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Nyquist where approached by Rolls Royce Distributed Generation Systems who where looking for a partner to work alongside their multi-disciplined design teams on a particular project. It was a technically challenging project which was to be completed in a very stringent time scale. We were delighted to be considered by R-R, and after careful consideration we bid for, and won the contract. This is what R-R thought of our contribution: –

We came to Nyquist searching for a design partner who could provide resource that could integrate quickly into our design team. Of course, we had project delivery time pressures so we needed a partner who could be agile and responsive to meet our project plan and 6 month completion target.

Our team was working on the mechanical layout, electrical schematics and software for our product and had concluded that a single printed circuit board (PCB) would lie at the heart of the design. The board was required to combine signal conditioning, power electronics, control logic and a 32 bit microcontroller. The team had developed each of these elements to varying degrees but additional design effort was required to consolidate them into a working model.

We produced a detailed project brief; a combination of design tasks underpinned by military specifications and associated timescales:

  • Take our existing design elements and combine them into a cohesive design, providing additional effort to complete the design.
  • Layout the PCB considering the constraints of our product’s mechanical design and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements.
  • Submit the design to our design team at each step and make changes as agreed.
  • Provide regular project tracking status updates.
  • Produce a small number of prototypes.

A number of suppliers were contacted to discuss the brief. During our conversations with Nyquist, it was apparent that they were able to service all the requirements of the brief at a competitive price and within our project time scales. They had the additional advantage of being local to our facility so issues arising could be discussed face to face.

As with any project of this type, the technical complexity and concurrent project work flow provided constant challenges. As an example, the software design dictated the use of a complex microprocessor in a 416 pin Ball Grid Array package. There were 18 channels of analogue signal processing and 12 channels of 3 phase mains voltage, 100A thyristor switches to be placed on a PCB measuring 330 by 205 mm. While the PCB was being designed, the mechanical design of our product was maturing and the relationship between the two required careful consideration.

With a combination of excellent communication and diligent work Nyquist were able to fully meet our requirements; producing an 8-layer design to meet the constraints of size, EMC, creepage and clearance and manufacturability.

During the project, an additional PCB was required to accommodate changing customer requirements. As we were confident of the relationship with Nyquist, we expanded their scope and placed this work with them as well. They were able to flex the size of their design team to accommodate our request.

To complete the prototypes, Nyquist sourced all of the components and populated several sets of both PCBs. Our engineering team debugged the first off samples and tested them to our own specification, supported by Nyquist as issues arose. Their finished components were built into our prototypes and successfully delivered and demonstrated to our customer.

In a follow on project, a small production run of our product was commissioned. Again Nyquist were able to provide a competitive quotation for production of the internal PCBs and the order was placed with them. This time, Nyquist tested their components to our specification delivering them to our facility ready to build into our product.

Andy Martell
Technical Director
Rolls-Royce Distributed Generation Systems
3 December 2013

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