Custom circuit boards enhance RCN systems

Navy News / February 28, 2020

By Ashley Evans

As the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) continues to embrace innovative ways of doing things better, an electronics technician at Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Esquimalt, B.C., is doing exactly that through his work on printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Since his arrival at FMF, Dax Ryn has not only been creating custom circuit boards for the RCN, but has been teaching apprentices how to do the same.

“They (PCBs) are very useful if you want to diagnose problems in a system,” he said, adding that they are also a durable way to develop a test and measurement capability within FMF.

Ryn says that how the boards are configured really depends on how they will be used. They can be designed as a replacement part or as an add-on to an existing system, but with an improved design or updated programming that may not be obtainable in the outside market.

Printed circuit boards are a valuable resource when testing systems that are difficult or unsafe to reach, or which are running.

A perfect example of this took place in the fall of 2019, when Ryn created a custom PCB for an HF transmitter aboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine Chicoutimi; the previous board was indeed difficult to access and the new board had to be tested while in operation.

In addition to being used onboard RCN frigates and submarines, PCBs can be custom-made for different shops throughout FMF to test or add functionality to existing internal electrical or electronic systems, or to replace damaged boards.

“We have this capability here at FMF and it would be a waste not to utilize it,” Ryn explained.

Ryn takes pride in teaching apprentices how to create PCBs, which is now mandated in the electronics apprenticeship. This process begins with a schematic design of the board that shows logical connections in layout software, which is then submitted to the PCB manufacturer.

“There are near infinite ways to create a PCB, and usually four or five ways that are best,” Ryn explained. “This allows for creativity and we ultimately have the final choice of which PCB layout we use.”

Courtesy of Lookout