This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
; and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC
Daryl Gerke, Kimmel Gerke Associates 2/24/2011 1:09 PM EST
(Editor's note: we are pleased to begin a new series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. Here is his introduction to you, followed immediately below it by first entry in the series, which looks at printed circuit board EMC, starting with the clock circuit.) Hi! I'm Daryl Gerke, and I am delighted to again be working with the good folks at EDN, now part of UBM Electronics. Way back in 1994, my business partner (Bill Kimmel) and I wrote the original EDN Designer's Guide to EMC. At that time, we wanted to share our collective half century of industry experience with our design colleagues. As full-time EMI/EMC consultants since 1987, we had seen a multitude of EMI problems. Although spread across different industries, the underlying causes were often similar. So when former EDN Editor Steve Leibson (still blogging for EDN) put out a call for design tutorials, we responded with what eventually became the Designer's Guide. Fast-forward 17 years and the EMI problems are still with us. At this stage in our careers, we've become "old warriors" with over 80 years of collective experience. Our goal now will be to help you sharpen your "EMI spears". I hope you enjoy our efforts. We will focus on design and troubleshooting, not test and regulations. As we are fond of saying, "An ounce of EMI prevention is often worth a pound of EMI shielding." This is best accomplished at the design stage, when most EMI fixes are cheap or even free. Thus, we felt EDN was the perfect place to share our insights. For personal information, please visit http://www.emiguru.com. You'll find lots of additional resources there, too. Most are free, and a few are available for a nominal charge. This blog also originates there. Finally, if you are curious about consulting, check out my other blog at http://www.jumptoconsulting.com. (Be sure to visit the special welcome for geeks.) And now, let's get started on our first entry in the EMC series: Welcome to the first post on EMC issues here at Planet Analog and EE Times. Since this is a design-oriented site, we'll begin with some EMC design issues. Specifically, we'll address what should you look for when doing an EMC design review on your printed circuit boards (PCBs). Not doing these kinds of reviews? Well, you should. An hour or two at the beginning the project can save thousands of dollars and a lot of grief at the end of the project. One extra trip to the EMC lab can easily cost $10K or more when you include your engineering time. And who know how much it costs by being late to market? Convinced yet? I hope so. A quick EMC design review is pretty simple. We do these reviews for clients all the time, and you can do them for yourself. For the next half dozen posts, we'll give you a quick overview.
To start, we look at the following five critical circuits: clocks, resets, power regulators, analog, and I/O. These five circuits probably account for 90% of the EMI problems at the PCB level. Today, we'll look at clocks. As the most periodic of signals, clocks are the richest in harmonics that often result in radiated emissions problems. As a minimum, we worry about the first 20 harmonics. Thus, for a 50 MHz clock, we are concerned all the way up to 1 GHz. But that is just a starting point, as we've seen higher harmonics cause problems, particularly if they excite a resonance. We also check for clock-like or clock-derived circuits, such as memory enables or busses. These may operated at a sub-harmonic of system clocks, but can still cause emissions problems. Of course, many systems have multiple clocks, so all the clocks be addressed. Prior to testing, we recommend making a chart showing clock harmonics all the way up to the maximum frequency of concern for radiated emissions. Then repeat the chart for all clocks divided by two, and again for all clocks divided by four. (Other division ratios may be needed if the system uses other clock derivations.) All this can be done easily on a spread sheet. This data is very helpful during testing. If a radiated emission failure occurs, you can quickly check your spread sheet to determine which clock is a culprit. If a subdivision, this may also point to additional clock-like circuits. Incidentally, if your failure frequency is NOT on your charts, the test data may be pointing you to a parasitic oscillation. We'll talk about these in a future posting. Finally, typical solutions for clock problems include power decoupling, series termination (or even filtering) on outputs, and attention to clock trace routing. Also, keep clock circuits away from I/O ports to prevent unwanted radiated coupling to the I/O. In extreme cases, selective shielding may also be needed on the PCB. We'll revisit these issues in more detail in future entries. Next up: resets.
About the author
Daryl Gerke, an EMI/EMC consultant since 1987, along with business partner Bill Kimmel, focuses on design and troubleshooting (not test and regulations). He and Kimmel
have been chasing EMI problems for over 80 years (combined, of course.)He
is a published author and columnist,
and theirEDN Designer's Guide to EMC (1994) is still in relevant and in demand. He can be reached viahttp://www.emiguru.com or his other blog athttp://www.jumptoconsulting.com
EMC Basics #2: Resets as critical circuits
Daryl Gerke, Kimmel Gerke Associates 3/7/2011 6:12 PM EST
[Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our new series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. There is a link to Entry #1 at the end of this item.]
After clocks, we like to focus on reset circuits when doing an EMC board review. The reset circuits are often upset by transients such as ESD (electrostatic discharge) or EFT (electrical fast transient). A secondary threat is RFI (radio frequency interference.) The latter is not very common, but we have seen it happen at high RF levels. Fortunately, these problems are easy to prevent. False reset effects can range from simple nuisances to a complete system lockup. The actual response is often dictated by the system software. As such, it can be easy to fix a reset problem at the software level. Alternately, one can often push the "reset" button or even power down to restart the system. In critical systems, however, this may not be an option so hardware fixes may still be needed. The first thing we check is adequate power decoupling. This is particularly important when using a "voltage monitor/power-on reset" IC. Since these often use sensitive internal comparators, even a short disturbance on the Vcc can initiate an unwanted reset. Incidentally, this was a serious problem with early reset ICs. Since then, the IC vendors have incorporated small internal delays (such as Schmidt triggering) with good success. Nevertheless, we still pay attention to decoupling to assure an extra margin of safety. Next, we check the inputs. On simple devices, there may be none, as the IC relies solely on the Vcc rail. More sophisticated devices, however, may include a separate sense input or an external reset input. The latter is often connected to a button, with the input pulled high or low to initiate the reset. Both input types may need light filtering—a 1000 pF capacitor can work wonders. If the external reset goes off the board, additional filtering may be needed. Consider a ferrite in series with the button, followed by a 1000 pF capacitor at the IC input. Yes, this will slow down the system response to a reset, but if that is a problem, just push the button faster! After all, the typical delays are less than a microsecond. The last thing to check are the outputs. If they run more than an inch or two, consider a RC filter at the IC output, plus 1000 pF capacitors at the loads. A better choice, if available, is to place the reset controller IC close to the device(s) it is controlling.
