PCB Bring-Up Hack Chat

Will it release the Magic Smoke?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Mihir Shah and Liam Cadigan will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at noon Pacific Time.

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The printed circuit design process is pretty unique among manufacturing processes. Chances are pretty good that except for possibly a breadboard prototype, the circuit that sits before you after coming back from assembly has only ever existed in EDA software or perhaps a circuit simulator. Sure, it's supposed to work, but will it? 

You can -- and should -- do some power-off testing of new boards, but at some point you're going to have to flip the switch and see what happens. The PCB bring-up process needs to be approached carefully, lest debugging any problems that crop up become more difficult than need be. Mihir and Liam from inspectAR will discuss the bring-up process in depth, offering tips and tricks to make things go as smoothly as possible, as well as demonstrating how the inspectAR platform can fit into that process, especially with teams that are distributed across remote sites. If your board releases the Magic Smoke, you'll want to know if it's your design or an assembly issue, and an organized bring-up plan can be a big help.

Note: Liam will be doing a simulcast web demo of inspectAR at

  • Link to livestream recording

    Dan Maloney04/22/2020 at 20:30 0 comments

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

    Dan Maloney04/15/2020 at 19:57 0 comments

    Jerry Hubbell12:29 PM
    Just signed up for the pilot.

    Hemal Chevli12:31 PM
    if you just reading the gerbers, how are the net names known, or this only available if a kicad/eagle board uploaded?

    Mark J Hughes12:32 PM
    @Hemal -- the gerbers do not have the information you need -- you need extended gerber v2 or IPC2581 or KiCad files.

    Ragabash12:32 PM
    Signed up

    Mihir Shah12:33 PM
    what other info/data would you want to see overlaid? dmm readings? scope waveforms? EDA simulations?

    Jerry Hubbell12:33 PM
    A thermal image overlay would be nice

    Ragabash12:34 PM
    Sometimes net length can be really useful for finding where highspeed nets go wrong. Reflections happen at discontinuities in impedance so being able to pinpoint those would be great

    Mark J Hughes12:34 PM
    @Jerry Hubbell We've begun to experiment with the FlirOne.

    amigabill12:34 PM
    Pdn voltage region, current

    Alistair Cheeseman12:34 PM
    can you overlay altium's PDN analyzer graphics?

    amigabill12:35 PM
    net names

    Ragabash12:35 PM
    Would be nice to be able to turn on .steo/3d models so it's easy to compare against the real thing - easy to improve CAD quality

    Ragabash12:35 PM

    Ragabash12:35 PM

    Jerry Hubbell12:36 PM
    What kind of automation or scripting might be good to add?

    Mark J Hughes12:37 PM
    @Ragabash inspectAR2.0 will be ready for that. We are integrating 3D board tracking. Turning on the step file layer shouldn't be a problem from a technical standpoint. The detail of the step models could overwhelm a phone's processor in a complicated design. It's something we can implement and if there is interest, we can add it to our roadmap.

    Ragabash12:38 PM
    pick and place data, incase rotations of placements are wrong

    Mark J Hughes12:39 PM
    @Ragabash I'm curious -- has that ever happened to you? I've not run into that problem yet.

    We usually go an hour, but that's up to you

    Jerry Hubbell12:40 PM
    Thank you

    amigabill12:40 PM
    Bare board connections for probing opens/shorts before assembly

    Ragabash12:41 PM
    Yeah, one GPS module recently was 180 degrees out. Was an error in part library creation as a non-standard part

    Hemal Chevli12:41 PM
    sorry if I missed it, are through-hole, blind and buried vias visualized differently?

    Mihir Shah12:43 PM

    Mihir Shah12:43 PM
    for any additional questions!

    Sounds good.

    Hemal Chevli12:44 PM
    Thanks its was a great demo!

    Jerry Hubbell12:44 PM
    Thanks for a great look at InspectAR I appreciate it.

    It's really come a long way since the Supercon talk. Very impressive!

    Ragabash12:44 PM
    Thanks for the demo, I look forward to trying it out

    Just curious, Mihir, and somewhat tangential, but how is Royal doing with the shutdown. Are you essential enough to keep things running?

    OK, looks like we lost everyone. I'll just wrap it up with a big thanks to Mihir and Liam for their time and the great demo. I'll post the transcript soon, and the video as soon as I get it. Everything will be at

    Mihir Shah12:54 PM
    Royal is doing really well! fully up and running, building a lot of boards for Medtronic and the ventilators

    And don't forget next week we have the Apollo Guidance Computer team:


    Hacking Apollo Hack Chat

    The Apollo Guidance Computer team will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at noon Pacific Time. Time zones got you down? Here's a handy time converter! When President Kennedy laid down the gauntlet to a generation of scientists and engineers to land a man on the Moon before the close of the 1960s, he likely had little idea what he was putting in motion.

