Where do you turn for help?
Kenneth Wyatt- September 12, 2012While most larger companies may be able to afford just one EMC engineer (or a small handful) to cover all products under development, many smaller companies can't afford one at all and must rely on their existing designers to deal with compliance issues (many times at the end of the product development process!). So where does the lone EMC engineer or inexperienced product designer turn to for help in answering EMC questions? Here are a few answers.
If you've been in the business for any length of time, you'll find the EMC engineering community is pretty tight-knit bunch. Most are very willing to help newcomers, but you need to know how to find someone willing to help. Here's a list of resources to consider:
1. IEEE EMC Society - if you're not yet a member, I'd highly suggest joining and participating in your local chapter meetings and events. It's also very important to attend the annual EMC symposia in order to broaden your network and to learn about new products and attend training workshops and technical presentations. I've made many friends and valuable contacts throughout the world and most are very willing to assist in answering questions. In addition, the chapter meetings are a great way to meet local engineers in your field. It's also a great opportunity to develop your speaking ability through presenting case studies or by sharing your design experiences or regulatory challenges to others. That's really what networking is all about - sharing of ideas. Web: http://www.ewh.ieee.org/soc/emcs/.
2. Email Reflectors - The IEEE EMC Society also provides a couple email-based reflectors that are monitored by hundreds of fellow engineers and regulatory experts. Currently, there are two reflectors: EMC/Product Safety and Signal Integrity. Click on the web site below and scroll down to the bottom for links where you may subscribe to these lists. By sending an email to the list address, your question will automatically go out to the group. As ever, you may receive conflicting or even wrong information, so you'll need to be discerning in how you use the information. The problem with EMC issues and the solutions is that "it depends" on the exact application. For the most part, you can trust most of the experts here. Web: http://www.emcs.org/links.html.
3. Web Searches - Searching for particular topics via Google, Bing or other search tools often yields good results. I've discovered valuable reference material, white papers and presentations by a number of trusted experts by simply "googling". For example, searching for "Bruce Archambeault" will bring forth a number of useful grounding and PC board design presentations from some of his past IEEE lectures. There are a number of other well-known experts in EMC and signal integrity that offer a gold mine of material.
4. LinkedIn Groups - I can't say often enough how much LinkedIn has helped me to develop valuable contacts and find the answers to current issues. If you've attended the last two EMC symposia and sat in on the EMC Consultant's Toolkit workshop, you'll have heard my pitch on how LinkedIn has helped draw in business and how I use it to network and get answers to nasty EMC problems. There are literally hundreds of special interest groups within LinkedIn and I'm a member of several (check my profile), but am most active in the EMC Experts group. Other groups include ESD Experts, Electromagnets and Spectrum Engineering, EMC Testing and Compliance, as well as The Official IEEE Group, Test & Measurement World, Automotive EMC Troubleshooting and a host of others. Most groups are open, but some are moderated require (easy) approval for membership. All offer the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from the group experts. If you're not a member of LinkedIn you are really missing an opportunity. I'll probably blog on this topic in the future. Web: http://www.linkedin.com. Please connect with me! Here are a few current discussion topics.
• How do you compute the impedance of a power, ground or reference plane?
• FAA reconsiders policy on personal electronic devices.
• Question on decoupling/bypass capacitor placement.
• Looking for part-time help with TILE software programming.
5. Books - I'll expand on this in a future blog posting, but here are some of my most valuable reference books. All are "5-star" rated at Amazon.com.
• Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineering, Henry Ott, Wiley (2009). A very practical book. See the review here.
• Introduction to Electromagnetic Compatibility (2nd Edition), Clayton Paul, Wiley/Interscience (2006). This is an graduate-level textbook, but includes lots of practical problems and examples.
• Signal Integrity - Simplified, Eric Bogatin, Prentice Hall (2004). A very practical book.
6. University Archives - Here are a couple university archives that I've found valuable. There are many more.
• Missouri University of Science and Technology "Scholars' Mine". Search for the key word "EMC" (or others) and you'll find a rich repository of past technical papers. Web: http://scholarsmine.mst.edu.
• Clemson University Vehicular Electronics Laboratory (CVEL). Pioneered by Todd Hubing, the CVEL includes a host of information, tools and tutorials on various EMC topics. Web: http://www.cvel.clemson.edu/emc/
I know being the lone EMC engineer or "product compliance expert" in any company can be a real challenge. The answer is to get plugged in to the local, national and worldwide EMC community and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Have you experienced additional resources I've missed? Please use the comments below to share!