“This final report is a fascinating read and proves the value to be had by considering EMC at the very early stages of product design (not just PCB layout). Many thanks for the support. We’ll certainly be in touch again.”

zoom of a typical report

The design process crystallises the project specification into something real and any errors or omissions at this stage get locked in! Peer review is a key part of this process and we’ve accrued a significant amount of experience in this field. There are many good reasons why employing us to perform a 3rd party review of your design is a good idea:

  • Knowledgeable – We come from an electronics product design background and have spent many hours performing design reviews for a wide range of clients and designs.
  • Pressure – it is easy to miss things in the rush of the initial design despite the best intentions of the designer
  • Blind spots – similarly it is not uncommon to get a “blind spot” for an aspect of a design, often from having looked at something for so long that we no longer see what is actually there. A fresh pair of eyes is invaluable in this respect.
  • Cost effective – consider the cost of finding problems before they become problems vs trying to fix them right before you are meant to start production.
  • Objective – You can expect an impartial and unbiased review, especially helpful if you are after a second opinion. We have no axe to grind and no agenda that we work to other than to see your product become a success.

Our Design Review Service looks at all these above aspects and we will advise on improvements and potential mitigation measures that you may wish to consider. We can read files from most popular PCB and mechanical CAD software packages or just STEP or Gerber files if required.

We are aware of the fact that this is often a time constrained period especially with fast moving, fluid designs so will give you our feedback as soon as possible to enable you to get your product under construction quickly.

The kind of things that we’ll look at include:

  • Circuit design – identify high risk nets, filters, ESD and surge protection, termination, safety critical components, EMC mitigation, generating a regulatory Critical Parts List
  • PCB design – high speed signals and high frequency return paths, vias, decoupling, planes, power traces, connectors, clearances
  • Wiring & Cables – or “antennas” as we like to call them. Your cabling is often the best way for emissions to leave your product and cause you problems. Screened, unscreened, connection order, routing
  • Mechanical design – shielding, clearances, ventilation, restriction of access to hazardous parts,
  • Software spec – some regulatory tests require the software to monitor internal processes, often requiring specific software features. It is prudent to start this process early on in the design.
  • Accessories – often overlooked but these are often the key to compliance. A poorly designed cheap accessory can be the deciding factor between a pass or a fail.

Case Study: A client wanted to add an control module to his power supply product and asked us to review it before he sent the Gerber files to the PCB manufacturer.

We reviewed the schematic and PCB layout and immediately spotted problems with a poorly terminated clock generator module and an inadequate high frequency return scheme. We made several recommendations for schematic and layout changes which were all implemented by the client.

Because the layout had been based on an IC development kit provided by the manufacturer of the microcontroller we had the opportunity to test their layout against our clients improved layout. What a difference!

The evaluation board was an EMC radiated emissions test failure with multiple emissions test failures throughout the radio spectrum from 250MHz up to 2.5GHz. Our clients board, thanks to the changes recommended, had two emission peaks approaching the limit line that were all but removed by changing some of the additional series component values we had suggested they include.

Happy client.