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Reverse Engineering in our opinion is an art mixed with a science. The basic idea is that an engineer takes an existing board that does not have any data like drawings and so on, and dissects it layer by layer extracting all it’s information. There are many methods to do this, but basically they can be grouped into two methods. One method is by electronically scanning the board using imaging software based off of x-ray. The other method is by mechanically removing the material of the board layer by layer exposing the traces and then mapping them. Sometimes both methods are needed depending on how complicated the board is.
Now why would someone want to do this, or need to do this? Most of the time this is because there is a very expensive piece of equipment that has a circuit board failure and it needs repaired. And in some of these cases the device is so old that there isn’t any documentation on the circuit board design. This is where they can take the old board and extract the information necessary to build an exact copy. This is very common for things like aircrafts and large vehicles like them that are extremely expensive and that last a very long time and you cannot throw it away just because of a tiny circuit board.
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