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RF PCB (radio frequency printed circuit board) design is the rapidly growing sector now-a-days. PCB design is increasingly becoming a challenging task on account of a number of factors, an important one being the fact that there is a combined presence of digital, mixed and Radio Frequency signals.
A PCB is considered to be RF type when the frequency of signals involved is greater than 100 Mhz. The choice of material, layout & routing of such PCBs require special considerations and a whole new approach than one required by a low frequency PCB. Some of the challenges that electronic designers face with such circuit boards include skin effect, capacitive coupling between signals that travel along adjacent traces, electromagnetic interference, impedance control, and more.
During an RF PCB design, another important aspect is the choice of the right material that impacts the final design. The selected substrate material determines the price, thickness, RF PCB layout, mounting possibilities, and more.
Some of the other general RF PCB design and layout guidelines to build a high-quality RF PCB include:
- The sensitivity of high-frequency signals to any interference of noise like ringing, reflection, or crosstalk, necessitates. impedance matching while routing the RF signals. Designers widely use a common impedance value of 50Ω.
- An RF PCB design is also impacted by inductance, which needs to be kept as low as possible.
- RF traces carry the highest frequency signals. It is suggested to provide smooth bend for the traces if required.
- The traces connecting the RF components should be spaced apart to avoid any crosstalk issues.
- It is necessary to isolate the RF traces to avoid any overheating. This can be done by stitching vias around the RF traces.
- To improve the signal integrity of the PCB, a well-balanced stack up with uniform copper thickness of layers is essential.
- High-speed signal traces should be routed on different layers to avoid coupling effects.
- There need to be dedicated power planes to route power supply lines.
- Vias help reduce the parasitic inductance effects and also reduce the coupling between RF signals and other signal traces on the PCB.
RF PCB Design Guidelines
Some of the design rules that aid RF PCB assembly include:
- With RF PCB design requiring increased power support, thermal pads need to be constructed.
- An RF design involves using a lot of metal for power network and shielding. The metal spaces should not be used to place any SMT components.
- Enough space needs to be provided for component access, necessary rework, and more.
Why is Mer-Mar Electronics your go-to place for RF PCB Design?
Competent Team – You can rely on our experienced team of RF PCB design engineers who have extensive experience and are equipped with industry best practices. Our team can assist you at every step of the fabrication and assembly process including but not limited to material selection as well as key manufacturing challenges.
Superior Expertise – With our proven design methodologies and processes we are fully equipped to handle the most complex RF PCB design requirements. Our extensive knowledge of design guidelines for RF PCBs ensures that you get a superior product.
Quick Turnaround Time – Our quick turnaround time in RF PCB design enables you to go into production that much faster and that your go-to-market is that much quicker, offering you a big source of competitive advantage.
Cost-effective designs – Count on us to use the latest technologies and processes to deliver cost-effective designs that render your project extremely competitive.
RF PCB Design Services
RF PCB design requires special skillset that a regular PCB manufacturing partner may not be able to handle.
We can design your RF PCB with DFM considerations with quick turnarounds, and also produce high-quality boards to ensure optimal performance of your application.
Some of the services that we offer when it comes to RF PCB design include:
Component Placement and Routing
Our experienced designers stay ahead of the curve when it comes to adhering to component placement and trace routing rules for RF printed circuit board design.
RF PCB Layout design with DFx Aspects
Our Design for Excellence Approach improves product quality as well as time to market. We have an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13458:2016 quality management system to ensure the best quality RF PCB design from layout to shipping.
Modification of existing Radio Frequency boards
Besides designing new boards you can also count on us for modifying existing boards to meet your requirements.
Providing comprehensive fabrication documents
We ensure that our robust designs are backed up by comprehensive fabrication documents that ensure manufacturing of the boards is seamless.
RF PCB Design Flows
We offer design entries via schematic capture as well as automation and powerful scripting that significantly reduces manual design entry & editing.
