Category: General Electronics
When you think about electronics design, you would probably guess that the vast majority is taking place in the U.S., India, China, Germany or Japan. But our data tells a different story.
We discovered that design & innovation is happening everywhere, and that the electronics design industry is vast, global, and widely distributed.
Let’s take a look at where PCBs are being designed*, and what it means for our industry.
Since launching SnapEDA, designers have visited our site in 191 countries, with the United States being the most popular, accounting for 25% of visitors. Unsurprisingly, Canada**, India, Germany, United Kingdom, and Russia follow closely behind.***
But here’s where it gets interesting. These countries, in aggregate, account for just 47% of our visitors. This means that over half our visitors comes from the other 185 countries, and not any one of these countries account for more than 3% of visitors.
I am often asked how to merge individual Eagle library files downloaded from SnapEDA into existing libraries, or into one big library. Although this is available as a feature included in SnapEDA’s Premium version (ie. the ability to batch together parts and bulk download them into a single Eagle library file), there are also several other ways to do this manually. Here’s one of the easiest ways I’ve found:
- After downloading an Eagle .lbr file from SnapEDA, move that file into the lbr folder within Eagle’s application directory
- If you have an existing library you’d like to add that .lbr file to, open that library by going to File > Open. Otherwise, create a new library file and Save the library with the desired name.
- Open the Control Panel by going to Window > Control Panel
- Expand the Libraries item
- Find the .lbr file downloaded from SnapEDA, then expand it. At this point you should see device, package, and symbol items
- Right-click on the device, and select Copy to Library (note: if this option is greyed out, you need to double-check to make sure the library you are trying to copy to is open)
- Repeat this process for every .lbr file you would like to add to the library
With the Premium version of SnapEDA, parts are consolidated into a single library upon downloading your Private Parts Library. For more information, or to join our Beta, email [email protected]
We are excited to announce that Seeed Studio’s Open Parts Library is now available on SnapEDA! For those unfamiliar with Seeed, they’re an open hardware facilitator based in China that inspires startups and makers with electronics resources, and provides in-house engineering, supply chain management, and manufacturing services.
What exactly is the Open Parts Library? When designing a circuit board and selecting components, it can be hard to know where to start. Whether its selecting a bluetooth module or a 10k resistor, the components you choose will affect your bill of materials (BOM) cost, lead times, and overall peace of mind (as anyone who has ordered — and paid shipping charges — from multiple distributors knows too well).
Seeed’s OPL is a collection of commonly used components geared towards makers that most (if not all) distributors generally have on hand, are cost effective, and are design for manufacturing (DFM) friendly. In terms of manufacturing, the components are large enough to be hand-soldered when prototyping early on in the design process, and when ready for volume manufacturing, can be easily assembled without requiring precision equipment.
Seeed’s Open Parts Library Component Sets
Seeed, which is based in Shenzhen, China, selected components from trusted manufacturers that leveraged the strength of their local supply chain. However, because most of their customers are based in the U.S., the parts are also widely distributed in North America. Seeed also does PCB manufacturing & assembly and ensures the components in the OPL are always stocked to shorten lead times. This has also given them the ability to test the reliability of the parts in the OPL thousands of times.
The components were selected based on Seeed’s experience reviewing customers’ designs, where they started to see patterns and began to identify a standard set of components being used. Although the OPL is more suited to makers, Seeed hopes to release more versions of the library, such as one for startups or targeted towards particular applications.
By making the library available on SnapEDA (created by Seeed’s engineers), the libraries are now accessible in a wider range of design formats.
For those who are unfamiliar with SnapEDA, it is a platform for electronic design data, including PCB footprints and schematic symbols. Rather than spending hours creating design data from scratch, engineers can simply search for a component on SnapEDA and download design data instantly, saving them hours of time in the process. Design data on SnapEDA is free for download and exports to all major design tools, including Eagle, Altium, KiCAD, Cadence OrCAD/Allegro, Mentor PADS, & Pulsonix.
Over a thousand components are included in Seeed’s library, including microcontrollers like the Cortex M4 and the Atmel328P, ICs, resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, transistors, crystal oscillators, connectors, and fuses.
Seeed also constantly updates the OPL, so if you have ideas on new parts that should be added to the library, be sure to let them know.
I am often asked how SnapEDA vets the quality of the CAD files it provides. Since launching, we’ve had a rating & commenting system to provide a feedback loop for engineers to report inaccuracies with CAD files, or to vouch for their quality. Although this system is leaps and bounds better than any other alternative means of sourcing CAD files, we’ve long wanted to improve upon this in more programmatic, objective ways.
That’s why this summer we quietly rolled out a Beta version of the SnapEDA Checker. The goal of the checker is to provide engineers with transparency into the quality of CAD data by programmatically mining through CAD files and distilling to engineers the results of a series of quality checks.
