Multilayer PCB Reverse Engineering

PCB reverse engineering

While there are any number of companies who claim to be able to reverse engineer and manufacture dual sided PCB’s, the skills necessary to create form-fit-function replacements of multilayer pcb’s in the world of military equipment and systems, reduce this list substantially. Competencies required for this analysis go well beyond point to point connectivity and encompass the full spectrum of electrical component and load analysis all in service of a form-fit-function replacement at the boundary. Keep in mind that depending on the goals of the project, the new pcb might internally look quite different than the original pcb design when one considers goals of cost reduction, part obsolescence, and component availability.

What Capabilities are needed for CCA Reverse-Engineering?

When an original TDP is incomplete, incorrect, or not at all available, then a team like PHT Aerospace is needed to insure that a fully procurable, cost effective spare can be created and manufactured. To perform this work, the following capabilities are critical:

  1. Ability to comprehend the complete electrical specification and tolerances at the margins of the systems under discussion.
  2. Ability to reverse engineer in three dimensions, the mechanical footprint of the board and surface or attached components so as to fit perfectly into a preexisting backplane enclosure
  3. Advanced understanding of power consumption and power distribution across a multilayer pcb.
  4. Ability to produce hardened FPGA’s to replace older discrete TTL components for better cost and reliability.
  5. Ability to understand environmental requirements at both component and system level and the ability to qualify the design over a range that may be as much as -40C to 125C, the full mil spec temperature range.
  6. Complete understanding of both military and commercial avionics qualification processes and documentation.
  7. Ability to build custom test sets for qual of reengineered system that presents original electrical stimulus for all functional use cases, at the boundaries.
  8. Ability to manufacture a fully qualified and functional pcb. A willingness to potentially do this in small production quantities.
  9. Ability to produce Gerber Files and/or a complete TDP for resulting design.
  10. Ability to support critical subsystems in the field when necessary.

Unique PCB Reverse Engineering Capabilities

In just one example, PHT was able to successfully reverse engineer the pcb for multiple CCA’s for an advanced radar system for the F16 fighter jet.  In this application, existing schematic documentation was incorrect and original Gerber files for the multilayer pcb were not available. In our analysis, we found small but catastrophic missing, erroneous, or out-of-date technical information which we had to verify and correct in order to be able to develop and manufacture a FFF CCA. As part of this work, PHT Aerospace developed a methodology, which mitigates many of the known performance and qualification risks and resulted in a CCA that worked in the rest of the system, even though documentation for the rest of that system was not even available.

Contact PHT Aerospace Today for your Obsolescence Challenges

PHT Aerospace is an AS9100D certified company. For further information on our team and our capabilities in the military aerospace arena and beyond, please contact us today.