Oct 20 / Kirsch Mackey

Kirsch Mackey's DEPSI Method for PCB Design

All too often, we design a printed circuit board, believing and knowing full well that it will have problems.

Most PCB designers don't even expect the boards to work the first time.

It's the norm for engineers to 'design' a PCB, get it fabricated, test it in the lab, see where the mistakes were made and call it a prototype. Hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars down the drain for every re-spin that may result in most parts working on the board, but some parts not working.

Only to find out through hardware testing and validation that some mistake was made or that a section of the PCB didn't take EMI into consideration and is causing your team to fail certification.

Or even worse, you get a board that works for the first few weeks, months or even years, then all of a sudden starts acting strange. Malfunctioning. Annoyed customers and clients wondering what's wrong with the product.

Then the device is brought in, days, weeks or months pass by without finding a solution, then the engineer who made it moved on to another company so you're not sure how to fix the design.

Then when you're trying to learn PCB design, you would read books, articles, attend webinars, take online courses, read white papers, application notes, data sheets, reference designs, etc. etc. Only to realize that while you can build a PCB if someone is guiding you, you're not confident enough that you can do it on your own. So you're stuck in a loop of learning more and more just to feel safe enough to know you can lay out a PCB and actually have it work...hopefully.

All this uncertainty and doubt stays persistent and it seems like there is always something new to learn about designing printed circuit boards.

Well, having grown tired of living this way when it comes to PCB design, Kirsch Mackey gathered all knowledge he found and put it into a master framework or process that gets at the core fundamentals of all PCB design, regardless of the PCB.

This new frame work is code named 'DEPSI'.

What is the DEPSI Framework? It is a methodology, a process or foundation of fundamentals that help engineers learn to learn not only to design boards on their own, but to understand how and why a board was designed a specific way, even if they've never design that board before.

In addition, this powerful framework allows the engineer to know whether the design is likely to work or to fail before it ever gets sent out for fabrication.

Is it possible to design PCBs that work right the first time? Yes, but usually that's from having a lot of experience or the design is so simple that it can't fail. But that requires years of experience or luck in a design, and it may still not work the first time. At least with using the DEPSI method to understand PCB design from the ground up, we can get closer to a designed right the first time approach to make sure we hit all major pillars of any design.

Of course there is also thermal, and performance and RF to consider, but for the most part, no PCBs can escape the DEPSI set of limitations and requirements, so this framework focuses on the four pillars first.

No more designing a PCB in your favorite ECAD software only to never send it to fabrication because you're afraid you'll have mistakes. And even better, when you get a board that doesn't work, you at least will have some idea on what the type of problem is instead of troubleshooting for hours, and possibly even guessing.

You'll be able to help your team at work with PCB design related problems and develop a reputation as the go-to person for understanding why your design in the lab didn't work.

No more prototype boards.

No more second guessing your work or needing extensive reviews to know you've done a good job.

With this new framework, you'll know that you know.

The DEPSI Framework for Effective PCB Design Explained

Design for Manufacturing - This covers the core principles and elements that drive the decisions to make a PCB mechanically reliable. This includes specific factors that affect manufacturing costs and certain techniques are used to handle those factors accordingly.

EMI - Managing electromagnetic fields is important to prevent interference with and from other devices. Kirsch uses special techniques to adjust and design for EMI for any PCB.

Power Integrity - Every circuit needs power to function so maintaining its integrity is critical to the rest of any PCB. As a power electronics & analog design engineer, Kirsch has learned the hard way how to handle power and has developed a set procedure to handle power from theory to application.

Signal Integrity - This is generally how one manages any signals on a PCB, but also techniques on how to handle many problems on PCB signals to support high speed design. The methodology for this core pillar handles most, if not all signal integrity issues but only when done in a certain order.

The DEPSI Approach is used for learning, designing and evaluating printed circuit boards in full form. To learn more about how you can make this framework benefit you, reach me at kirsch@hasofu.com and I'll be happy to have a consultation with you.

If you would like to learn this powerful approach to mastering the fundamentals of all PCB design, check out our Online Bootcamp that teaches this method in depth, along with other important lessons needed to become confident in your PCB design skills.
Created with