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The connected car is evolving rapidly, but what’s in store for 2015? According to IDC’s report, Harnessing Connected Vehicle Ecosystem B2X Opportunities, the industry will depend heavily on technology and standards development, government involvement and regulations advancement, as well as consumer acceptance and adoption.

Let’s start with the technology. Today’s connected vehicles use one of two primary methods for communicating:

  • Embedded Connectivity: an on-board embedded system (OCU) and embedded SIM card. This approach requires the user to purchase additional bandwidth to enable services.
  • Leveraged Connectivity: A telematics unit leverages a smartphone that is brought into the car, and then acts as a wireless gateway through WiFi, ZigBee, or Bluetooth.

connected_car_safety1

Source: Texas Instruments

In the near future, a mix of the two approaches is expected. Behind the scenes, each OEM will have its own cloud through which it will provide customers and dealers with information, apps, and services. In exchange, the OEM will be able to receive information about vehicle health, and geospatial and consumer data, as allowed based on privacy protection regulations. On the back-end, OEMs will analyze consumer and vehicle fleet data for warranty and marketing campaigns, safety, and product quality improvements.

Safety Technologies

Currently, human error contributes to about 90% of all vehicle accidents. Thus the call from drivers and regulatory agencies, alike, for collision-avoidance safety technologies, also known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). As ADAS technologies mature and costs diminish, enhanced safety and infotainment features will be found in both luxury and low-cost vehicles.

Connected_car_safety2

Source: McKinsey & Company

A growing number of OEMs – Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Toyota, Volkswagen – are adding gesture technology to their vehicles to track body movements and translate hand gestures. Honda recently introduced the 2015 Honda CR-V Touring vehicle that included Honda Sensing, a collision mitigation braking system and lane keeping assist system; the first CR-V implementation of a adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning; and a passenger-side mirror with a 4X larger field-of-view to eliminate blind spot problems.

Innovations abound, from sensor-fusion algorithms to physical sensors that use radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic, photonic mixer device (PMD), and camera and night-vision devices. The automotive radar market is evolving into a mix of frequencies – 24 GHz, 77 GHz, and 79 GHz – as technology allows and economics permit, said to John Coonrod, Market Development Manager at Rogers’ Advanced Circuit Materials division. For circuit designers and component specifiers, the rules change at these higher millimeter-wave frequencies.

The RO4000 Series High Frequency Circuit Laminates are an excellent choice for cost/performance for 24GHz radar applications.  The RO4835has been developed for extreme stability, even when exposed to the harsh environments of automotive applications. For high moisture environments, the RT/duroid® 5870 and 5880 high frequency laminates have a very low dielectric constant and extremely low water absorption characteristics. For 77GHz automotive radar applications, the RO3003 laminate is the preferred choice due to high material uniformity.

 

Announcing our new Wavelength Calculator for fast and easy calculations of electrical length, phase delay, wavelength fractions, circuit size reduction, material comparisons, and more.

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Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 10.38.41 AM

 

2015 is right around the corner and the pace of technology development continues unabated. Cloud computing…advanced manufacturing…Internet of Things (IoT)…cybersecurity…3D printing…flexible manufacturing – there is no doubt that manufacturing has, and will continue to, embrace digital technologies to accelerate production cycles and shorten lead times.

_year2015What’s in store for 2015? Let’s take a look at the predictions.

IndustryWeek expects five trends will shape the market in 2015.

  • SMAC: Social, mobile, analytics, and cloud adoption are gaining speed to drive higher customer engagement.
  • Social media: Digital tools will further impact business model innovation as manufacturers become more customer-centric.
  • Internet of Things: IoT will increase automation and drive efficiencies, which will create job opportunities in R&D.
  • Capital Equipment: The need for original design and speed to market means manufacturers will increase capital spending to upgrade plant, equipment, and technologies.
  • Next-Shoring: The rise of a more technical labor force, rising wages in Asia, higher shipping costs, and the need to accelerate time to market are leading more companies to shift manufacturing from outsourcing overseas to developing products closer to where they will be sold.

Forbes magazine predicts that reshoring will balance out offshoring, but not across the board. According to Bill Conerly, “The greatest reshoring will occur in industries that benefit most from cheap natural gas and have access to global markets. These are chemicals and metals (both primary manufacturing and fabrication).”

International Data Corporation (IDC) recently released their “Worldwide Manufacturing Predictions for 2015.”

