Welcome to the seventh instalment of Meet Your Maker Q&A! Meet Your Maker is a series of behind-the-scenes videos and blogs that illustrate the wide range of in-house skillsets used to design and manufacture our market-leading broadcast technology whilst exploring the amazing people behind Calrec.

This week we spoke to Gary Burns, Calrec’s Compliance Electrical Design Engineer. Gary knows why responsible manufacturers run regular EMC emission and ESD tests, and explains why he is already obsessing over the damage the open road can cause to an audio console even before the prototyping phase.

1. What is your role and what does it entail?

I am responsible for all areas relating to product compliance. This includes EMC and safety testing of products to ensure they adhere to the relevant standards. My role also includes product design, at which stage I can ensure all product compliance aspects are addressed. By designing for compliance upfront, we save on costly re-testing and re-design during product development.

2. What are the international standards that Calrec adhere to?

Calrec sells its products worldwide. As a result, we need to adhere to globally accepted international standards for professional audio equipment.

The standards we adhere to are constantly changing so we have to work hard to stay up-to-date and maintain compliance across our full product range. We are currently in the process of re-testing to the new IEC62368 safety standard, which comes into force in December 2020.

3. Why is it important to meet these standards?

This allows us to sell our products internationally, guaranteeing to both our customers and distributors that our products will be safe to use and compatible with other electrical devices in their regions. It is a legal requirement to meet these standards.

4. How does the wider broadcast environment influence development?

Across the industry, we are seeing the move to IP-based systems in broadcast. This means many of the specific standards for professional audio equipment have been combined with standards for IT-type products. This has resulted in the re-classification of our products and hence changes to requirements to meet these new standards.

A good example of this is the new IEC62368, which attempts to bring together a more common set of requirements for a wider range of products. This has resulted in changes to vent design with regard to fire safety.

5. What equipment does Calrec use in-house, and how does that make the process more efficient?

We use only very basic in-house test equipment to pre-test designs before testing externally at professionally certified test houses; however, at the early design stage, we make use of PCB and thermal simulation tools to help us design compliant solutions. We run in-house EMC emissions and ESD tests at each stage of prototyping to ensure that by the time we get a final product, we have a high level of confidence in achieving a pass. By designing for compliance and testing each design iteration, we reduce the total number of development cycles required.

6. What exactly is an anechoic chamber? What is the advantage of having one on-site at Nutclough Mill?

An anechoic chamber is a room designed to prevent the refection of electromagnetic waves. The small, custom-built chamber we have at the Mill allows me to test the level of electromagnetic radiation produced by a product in isolation. This is a great advantage as this is one of the most common reasons for products to fail EMC testing and allows me to test as early and often as required. Booking time in an external chamber is both expensive and inflexible.

7. Why is EMC/ESD compliance so important?

It is important because it cannot only prevent our products from working or being damaged but also avoids them affecting other systems around them which may have critical functions.

8. What environmental considerations are tested, and why?

Our products are designed to work in somewhat harsh environments, such as high temperatures or altitude. They are often installed in cramped spaces in outside broadcast units where they will experience shock and vibration. To perform reliably in these environments this needs to be considered and tested during the design phase. To achieve this, we test all our products over a wide range of temperatures and, where necessary, vibration test.

We also consider the environmental impact of our products and where possible utilise recyclable materials in both the product itself and the packaging. All our products meet the requirements of the EU RoHS directive.

Missed our previous Meet Your Maker Q&As?

Take a look at the following:

First Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Gareth Frimston, Product Manager
Second Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Darren Silcock, Lead Customer Support Engineer
Third Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Sally Baines, Production Manager
Fourth Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Andrew Munt, Software Manager
Fifth Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Maria Mitchell, Senior Product Test Engineer
Sixth Instalment of Meet Your Maker with Joe Gulaiczuk, Project Engineer 

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