The Design Process -
The basic design process is very similar for any product whether it be hardware or software and breaks down into a series of well defined stages as shown in the diagram below. It is also extremely important to separate ‘what is my item going to do’ from ‘how is it going to do it’.
If you define the ‘what’ part properly, the ‘how’ part follows more easily. Never start with the ‘how’ part.
The worst way to start the process is reaching for the soldering iron / drill / keyboard and saying “I’ll now make something”.
My favourite tools at the start of the process are a pile of scrap paper, a pencil and eraser -
You may find that when you have finished a particular step, it is necessary to revisit a previous step to make some minor changes -
Each module in the final product should be treated as a ‘black box’ with a functional specification and a defined list of interfaces to other modules -
Other factors in your design are the quantity of the product that that you intend to make, its working environment and its projected life span. High volume brings its own set of requirements, long life span means looking at long term availability of components for both manufacturing and maintenance spares and difficult environments like high or low temperature, vibration etc directly affect the components and mechanics.
On completion of step 6 for a high volume product you will probably make a small pre-
Looks easy, sounds obvious? Well, if you do your planning and design properly it is a lot easier than if you don’t! There are a number of different methodologies that you can follow for various types of design task from hardware to software but they are all based on correctly defining what you are trying to achieve, dividing the whole into a number of cost effective parts and documenting each part.
This is a very high level view of the overall process and does not address the detail required in say a receiver or transmitter design. It is intended as a guide to help you to achieve your desired results with the minimum time and costs. Always remember -