  1. By 2017, manufacturers will actively channel 25% of their IT budgets through industry clouds that enable seamless and flexible collaboration models.
  2. In 2015, product quality, including compliance, will underpin two thirds of all IT application investments across the manufacturing organization.
  3. By 2016, 30% of manufacturers will invest substantially in increasing the visibility and analysis of information exchange and business processes, within the company and with partners.
  4. In 2015, customer centricity will require higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which will motivate 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  5. By 2017, 50% of manufacturers will explore the viability of micro logistics networks to enable the promise of accelerated delivery for select products and customers.
  6. By 2018, 75% of manufacturers will be coordinating enterprise-wide planning activities under the umbrella of rapid integrated business planning.
  7. By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  8. By 2018, 40% of the top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of the top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  9. In 2015, 65% of companies with more than ten plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.
  10. Investments that enable digitally executed manufacturing will increase 50% by the end of 2017, as manufacturers seek to be more agile in the marketplace.

Information Technology Group takes a look at the challenges facing manufacturing IT.

  • Manufacturing companies need to see some really strong numbers regarding potential returns before investing in a new manufacturing IT project. Most will fail to meet the bill. Instead companies will turn to process improvement as a way to become more competitive.
  • In 2015, there will be even more big attacks and more companies climbing on board to get serious about security. Measures that can increase security include cloud storage, remote desktops, and biometric security devices.”
  • As product lifespans shrink, it’s imperative to embrace flexibility. Manufacturing companies are leveraging social media to identify what the market wants and using real-time data tools to adjust output and maximize profits.

What do you see coming down the road for 2015?

This post authored by John Coonrod originally appeared on the ROG Blog hosted by Microwave Journal.

PrintDelay lines are useful component building-block functions for adjusting signals in both analog and digital circuits on printed-circuit boards (PCBs). High-frequency and high-speed delay lines are characterized by their bandwidths and delay times, as well as their insertion loss across their operating frequency range, their return loss, VSWR, rise time, and their delay stability. Delay lines can be realized with a number of different circuit elements, including coaxial cable assemblies, bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) devices, and surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) devices, but the choice of PCB material can also play a major role in the final performance of a delay-line design. For example, the consistency of the dielectric constant (Dk) across a PCB and the consistency of the PCB’s thicknesses are critical for consistent and predictable delay-line performance. Quite simply: the better behaved a PCB’s Dk characteristics, and the more consistent the thickness of the material, the better the stability of the delay lines fabricated on that PCB, whether working with stripline or microstrip circuit technologies.

How does a delay line work? It is a function of the propagation medium for electromagnetic (EM) signals. When that medium is air, EM signals travel through air at the speed of light, or 186,280 miles/s. In practical terms for designers working in PCB dimensions, the speed of light is equivalent to 11.8 in./ns. When those signals travel through some other medium, such as a PCB, they slow down as a function of the material’s properties, such as a PCB’s dielectric constant (Dk). All circuit materials have a Dk value greater than 1, with higher values representing greater capacity to store charge and slower travel of an EM wave through that material.

On a PCB trace, EM signals move at a speed equivalent to the speed of light (c) divided by the square root of Dk, or c/(Dk)0.5. The Dk of a vacuum (and approximately of air) is 1, so when the propagation medium is air, it essentially has no effect on the EM propagation speed. For a circuit material like FR-4, with a Dk of 4, the speed of the signals traveling through that PCB is divided by the square root of the material’s Dk value, or 2. As a result, the speed of signals traveling through an FR-4 circuit board is about one-half the speed of light through air or through a vacuum.

For a delay line in an RF/microwave microstrip circuit, the EM field moves through a metal conductor and a combination of dielectric materials, including the PCB dielectric material below the conductive circuit trace and the air above the circuit trace. In an RF/microwave stripline delay line, the EM field moves through PCB dielectric material above and below the circuit traces, typically in multilayer circuit designs with plated through holes (PTHs) connecting the multiple circuit layers. Coplanar-waveguide (CPW) PCB techniques are also applied to the fabrication of RF/microwave delay lines, and variations in the PCB material properties, such as dielectric thickness and even the tolerance of the plated copper conductor thickness, can impact delay line performance.

Of course, circuit fabrication processes and assembly techniques can have a great deal to do with achieving consistent delay-line performance from a particular PCB material. Ideally, the PCB material exhibits consistent thickness within a fairly tight tolerance and consistent Dk value across the material, also within a fairly tight tolerance; variations in these PCB material properties can translate into variations in delay-line performance. Unwanted capacitances, such as circuit junctions, should be minimized since added capacitance also means added delays (above a design target). For good electrical stability, any PCB-based delay-line circuit will have a large ground plane.