) The first problem. this can result in unpredictable and unrepeatable behavior. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits Daryl Gerke. As such. oscillations typically occur in the 100 to 500-MHz range. Both types have feedback. are due to high-frequency feedback from the output to the input. The criteria for an oscillator are (a) 180°phase shift from output to input. There is a link to previous entries at the end of this item. RFI. and both have gain. We've seen these problems occur with both linear and switching regulators. Same circuits. a very cheap and very effective solution to reset problems. The second problem. and (b) gain greater than one at the feedback frequency. These are useful clues when troubleshooting radiated emissions.] After clocks and resets. the frequencies may vary from system to system. Kimmel Gerke Associates 3/24/2011 2:16 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our new series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). In digital systems. Note that these are free-running oscillations. and filtering of outputs if the trace lengths are over an inch or two. but amplifiers will. and to see an oscillation at 231 MHz in another. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. Finally. the out of specification voltages can even change the state of programmable components. Emissions are the result of parasitic oscillations. Or.To recap. we like to focus on voltage regulator circuits when doing an EMC board review. do not overlook software fixes. as the old saying goes. such as system lockups. filtering of inputs (particularly if an external reset control is used). it is not unusual to see an oscillation at 222 MHz in one system. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates." With today's devices. The resulting levels are often high enough to cause radiated emissions failures during EMI testing. and susceptibility is the result of RFI (radio frequency interference. "Oscillators won't. same layout. they will NOT be exact harmonics of any oscillators. In extreme cases. different parasitics. Voltage regulators can cause both radiated emissions and susceptibility problems. For example. . the typical hardware solutions for reset problems include decoupling of the Vcc. is due to rectification. parasitic oscillations. Even a small amount of demodulated AC or DC voltage at a critical feedback node can drive the regulator out of range. Also.
] If a circuit board includes analog circuits. the emissions are the result of parasitic oscillations. located at the device. We typically recommend 1000 pF capacitors at these locations. Kimmel Gerke Associates 4/18/2011 8:29 AM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).) Analog circuits differ.Like parasitic oscillations. you WILL experience EMI problems. add small high frequency capacitors at regulator device inputs and outputs. You will never know when they are working. Small high-frequency capacitors placed directly across the component inputs and outputs will "short out" both adverse effects. and the susceptibility the result of RFI (radio frequency interference. unwanted oscillations are more likely than with non-feedback based devices. At those frequencies. This is particularly problematic for circuit boards that are not in a shielded enclosure. think "woofer-tweeter" capacitors. the RF susceptibility problems predominate. Once again. Fortunately. . Just like stereo speakers. To recap. from voltage regulators. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits Daryl Gerke. These capacitors alone are NOT adequate at high frequencies. both problems are easy to prevent. but are less likely. analog circuits can also cause radiated emissions and susceptibility problems. and at the same time protect against RF threats. Keep the leads short! Note that many regulator circuits have electrolytic capacitors across their inputs or outputs. Since voltage regulators are already feedbackbased devices. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. however. Parasitic oscillations (resulting in unwanted emissions) can occur. In those cases. the RF susceptibility problems typically occur at 100 MHz and above. you must add the small capacitors in parallel. Similar to voltage regulators (discussed in the previous posting). we also like to focus on those for an EMC board review. There is a link to previous entries at the end of this item. but if you need them and they are not there. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. the dimensions of the circuit boards and traces become efficient antennas. Most electrolytics are not a good "short" at frequencies above 10 MHz. These provide cheap insurance against unwanted parasitic oscillations. In analog circuits.
and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #5: I/O as critical circuits Daryl Gerke.The RF susceptibility problems are typically due to rectification. there is no way to filter it. As a minimum. Don't assume that just because they operate at low frequencies they won't be affected by high frequency (RF) threats. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. Power decoupling should include high-frequency ceramic capacitors (1000 pF typical) in addition to larger low-frequency capacitors. which can often be blocked with a capacitor. these capacitors can be augmented with series resistors or ferrites. consider high-frequency protection for your analog circuits. The goal is to prevent the RF from reaching critical input circuits in the first place. A CW (continuous wave) RF threat can result in a DC offset. That is why modulation is used during most RFI tests. For additional protection. the problems are easy to prevent at the circuit level. but that may be further constrained depending on the equipment under test. Fortunately. In some cases. output filtering and even local shielding may be necessary for very sensitive devices (or very large threats. most medical devices require modulation within the passband of the physiological function to be measured (a few Hertz or less is typical. Added protection may be needed. Start with high-frequency filtering on the analog circuit inputs. even 10 pF across inputs is enough to protect against RF threats.) To recap. For example.] . Kimmel Gerke Associates 5/2/2011 10:36 AM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). There is a link to previous entries at the end of this item. If the demodulation is within the expected signal passband. sooner or later RFI problems will occur unless protection is included. the allowable input filtering may be limited. The key is to use enough filtering. but not too much. With today's modern devices. place small capacitors (100 to 1000 pF typical) placed directly across the component inputs to "short out" the RF energy. however. These should be installed adjacent to the analog devices. Fortunately. A 1000-Hz modulation is typical. In extreme cases. most analog circuits operate at audio frequencies (or below). so the small amount of capacitance needed for RF protection usually does not affect normal operation. a demodulated signal is the result. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. With a modulated RF threat. Due to circuit bandwidth.) The goal is to uncover unwanted effects in the presence of RFI.
