CB FI 421

Circuit Break Podcast #421

Tracing a Path for PCB Design Automation with Sergiy Nesterenko

Related Topics
MacroFab Platform Updates from Kyle McLeod and Nicholas Lundgaard

The episode provides insights into MacroFab's efforts to make PCB manufacturing more accessible and efficient for their customers.

Dr. Duncan Haldane from JITX on Automating Circuit Design

Dr. Haldane on his background, the problems JITX is trying to resolve, & new auto-router plans. What's the deal with the "hyper-aggressive pogo-stick"?

Breadboarding for Success

This week we are talking about Breadboards. Is breadboarding a circuit or design still applicable in today's SMT component dominated world?

Other Resources

Circuit Break Podcast
Blog
eBooks & Guides
Webinars
Videos
Case Studies
Tour MacroFab's ITAR-Compliant Facility

March 12, 2024, Episode #421

Sergiy Nestorenko, founder of Quilter and former SpaceX engineer, discusses revolutionizing PCB design automation. He shares his journey from aerospace to starting Quilter, aiming to transform PCB design into a streamlined, AI-driven process. We delve into the technical hurdles, the fusion of engineering and advanced software, and the vision behind making circuit board design more efficient and intuitive. Sergiy also addresses the potential educational impacts and the future of hardware engineering in an AI-augmented world. Join us for a dive into the evolving landscape of PCB design and engineering innovation.

🚨Contest Announcement 🚨: Introducing a new Circuit Break contest! This contest is themed around building food-related electronic projects. We’re offering over $5,000 in cash prizes, themed trophies, and free prototyping from MacroFab. The deadline to submit is March 31st, 2024. Thanks to Mouser Electronics for sponsoring the contest prizes!

Discussion Highlights

  • Transition to Quilter: Sergi discusses his first experience with PCB layout at SpaceX and the realization that led him to question and eventually automate the process.
  • Autorouters and their Limitations: Exploration of the limitations of current autorouting solutions in PCB design software and why they fail.
  • Quilter's Vision: Sergi outlines the long-term goal for Quilter to become the compiler for hardware, enabling engineers to focus on design creativity rather than manual layout tasks.
  • Organic and Unconventional PCB Designs: Discussion on how AI and automation could lead to more optimal yet unconventional PCB designs, moving beyond traditional shapes and layouts.
  • Aesthetics of Earliest PCBs: Questioning the assumptions of traces leads to a discussion about the designs of the earliest PCBs in history.
  • Simulation Integration and FCC Compliance: Sergi emphasizes the importance of incorporating comprehensive simulations, including electromagnetic and thermal, into the PCB design process for ensuring compliance and performance.
  • Feedback and Learning from AI: The discussion reveals how AI, like Quilter, can introduce designers to considerations they hadn't encountered, fostering a learning environment while automating tedious tasks.
  • Exploring Design Variations: Sergi envisions Quilter enabling engineers to explore thousands of design variations, including different stack-ups and materials, to optimize board designs beyond traditional constraints, enhancing innovation and performance.
  • Neural Network Integration: The conversation delves into how Quilter utilizes neural networks not for direct layout generation but for guiding classical algorithms in decision-making.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Quilter encourages user feedback through various channels to refine its algorithms and user experience.
  • Future of Hardware Engineering: Reflecting on the future, Sergi and the hosts discuss the potential shift in hardware engineering roles with increased AI integration.

Relevant Links

Sergiy Nestorenko, founder of Quilter and former SpaceX engineer

Sergiy Nestorenko, founder of Quilter and former SpaceX engineer

About the Hosts

Parker Dillmann
  Parker Dillmann

Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.

In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.

In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.

Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.

Stephen Kraig
  Stephen Kraig

Stephen Kraig is a component engineer working in the aerospace industry. He has applied his electrical engineering knowledge in a variety of contexts previously, including oil and gas, contract manufacturing, audio electronic repair, and synthesizer design. A graduate of Texas A&M, Stephen has lived his adult life in the Houston, TX, and Denver, CO, areas.

Stephen has never said no to a project. From building guitar amps (starting when he was 17) to designing and building his own CNC table to fine-tuning the mineral composition of the water he uses to brew beer, he thrives on testing, experimentation, and problem-solving. Tune into the podcast to learn more about the wacky stuff Stephen gets up to.

Related Podcasts

The pcb plague

The PCB Plague

Ever have PCBs that solder just will not wet and solder to? You probably thought it was improper soldering technique but that was probably not it!

MEP 299 FI

Operation Scope Creep

Multi-layer PCB designs. As an engineer, how do you decide when it is time to increase layer count and how do you decide what goes on those layers?

Datasheet lore

Datasheet Lore

What lore have you discovered in component datasheets? On this episode, Parker talks about how he picks electrical components and risk management.

Breadboarding for success

Breadboarding for Success

This week we are talking about Breadboards. Is breadboarding a circuit or design still applicable in today's SMT component dominated world?

CB FI 425

MacroFab Platform Updates from Kyle McLeod and Nicholas Lundgaard

The episode provides insights into MacroFab's efforts to make PCB manufacturing more accessible and efficient for their customers.

MEP FI 406

Dr. Duncan Haldane from JITX on Automating Circuit Design

Dr. Haldane on his background, the problems JITX is trying to resolve, & new auto-router plans. What's the deal with the "hyper-aggressive pogo-stick"?