Simulation for RF PCB Subsystems
Before manufacturing, radio frequency printed circuit board designs are verified through computer aided simulation and analysis. RF front-ends are also analysed using circuit envelope analysis in order to simulate metrics such as adjacent-channel power-ratio and error-vector magnitude.
Model Library Support
High-frequency vendor models are used to capture parasitic behaviour. RF-aware design tools support component model libraries and design data. In turn, this accelerates time to market and offers a signifcant competitive advantage.
With the use of circuit and electromagnetic co-simulation and frequency dependent transmission-line models embedded parasitic extraction and design verification can be carried out. Harmful parasitic couplings and resonances can therefore be addressed.
Our RF PCB design process includes the following guidelines:
- Keeping different part types such as low-level analog, RF and digital components separate.
- Ideally RF PCBs should have multilayers. The top layer needs to include the power stage as well as RF signal lines and components. There also needs to be a ground layer underneath any layer than includes RF signal lines.
- With RF signals being extremely sensitive to noise and a wide variety of noise types, we ensure that any signal noise, reflection or ringing is mitigated.
- The higher the frequency of the signal the smaller the tolerance when it comes to impedance matching. There are several things that are kept in mind when considering impedance matching. Some of them include:
- Skin Effect Loss: At higher frequencies, electrons typically start to flow along the outer surface of the conductor. While at the trace, a small area is used to funnel electrons, however, this funnel also traps some of the electrons flowing on the outside of the conductor, converting their signal energy into heat. This is known as “skin effect loss.” This loss is best minimized with proper impedance matching.
- Keeping Line Lengths Low: The longer the lines that carry RF signals, the more chance there is for signal loss. Ideally, the line should be 1/20 of the wavelength. In case it needs to be longer than 1/16 of the wavelength, impedance control will need to be applied to the trace.
- The incidence of crosstalk tends to increase as the density and performance of a PCB increases. In order to reduce crosstalk, we follow a wide variety of methods including:
- Separating Signals: The distance from center to center should ideally be around four times the trace width of the signals.
- Minimizing Parallel Lines.
- Reducing dielectric spacing.
- Introducing a co-planar structure.
- Terminating the line on its characteristic impedance.
Application of RF PCB Design
RF PCBs have a number of advantages on account of which it finds wide application. The broad advantages of RF PCBs include:
- Low loss tangent and stability ensures high frequency signals can travel fast with less impedance.
- It offers optimal performance at cost-effective price points.
- The PCB structure is extremely stable even in high temperature environments.
- It is possible to place fine pitch components on the board without too much trouble.
- They lend themselves to multiple board layers as well as complex layouts.
Little surprise then that RF PCBs find wide application in a number of industries. While Radio-frequency (RF) and microwave PCBs were firstly used in military applications, today they find application across industries, including but not limited to:
- Consumer electronics
- High power applications
RF PCB Design Capabilities
The design and manufacturing of RF printed circuit board requires domain knowledge as well as an extensive PCB manufacturing experience. At Mer-Mar Electronics, the following are our capabilities when it comes to PCB Design:
- High Pin count and fine pitch BGA design.
- VIP, Back Drill, Blind and Buried via.
- Network & Back-plane boards.
- High speed and mixed signal interfaces.
- Length matching and controlled impedance.
- Layout design to meet Signal integrity, EMC and other standard interference compliance.
- High speed, high density, and highly constrained designs.
- Reusability and reduced PCB design time.
- Design for DFM/DFA/DFT.
- Ensuring that the design complies with IPC Standards.
RF PCB Design FAQs
Looking for RF PCB design, custom RF circuit board design, RF PCB layout or any other RF printed circuit board services from Mer-Mar Electronics? Send us inquiry to get a RF PCB design service quote based on your custom requirements
If you have any queries regarding to our RF PCB design service or need an urgent assistance, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team of skilled personnel. Send us an email with your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (760) 244-6149. We are looking forward to hearing from you.