For practical delay-line circuits, finding a suitable PCB material starting point will inevitably involve some tradeoffs. For example, in terms of pure performance, RT/duroid® 5880 circuit materials from Rogers Corp. are materials based on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and reinforced with glass microfibers. The RT/duroid 5880 materials feature an extremely low Dk of 2.20 and impressive Dk tolerance of ±0.02, with low dissipation factor for low loss. They are available in a variety of sheet sizes and thicknesses (as thin as 0.005 in.) with tight thickness control to minimize variations in delay time when fabricating delay lines. But performance generally comes at a price and, with their low Dk value and extremely tight Dk tolerance, these materials are somewhat higher in cost than many PCB materials. They are designed for use in the most challenging circuit applications, including in military electronic systems.

Accepting some tradeoffs in performance and material parameters for a lower cost, the same company’s RO3003™ PCB materials are also based on PTFE but filled with ceramic materials for stability. The RO3003 materials exhibit a Dk of 3.00 with Dk tolerance that is still good, at ±0.04, and also with low dissipation factor and excellent thickness control to minimize delay-line variations. A PCB material that offers a good blend of cost and performance for delay lines is the RO4835™ laminate, with a Dk of 3.48 through the z-axis at 10 GHz and a Dk tolerance that is still quite tight, at ±0.05.  In addition to being compatible with lead-free processes (RoHS-compatible), this material offers good thickness tolerance and it can be fabricated using standard FR-4 material processes to minimize production costs. This material is available in a wide range of thicknesses (as thin as 0.0066 in. thick) and different weights of copper cladding to accommodate different design requirements.

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 1.33.54 PMAchieving design goals in delay lines often involves more than just the choice of PCB material, and every interface in an RF/microwave circuit design is a potential addition to the delay time of a delay line. For PCBs using coaxial connectors to launch signals, the interfaces between the circuit board and the connectors can introduce variations in the delay time and these interfaces or signal launch points should be as consistent as possible to minimize delay-time variations in the circuit.  A circuit material such as RO4835 laminate can provide the tight Dk tolerance, excellent material thickness control, and low-loss performance levels required for consistent delay-line performance.

Download the ROG Mobile appto access Rogers’ calculators, including the popular Microwave Impedance simulation tool, literature, technical papers, and the ability to order samples of the company’s high performance printed circuit board materials.

Do you have a design or fabrication question? Rogers Corporation’s experts are available to help. Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.

 

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This post authored by John Coonrod originally appeared on the ROG Blog hosted by Microwave Journal.

Spurious modes can occur in printed circuit boards (PCBs) in spite of the best-laid plans. These modes support extra, unwanted signals, in addition to the intended signals, that can wreak havoc on a PCB and its application, causing interference and degradation of the intended signals. Although minimizing spurious modes in PCBs is largely a result of careful design practices, the choice of PCB material can have some bearing on the final spurious mode behavior, especially at higher frequencies. Understanding how these spurious modes originate can help in keeping them under control, especially on PCBs operating at millimeter-wave frequencies.

PrintAt RF, microwave, and millimeter-wave frequencies, numerous transmission-line technologies are fabricated on PCB materials, stripline and microstrip are two popular transmission-line methods at higher frequencies. The transmission-line structures propagate electromagnetic (EM) waves in different ways, with stripline supporting transverse-electromagnetic (TEM) wave propagation while microstrip supports quasi-TEM propagation. Quite simply, the mechanical structures of these transmission lines are different, with stripline employing a metallic conductor surrounded by dielectric material while microstrip fabricated the conductor on the top of a dielectric layer with a ground plane on the bottom of the dielectric layer. Coaxial cables, where the conductor is also surrounded by dielectric material, also operate in a TEM propagation mode like stripline.

Spurious waves can be surface waves that propagate through a high-frequency PCB or they can be produced by resonant effects within circuits fabricated on a PCB. Microstrip transmission lines offer very little design freedom for minimizing spurious mode propagation. In terms of physical changes to the PCB, using a thinner microstrip PCB material can diminish the amount of spurious mode propagation in a high-frequency circuit, and this is one of the reasons that thinner circuit materials are used at higher-frequencies.

Of course, many of the PCBs designed with microstrip transmission lines must also make a transition to coaxial cables at a launch point, and this represents a transition from the TEM mode of the cable to the quasi-TEM mode of the microstrip transmission lines. But simply because a PCB has been fabricated with microstrip transmission lines and circuitry does not mean that other modes cannot propagate on that PCB; spurious signals represent one of these other propagation modes. These unwanted spurious or “parasitic-mode” signals can interfere with the desired quasi-TEM-mode signals of the microstrip transmission lines and circuitry.