analog. while lower levels may simply cause upsets. Contact inputs -. the best strategy is to prevent rectification from occurring in the first place. The solutions for both radiated problems include filtering at the interface and/or or shielding of external cables. They each present different problems. Do NOT assume that because contacts are relatively slow that they are immune to EMI problems.Since the receiving circuits are usually digital. Internal/external -. internal I/O is less of a concern. . both internal and external I/O deserve EMI attention. The solutions include transient protection (must be fast enough). Analog inputs/outputs -. In addition. and that can act as "hidden antennas. I/O circuits are connected to wiring or traces that leave the board. and may require different solutions." If the system is shielded. although we have seen problems at very high RF levels. I/O circuits are particularly vulnerable to threats like ESD (electrostatic discharge) and RFI (radio frequency interference). High RF levels can cause rectification in the I/O circuits. inductive transients from the relay coils may pose a self-compatibility problem.I/O circuits connected to external traces/cables are the primary concern. As a port of entry for external currents. the regular digital concerns apply. we like to look at the I/O (Input/Output) circuits during EMI circuit board reviews.) A secondary concern is radiated emissions. and contact closures.Since relay drivers are usually digital. or even software (ACK/NACK protocols. If not shielded.internal/external. The resulting voltages are usually so small you can't see them with an oscilloscope. however. Remember. high frequency EMI currents love to exploit unprotected low frequency ports. but not least. There are several parameters of concern -. relays. Radiated emissions are also a concern.The key concern for analog interfaces is RF. Thus. you can no longer filter it. the filtering must precede the diodes to prevent rectification at the protection diodes. A high level discharge may cause damage. One size does not fit all. the regular digital concerns apply. If diodes are included for ESD protection. digital. Relay outputs -. as the I/O circuits are often the last chance to keep unwanted currents from leaving the board.The key concern for digital interfaces is ESD. resulting in either a DC offset (no modulation) or a low frequency AC signal (with modulation. etc. Radiated susceptibility is rare with digital I/O. with small currents sneaking out the I/O port.) If the modulation is in the signal passband. Snubber circuits may be needed at either the relay (best) or at the driving circuit on the boards. Regardless.Last. filtering. Typical solutions include high frequency filters and/or shielding of the external cables. Digital inputs/outputs -. we like to check out both types of I/O.
With today's devices. Note that there are links to all previous entries at the end of this item.To recap.) Multi-layer boards are preferred for high-frequency designs. As a minimum.] After the critical circuits. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits EMC Basics #6: Looking at circuit board "stackup" Daryl Gerke. But even low-frequency analog circuits (audio or instrumentation) can benefit from multi-layer designs when subjected to RF susceptibility requirements. you can start with four layers: a ground plane. one. . this raises serious EMI serious concerns about both the layout and the technology used. low-frequency circuits and be affected by high-frequency threats. If it is one or two layers (no power or ground planes). we'll assume multi-layers. But even here. a power plane. a second EMC review of the board is prudent. Stackup matters for EMC! The first stackup question is the number of layers. Kimmel Gerke Associates 6/5/2011 5:09 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). we like to examine the printed-circuit board (PCB) stackup. We'll address EMC design recommendations for one/two layer guidelines in a future post. The multi-layer concepts can be extended to as many layers as you want or need (or can build. Remember. so this is a good time to look at the proposed stackup. ALL of the I/O circuits deserve EMI attention! Even one unprotected I/O port can wreak EMI havoc. For now. when designing or reviewing circuit boards for EMI. and two signal layers. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. When routing and placement are complete. This generally means RF (radio frequency) circuits or digital circuits with clocks over 10 MHz. board stackup decisions are often made prior to routing and placement. Like the schematic. EMI precautions must be taken.or two-layer designs are usually OK for embedded controllers with clocks under 10 MHz. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates.
this can affect board construction and is worth a quick look. But as the old saying goes. and then examine the actual routing results. No.Our experience has shown that multi-layer boards provide at least 10× reduction in radiated emissions.) We have repeatedly seen that when replacing simple two-layer boards with four-layer boards. It is best to define design rules prior to routing. the entire process of examining critical circuits and the board stackup for EMC should not take more than a couple of hours. will traces run across these cuts? If so. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits EMC Basics #5: I/O as critical circuits EMC Basics #7: An introduction to troubleshooting EMI problems Daryl Gerke. to prevent EMI disasters later! [Additional Editor's Note: for a somewhat "whimsical" look at printed circuit boards. This works as long as the adjacent plane is continuous all along the trace. your mileage may vary.] Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. the clock Vcc current pulses at the clock frequency as the internal loads change. Additional split-plane issues will be addressed in a future post. rather. This time is well spent early in the design. The second EMC miracle occurs due to reducing power/ground loops and impedances. are the analog-voltage planes next to analog ground. and 10× improvement in immunity (both RF and ESD. you are just begging for EMI problems. For simple circuit boards. (2) Are associated power and ground plane adjacent? For example. since a well-decoupled power plane is just another high-frequency ground (return) plane. We refer to these loops as the "back door" for EMC. Every trace is now a transmission line. Kimmel Gerke Associates 6/27/2011 9:36 PM EDT .everything else is the same. The power and ground traces are now solid planes -. (4) Are the trace and solid planes symmetrical about the center of the board? While not an EMC issue. instead of an unwanted loop antenna. click here. The first EMC miracle occurs due to proximity of the planes to signal traces. So what do we look for in the board stackup? Here are four simple features to examine: (1) Are all trace layers adjacent to a solid plane? Either power or ground planes are fine. The image-plane effect provides a return path for high-frequency currents that greatly reduces loop size. and digital-voltage planes next to digital ground? Are there overlaps? (3) If a plane is split (common for voltage planes). These loops form additional hidden antennas for emissions and immunity. the clock Vcc CURRENT is NOT CONSTANT.
we are acting like a medical doctor to diagnose an EMI illness. this may be unknown. Often times. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. and then applying appropriate fixes. RFI (radio frequency interference).] Time to switch gears for a while. this may be very obvious. We'll also discuss specific troubleshooting techniques. and perhaps gathering additional information (usually through tests.) The first step is to look at the clues. so you may have to speculate.[Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). and ruling things out.don't just start throwing solutions at the problem. Diagnosis involves several stages: looking at clues. In simple terms. examining the equipment. ESD (electrostatic discharge).the EMI test lab. • What are some key parameters? Frequencies? Amplitudes? Dimensions? Impedances? The next step is to examine the equipment. diagnosis is often a process of elimination. Note that there are links to all previous entries at the end of this item. and the engineering lab. a process of playing the odds. and power disturbances. We'll look at these problems in two contexts -. Diagnosis is important -. For example: • What are the symptoms? Resets? Lockup? Bizarre readings? • How bad is the problem? Small outage? Damage? Catching on fire? • Is there an obvious cause and effect? In the test lab. too. Or at least.emissions. doctors use a methodology known as differential diagnosis. and look at troubleshooting EMI problems. Troubleshooting consists of trying to isolate a problem and the underlying causes. To continue with the medical analogy. That means ruling things in. We'll examine four key EMI problems -.The medical profession has a saying for this --"Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. For example: • How does the electrical design look? Multilayer or two layer boards? Layout? Etc. In the field." I think this applies to EMI problems.? • How does the mechanical design look? Metal enclosure or all plastic? Seams? Penetrations? • What about cables and connectors? Shielded? Filters? • And what about the power interface? Filters? Transient protection? .
