PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest
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The Best Design, Axiom by Marcos Chaparro and his team, EV Power Designs Inc.

by: Jun 01,2020 516 Views 1 Comments Posted in Activities

motor controller vesc Shared Project PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest PCB PCBWay Axiom

Summary:       Marcos Chaparro with his team, EV Power Designs Inc.'s Axiom: 100kW motor controller wins the first prize of The Best Designs in PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest.

PCBWay Team: “ Could you please briefly introduce yourself? Many other PCBWayers in the community want to know more about you.”

Marcos:" Well, this is a team work of 4 designers (and supportive wives!) from Canada and Argentina, I’m Marcos Chaparro, an electronics engineer from Argentina, and one of the members of the Power Designs team that developed Axiom. "


PCBWay Team: “When did you start making and how did you learn the skill of PCB Design?”

Marcos:"I made the first strokes at pcb design with KiCad in a time it was in diapers, it didn’t even had an undo command! Most of the learning happened in forums collaborating and learning from great engineers."


PCBWay Team: "When did you get involved in the maker movement? Do you remember what first drew your attention?"

Marcos:"I come from the open software community so getting into open hardware and collaborative projects was a natural path to follow. I think my first involvement was the FreeEMS project, an awesome engine management system developed by great folks."


PCBWay Team: “How did you know about our 3rd PCB Design Contest? And what drove you to attend this contest?”

Marcos:"I think I learned about the contest in an email."


PCBWay Team: “About your award-winning work, Axiom: 100kW motor controller, could you please tell us more details about it or the story behind? And why did you choose it as your entry?” 

Marcos:"Ah, I always loved high power machines, started with the control of gas engine when I was a student and followed with the electric motor field. During the initial revisions of Axiom ,originally seeded by what we internally call “Team France” (Pymco) I met great people that got involved, to the point we founded EV Power Designs Inc. to pursue together the advancement of the electric vehicle era. A fun note is that we did the whole collaboration remotely, and we met in person last year in an international award ceremony."


PCBWay Team: “ What part of the project process excites you the most?”

Marcos:"Each person in the team has its own favorite parts, I enjoy pcb design and 3d integration, Maxi is really good at firmware and system development, Arlin loves pushing the power levels to white-hot limits and Sonny seems to enjoy the math, the simulations and analysis of our systems."


PCBWay Team: “ In your opinion, what comes first - the existing technology or the design idea?”

Marcos:"I feel they are decoupled concepts, until you need them to work together. You get design ideas that have no chance of working due to tech limits (1min battery charge) or new tech that doesn’t seem to be useful yet (sub millimeter size solar panel?).

I think its better to start with a good idea and develop the tech it needs to work; this is usually years worth of work. If you take the available tech and wrap it around your idea, the entry barrier for a competitor is low and they can crush you.

Despite we share a lot of our tech, the valuable bits and analysis behind our work is closed to provide us with an advantage to succeed in big contracts."


PCBWay Team: “ What makes you different/ unique from other makers?”

Marcos:"Probably a bit of autism lol."


PCBWay Team: “How did you feel when you found that you were one of the winners?”

Marcos:"Surprised! It was late at night and couldn’t share it right away with the family, but Arlin lives in another timezone so he was awake at that time to celebrate. "


PCBWay Team: “What do you think is the most important inner traits to be a good PCB designer?”

Marcos:"You need to love learning because its not just about connecting traces. Eventually you’ll have to learn about EMC compliance tricks, design for manufacture, how to avoid silly mistakes, the tools for 3d integration, and keep updated about new parts and packages. 10 years later I am still learning how to make a good PCB."


PCBWay Team: “What do you think of Open Source Hardware? And how do you look at the future of open source community?”

Marcos:"I’m particularly fond of open source tech to develop hardware (KiCad, FreeCAD, etc), they are maturing at a very quick pace and I’ve predicted that they will do what gcc did for the software industry: a huge jump forward that makes it easier for everyone to become a developer.

Open source hardware has its biggest impact in the younger engineers that need to learn stuff, when you open source something you want it to look perfect, so it becomes a great model for others to learn (you can take a look at axiom schematic). It also accelerates the work of research teams that are in charge of pushing boundaries."


PCBWay Team: “What do you think of our website or the community page? PCBWay will contribute to the open source community more. Do you have any suggestions for improvement?” 

Marcos:"I think you guys are doing a great job. Website is comprehensive and community page looks good to me; plus the contest is a great motivation to share.

Maybe you could reach more high end designs for your contest by inviting universities? Thesis and university work are usually very high quality and could align well with your contest.

Me personally, I’m waiting for a $1 million prize like Google used to offer to really push the limits. “50 Watts per cubic inch”, if you made an inverter with that power density you would be awarded a ton of $. That was cool."


PCBWay Team: “What are ingredients of a good maker space? If you were to create and equip a new maker space for a school or library, how would your ideal solution look like?”

Marcos:"Heavily depends on where are you located. In my country (Argentina) we don’t have quick access to SMD stuff and international shipments are expensive, so I would have to start from scratch with a basic booklet of resistors.

If you can source components easily you can achieve quite a lot with just a good oscilloscope and a cheap pizza oven to reflow your boards. Don’t forget a 15x magnifying glass! If your are young you don’t need a fancy pick and place, you need a good teacher."


PCBWay Team: “PCBWay 4th PCB Design Contest has been in our to-do list, will you join in again? And would you like to suggest your friends to attend as well?”

Marcos:"Of course! I hope to have a different design for next year."


PCBWay Team: "Do you have any suggestions to the contest? Regarding to the participation process, display of works, voting, etc."

Marcos:"Have you tried contacting EEVBlog’s Dave jones as a judge? Or maybe some other celebrities, we designers get pumped up when a star gets to see our work."


PCBWay Team: "If a reader who is inspired by this interview wants to get started with making, what are some good tools and resources for beginners?"

Marcos:"Well, I love kicad and freecad, and my suggestion is to reach to the forums to find the experts, you will learn a lot from them, and some day they will also learn from you. Then its up to you, keep creating and you’ll keep learning and improving."


Link: Winner List of PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest

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