Using algorithms, the Checker uncovers common pitfalls that could cause manufacturing problems, such as placement of silkscreen over bare copper, or poorly defined centroids that often cause issues with pick-and-place machines. We then distill the findings in a “report card” so that engineers know ahead of time the complexities of the file they are downloading and can decide whether the file meets their requirements and standards, or whether the file needs modifications.
To see the SnapEDA Checker in action, just go to any part page, and click on Validations, as shown below.
This Checker is a flexible framework that we plan to expand with more checks. What are some checks you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments!
If you’d like to provide feedback on a part you download from SnapEDA, you can easily rate it on each part page as shown below. But if you download many parts, it could be time-consuming to visit each page to rate it after downloading. We’ve now made it much easier to provide your feedback on the parts you download from SnapEDA, by providing a dashboard-view of your most recent downloads so that you can quickly share your insights into a schematic symbol, PCB footprint, or component with the community.
To find this dashboard, simply go to your notifications and select Recent Downloads.
You’ll now be able to see one centralized place where you can find all of your parts in one place.
Simply click on the checkmark to approve a part, or the x to provide your feedback. Happy rating — and designing!
One of the most common questions designers have while creating printed circuit board (PCB) footprints is: what are the correct dimensions for the pads? Increasingly, designers are adopting the IPC-7351 standard, which provides guidelines for calculating pad dimensions. In general, following standards is a good idea since it helps maintain consistency, accuracy, and reliability — all important things to consider when trying to de-risk your designs, reduce prototype iterations, and get things right the first time.
In this article we’ll be exploring how the IPC standard is applied to small outline integrated circuits (SOICs), a popular package type for electronic components. In further blog posts we’ll delve into some of the other types of ICs, including leadless and through-hole packages.
When creating a footprint for a SOIC, it’s important to recognize that they can differ based on the package’s body size, pad span, pitch of leads, and so on. This is why it’s essential to make sure you have an SOIC footprint that matches the exact dimensions and tolerances of the manufacturer’s package for the component you are using. Additionally, there are also other flavours of SOICs, including J-leaded ones.
The IPC-7351 standard requires three important dimensions when calculating the footprint (or land pattern) dimensions for an SOIC: the maximum dimension from pad to pad (L), the inner dimension (s), and the width of the pad (w).
Figure 1: A general SOIC Footprint
The IPC-7351 Equations for SOICs
In order to calculate the pad dimensions, the IPC-7351 specifies three main equations, following the MMC (maximum material condition) environment:
Zmax = Lmin + 2Jt + sqrt(Cl²+F²+P²)
Gmin = Smax – 2Jh – sqrt(Cs²+F²+P²)
Xmax = Wmin + 2Js + sqrt(Cw²+F²+P²)
* The value of L can be derived from the package dimensions. It is the value from lead termination end to lead termination end. W can also be derived from the package dimensions; it is the width of the lead or termination. S is the distance between component terminations, which can be calculated as follows:
Smax = Lmax – 2(Tmin), where T is the lead length as measured across the footprint (also provided from the package dimensions)
* Jt, Jh and Js are solder fillets to the toe, heel and sides
* Cl, Cs and Cw are the component tolerances. The component tolerances are the variations given in the datasheet. For example: L is 0.5 +- 0.2 – thus 0.5 is the nominal dimension and 0.2 is the tolerance Cl.
* F and P are the fabrication and placement tolerance. IPC uses a standard value of 0.1mm for each.
The table below shows the values for the solder fillet (Jt, Jh and Js) according to each environment (maximum, median or least).
Table 1: Values for solder fillet (Jt, Jh, and Js)
Now that we have all the equations, it is easy to check if a footprint downloaded from SnapEDA follows the IPC standard.
In Figure 3, you’ll see an SOIC footprint downloaded from SnapEDA. In this figure, the red rectangles are the pads, while the white layer on the top of the pad is the documentation layer, whose dimensions are the same as the component outline, as specified by the IPC. Also, you’ll notice the silkscreen layer, showing the pin 1 indicator as required.
Figure 4: A SOIC PCB Footprint Downloaded from SnapEDA
To summarize, in this post we learned about the IPC industry standard and how they are applied for SOIC packages. The next posts will bring more information about SMD rules for calculating the pad dimensions for other types of components, including leadless packages, and through-hole packages like TO (Transistor Outline) packages.
Last Fall, we announced that we would be adding support for Pulsonix. This month, we’re pleased to say that it’s live and ready to go!
Pulsonix, developed by UK-based WestDev, is a professional schematic capture, simulation, and PCB layout tool known for it’s ease-of-use, and also as one of the first PCB design tools to allow engineers to design for embedded components between layers.
Embedded components are becoming more and more common as the need for smaller, and denser, designs grow, especially with the small form factors needed with wearable technology and Internet of Things devices. Pulsonix allows these devices — such as buried resistors and capacitors — to be properly defined.
SnapEDA allows engineers to search our database of millions of components for PCB footprints and schematic symbols that can be downloaded and important instantly into the Pulsonix format, saving designers hours of time in their workdays.
