Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Happy Holden’s Panel Discussions Review

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AltiumLive 2020 was a virtual event, and I attended each keynote address, as well as many other sessions. And while the attendance of the in-person AltiumLive event in San Diego over the past two years has been steadily growing, this year’s event welcomed thousands. You can also review the panel discussions anytime on Altium’s website.

The topic that was most interesting was the Open-Source Ventilator (OSV) Project, as well as the panel discussion from three of the principal engineers who worked on the U.S. version. I also enjoyed Dr. Eric Bogatin’s keynote, “Unlearning Legacy Codes,” and the panel discussion from four of the principal signal integrity (SI)/power integrity (PI) engineers he admires.

On Day 3, I attended Rick Hartley’s “Secrets of PCB Optimization,” in addition to the panel discussion on “Design With Manufacturing,” which was hosted by Judy Warner and involved three engineers from fabrication, design, and assembly.

Here, I summarize three panel discussions from Dugan Karnazes, Dr. Eric Bogatin, and Judy Warner, which were all worth the time investment.

OSV: Working Together to Save Lives

Dugan_Karnazes.jpgIt was not quite clear to me how Dugan Karnazes, founder and CEO of Velocity Research, got introduced to OSV Project, a worldwide project to create respiratory ventilators in mid-March of 2020. This global coalition of volunteer engineers, manufacturers, companies, and hospital systems developed and released a low-cost and completely open ventilator design to address the shortages presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first 11 minutes described what was happening around the world last March, as it was recognized that hospitals did not have enough ventilators. Once Dugan was interested, he rounded up friends and engineers. Rob Cooke (Calumet Electronics) represented board fabrication, and Chris Denny (Worthington Assembly Inc.) represented board assembly. As part of the panel, each discussed their experience working on the OSV Project.


Dugan narrated most of the excellent video and described the tools that helped them go from a concept to a working prototype in just four weeks. He also explained how they used digital tools to organize a global team, avoid manufacturing problems early, and get to physical boards in record time. The time might be distorted a little as Digi-Key just happened to have a useable PWB already designed, and they contributed it to the OSV Project.

This panel discussion illustrated how many internet communication tools facilitate open and rapid discussions, such as Altium365 and five other new tools.

150 Person-Years in Signal Integrity and Power Integrity

Bogatin resized.jpgDr. Eric Bogatin is one of the most prominent engineers in the field of SI and PI, and I have known him for over 40 years. He has written numerous books on the subject, leads the Signal Integrity Institute, and teaches at the University of Colorado. He wrote the chapter on “Signal Integrity for HDI” in The HDI Handbook.

Eric pulled together four peers to discuss SI and PI:

  1. Steve Sandler of Picotest
  2. Heidi Barnes of Keysight Technologies
  3. Rula Bakleh of Graphcore Inc.
  4. Istvan Novak of Samtec

After each gave a detailed history of what brought them into working on signal integrity, Eric posed a few basic questions, such as, “What were the keys to your success?”

The second question was, “How do you make simulations work and be valuable?” This elicited a lengthy discussion on models, simulation, and data. All endorsed the advice, “Start with something you know and look for validation data, measurements, and correlations. Focus on what is not there.”

The panel ended with the question, “Where do you go to learn?” The panel members shared an inventory of current communication channels. Webinars, technical journals, online company courses, and technical conferences were on everyone’s list.

The panel ended with this sound advice: “I want engineers to start where I ended.”

Design With Manufacturing

Judy_Warner.jpgJudy Warner, director of community engagement at Altium, is well known in the industry and, for her panel discussion, selected working engineers in the field of design, PWB fabrication, and SMT assembly. Judy assembled three peers to discuss manufacturing:

  1. Jeremie Waller of Quantel Lasers
  2. Gerry Partida of Summit Interconnect
  3. Greg Ziraldo of Advanced Assembly

After each introduced themselves and gave a current update, Judy posed a few basic questions about manufacturing.

She started with the primary question, ”What percentage of incoming new jobs go on hold?” The feedback was that it’s as high as 90% to as low as 0%, with the common answer, “It all depends!” The follow-up question was on a longer subject: “What makes the orders go on hold?” This was a lively discussion that covered most of the problems and causes. Additional questions had to do with handling revision control, the handling of BOM changes, and documentation, which is a big topic.

This panel addressed how discussions and communications can prevent many manufacturing problems.


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