More important.] .At this point. don't fall in love with your initial diagnosis. By the way -. We'll look at the symptoms. Over this next series. Once comfortable with a diagnosis. Part 3 of 3)(and see its preceding sections. Both can provide critical information. To change analogies. but you only apply one patch one at a time. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. you are finally ready to try fixes (prescriptions.don't try only one fix at a time. If nothing happens. we'll examine various EMI problems.doctors do this all the time. and observe. it is OK to change your diagnosis as you proceed -. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. one should make a preliminary diagnosis. Kimmel Gerke Associates 7/11/2011 2:40 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). The tests can either be monitors. test.or failure forcers. but keep an open mind as new data becomes available. Note that there are links to all previous entries at the end of this item. you may need additional testing. We'll also include recommended fixes. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits EMC Basics #5: I/O as critical circuits EMC Basics #6: Looking at circuit board "stackup" Also relevant to this topic: Debugging: The 9 Indispensible Rules for Finding Even the Most Elusive Software and Hardware Problems (Chapter 5. If the data is still fuzzy.. try another fix.any fix. If you have five holes in the boat. Once you find that first fix. which are linked within) EMC Basics #8: An introduction to troubleshooting EMI problems (con't) Daryl Gerke. but rather stack them up. don't worry about the practicality of your fixes.) Install. Keep notes as you go along so you can backtrack. By the way. Stay tuned.. And so on. A final admonition -.at this stage. The initial goal is to find a fix . EMI problems are often like a leaky boat. you can always try for a better one. you'll never get dry. and we'll discuss various troubleshooting tests.
As a helpful hint. although the CE tests are not radiated tests. There are two broad categories for emissions tests. EMI problems were called RFI. most designers don't see them as transmitters and antennas (RF designers being an exception. thanks to parasitic oscillations. . and more. In the US. If that happens. and other more. For example.) But the electrons don't care—if it looks like a transmitter and an antenna. But even lower frequency circuits can be hidden transmitters. The higher the frequency and the longer the antenna. Highly repetitive signals such as clocks and clock-like signals (busses. You cause a problem. or radio frequency interference.These include both radiated emissions (RE) and conducted emissions(CE). There are two major components to emissions problems: hidden transmitters and hidden antennas. We usually assume anything over 1/20 wavelength is an efficient antenna.Unintended electromagnetic emissions can cause interference to nearby communications receivers —radio. you can still have problems in the field.) generate strong harmonics. we've seen a significant increase these unwanted oscillations in solid state voltage regulators. As a helpful hint. we usually assume the first twenty harmonics of any repetitive signal are potential transmitters. The exact differences vary depending on the actual environments. these usually occur above 100 MHz. op amps. don't assume you can hide behind your FCC/CE certifications. the more the radiation. The RE tests look at electromagnetic fields from the entire system. GPS. you clean it up. That means six inches at 100 MHz. etc. while the CE tests look at voltages/currents on the input-power mains. TV.Marconi suffered EMI (RFI) problems over 100 years ago. Even though they are not really hidden. Even if you pass all the emissions test at the EMC lab. The hidden antennas are highly dependent on physical dimensions and frequency. Long a problem with vacuum tubes. repetitive control lines. As an aside. the latter limits are much lower. the FCC can invoke the "noninterference clause". of course. The CE tests also aim to prevent interference from directly coupling through the power system to other equipment. WiFi. But even switching power electronics (power supplies and motor drives) can get into the act. and about 3/4 inch at 1 GHz. Many years ago. at 100 MHz the military/avionic limits are often 40 dB or more lower than corresponding commercial limits. Mandatory emissions tests are required for most electronics devices. they still aim to prevent direct radiation from the power lines. it's time to party. The primary hidden transmitters in most systems are digital circuits. with different goals: •Commercial limits aim to protect a nearby TV receiver •Military/avionic/vehicular limits aim to protect a nearby radio receiver Since radio receivers are much more sensitive than television receivers.
Next time. cables are very likely hidden antennas. •Remove cables to see if the emissions change. •Use current probes on the cables. These are small hand held magnetic probes you connect to a spectrum analyzer. Currents in excess of a few microamps are suspect. This is very useful in identifying any hidden antennas in the mechanical enclosure. A two-inch slot at 300 MHz leaks like a sieve. Openings in shielded enclosures can act as "slot antennas". •Shield the entire enclosure with aluminum foil. So how do we troubleshoot these emissions problems? Here are five quick suggestions: •Turn off clocks or change their frequencies to see if the emissions more or disappear. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits EMC Basics #5: I/O as critical circuits EMC Basics #6: Looking at circuit board "stackup" EMC Basics #7: An introduction to troubleshooting EMI problems EMC Basics #9: Troubleshooting RFI EMC problems Daryl Gerke. This can isolate the hidden antennas.) Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. Note that there are links to all previous entries at the end of this article. you can quickly sniff around a circuit board for hot spots for emissions. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. and follow the same guidelines.] .As such. Kimmel Gerke Associates 8/7/2011 3:51 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This can isolate the hidden transmitters. These are high frequency probes you clamp on a cable and connect to a spectrum analyzer. Since they are quite localized. we'll share some troubleshooting techniques for ESD (electrostatic discharge. •Use sniffer probes to identify hidden transmitter circuits. followed by traces on circuit boards and even the components themselves in the GHz range.
where E = Electric field in Volts/meter P = Transmitter power in Watts A = Antenna gain relative to isotropic d = Distance from transmitter antenna to victim in meters This formula assumes a point source and a "far field". For frequencies <300 MHz. it is this hand-held transmitter model that results in the 3 V/m and 10 V/m limits for commercial equipment. still make it into the field. The field levels can be easily measured with suitable equipment. [As an aside.] RFI as an EMI source Transmitter power is not the sole issue. the primary path is radiated. however. physical dimensions are critical. cables are the .5 × √(PA)] / d. vehicular transmitters. however. The key parameter is the magnitude of the electromagnetic field at the victim.RFI (radio frequency interference) is a rapidly increasing EMC problem. such as the 200 V/m limit common for many military/automotive environments. For example. In the EMI world. when CE testing became mandatory. As "hidden antennas" are involved.5 V/m. In fact. Some. most RFI problems get caught prior to market release. both valid for most RFI situations. thanks to the proliferation of wireless devices. but rather a combination of power and proximity. Today. commercial testing has resulted in more robust products. Prior to 1996. we focus on the electric field magnitude. Higher field levels reflect higher transmitter levels. and similar. But here is a simple approximation that will get you in the right ball park for an initial assessment: E = [5. we often saw RFI problems in the field. The lowly cell phone a few inches away may cause more problems than the broadcast transmitter a mile away. RFI coupling paths Since radio transmitters work by electromagnetic radiation. a 1W radio at 1 meter with a relative gain of 1 (good assumptions for a hand-held radio or cell phone) produces a field level of 5. These range from low power Wi-Fi and cell phone transmitters to high power radio/television broadcast transmitter to extremely high powered radar systems. hand held VHF/UHF transceivers. These were due to both broadcast transmitters (radio and television) as well as mobile transmitters (cell phones.
