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Dev blog comments/questions  (Read 2345 times)

Offline chdude3

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Dev blog comments/questions
« on: 03:14 PM - 01/12/10 »
First, thanks OBsIV for the latest update.  I found it interesting to see at what stage the project was in.  Just had a couple questions (if you have time) and the Blog thread is locked so I was hoping I could post them here.

Are you going to be using a third party for the board layout, or have you got someone in-house (so to speak) that'll be doing it?  Depending on the constraints you're working under (I don't know details, for example, such as what the fastest signals on the board may be), PWB layout can be tricky and often times it's just as fast and/or economical to send out the schematic with a list of constraints and have a board shop turn it around.

And related to that, neglecting any power or ground planes, how many signal routing layers do you anticipate requiring?  I assume you'll have the traditional top/bottom (AKA component/solder) sides, but didn't know if you had some dense BGA chip (or similar) on board if you'd need multiple layers just to break the signals out.

Anyways I was just curious.  If someone has time for some fast answers it's appreciated, but if you need all your spare time to get the emulator up and running, that's cool too.  (Incidentally, that's also impressive, emulating your own custom embedded system).

Cheers mate, and keep up the great work.

Offline OBsIV

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #1 on: 10:52 PM - 01/12/10 »
The team I've assembled are pros. The design I've tasked them with is actually simple to these guys (as I wanted it to be). They are used to working on orders of magnitude more difficult problems.

XIM3 will use at least a 4 layer board. No BGA packages. Part of the motivation was for security. It will include trace-level obfuscation to throw off potential hackers. That combined with scraped off component labels and an epoxy layer should make it considerably hard to reverse engineer this board.
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Offline Wolfwood

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #2 on: 01:20 AM - 01/13/10 »
That's the technical version of poison dart booby traps.  ;)

Offline chdude3

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #3 on: 08:52 AM - 01/13/10 »
The team I've assembled are pros. The design I've tasked them with is actually simple to these guys (as I wanted it to be). They are used to working on orders of magnitude more difficult problems.
Oh, I have no doubt sir that you've got pros on the team; I mean technically alone you'd require it.  My apologies if I implied otherwise, that was certainly not my intent!  Anyways I'm sure there are complicated aspects, but on an overall scale this is probably smaller (in terms of complication) than a lot of things.  I just wasn't sure with it being potentially straightforward whether you'd be able to farm out the layout or do it yourself, but your next answer is a big explanation why.  (Incidentally I haven't done much board layout myself; I'm more the design and schematic guy, about the most complicated I've done so far is what ended up being a 6-layer board in a 6U VME64x form factor).

XIM3 will use at least a 4 layer board. No BGA packages. Part of the motivation was for security. It will include trace-level obfuscation to throw off potential hackers. That combined with scraped off component labels and an epoxy layer should make it considerably hard to reverse engineer this board.
Ah, that's something I've not had to worry about yet and so it never crossed my mind.  It seems so obvious now though, of course nobody wants their hard work ripped off!  That's a whole other set of design constraints, I can appreciate the time and effort that would have to go into security measures that otherwise would be completely unnecessary.  I hope though that even if they were able to reverse engineer the board, it would be essentially useless without the embedded code.  Hopefully whatever processor (or FPGA etc) you're using has some option to secure the code so that it can't be read back or otherwise dumped in a useful manner.

For component labels - could you not just leave off the silkscreening altogether?  Then again I don't know how this will be manufactured.  If third party, of course they'll need to know where the hell R34 is installed, but if doing it yourself or otherwise under your control, you'll obviously have the master layout available to show the reference designations and could just have no references on the board?  (Although if there's just a handful of components, it may not be that arduous to remove the labels).

Anyways, I appreciate the response.  The answers are interesting, and as I said I hadn't even considered the security aspect as relates to the physical parts.  Code obfuscation yeah, but I've never had to deal with it on a physical level like with PCB traces!

Offline chdude3

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #4 on: 06:30 PM - 01/31/10 »
OBsIV - also out of curiousity - if you feel you can answer, what software did you use for the schematic capture as well as the PCB layout?

Offline OBsIV

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #5 on: 09:39 PM - 01/31/10 »
OBsIV - also out of curiousity - if you feel you can answer, what software did you use for the schematic capture as well as the PCB layout?

My hardware engineer uses Altium.
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Offline derektm

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #6 on: 12:37 AM - 02/01/10 »
Altium + CAM350 is my tool of choice as well  ;)

Offline Juncti

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #7 on: 09:58 AM - 02/01/10 »
Derek's alive!! OMG  ;D


Offline Ding Chavez

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Re: Dev blog comments/questions
« Reply #8 on: 03:50 PM - 02/05/10 »
Derek's alive!! OMG  ;D

My exact same response.  


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