How many pdfs would someone need to open to understand every minute detail in the last PCB they designed? Is it a two-digit number, or a three-digit number? If you are not a hobbyist and receive a salary in exchange for your PCB design work, then there is probably a three- or four-digit number (100’s, if not 1000’s) of PDF’s needed to represent all the component data sheets, simulation results, schematics, test and debug reports, etc associated with the board.
Keeping all this data associated with the right part of the PCB is also essential, but a very challenging task. The revision 2 datasheet someone finds on Digi-Key may not be of any use after the third revision has been published and there is some new errata attached.
The question, “what is the nominal supply voltage?” and “what waveform characteristics should I be seeing here?” can both easily be answered by looking at a simulation. But what simulation to look at? It depends very heavily on what net, and what physical location on the board you are trying to probe. inspectAR knows both things, we could tell you very easily if we had the data.
Work instructions are a separate beast entirely. Cadence wrote a blog with some tips on how you can make your instructions clearer for people, you can read all about it here. Let me summarize with something not mentioned in the article. Write your documentation down and attach it to nets and components within inspectAR. People will love that the instructions on how to rework the component they are looking at are attached to it when they click on it.
Inherently, being able to associate a specific file from the digital representation of your PCB (schematic, layout, and a BOM full of datasheets) opens a lot of possibilities, more than we can even fathom here at inspectAR in fact. So we have decided to give our users this ability from the early days of our product in the hope that it can serve a workaround in weeks, months, and years to come as we continue to add more features.
For example, while we intend to represent simulations with a simple PDF, image, or custom file type today, there will be integrations allowing them to be automatically loaded and viewed in a user-centric way in the future. For now, you can attach any file to any net or component. In the case of images and PDFs you can also preview these in-app. Any file which has been uploaded can be exported outside of the app. This may be useful if you want to view it on a different screen, or if it is a bespoke format that cannot be previewed with inspectAR (e.g., complex simulation result).
Hopefully this is useful to you. You’ll see explore the idea of attaching a file to circuit board extensively in the coming months.