The quality of the signal launch to a microstrip PCB can affect the amount of spurious mode suppression. For example, EM waves propagating from a coaxial connector to a microstrip PCB will not only make a transition from the TEM mode of the connector to the quasi-TEM mode of the microstrip, but the EM waves from the connector to the microstrip will also make a transition from the polar orientation of the cable and connector to the planar orientation of the microstrip. Even the most ideal coaxial-connector-to-microstrip PCB can suffer stray electrical reactances as a result of the transition of the propagating EM waves across an interface that will have some mechanical variations. Even minor impedance mismatches at the connector-microstrip transition can result in signal reflections and radiation at the transition. In addition, variations between the signal path and the ground return path in the transition area can lead to EM wave skew and additional “interruptions” in the intended propagation path and additional sources for spurious mode propagation.

A grounded coplanar-waveguide (GCPW) launch, which is also known as conductor-backed coplanar waveguide (CBCPW), is capable of a fairly smooth transition to a microstrip transmission line, with minimal spurious signal generation. When even more spurious mode suppression is required, for example at millimeter-wave frequencies, GCPW or CBCPW transmission lines can be used on the PCB in place of microstrip transmission lines. This provides more design freedom to minimize spurious mode generation, with a tradeoff being in added design complexity.

GCPW circuits are often used at millimeter-wave frequencies rather than microstrip transmission lines for better suppression of spurious modes at those higher frequencies. The physical configuration of these circuits helps suppress the resonances that can lead to spurious signals. In addition, the use of grounding viaholes in GCPW circuits can help suppress the propagation of resonance modes between the signal and ground planes. The pitch of these viaholes is important, and related to the wavelength of the operating frequency. The pitch of the viaholes should be 1/8 wavelength or less of the highest intended operating frequency for the circuit.

For a PCB, particularly based on microstrip transmission lines and at higher frequencies, resonances in a circuit and its transmission lines can lead to unwanted spurious signals. Resonances can develop between the transmission line’s signal conductor and the PCB ground plane, with resonances occurring between opposite edges of the signal conductor and paving the way for spurious signal propagation. Such resonances can generate their own EM waves in a circuit or transmission line, especially in microstrip circuits at higher frequencies.

The resonances occur according to the dimensions of the transmission-line conductor and the wavelength of the frequency of interest for the circuit. For example, if the physical width of a microstrip conductor is equal to ½ or ¼ the wavelength of the circuit’s operating frequency, resonances will occur. These resonances can lead to EM waves that can interfere with the intended quasi-TEM waves that are meant to propagate through a microstrip circuit. As with the pitch of the grounding viaholes in the GCPW circuits, a design goal that can help avoid the generation of circuit-based resonances (and their accompanying spurious modes) in microstrip circuits is to make certain that no transmission line or circuit features are greater than 1/8 wavelength of the intended operating frequency.

What does the choice of PCB material or PCB material characteristics have to do with spurious mode rejection? The quest for increased spurious mode rejection typically becomes more difficult at higher frequencies, notably at millimeter-wave frequencies, and is not highly dependent on the choice of PCB material, although the dielectric constant (Dk) of a circuit material is one parameter that can have an impact on spurious mode rejection. When a circuit material with higher Dk value is selected, it results in shorter wavelengths for a given operating frequency, which in turn can affect the target size of the microstrip transmission lines when trying to ensure that these transmission lines and circuit features are no greater than 1/8 wavelength of the intended operating frequency.

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 1.33.54 PMAlthough the thickness of a PCB material can be a concern at higher frequencies, such as millimeter-wave frequencies, the particular conductor width (as noted earlier) is more of a concern at these higher frequencies (with their smaller wavelengths). Still, thinner circuit laminates can help minimize spurious modes at millimeter-wave frequencies, and thinner laminates are also beneficial for reducing radiation losses in higher-frequency circuits. A tradeoff in selecting thinner PCB materials is that they tend to have higher losses than thicker circuit materials. Fortunately, advances in modern circuit materials, such as the lower insertion loss exhibited by RO4000® LoPro™ laminates from Rogers Corp., make it possible to achieve good spurious mode suppression at higher frequencies without necessarily compromising circuit loss performance.

Download the ROG Mobile appto access Rogers’ calculators, including the popular Microwave Impedance simulation tool, literature, technical papers, and the ability to order samples of the company’s high performance printed circuit board materials.

Do you have a design or fabrication question? Rogers Corporation’s experts are available to help. Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.

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