1 to 1 V/m ●Power circuits: 1-10 V/m ●Digital circuits: 10-100 V/m These are simple guides. . Direct conduction is also possible. apply clamp on ferrites for frequencies above 100 MHz. "Your mileage may vary. the system often locks up or exhibits other strange behavior.. We've seen smaller antennas." Different circuits exhibit different symptoms. In you fail in the field. . ●When digital circuits are upset. As an alternate. The digital upsets are similar to those seen with ESD and other transients that “flip” critical bits. troubleshooting is best done in a shielded enclosure with suitable equipment. Wrap the unit under test in aluminum foil. but less likely. We've seen it happen. amplitude. The more sensitive the circuit. two inches (5 cm) at 300 MHz. This will show if shielding is adequate (or will help if Unit Under Test is unshielded. This means six inches (15 cm) at 100 MHz. Troubleshooting RFI problems If you fail an RFI test at the lab. 4. You may need to make some measurements. everybody gets in the act: circuit board traces. Remove cables to see if RF susceptibility changes. or to use approximations as described above. RFI victims The primary RFI failure mode is rectification. the lower the thresholds will be. and even components themselves. At the systems/box level. Here are some typical levels: ●Analog circuits: 0. repeatable upsets are typical: resets. As the saying goes. enclosure openings (slot antennas). In a pinch. For frequencies >300 MHz. or memory upsets. you already have details of frequency. and even outputs. and ¾ inch (2 cm) at 1 GHz. If testing in the field. which may be helpful in troubleshooting: ●When analog circuits are upset. ●When power circuits are upset. but everything else works fine. a hand-held VHF/UHF radio can be useful. A good rule of thumb is to assume any conductor greater than 1/20 wavelength long is a potential antenna. Here are five quick RFI troubleshooting suggestions: 1. power. 2. but this criterion is widely used in the EMI community.) 3. but failure levels vary with circuit types. when troubleshooting an RFI problem. Nevertheless.ferrites and 1000 pF capacitors are very helpful above 100 MHz.most likely factor. and failure mode. the picture is less clear. don't overlook this possibility. unwanted interrupts. you may get errors in sensor information. Harden critical circuits -.. keep transmissions short (1-2 seconds) on unused frequencies. Apply to inputs.
These problems are driven by improved power components. We’ve seen an increase in power disturbance problems at the systems level. and Clocks: critical circuits for EMC EMC Basics #2: Resets as Critical Circuits EMC Basics #3: Voltage regulators as critical circuits EMC Basics #4: Analog devices as critical circuits EMC Basics #5: I/O as critical circuits EMC Basics #6: Looking at circuit board "stackup" EMC Basics #7: An introduction to troubleshooting EMI problems EMC Basics #8: An introduction to troubleshooting EMI problems (con't) EMC Basics #10: EMC troubleshooting and power disturbances Daryl Gerke.] This is the final installment in the mini-series on EMI/EMC troubleshooting. It still works today. power disturbances are becoming increasingly important. higher power levels. which allow faster switching rates. Note that there are links to all previous entries here. Next time. The recent 2011 IEEE EMC symposium even held a full-day special session on EMC issues and the “Smart Grid”. Previous entries in the series EMC Basics #1: Welcome!. and unfortunately. we'll look at troubleshooting power disturbances. a signal generator connected to a sniffer probe can also be helpful in "injecting" a signal at the component/trace level. At the design level. Kimmel Gerke Associates 9/8/2011 1:16 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). too. this technique was used 50 years or more ago by those who repaired radios and televisions. Not new. Often seen as an EMC stepchild. increased EMI problems. . presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. At the PCB level.5. we’ve seen a significant increase in recent years with power disturbances.
The session was well attended and promoted a lot of discussion.41. over/under voltages.” But back to the design issues. The EFT tests simulate arcing at contacts. and telecommunications. . have similar requirements for both AC and DC inputs. In the latter case. while others may reside in separate documents. The surge is also described in ANSI/IEEE C62. vehicles. and focuses on wiring practices for computer equipment. Sometimes these are separate documents. The surge tests simulate a lightning hit on the power mains. which results in short bursts of very fast transients. “megawatts are finally meeting gigahertz. EFT and surge Two very popular commercial EMC requirements are the EFT (Electrical Fast Transient) and the lightning surge. Due to these problems. upsets such as resets or other “bit-flipping” is common. Most are unique to the environment.” This guide is put out by the IEEE Power Engineering Society. the corresponding CE test requirement is EN61000-4-5. In the real world. Power disturbance specifications There are power-disturbance specifications for electronics used on AC mains (often varies with country). it is an excellent place to start. and others. One size does not fit all when it comes to power disturbances. and more. and even location. and are typically based on empirical data. As a result. and sometimes they are separate chapters in detailed equipment specifications. which is pretty close to the nominal 1 nsec for ESD. these are two of the more common causes of equipment malfunctions and damage. These transients (both voltage and current) are much slower but with much more energy than the EFT. Other industries. commercial aircraft. too.” or PQ. such as military. Power quality An excellent resource for PQ on the AC mains in North America is IEEE Std-1000. outages. As one wag observed. vehicular. Several of the European Norms address PQ concerns for European power mains as well. As such. mandatory power-disturbance testing is now required for EMC qualification on a wide range of products.41. As such. platform. the corresponding CE test requirement is EN61000-4-4. military platforms. These are applied to the AC inputs. We have even used this as the basis for developing internal power specifications. The specific tests vary with industry. While the EMC requirements focus on transients. telecommunications facilities. There are unique PQ specifications for other industries. The individual transients uses a 5 nsec rise time. both upsets and damage are common. The EFT is described in ANSI/IEEE C62. the popular term is “Power Quality. the PQ requirements usually address longer term power perturbations like sags. Some specifications are part of the general EMC requirements. also known as the “Emerald Book.
