Tutorials, news, snippets, and other various musings about the electrical engineering industry.
Set it and NEVER Forget it with Constraint-Driven PCB Design
Setting up and implementing a constraint-driven design flow may seem like a daunting planning task, however spending the time upfront can save you hours (or even days) by preventing design mistakes. Proper constraint definition gives design teams a blueprint to work with, making the PCB design process easier while eliminating the opportunity for errors, especially when passing designs to other members of your team. After all, Benjamin Franklin did say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
You wouldn’t want to build a skyscraper with only a picture for reference—this leads to a lot of guesswork and perhaps a building with structural issues, etc. You need a blueprint. Blueprints include specific details and guidelines needed to follow—wall bracing methods, special loading requirements, structural calculations, etc. By specifying these rules and requirements, architects can work to not only prevent any foreseeable building issues from occurring, but they also allow for a seamless hand-off of responsibilities to other members of the construction team. The same goes for the PCB design process—set the proper processes and constraints in place now and you can prevent costly headaches in the future.
Control the Design Flow
With constraints established upfront, you control the design-flow and ensure your design intent is accurately conveyed to your design team. Constraints become part of the PCB template allowing you more time to concentrate on your primary tasks. Doing so will help establish team work amongst your hardware designers, SI engineers, and PCB layout designers as well as provide you with the confidence knowing your design is going to be done correctly. This is especially helpful for companies who outsource designs or send files to sister companies.
There is nothing more frustrating than inadequate communication within a team setting. With the complexity and number of constraints increasing (and design timelines shortening) you cannot afford to waste time due to preventable mishaps.
Consistent documentation using the same language and rules makes designing infinitely easier. The old way of communicating through paper, excel spreadsheets, properties, etc. will no longer suffice and leads to miscommunicated constraints. This results in errors, causing unnecessary iterations between electrical engineers and layout designers. This process can then snowball the problem, eventually turning into a costly redesign or, at the very least, a lengthy project delay and additional costs.
By having constraints set up front, documentation is consistent and constraints are communicated clearly—making the design process run much smoother.
Reuse for Future Projects
Embedding constraints in your design allows value to be obtained with both current and future designs. In addition to being a time saver through decreased manual checks, the ability to build a library of embeddable, verified constraints also becomes an additional layer of rules checking.
Constrain Your Design, Simplify Your Design Process.
When constraints are done in the beginning of the design process, you can be confident knowing once your design is out of your hands it will be completed to your specifications the first time. While we cannot always plan for the unexpected, setting the proper design foundations leave you prepared should an issue arise.