Carl Schattke - Designing Complex Boards

September 17, 2019 Judy Warner

Today in the studio, we welcome Carl Schattke, who works for a leading electric vehicle manufacturer. Carl has almost forty years of experience in PCB Design and will teach us about the things he thinks about when designing very complex boards. He’ll discuss what he’s going to cover as a keynote at AltiumLive in Frankfurt, October 21st through 23rd, and he’ll tell us more about a talk he’s co-presenting with Max Seeley from 3M, in which they’ll discuss going from schematic to PCB layout and passing that baton like a champ. Sign up for AltiumLive now—space is limited!  

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Show Highlights:

  • Carl’s earliest memory of an engineering project and the first indication of his future career was at age three when he built a helicopter out of an Erector toy set. 
  • His father was a mechanical/electrical engineer, and at 8 years of age, he would help with point to point continuity checks. Seeing so many designs helped him develop his own style, good symmetry, and spacing.
  • The advantage of having manual experience early on over someone jumping in with electronic tools is the appreciation for using the space that’s available, but today’s boards are so complicated that without that early exposure, Carl feels he would be hard-pressed to do what he does today.
  • Carl will bring artwork he did to San Diego so that young designers can get a glimpse of history.
  • Carl’s keynote at AltiumLive in Frankfurt will be ‘Making and Breaking the Rules’, where he’ll discuss design rules; where we’ve come from, where we are right now and where we’re going, illustrating what’s important and what we can disregard or change. Do we change the rules? 
  • In what ways do design rules help or hinder today’s designers? They’re a tremendous help—the clearance rule and the Altium Designer® shadow feature is quite awesome—but in order to remain profitable, we need to understand the gaps in our rules.
  • One of the most important ‘tools’ designers have is the ability to communicate with their manufacturer and engineers; asking the right questions to avoid disconnects. Getting the opportunity to connect and reflect and learn, is invaluable.
  • Carl will also be doing a two-hour breakout session with Max Seeley from 3M, both in Frankfurt and San Diego; ‘Schematic to PCB Design: Passing the Baton Like a Champion’. This will be very valuable for the audience because they will talk about aspects that we don’t see in videos or read about much.
  • The talk will also be beneficial to the EEs laying out their own boards because several circuits will be discussed and they still have to consider all the aspects of their process.
  • What is the difference between the thinking process of pure electrical engineers, vs PCB layout pros? Depending on experience, the problems are going to be the same, it all boils down to transition line theory, resistance-capacitance, inductance, and how those things work together on a circuit board.
  • Where is the baton mostly dropped? Placement expectations, simple things like what side of the board is which, non-optimal layout, leaving off the timing requirements, leaving differential pairs unlabelled. Many little details can have a huge impact.
  • These talks will be very practical in terms of authentic design review—things that are not generally dropped on a schematic and much more.
  • Sign up now, space is limited!  

Links and Resources:

AltiumLive October, San Diego
AltiumLive, October, Frankfurt
Picture of Rick Hartley on a light table
Carl and Julie’s talk at AltiumLive 2018

About the Author

Judy Warner


Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing.

She has been a writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters.

In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and immediately launched Altium’s OnTrack Newsletter.
She led the launch of AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, a new and annual Altium User Conference.

Judy's passion is to provide resources, support and to advocate for PCB Designers around the world.

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