these can be rented and left in place for a period of time. For monitoring power at the equipment. Next time. 2. they may miss EFT events. MOVs are adequate. both the EFT and Surge tests are good starting points.Troubleshooting power disturbances There are two methods when troubleshooting power disturbances—failure forcers and monitors. we’ve done all of the above. and why. In this next mini-series. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. If resets occur due to EFT. In fact. If EFT upsets occur. Add transient protection at the input. For the EFT. Install both differential mode and common mode devices. If you don’t own one. outages. try to assess the failure path. And remember. Inputs are particularly vulnerable. 4. Note that single-turn ferrites may not be adequate. It is not enough to just hang metal — you need to understand what you are doing. but be sure any reset/voltage monitor devices are also well decoupled at the chip. we’ll start looking at some EMC shielding problems and solutions. To force failures. EMC Basics #11: An introduction to EMC shielding Daryl Gerke. we'll look at various aspects of shielding. most of the time a shield behaves in a reciprocal manner. You may need a combination of both to isolate and fix a problem. For the surge. Start at low levels and work your way up. 5. They date/time stamp the events.01 μF capacitors and multi-turn ferrites right at the reset circuit. 3. One caveat with a PDA: due to the bandwidth. you will usually need faster silicon devices. and more. try adding a multi-turn common-mode ferrite (3-4 turns through the core) to the input power line. and what works for one . At various times. Add a modular power filter at the input. and how it works.] Time to shift gears. and provide a low-impedance ground connection between filter and enclosure. Kimmel Gerke Associates 10/7/2011 12:33 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). and look at the mechanical side of EMC — or more correctly. be sure to locate directly at the power entrance. transients. so you may want to augment one with a storage oscilloscope. Here are five quick power disturbance suggestions: 1. and even capture the waveforms for later evaluation. Note that there are links to all previous entries here. These devices will check numerous various parameters. such as over/under voltages. try adding 0. Consider isolation transformers and transient protectors designed to for the full lightning-surge levels. The bandwidth should be 100 MHz or higher. If in a metal enclosure. power disturbance analyzers (PDAs) are very helpful. the electromechanical side of EMC. with short connections. The primary purpose of a shield is to block electromagnetic radiation. the surge can cause damage. If lightning damage occurs. so don’t do surge testing on a valuable one-of-a-kind prototype. This includes both radiated emissions and radiated susceptibility.
but shielding can also be employed at the component. This is the ratio of the field level before the shield is in place. there is a lot of duality with shielding: •Two modes .) In fact. multiple levels of shielding are quite common. The most common for electronic equipment is at the "box" level.materials and mechanical •Two field concerns . Quick — patent it!) As with many EMC issues.low frequency and high frequency •Two impedance concerns . All of the above leads to thinking of shielding in three regimes: magnetic. and electromagnetic. You don't need to depend on just one shield for all your EMI protection. (If negative.direction works equally well for the other. and will be ignored for now. Shields can be applied at different levels. or even systems level.near field and far field •Two frequency concerns . It is customary to express this parameter in deciBels. think of shielded rooms. Don't panic: we'll look at this in more detail to help you decode the mysteries of shielding. (In the latter case. Shielding performance is traditionally defined as "shielding effectiveness" (SE). The number should always be zero (no shielding) or positive. divided by the field level after the shield is in place. electric. it is no wonder one shield design does not work for all cases.reflection and absorption •Two design issues .low (magnetic) and high (electric) With all these variables. board. Figure 1 is a curve from a military design handbook showing the SE of copper. Notice the two modes and three regimes. . The exceptions are subtle. you must be creating energy.
Kimmel Gerke Associates 11/20/2011 8:29 AM EST [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). too. If you need shielding. both electrical and mechanical. there are a number of things to consider when designing an EMC shield. We'll also augment these with practical design guidelines along with our favorite shielding "rules of thumb. . it is not enough to just throw it over the wall to the mechanical engineers. You need to be involved in the design decisions." EMC Basics #12: Shielding materials solve electromagnetic-compatibility issues Daryl Gerke. We'll explore all of these topics in more detail in future posts.Figure 1: Typical shielding curves for copper As you can see.
To better understand this issue. it depends.. Don't panic — we won't be deriving Maxwell's famous equations or bogging you down in electromagnetic field theory. you can see that prior to Shelkunoff.. common in the EMI world. This resulted in two major mechanisms. was "It depends. He also added a fudge factor for reflections through a thin shield that he dubbed B. reflection (R) and absorption (A). we'll use a simple theory developed in the 1930's by Dr.presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates.. or will a thin shield or even conductive paint suffice? Well.. Note that there are links to all previous entries here.] The first shielding decision is usually about materials. Did shielding increase or decrease with frequency? Was it linear or exponential? What was the rate of change? The answer. The resulting top-level equation was rather elegant: SE (dB) = R(dB) + A (dB) + B The mechanisms are illustrated in Figure 1. we'll delve into basic shielding theory. If you look at the shielding diagram in the previous post. Do we need thick steel or mu-metal. Sergei Shelkunoff that still serves us very well almost a century later." Shelkunoff proposed a simple transmission line model for shielding — specifically a lossy transmission line. . Rather. it must have been very difficult to figure out what was going on.
Even thin coatings like conductive paints can provide 60-80 dB or more of shielding." The loss is exponential. As a result. we'll focus on the two remaining shielding mechanisms.) As such. since B is relatively small for most EMI issues. At 60 Hz. etc. Furthermore. At power frequencies with high currents (low-impedance fields). and is the result of loss through the shield (lossy transmission line theory). reflection is the primary mechanism for shielding at radio frequencies (RF) above 10 kHz. One skin depth results in 8. This is why we use steel (or other permeable materials) for shields around power supplies or around devices that are sensitive to power-line magnetic fields.5mm of steel ( μr= 1000) gives the same absorption as about 3 inches/75mm of aluminum. however. most of us just ignore it. Reflection: This is a surface mechanism. while the latter is the ratio of the magnitudes of the electric and magnetic fields. Since we usually don't need absorption for RF frequencies. Absorption: This is a volume mechanism.4 dB of loss. Incidentally. In free space. Thus. R and A.1 inch/2. 0.Figure 1: Basic shielding mechanisms modeled as transmission-line effects. Since the barrier impedance for metals and metallic coating is often measured in milliohms. you can boost the skin depth by permeability. the wave impedance is 377 Ω. but at very low frequencies (such as 50/60 Hz) the wave impedance may be drastically altered by the circuit impedance. the reflection is minimal so you need absorption. So what to do? Well. The improvement is proportional to the square of the relative permeability. skin depths are hard to come by at low frequency." The former is simply the surface impedance. and is the result of the mismatch (transmission line theory) of the "barrier impedance" and the "wave impedance. . any added absorption is a bonus. given in "ohms/square". (It can be important. two skin depths in 17. you can see we have a huge mismatch at higher frequencies.68 dB (one neper) of loss. and is the result of "skin depths. for very thin shields or at optical frequencies. you need at least 3-4 inches of aluminum to start to have even a small effect.
