UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


Electronic Drawing Office

The main task of the Electronic Drawing Office (EDO) is the layout of printed circuit boards (PCBs) followed by the production of the manufacturing and assembly drawings.

 Very experienced layout draftsmen, use market leading electronic design automation (EDA) tools ('Expedition' from Mentor Graphics Corporation) to produce layouts to the high quality assurance standards required by major space agencies for large and long duration missions. An in-house set of PCB layout design rules are used, based upon those published by the major space agencies, but modified to reflect the detailed requirements of each mission. Most of the PCBs designed are conventional rigid multilayer glass fibre boards but a considerable number of flexi-rigid and a smaller number of fully flexible boards are designed. Novel techniques have been used to meet the unusual requirements of some instruments, such as forming boards into a cylindrical shape and 'Z-folding' flexible boards.

The boards designed vary greatly in size and shape, depending on the accommodation available in the particular instrument. Around 50 different designs per year are typically produced in the office with each undergoing revisions for the different models within each project. A prototype followed by an engineering model, commonly precede the final version which is used for qualification and flight. As well as artwork design rules, an in-house procedure is followed to ensure that all the appropriate checking has been completed before an order for boards is placed on a manufacturer. A copy of this procedure is produce for each design and revision and has to be signed off by PA before boards are ordered. Relationships have been developed with a number of PCB manufacturers who specialise in high quality, low volume production. Specific procurement specifications have been written and agreed.

Over the last 40 years, the Electronic Drawing Office has produced more than 700 PCBs designs, most of which have been used to support flight missions. There are  about 100 of our PCBs being used in space today!