In Compliance: The Compliance Information Resource for Electrical Engineers logo
Batteries
Gone Wrong
Assessment, Mitigation, and Expectations
PLUS
Electrical Fire Patterns in Vegetation

The Effect of Standards on Safety and Product Liability Litigation

RF Tech Tip:
BNC Versus Threaded Connectors

batteries that are smoking
PLUS
Electrical Fire Patterns in Vegetation

The Effect of Standards on Safety and Product Liability Litigation

RF Tech Tip:
BNC Versus Threaded Connectors

August 2021
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August 2021
Volume 13 l Number 8
Contents
By John C. Copeland and Russ Gyenes
Modern lithium batteries require a comprehensive approach to risk assessment and mitigation during product development, and a swift and systematic response when safety concerns arise in the field.
By Louis F. Bilancia
The formation of branching patterns is commonly associated with electrical discharges. Lightning and electrostatic discharges from a Van de Graaff generator are transient luminous branching patterns, and sometimes the passing of an electrical current leaves residual physical patterns. Examples of how such patterns are formed are presented.
By Kenneth Ross
This article will discuss the basic kinds of defects that can be alleged in any product liability case, the law as it pertains to compliance with standards, and some tips on how to deal with the issue of standards compliance.
By Ken Javor
The shielding performance of bayonet vs. threaded connectors is measured and some possibly surprising conclusions are drawn. Bayonet connectors – more useful than you might think.
old cell phone on fire
Electrical Fire Patterns in Vegetation
lawyer at a desk
connector
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columns contributors
EMC Concepts Explained
Bogdan Adamczyk
adamczyb@gvsu.edu
Hot Topics in ESD
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compliance news
FCC Acts to Speed Access to New Wireless Technologies
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken action to facilitate expedited access to new and advanced wireless technologies.

In a Report and Order, the FCC updated the agency’s radio frequency device marketing and importation rules to accelerate the release of new wireless devices. Under the revised rules, manufacturers will be allowed limited marketing and pre-sales of wireless devices to consumers as long as the devices are not actually provided to consumers…

FDA Issues Guidance on Remanufacturing of Medical Devices
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a draft guidance detailing the agency’s view of what constitutes a “remanufactured” medical device and to help clarify regulatory requirements applicable to such devices.

The draft guidance, “Remanufacturing and Servicing Medical Devices,” defines remanufacturing as “the processing, conditioning, renovating, repackaging, restoring or any other act done to a finished device that significantly changes the finished device’s performance or safety specifications…

DILBERT Comic strip
DILBERT © 2021 Scott Adams. Used By permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.
remembering Don Sweeney
Donald L. Sweeney
D

onald L. Sweeney passed away peacefully surrounded by his family. A native of Clinton, Iowa, and a longtime Glenview, Illinois resident, Don graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Electrical Engineering before embarking on a career of supporting high tech companies, Gates Radio, Collins Radio, AT&T-Teletype, and Extel Corporation before, with his wife Marilyn and son Corey, started his own company, D.L.S. Electronic Systems, today one of the largest independent testing and consulting laboratories in North America.

Don was very active in the American Council of Independent Laboratories as a member of the Conformity Assessment and Product Certification Section. He was a strong supporter and advocate of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society, serving the Society in many roles for more than forty years, including the Board of Directors for 18 years, on standards and symposium committees, serving as Angel to several EMC Society chapters, as well as chapter chair of the Chicago EMC Society. Don received the prestigious Laurence G Cumming Award for outstanding contributions to the administration and overall success of the IEEE EMC Society and EMC Education and was an original inductee into the IEEE EMC Society Hall of Fame.

Feature Article
Batteries Gone Wrong – Assessment, Mitigation, and Expectations
A Review of Options to Improve Lithium Battery Safety Performance
By John C. Copeland and Russ Gyenes
fried battery in flames
I

n the world of product safety, it could be said that there are two basic approaches to risk mitigation, proactive and reactive, with proactive being the preferred choice. Most would agree with the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but in truth, this oversimplifies the reality in which product manufacturers operate. As with most things in life, things are rarely black and white but rather a continuous spectrum of shades of gray.