Watch the video above to learn how to download parts from SnapEDA and import them into Pulsonix!
Today, we’re pleased to announce that one of SnapEDA’s most requested export formats is finally live. We have released support for Cadence Allegro and OrCAD on SnapEDA!
SnapEDA is an ecosystem for PCB design, providing CAD data — such as PCB footprints and schematic symbols– for millions of electronics components. This allows engineers to get straight to design and innovation by building on top of pre-existing IP. To make sure our CAD data has integrity, we vet our library using algorithms that we’re continually improving, and allow our community of thousands of engineers around the world to vouch for the quality of CAD parts though a rating system.
Support for Cadence products has been one of the most requested formats from our enterprise users. To learn how to use this new feature, you can watch the YouTube video below that will guide you through the process.
- OrCAD symbols
- Rectangular footprints
- Round, rectangle & octogonal pad shapes
Not Yet Supported
- Custom and oblong pad shapes
- Thermal reliefs
- Paste layers on pad stacks
- Circles and arcs on footprint layers, such as on the silkscreen or documentation layer
As always, we’d love to get your feedback on what to support next. Please email us with your suggestions.
We’ve all heard the stats that the percentage of women that go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields could be better. Luckily a new class of toys are aiming to bridge the gap by introducing more girls to programming and technology at a young age.
Linkitz, a Toronto-based startup, makes code-able friendship bracelets as a way to teach girls the joys of coding. The bracelets are made out of wearable links that can be snapped together in different formations to make unique wearable toys. A simple graphical programming language is used to program the links to let kids do things like greet their friends with custom lights and sounds when they are within range, and send secret coded messages. The links include different types of sensors, inputs, and outputs, like accelerometers, microphones, speakers, and LEDs.
The company launched their product on Kickstarter last month, and since then have surpassed their goal with still a couple days to spare!
I recently had the opportunity to ask Lyssa Neel, the Founder of Linkitz, about the motivation for the toy, and her adventures during the electronic design and manufacturing process.
What was your motivation for creating Linkitz?
Lyssa: Technology plays an ever-increasing role in our lives and girls should have the opportunity be full participants in creating the world they will live in. But right now, even though elementary school-age girls report liking math and science as much as boys do, many girls “drop out” of math and science when they enter middle school. Why does this happen? Studies show that one reason is that girls aren’t given toys that encourage them to think of themselves as creators of technology — toys like that are primarily marketed to boys. Playing with Linkitz gives girls a chance to try being a creator of tech; they can see how rewarding it is and share that feeling with their friends. Getting over that mental barrier of ‘this field isn’t for me’ will encourage girls to stick with STEM subject through middle and high school, and into university.
What was the design & manufacturing process like?
Lyssa: We used Eagle 7.2 to design a set of boards. We were able to outsource fabrication fairly easily, but assembly was done in house for the first couple of each rev. We outsourced assembly when we were making batches of 10 units or more.
We’re not manufacturing at scale yet. Manufacturing our prototypes has involved some really impressive model makers/3d printers/short run board fabrication etc. It was all found by going to China and asking people we trust for help. HAX (our accelerator) has done a really good job of helping us to make our models and do small runs in way that eases the transition real manufacturing.
What were some of your lessons learned along the way?
Lyssa: We learned that it is important to read Mandarin! A lot of the data sheets for Taiwanese components that we wanted to use to cost down our product are not offered in English. We were able to identify a few companies who we can trust to do a high-quality job on the different parts of the process we’re going to need. And you want to find out who NOT to work with early — you don’t want to have to learn that the hard way when you go to scale.
For sourcing electronics in China, our biggest challenge is the language barrier. We were using Google Translate to translate everything: product descriptions on Taobao, emails to/from suppliers, shopping lists for taking over to the electronics mart. But once we left the office and didn’t have our VPN, we were out of luck. We had to anticipate everything we might want to say, translate it with Google, screenshot it, and then show the screenshot to whomever we wanted to communicate with!
What is your vision for the Internet of Things for Kids?
Lyssa: The coolest thing about Linkitz is that it’s modular – you can swap components in and out to introduce new capabilities or to take advantage of new technology. Our philosophy is that kids should have the opportunity (in a safe way) to explore the world they live in and that includes tech. Linkitz will be able to interact with the connected home – for example, a child could program it to turn the lights off when they leave the room, and it could be a game with their friends — who has the “greenest” house? Also, it doesn’t have to be wrist-worn. We have some designs in the pipeline for interactive entertainment that is worn elsewhere.
Right now we are focusing on marketing to girls because there is a gap in the market for a tech toy for girls and a tremendous interest from parents and teachers in increasing the number of girls in STEM. The toy itself is fun for boys and girls — our testing showed that.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Lyssa: Yes! We’re on Kickstarter for 2 more days. Take a look and please back us if you are interested in seeing a really cool and different tech toy come to market!