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Discussion on the Problems and Inefficiencies seen with Hardware Bring-up

Discussion in 'PCB Layout, Design and Manufacture' started by dday, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. dday

    dday

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    Sep 19, 2018
    Hello all,

    I am an electrical engineering undergraduate currently in the process of starting my senior design project (capstone) with an idea based around solving test and debug inefficiencies in the hardware bring-up realm.

    I’d like to start a conversation about what really grinds your gears at your workplace, or on your downtime at home, while testing, debugging and validating new board designs. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

    To get things started here are some of the questions I'd really like to be discussed:
    • What type of information (and medium) do you have about a board while you are testing it?
    • Through your experience, what points in your testing workflow do you see as inefficient?
    • What is the biggest problem you’ve faced while performing bring-up on a new PCB?
    • What parts of your PCB design software did you find most helpful with bringing up a new board?

    Thank you in advance to anyone that can provide feedback on this subject as it will really help my capstone team narrow what to build and help validate some of our potential ideas.

    Cheers,
    Darryl
     
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I wish I had an oscilloscope for software and that I could single step hardware :)
     
    dday likes this.
  3. Bluejets

    Bluejets

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    Oct 5, 2014
    Holesaw that cuts square holes would be a big help.
     
    gorgon, dday and (*steve*) like this.
  4. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    Jun 25, 2010
    PCB layout to schematic (reversal) would also be good......
     
    dday likes this.
  5. dday

    dday

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    Sep 19, 2018
    Do you mean something like taking a picture of a board and it produces a schematic or you insert your PCB layout file into a program and it creates a schematic?
     
  6. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    Jun 25, 2010
    Yes, exactly.

    Such a capability would be an invaluable resource.
     
  7. OBW0549

    OBW0549

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    Jul 5, 2016
    What type of information (and medium) do you have about a board while you are testing it?
    • Complete specification listing all performance requirements
    • Complete schematic diagram (Eagle files + paper)
    • Board layout (Eagle files + large blow-up on paper)
    • Data sheets for all components other than resistors & capacitors (.pdf files)
    • Pictorials of all connector pinouts (large blow-ups on paper)
    • Simulation results showing approximate expected waveforms and node voltages

    Through your experience, what points in your testing workflow do you see as inefficient?

    Time wasted begging, borrowing, or stealing adequate test equipment​

    What is the biggest problem you’ve faced while performing bring-up on a new PCB?

    Replicating realistic operating conditions for the product, such as various trauma associated with a missile launch​

    What parts of your PCB design software did you find most helpful with bringing up a new board?

    Simulator software is useful for generating voltage & waveform data to compare against actual performance, as a troubleshooting aid.​
     
    Harald Kapp and dday like this.
  8. dday

    dday

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    Sep 19, 2018
    Thanks for the feedback! It looks like you print a lot of things off on paper when testing a board, why is that? Are the electronic versions too difficult to switch between and navigate?
     
  9. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2011
    Try to have several pages of schematic plus datasheets open all at the same time in electronic form on a computer screen.
    Then navigate, make annotations etc.

    In my experience paper is so much easier to handle. You can pin-up relevant parts right in front of you, you can even put the object under examination right on top of a printout of e.g. the relevant part of the layout and make comparisons.

    Mind that this doesn't mean electronic documenetation is useless. It is so much easier to have the computer look up keywords in an electronic file than to leaf through a thicj databook.

    The right combination of printouts and electronic files does the trick. Exactly what is the "right combination" depends a lot on personal workstyle. Find your own way!
     
    dday and OBW0549 like this.
  10. OBW0549

    OBW0549

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    Jul 5, 2016
    No, it's like Harald said:

    Typically, I'll have schematics, connector pictorials, IC pinout pictorials and board layout pictorials printed out, mounted on some sort of stiff presentation board, and located right adjacent to or in front of my work area so I can see them at a glance. Documents in .pdf form are left on the laptop, which is placed adjacent to my work area; and of course, the simulation software runs on that machine.

    EDIT: in addition to the info needed for testing I listed earlier, detailed test scenarios need to be worked out beforehand: settings, input signals, expected outputs/intermediate signals, voltage levels, timing, et cetera.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
    dday likes this.
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