    Read this on Hackaday

    Mihir Shah12:55 PM
    arguably busier than ever since most other shops are closed down, and china is slow

    Oh, great - I figured you'd be hopping, but one never knows

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney04/15/2020 at 19:57 0 comments

    Mihir Shah11:44 AM
    Hey everyone! We're using zoom. Chat will also be answered on zoom (just easier that way), but i'll do my best to also add an abbreviated text version here

    Mihir Shah11:45 AM
    We'll send over a recording after the fact

    Cool Mark, thanks. And thanks Mihir - I was just going to ask for that. And welcome!

    Mihir Shah11:47 AM
    please ask your questions and whatnot here in the hackchat, we'll answer them via video chat in zoom (, and try and add an abbreviated answer here in the hackchat.

    Tim Brodie joined  the room.11:48 AM

    Mihir Shah11:53 AM
    Anything in particular people want to see/talk about? good practices on board bring-up? Passing things off to another EE or technician to assist?

    Mihir Shah11:54 AM

    Ragabash joined  the room.11:54 AM

    Mihir Shah11:55 AM
    we're here now! chat will be kept here in the hackchat, video/audio is in zoom

    Mihir Shah11:55 AM
    Maybe a good place to start: What is your board bring-up process like? do you do your own hand-assembly/placement?

    Just got the Zoom client re-installed - I nuked it a few days ago

    MS-BOSS11:56 AM
    maybe next time, anything not needing a separate client would be welcome...

    Mihir Shah11:56 AM
    haha! unsafe?

    Andrew Kowalczyk11:57 AM
    Reworking 01005s is a nightmare

    Hello is this the PCB chat ?

    Inhaled LEDs - yuck!

    Ragabash11:57 AM
    Knowing the design, resistance check, power, clock, resets

    Mark J Hughes11:57 AM
    Reworking 01005s is barely possible.

    andrew.sandage joined  the room.11:57 AM

    Jerry Hubbell11:57 AM
    Hi Everyone, I am the VP Engineering for Explore Scientific and the creator of the PMC-Eight astronomical mount system.

    @MS-BOSS - Trouble is, we can't do a live demo on the Hack Chat.

    Nicolas Tremblay joined  the room.11:58 AM

    Andrew Kowalczyk11:58 AM
    What sort of features do people design in for debug? I use 0-ohm resistors everywhere to hide my mistakes, what do other people do?

    Thanks Mihir

    Chris Ryding11:58 AM
    What software is showing in the video with the layer overlays superimposed on the physical PCB?

    Jerry Hubbell11:58 AM
    HI Great

    Ragabash11:58 AM
    For first spin of the board, I try to put 0 ohms Andrew

    Mark J Hughes11:59 AM
    @Chris Ryding inspectAR -- it's what's being demoed today.

    Hemal Chevli11:59 AM
    @Chris Ryding its inspectAR software

    Hey everyone - we're simulcasting on the Zoom channel now. Please tune in if you can:

    Jerry Hubbell11:59 AM
    I use DipTrace for design

    Ragabash11:59 AM
    TPs can be an absolute nightmare, I recetnly did a board with 500 TPs. but there was no way to put legend on for all of those, so they get lost super easily

    Mark J Hughes12:00 PM
    @Jerry Hubbell Not a lot of people use it. I like it though.

    Andrew Kowalczyk12:00 PM
    Great to hear there'll be free InspectAR support in the future! What sort of process is involved in linking a board using the tool?

    We'll officially get started now with a welcome to Mihir and Liam. We're talking about the PCB Bring-Up process today, with a live demo going on over at Zoom:

    Jerry Hubbell12:00 PM

    amigabill12:01 PM
    Suggestions of things to look for if a processor doesn't seem to boot?

    Nicolas Tremblay left  the room.12:01 PM

    Victor Lucas joined  the room.12:01 PM

    Mihir Shah12:01 PM
    inspectAR 2.0 will be free for eagle/kicad users

    Andrew Kowalczyk12:01 PM
    @amigabill check boot pins! (and resets)

    Ragabash12:01 PM
    How many layers will inspectAR be supporting?

    Mark J Hughes12:01 PM
    @amigabill -- is it a new board?

    And we'll be recording the demo and we'll post a link later

    Mark J Hughes12:02 PM
    @Ragabash The layer count does not matter -- any number of layers can be supported.

    Go for it! I did a little intro already

    Ragabash12:02 PM
    Have you run into any issues with board size or net count? Some FPGA and multiprocessor boards would definitely benbefit...

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