We'll also share some of our favorite "rules of thumb. Building a high-frequency shield is like building a wooden water tank.Although the water-tank analogy is useful. In the next post. These are the common limitations of RF shielding. however. such as how seams and other discontinuities affect RF shielding. Incidentally. As discussed in the previous article (EMC Basics #12). Kimmel Gerke Associates 1/22/2012 5:43 PM EST [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). For power frequencies (50/60/400 Hz) with high currents. Thus. we'll start to look at the mechanical issues of shielding. along with surface treatments like conductive paint or plating. And even a small hole can be a problem : drill a ¼ inch hole in the bottom of the tank. and eventually all the water leaks out. even thin conductive materials work well for frequencies above about 10 kHz. the leaks occur at seams. Remember. presented by well-known expert Daryl Gerke of Kimmel Gerke Associates. you still may need the “thick conductive planks” for low-frequency magnetic field shielding (60 Hz and harmonics). Here are a couple of key points: . the weak points are mechanical rather than materials.The bottom line: the two mechanisms often drive our choice of shielding materials. Once the planks are thick enough." EMC Basics #13: EMC shielding--destroying a shield Daryl Gerke. joints. as long as they are conductive. and even knotholes. it falls apart in several ways. penetrations. wood doesn't work for EMC.] There are two ways to destroy a high-frequency shield: seams and penetrations. but aluminum foil is very effective. we need to look at some simple physics. Note that there are links to all previous entries here. At RF frequencies (above 10 kHz) thin conductive coatings are usually fine. the “planks” don’t need to be thick for high-frequency EMC shielding. Obviously. Before we go further. thick permeable materials are often required.
When designing an EMC enclosure. that further reduces to 1. so a 15-cm seam or penetration (about six inches) provides 20 dB of shielding. and the penetrations look like monopole antennas.5 cm. For example. we’re trying to do just the opposite – that is. at 100 MHz. After all.based on the speed of light in free space: Frequency (MHz) × Wavelength (meters) = 300 •For example. A good rule of thumb for seams and penetrations is the “1/20 wavelength rule. a wavelength is 3 meters. but even that only provides about 20 dB (10×) reduction. Both can radiate (leak) a surprising amount of energy at high frequencies. You don’t need a half wavelength (or even a quarter wavelength) to support electromagnetic radiation – 1/20 of a wavelength will still do a credible job.5 cm (less than an inch) only provides 20 dB of shielding.5 mm. carrying wires or cables through a hole to a connector on the circuit board can completely destroy a shield at high frequencies. The difference is that the seam will be highly polarized. Murphy and his law will make sure that the worst case will occur. If you need 40 . the longest dimension is critical -. that is what happens. •It’s even worse at 1 GHz. a six-inch seam will leak the same as a six-inch hole under worst-case conditions.” Antenna designers often use this guideline as a practical limit when making small antennas. If you need 40 dB (100×) this reduces to 1/200 wavelength. You can quickly calculate physical dimensions using this formula. Most EMC engineers use a 1/20 of a wavelength as a starting point. If a wire. If you need 40 dB. we need to be pessimistic. while the hole will not. that reduces to 1.•For seams. As EMC designers.NOT the area. or even a pipe extends beyond the EMC shield and is NOT shorted to the shield. the depth of penetration is critical. cable. Unlike water. and 60 dB (1000×) reduces to 1/2000 wavelength. Yet. •For penetrations. where a wavelength is 30 cm. and if you need 60 dB. NOT design antennas into our shields. NOT the hole size. A seam or penetration of 1. The seams look like slot antennas. the extensions act like antennas connected by a coaxial cable.
It has now reached the point where continuous closure is necessary. and even less if you have higher clock frequencies. you will be testing to 1 GHz. it's the longest dimension of the opening. and 60 dB it is only 0. After all.to 100-MHz range. In the meantime. plastic provides no shielding unless provided with a conductive coating. CISPR 22 calls for emission testing up to six GHz. but even modest applications are running clocks in the 20.5 mm. so expect to limit openings to about 2 cm. why even bother with shielding in the first place? EMC Basics #14: Making plastic coatings work for EMI Bill Kimmel. The trend to higher clock frequencies continues.dB. you need to keep openings in your enclosure less than 1/20 wavelength of the highest-applicable frequency.15 mm. PE. For shielding effectiveness. the 1/20th wavelength rule is a good place to start. There are links to all previous entries in the EMC Basics series here. typically to the tenth harmonic of the fastest clock.] Two factors are combining to create EMI shielding problems: increasing clock frequencies and the shift to plastic housings. The conductivity of the coating is not the driving factor in high-frequency shielding effectiveness. if you can’t get a 10× reduction. a thousand times faster than the early personal computers. depending on maximum clock frequency. occasional contact is not sufficient. Modern laptop and desktop computers run in the GHz range. Kimmel Gerke Associates 3/1/2012 9:56 PM EST [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). The second aspect is the increasing use of plastic enclosures. As we know. If you have a 100-MHz clock. presented by well-known experts Daryl Gerke and Bill Kimmel of Kimmel Gerke Associates. that reduces to 1. which almost always . No wonder we need EMI gaskets (or even welded seams) and bulkhead connectors at the higher frequencies! We’ll look at how to plug those leaks in a future post of this series.
This requires the plastic enclosure be designed so as to facilitate proper coating. then ensure the surfaces conductively mate pretty-much continuously along the entire seam. How to make the shield work You need to bring the conductive coating right up to the mating seams. cost.occurs at the mating seams. Unfortunately. if the plastic enclosure is not properly designed. the shield works very well. Radiated-emissions failure is almost a foregone conclusion. and the problem is with the design of the mold. yet. . Figure 1. making sure the mating surfaces are stiff enough to ensure continuous contact. A reliable method is to use tongue and groove. the groove can provide a "nesting" place for conductive EMI gasketing. such as availability. durability. and ease of application. Better. Done right. So select your coating for criteria other than EMI. most of the molded plastics are poorly designed to contain EMI. Herein lies the problem: it's difficult to get conductive closure at the seams.
