 different designs in order to the thermal performance where it needed to be.  We actually had start thermal simulation order to get the final design.  It’s pretty expensive mainly because of the cost of SSDs.  It really for people needing really really fast storage like video editors.


High Speed Interfaces

circuit boardWhen I started to learn high speed design I was frustrated by the fact that necessary data on high speed interfaces was scattered across multiple places (specs, white pagers, data sheets, spec sheets, reference designs, etc..).

There really should be a central location that contains this information.  I started adding this data to Evernote and when I got frustrated with Evernote’s limited table functions I switched to OneNote and then I wanted to open this up so I crated a Google Sheets page and opened it up to editing.

I would really like to see this be updated by engineers and to be used a resource for high speed circuit design and layout.

See the PCB Design page for the table.

owcAt a new company, Other World Computing, as their engineering manager.

EDA Software

circuitThere are a lot of EDA (Electronics Design Automation) software packages out there. This post briefly talks about what I consider the high end professional ones.  There are ton of zero cost or low cost but these are typically for hobbyists or very small companies (KiCad, Eagle, DesignSpark, etc..) which will not be covered.

I have used Alitum Designer the most, by far, having only used OrCad and Tango (old and no longer around) a little.  I have used Pads and Allego viewers a little.


OrCad + Allegro

From Cadance, a lot of engineers like OrCad (schematic) but dislike Allegro (layout).  Allegro is good at routing but has a very bad footprint builder and it hard to learn.  They tend to be very popular with larger companies and engineers who have been doing design for a while.  OrCad’s CIS system is well established at larger companies.

DxDesigner + PADS

From Mentor Graphics, a lot of engineers like Pads but dislike DxDesigner.  Pads is for layout, tends to easy to use and learn.  DxDesigner is for schematic entry and most dislike it… in fact I have not meet anyone who likes it.

Altium Designer

From Altium, many engineers like Altium Designer.  It is a unified package and tends to be popular for it’s lower price and new features.  It’s unique in that it was designed from the ground up to be both a schematic entry and layout tool. Engineers who use it like but but people coming from Pads/OrCad/Allegro generally look down on it. It has a perception of being not as “professional” as the older software.  It’s electrical to mechanical CAD features tend to stand out and be very advanced when compared to others.  The pricing for Altium Designer is much simpler than the others.

See the Wikipedia entry for further details.  Getting really good at a software package takes years of use thus learning a new software package is not easy task.

Fedevel Academy

I just completed the Fedevel Academy Advanced Hardware Design course.  It was mostly a review, but I did pickup a few tricks and shortcuts I was unaware of.  I’m now going to start the Advanced PCB Layout course.  This is all in parallel with everything I’m doing at work (i.MX6, DDR, HDMI, LVDS, WiFi, Bluetooth, SD, USB, Ethernet).