Sunday, August 23, 2015

My first production board

One of the projects I've been working with is an interface board for an embedded computer system. While I've never designed anything like this before, I've worked with board for 20+ years and have a decent idea of how things should look. The board was designed in NI Multisim, and routed with NI Ultiboard. Both of those tools were unfamiliar to me, so I learned how to use those at the same time I learned how to lay out a board.

It's of moderate complexity, but is doing quite a bit:

  • Provides power for the CPU and on board storage drives
  • Brings a SATA port up for easy access and offers two choices of storage
  • Provides customer USB ports, so they don't have to plug directly into the CPU
  • Provides several troubleshooting indicators
  • Buffers and provides ESD protection for customer-level serial outputs
In all, the most complex thing about this board was drawing all of the components from often incomplete or just plain wrong datasheets. But all said and done, this board turned out pretty nice for a first-time designer. I will admit to making a wiring error on the backside, but that's why we run a prototype before actual production. It's been corrected and all is working as it should.