In most cases.Figure 1: a) Conductive coating brought up to mating surfaces.] Continuing with our shielding theme. As discussed previously. The worst case is to run the cable shield without terminating it to the enclosure shield: that's a guaranteed test failure. if you don't close the gaps. They want to mask off the coating back from the seam to ensure the coating doesn't show on the outside. and save gasket mounting for a future article. the shield will not work. as casual contact will not do. If you want the shield to work. Also make sure your cable shields and cable filters are well terminated to the coating. b) EMI gasketing placed in groove. You also need to make provision to terminate cable shields and filters. presented by well-known experts Daryl Gerke and Bill Kimmel of Kimmel Gerke Associates. if the coating doesn't get into the seams and close the gaps. The fact is. However. Tongue and groove works well. we encounter strong resistance when discussing this with the mechanical designers. seams and other openings can be a "weak link" in EMI shielding. the measured emissions may well increase! Why? The shield may well collimate the available RF energy. In fact. design the enclosure to close the seams. There are links to all previous entries in the EMC Basics series here. We'll look at the former now. Summary Don't fool yourself. we'll look at EMI gaskets. Kimmel Gerke Associates 5/9/2012 5:41 PM EDT [Editor's note: we are pleased to continue our series on the vital and sometimes unappreciated topic of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Two key concerns are gasket choice and gasket mounting. resulting in emission hot spots. . these need to be grounded firmly to the shield. EMC Basics #15: Use gaskets to seal and solve leaky RF seam problems Daryl Gerke. preferably with EMI gasketing.
seams or other joints present a discontinuity. we recommend gaskets whenever shielding needs exceed 60 dB. Fortunately. gaskets simply plug the leaks. the EMI currents induced on the shield remain inside (or outside) the shield. While you might be tempted to leave EMI gasket choices solely to the mechanical engineers. but this usually isn’t practical. Most of us in the EMI business worry when slots are longer than 1/20 wavelength (e. As a result. In the real world. but rarely seen in commercial equipment. A critical parameter is length. gaskets are now common in a wide range of electronic equipment. the solutions are usually simple once you understand some basic principles. not thickness. In a perfect EMI shield (a “Faraday cage”).g. both disciplines need to be involved.Years ago.either improve the gaskets. don’t overlook this. This “shorts out” any potential difference across the shield surface while maintaining smooth current flow. EMI gaskets were widely used in military systems and radio communications equipment. and a slot antenna is space surrounded by metal. continuous metal-to-metal contact. Thanks to increasing processor speeds and increasing EMI threats. seams in shields are often modeled as “slot antennas. don't do that. just like a wire antenna.5 cm at 1 GHz. 5 cm at 300 MHz. In fact. 1. That case gave us two options to explore -. however. An alternate would be to reduce the current flowing in the shield. although gaskets can still help at lower levels. Like many EMI problems. We once had a case where hundreds of amps of high-frequency power-return currents were flowing in the cabinet. . Shield currents are diverted. As a mechanical analogy. or reduce the currents -.) The secret to success is to minimize impedance across the joint with clean. However. That means even a thin slot (such as two metal surfaces separated by paint) can radiate if it is long enough. You need to work with your mechanical colleagues. time-varying voltages and currents can launch an electromagnetic wave.we ended up choosing the latter with good success.” The only difference between a wire antenna and a slot antenna is that a wire antenna is metal surrounded by space. As a rule of thumb. and a voltage appears across the seam or joint. How gaskets work EMI gaskets perform their magic by providing a conductive path across seams and other discontinuities in an electronic enclosure. We regularly encounter EMI problems due to poor shielding and gasketing.
The major drawback is that they are not practical for low volumes. and the seal is usually also watertight. Equipment used in harsh environments. All will work well when properly installed. and thus can not be reused. •Wire mesh: Like fingerstock. •Conductive cloth over foam: These gaskets are very popular in commercial applications. The material can be formed into many shapes. but are not suitable for doors or access panels. serrations. such as fingerstock. •Form-in-place gaskets: These gaskets often make sense for high volume applications that can automate the creation of a gasket right on an enclosure. mechanical vulnerability (such as snagging of fingerstock). these gaskets can provide very high levels of EMI performance. A drawback is that many mesh gaskets take a set. These are similar to conductive elastomers. such as medical. Those are fine for permanent seals. these gaskets are resilient and thus may be reusable. Most use a silver-plated cloth over foam to create a soft gasket that can take up a lot of mechanical slack. The major drawback is that any repaired joint must be cleaned and recaulked to maintain a seal. and are quite cost effective. and can be plated for corrosion protection. The material has high conductivity and is very springy. •Conductive elastomers: These gaskets provide good performance. but hollow elastomer gaskets often overcome this issue. The main drawback is the compression force. The drawbacks are cost. The major drawback is a lack of an environmental seal. Here are some pros and cons on different EMI gaskets: •Beryllium-Copper: These gaskets provide very-high EMI performance. so the choice is often usually based on overall mechanical issues. A big advantage is that they can also provide an environmental seal as well as an RF seal.Types of Gaskets There are several types of popular EMI gaskets. military. . They often have metallic particles or wires embedded in them. formed from a metal impregnated caulk. They also lack an environmental seal. which makes it ideal for doors and panels. When cured. and the lack of an environmental seal. Even a small amount of corrosion can render a good gasket ineffective. Corrosion No discussion of gaskets would be complete without a few comments on corrosion. •Conductive epoxies: these are permanent gaskets. so they do require pressure to assure an EMI seal. Silver loading is very common. and spirals.
Another option is to seal out moisture at the gasket interface. Hybrid gaskets are available that incorporate both an environmental seal and an EMI seal. corrosion is not usually a concern for commercial products. or industrial are often subject to corrosion. be sure to install the environmental seal to the outside to protect the EMI gasket from external moisture. consider gaskets in your shield designs. And work with your mechanical colleagues to assure the best choice. . plated gaskets can be used to minimize the effects of dissimilar metals. In conclusion.) To fight corrosion. In those cases. Fortunately.vehicular. particularly if you need high levels of shielding.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.