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The Halloween Rush

jack-o-lantern_2003-10-31Around the Western world tomorrow, kids of all ages (include some of us adults) will be celebrating Halloween.   For those of you that may not know what Halloween is, it’s a celebration that originated from an old Celtic tradition where fires were lit to ward off evil spirits on Samhain – Summer’s end.  This was a special night because the people of the time believe that during this night, the separation between the world of the living and the dead was blurred.  On this night, spirits could walk freely on the earth among the living and in order to blend in with the spirits roaming the earth, it was necessary to dress as a spirit or creature from the underworld.   Thus, our tradition today of dressing up in costume for Halloween.

Unfortunately for me, every Halloween, it seems like I’m making a last minute mad-dash to the costume store trying to figure out what I will be for Halloween that year. This year was no different with a stop to the store yesterday and a wait in a line to pay for an overpriced piece of plastic that will be lucky to make it through one night.  For those that go today or tomorrow during the day, the stress of finding that perfect costume will be even worse.  Most likely many will just settle (I know I do it).

Which brings me to my point in this blog – how often are you just settling because you didn’t plan ahead?  Not only in your daily life, but also your career/designer life?  I see it time and again where designers are settling and prototyping or releasing designs without having confidence because they simply ran out of time.   Everyone’s schedules are compressed, this is nothing new.  And resources are short, this isn’t new either.  So how do you get your job done under this pressure and release with confidence?  Planning (it sounds lame but hear me out)!  And actually, if you plan ahead, you’d be surprised what you can achieve because with the right methodology, you might even be able to get to that proverbial “day before Halloween” and sit back and relax and watch everyone else run around like a crazed creature of the underworld.

So how do you plan ahead in your design, one might ask?  There are many ways but I’m a personal believer that up front analysis is critical.  Doing signal integrity analysis in a tool like HyperLynx LineSim can save you weeks on the back end of your design process.  LineSim can help you develop your constraints for routing giving you significantly higher probability of first pass success.   Think about how much time it takes to do a rev of your board – best case, you can do something in just under a week to fix a problem you’ve already root caused.  How long do you think it would take to run a simulation to prevent that issue from happening in the first place?  Maybe a few minutes, an hour,  a day?  So you’ve saved some time by planning and doing some up front analysis, not to mention those dollars you saved on the premium price that quick turn costs.   The point is, even though simulation can take time, it typically pays big dividends in the back end of your schedule, leaving you less likely to be under the gun when it’s time to go to production.  Also, you’re not just settling – you didn’t just grab what was on the shelf and hoped it would do the job like that last minute Halloween costume – you know up front that you are going to get what you want from that design.

Just remember, don’t let that next design “spook” you – plan ahead!  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Signal Integrity, Constraints

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About Steve McKinney

Steve McKinneyI've always been enamored with how things work from a very young age (I can see it in my daughter too who is only about a year old). I tend to dive into new things I find interesting and immerse myself in as much information as possible (where would we be without the internet!? Thank you Al Gore!....or should I say Tim Berners-Lee). I also love new gadgets (who doesn't!) and seeing what the latest/greatest innovations are. Hopefully this blog shares some of that excitement I have for technology and gives you a place to learn and maybe laugh a little bit along the way. If you want the business side of me, I graduated from North Carolina State University (Go Wolfpack!!) with an MSEE in RF and Microwave circuit design and am currently working for Mentor Graphics where I hold the role of Business Development Manager for Mentor's PCB Analysis products. Prior to this role, I was a Technical Marketing Engineer with Mentor, a Signal Integrity engineer at Dell, and a hardware designer at LVL7 Systems. Visit The HyperBlog

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