RF design is sometimes called “black magic” by PCB designers and digital designers, and it’s unfortunate this continues to occur. The field is certainly not magic, but it seems that the basic physics involved in wave propagation was generally ignored by electronics designers for decades. Today, many more systems will implement an RF front-end, antenna, sensor, or unique materials, and it’s a PCB designer’s role to understand something about why these design decisions might be made.
In this article, our goal is to provide some of the most important learning goals to help designers be more successful in this important area of technology. While you don’t need to know how to design every RF printed circuit or build MMICs, you can certainly avoid respins and ensure RF signal integrity by understanding the design points outlined below.
Learning Goals in RF Design
Below we’ve outlined some of the basic points to understand in order to work in RF designs. These topics span from electromagnetic waves to antennas and materials, all of which are important for a PCB designer and a system/assembly designer.