To this, there are many competing aspects in all commercial product ventures. Could you make a product that was fully reliable under all conditions? Perhaps, but the odds are that it would be a commercial failure as it would take an inordinate amount of time to produce and be prohibitively expensive.

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Feature Article
Electrical Fire Patterns in Vegetation
By Louis F. Bilancia
Electrical Fire Patterns in Vegetation

Editor’s Note: The paper on which this article is based was originally presented at the 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Product Safety Engineering held virtually in November 2020. It is reprinted here with the gracious permission of the IEEE. Copyright 2021 IEEE.

Introduction

Depending on the technical discipline, patterns created by the flow of electrical current have been referred to as dendrites, water trees, or fern patterns—the general term is Lichtenberg figures [1]. The terms dendrite and water tree are generally applied to dielectric failures [2], while the term fern patterns have been applied to patterns sometimes formed in epidermis from a lightning strike. The term fulgurite [3] refers to patterns of fused silica formed from a lightning strike to a soil or sand surface.

Dielectric breakdown of the ethylene propylene rubber (EPR) insulation of electrical power transmission cables has been variously described in the literature as water trees and dendrites. The pattern of formation was first realistically modeled in 1984 and referred to as the dielectric breakdown model [5]. Dendrite patterns can form in circuit assemblies by the stress of an electric field [2] and in electrical insulators (dielectrics) from electric field stresses [5].

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Don’t Settle For Standard
Feature Article
The Effect of Standards on Safety and Product Liability Litigation
Using Standards to Defend the Product
By Kenneth Ross
Someone writing on paper with a gavel and scale next to them
P

roduct liability has created problems for manufacturers and product sellers for many decades. These problems have been exacerbated by the expansion of product liability laws throughout the world. In addition, there has been a proliferation of safety regulatory requirements, starting in the United States (U.S.) and then moving to the European Union. In addition, countries such as Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and South Africa have all recently established or strengthened their product safety regulatory regimes and requirements.

This all creates additional challenges for manufacturers who want to comply with all laws, regulations, and standards in any country where they sell their products. Such companies may also need to consider safety requirements in countries where they do not sell products if they believe that these requirements establish a floor for safety that they want to meet.

This article will discuss the basic kinds of defects that can be alleged in any product liability case, the law as it pertains to compliance with standards, and some tips on how to deal with the issue of standards compliance.

Feature Article
RF Tech Tip:
BNC Versus Threaded Connectors
Investigating the Shielding Performance of Coaxial Connectors Used in Radiated Measurements
By Ken Javor
Cable
A

rule-of-thumb in EMC and RF (hereinafter termed “The Rule”) is that bayonet connectors (BNCs) leak above 10 MHz and are thus to be avoided for radiated measurements. Threaded connectors such as TNC, N, and SMA are used for radiated test work. Having said that, to this day my test facility has some old biconicals and rod antennas with BNC connectors. What’s going on?

On one hand, there is The Rule. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem likely that the manufacturers of otherwise fine test equipment would use a leaky connector.

A measurement of connector leakage performance – BNC vs. threaded – is revealing.

One might imagine a connector leakage test to look like Figure 1, where a signal is piped through a length of coaxial cable, and the radiation due to that signal is measured externally.

EMC concepts explained
EVALUATION OF EMC EMISSIONS AND GROUND TECHNIQUES ON 1- AND 2-LAYER PCBs WITH POWER CONVERTERS
Part 4: DC/DC Converter –EMC Countermeasures – Radiated Emissions Results
By Bogdan Adamczyk, Scott Mee, and Nick Koeller
T

his is the fourth article in a series of articles devoted to the design, test, and EMC emissions evaluation of 1- and 2-layer PCBs that contain AC/DC and/or DC/DC converters, and employ different ground techniques [1, 2, 3]. In this fourth article, we are still focused on the DC/DC power converter board (2-layer PCB). In this article, we will evaluate the implementation of several EMC countermeasures and present the radiated emissions results according to CISPR25 Class 5 limits.

1. Introduction
In the first article in the series, [1], we defined the overall design problem. The second article, [2], focused on the details of the 2-layer DC/DC converter design.

