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Experience: Design

I tell customers that at least 50% of the design effort is the layout and routing by someone who knows what they are doing. Layer stackup is very critical for multiple layer designs. Yes, a solid design is required. But the perfect design goes down in flames with a bad layout. Rudy Severns said it best in one of his early books that you have to "think RF" when doing a layout. I have followed this philosophy for years with great success. Problems with a layout person who wants to run the auto route or doesn't understand analog layout? No problem, you, as the design engineer, do not have to release the design until it is to your satisfaction.

I have had Schottky diodes fail because the PIV was exceeded due to circuit inductance causing just enough of a very high frequency ring (very hard to see on a scope) to exceed the PIV. Know your circuit Z's, keep your traces short and fat.

Fixed a number of problems associated with capacitor RMS ratings on AC to DC front ends. Along with this is the peak inrush current for a bridge rectifier at turn on and, in some cases, during steady state. Unit can be turned on at the 90 deg phase angle into a capacitive load. This must be analyzed with assumptions for input resistance and/or a current inrush circuit must be added.

A satellite power supply had 70 deg phase margin on the bench, resistive load, but oscillated on the real load. Measured the loop using the AP200 on the load and the phase margin was zero. Test the power supply on the real load before going to production and then a random sampling during the life of the product.

I used MathCAD for designs until the average models came out for SMPS. Yes, the equations are nice to see and work with but they are just models none the less. I would rather have PsPice to the math while I pay attention to the models used and the overall design effort. Creating large closed form equations is wrought with pitfalls, trapdoors, and landmines. Plus, hundreds of pages of MathCAD, which I have done, is hard to sell to the customer during a design review (most attendees drift off after page 1). The PsPice schematics are more easily sold and then modified as needed with better understanding all around.

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