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How do you approach a design problem?

peterjfrancis
2

An interesting thought occured to me recently whilst working my way through a particularly tough mechanical design problem on our CFD software in the design office of ebm-papst UK Ltd . Part of my remit as Head of Design at ebm-papst UK Ltd is performing CFD analyses on customer products to help them with design problems.

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So the thought that occured to me was .....Wouldn't it be nice if I could try different options in the same way as electronics designers do when working with a design that doesn't perform to specification.

Disclaimer
Now before I go any further I am not an electronics designer! , I can tell the difference between a capacitor and a transistor and have been known to bodge together the odd electronics project (some of them very odd indeed ) but I am essentially a nuts and bolts man.

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However I am responsible for a team of 3 electronics design engineers and as such have got more intimatly involved with electronics design than I used to and have started to understand the constraints and issues associated with electronics design.

Electronics Designer Workflow
So , if an electronics designer produces a circuit and it doesn't work correctly, what does he do ? Completely redesign the circuit? No, invariable he/she starts 'tweaking' component values or swapping components until the design performs as required. I realise this is a sweeping generalisation and the process isn't as random as i seem to imply but it does hold true to a certain extent.

Mechanical Designer Workflow
Now lets look at a mechanical designer, they produce their latest work of mechanical design art and it doesn't perform correctly, what does he do ? Can he 'tweak' it ? No, usually that option isn't available, it's a re-design of at least one part and invariably the whole assembly with the ensuing time and cost implications
Now I know you are all saying 'But surely they have FEA , CFD , RP , etc?', unfortunatly not everyone has access to these tools and even those that do may not use them on every project.

Thought for the day
Do electronics designers regard that method of working as a 'bodge' or 'kludge', or is it part of the natural development process ?
What workflow do you use for electronics design ? does it have benefits or drawbacks when compared to others ?



Peter J Francis
@peterjfrancis Follow me on Twitter for more inane ramblings


@ebmpapstUK Company twitter feed


Definitions

FEA - Finite Element Analysis
CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics
RP - Rapid Prototyping

Mechanical & Thermal Consultant, CFD & FEA , mechanical design, electronics hacker , IoT hacker, pilot - full size and RC , motorcyclist

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Comments

April 4, 2013 18:36

Hi designsomewhat

[quote:3o9rd1c9]ULTRA IMPORTANTLY !! : once I’ve drawn a rectangle on the screen to be my board, I don’t
seem to be able to change the dimensions of it exactly, i.e. by
entering numbers, - the same as when you initially create the board,
despite an : “Edit Shapes” option. This is important, as I
accidentally dragged one of its sides in, changing its width. I can’t put it back
manually, as it will only move in increments as small as 1/40 of a grid – which happened
to not allow me to arrive at the desired (original ) width at its creation.[/quote:3o9rd1c9]

You can set all of this quite easily. Select the object press the shortcut "=" and re-enter your desired values.

You can also select the absolute and relative origins using "right click" and choosing the option.

There is lots of help available in the Help Files and also have a look at the tutorials which cover all the basics (from the menubar ) Also print out a copy of the shortcuts which is a great design aid and prompt to learn from.

Post some more details if I've missed the point.

0 Votes

April 4, 2013 11:27

ULTRA IMPORTANTLY !! : once I’ve drawn a rectangle on the screen to be my board, I don’t
seem to be able to change the dimensions of it exactly, i.e. by
entering numbers, - the same as when you initially create the board,
despite an : “Edit Shapes” option. This is important, as I
accidentally dragged one of its sides in, changing its width. I can’t put it back
manually, as it will only move in increments as small as 1/40 of a grid – which happened
to not allow me to arrive at the desired (original ) width at its creation. In any case,
an edit option SHOULD include the ability to (re)-specify dimensions NUMERICALLY. If the software as
is – DOES, enable this to be done I apologies,- but if so, the advice for it must sure
be hidden well.

0 Votes
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