The third article [3] presented the radiated and conducted emission results from the baseline design which did not contain any EMC countermeasures. The results showed multiple failures in both radiated and conducted emissions. This fourth article presents a systematic approach to improve these failures by populating the PCB with optional EMC countermeasures on component pads that have already been designed into the PCB layout and showing their impact on the radiated emissions. The countermeasures are presented in an order that we would typically follow in an EMC diagnostic session where, due to time restrictions, not every single permutation of EMC countermeasure will be tested. The EMC countermeasures are illustrated in Figure 1 as purple dashed boxes labeled EMC-A through EMC-F.

hot topics in ESD
Automated Latch-Up Verification in 2.5D/3D ICs
By Dina Medhat for EOS/ESD Association, Inc.
Ok, let’s start with the basics. What is latch-up, and why do designers care about it?
In today’s tightly packed layouts, most integrated circuits (ICs) end up with parasitic bipolar transistors (pnp and npn) somewhere. Latch-up is a short circuit, or low-impedance path, created by interaction between these transistors. Latch-up susceptibility can unnecessarily cause damage from electrical overstress (EOS) events. Unintended latch-up paths can lead to the risk of electrical damage or unexpectedly trigger during an electrostatic discharge (ESD) event. So checking for latch-up protection is now a mandatory verification requirement. Electronic design automation (EDA) tools already provide automated latch-up design rule checking (DRC) for 2D IC layouts. However, 2.5D/3D ICs present new and very different challenges when trying to apply these same rules with the same tools. It’s not impossible, but new latch-up verification flows are needed. That’s where my work focuses.
How do you protect against latch-up?
There are two key types of latch-up design rules—fundamental and advanced [1,2]. Fundamental (local) latch-up design rules focus on the physical dimensions of parasitic pnpn networks. Advanced latch-up design rules fall into two primary categories: external and mixed-voltage latch-up. External rules evaluate separation between an external injection source and victim circuit, so we have to be able to identify that injection source [3,4]. Mixed-voltage rules determine compliance by evaluating voltage difference, which can be critical in power sequencing operations [5,6]. In 2D ICs, we typically use manual markers to provide the required information. These markers are always subject to human error and are even harder to apply accurately in 2.5D/3D IC designs. My colleagues and I are focused on the development of automated latch-up physical verification flows for 2.5D/3D ICs that do away with markers entirely.
347
Cellular telephones can interfere with medical equipment – Mayo Clinic concludes

OBJECTIVE: To assess the potential electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects that new or current-generation cellular telephones have on medical devices.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: For this study, performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, between March 9, 2004, and April 24, 2004, we tested 16 different medical devices…

348
Five interference anecdotes from Tim Haynes

Radar-controlled gun on board a refitted warship. VHF transmissions would make the gun guidance go wild, pointing it into the superstructure etc. Lucky it wasn’t loaded.

My own experience. Radio ham, transmitting on a UHF channel 433.325MHz hears own voice on a VHF transceiver…

349
New Pentagon system suspected of interfering with garage door openers

A widespread problem with a mysterious radio signal that caused some garage doors in the Ottawa region to stop working has vanished. The powerful radio signal causing the problem stopped transmitting on Thursday afternoon, around the time CBC News contacted the U.S. Embassy to ask if it knew anything about it. The embassy denies…

350
Mobile phone ban continues on flights

The ban on the use of mobile phones by passengers on planes is set to continue. New tests by the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that phones are still a threat to aircraft. The latest study found that the use of mobile telephones can adversely affect navigation and communication functions, producing significant errors on instrument displays…

Upcoming Events
August 16-18
DesignCon 2021

August 16-19
Military Standard 810 (MIL-STD 810) Testing Open Course

August 23-26
Military Standard 810 (MIL-STD 810) Testing Open Course

September 14-16
The Battery Show

September 20-24
IEEE International Symposium on Product Compliance Engineering (ISPCE)

September 23
2021 Minnesota EMC Event

September 26- October 1
43rd Annual EOS/ESD Symposium and Exhibits

September 27-30
2021 Asia-Pacific International Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility (APEMC)

September 28
IEEE EMC Chicago Mini Symposium

September 30
EMC Fest 2021

Due to COVID-19 concerns, events may be postponed. Please check the event website for current information.
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