Untangling the rat's nest

Mark writes

Over the past while Nickolay and I have been making the finishing touches on the SMILE board and running some tests and modifying the firmware of the previous LAPLander model. With the SMILE board is just about ready for production, the focus has shifted to my other responsibilities in SQUID, namely the SMILE interface board and the Uniprobe/EFP board.

The completed SMILE board

As Mónica has mentioned previously, the components have been placed and after much deliberation we have settled on the positioning of the external and internal connectors. This is quite critical because it affects the physical structure of the ebox and also the placement of components on the boards, so we have had to play tennis with Jiangwei to decide what is possible and what is not.

Only a few more connections left to route.

Even with this decided, I soon discovered the uniprobe board was incredibly packed and shifted the FPGA and memory up to the SMILE interface board, requiring yet another connector between the two boards. This freed up quite a lot of space although, as you can see, it is still pretty tight. There are over 2500 connections in SQUID and it seems like more then half of them are on the uniprobe board alone. It is an incredible challenge to get everything routed while doing one’s best to stick to good design principles, but it is also a lot of fun. Of course this will need some iteration to get it just right, but we’ll get there.

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