Datasheet Reliability with Ben Jordan

May 7, 2019 Judy Warner

When are datasheets accurate and can we rely on them? Ben Jordan is back on the show to discuss datasheets and how to achieve reliability for your use case. We also cover an unusual question from the forum about gilding that you won’t want to miss. Ben always enjoys catching up with the Lounge Forum, and this week, one of our users, Tim Philips, posted a datasheet that he had come across for an inductor. Listen in to explore these topics in this episode of the OnTrack Podcast.   

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Show Highlights:

  • The question: “I ran into an unusual datasheet from Murata, for a common mode choke and on page 7 it says: ‘Do not use a gilded pattern. The copper wire may cause open by dissolution of metalization’ -  question is, what does ‘gilded’ mean? 
  • The answer: Gilded means gold plating - solder plated over hard gold just doesn’t work. 
  • This is a good example of how crazy datasheets can be, and it’s apparent that this was translated from another language.
  • Lee Ritchey always says: “app notes, should be assumed wrong unless proven right”.  
  • This whole question of app notes and whether you can trust them is very important. For example application notes often advise separating the analog and the digital ground, to reduce electrical noise. Which is not necessary.
  • Application notes are often produced by IC Engineers, who have no exposure to field theory and their conservative nature is aimed at the worst case scenario in various industries such as medical, aerospace and automotive where people’s lives are at stake. 
  • What’s the solution to unreliable datasheets? 
  • That’s where your training comes in. Starting with reference designs is good, but it’s just a starting point, you need to apply your engineering knowledge.
  • You have to speak to applications engineers, who know products and did testing to compile the data–you have to verify.
  • Measuring yourself, there are no shortcuts to actual measurement, you must have a test lab due to the ‘overkill’ of most sheets.
  • Dan Beeker also says: “datasheets may be functional, but could result in higher BOM costs”. 

Links and Resources:

Altium Lounge Forum

Rick Hartley on The Importance of PCB Stackup

Dan Beeker presentation "It’s all about the space"

Eric Bogatin: AltiumLive talk on measurement

OnTrack Email:


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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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