One Plane to rule them all!

One Plane to rule them all! image #1

19 Feb 2019

Gandalf first learned of the inscription when he read the account that Isildur had written before marching north to his death and the loss of the One Ring. When Gandalf subsequently heated the ring that Bilbo Baggins had found and passed on to Frodo, the inscription appeared, leaving him in no doubt that it described the One Plane.

Long before, on the creation of the One Plane, the smiths of the Board Layout Guild who created the traces, pads, fills, planes, yea even the very Via Holes of Doom, heard in their minds the voice of Sauron, reciting the words. But excessive and unreasonable management focus on BOM Cost and consequent reduction of the number of board layers eventually drove this understanding from their minds, as purity and beauty have ever been defiled by the drudgery of life in this world.

Thus, was pure knowledge of the One Plane lost from the worlds of Men, causing immense pain and anguish for ages beyond reckoning by delaying projects – the lack of the One Plane causing great difficulties in the achievement of what we now call electromagnetic compatibility and its associated requirements of signal integrity and power integrity.

The inscription above that Gandalf read on Frodo’s ring, he translated as:

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûkagh burzum-ishi krimpatul

Roughly translated into the English language, these words mean:

One Plane to rule them all, One Plane to find them,
One Plane to bring them all, and in the darkness* bind them.

* The great Elven Electro-Mages of myth and legend, whose names are now all-but-forgotten, created the branch of magic† known as Electro-Mage-Netics‡. They defined the term “darkness” as meaning the entire Electro-Mage-Netic spectrum below that of visible light, that is: the spectrum from 0Hz to 400THz [1].

† In this age, this branch of magic is known by its debased name: Physics [2]

‡ In this age, Electro-Mage-Netics is known by its debased name: electromagnetics [3]

This current age of Men, which some call “the modern”, is but a pale shadow of those ages long past that saw full flowering of the glorious knowledge held by the elves and the dwarfs, but at least their nemeses the Orcs died with them. Much of the knowledge gained at the cost of huge personal sacrifices by Elven Electro-Mages has now all-but vanished in the mists of time, and is only found in myths and legends, that some call fairy stories.

The harsh gods we now serve demand that we de-risk electronic projects and bring new designs to market quickly and cost-effectively. The rediscovery of the One Plane that was lost is a veritable beacon of light and SI, PI and EMC salvation to all those whose backbreaking toil must be conducted in the dark towers and fortresses of electronics design.

Unfortunately, full knowledge and understanding of the One True Plane, without which we are as but serfs grovelling in the dirt, is not as widespread as it should be. Even the most enlightened among us are often forced to communicate One Plane magic† using the vulgar terminology of the Dark Ages we are slowly leaving behind, including such bastardised terms as: ‘Ground Plane’; ‘Earth Plane’; ‘Chassis Plane’, and the like.

These disgraceful names can perhaps be borne by the more stalwart among us, despite their strong tendency to cause project delays due to the confusion they engender with safety grounding, safety earthing, and mountings on vehicles.

But what cannot be contemplated without suffering an existential horror that feels like to liquify our very bones, is the degraded practice of restricting the One Plane to an area that is less than the full extent of a board.

Even worse (although it seems hardly possible to contemplate such vileness) is the truly unspeakable practice of sundering the One Plane into separate parts.
These sad remnants are often called ‘planes’ as if such grotesque parody could summon One Plane magic† into existence by sheer willpower!
It is as if a loose arrangement of violently sundered legs, arms, head and torso could be expected to once again function exactly as the living, breathing person it once was, simply by calling it a ‘body’.

Maintaining the beacon of light and SI, PI and EMC salvation that is the One True Plane is eminently practical, even when splitting the One Plane is necessary for the regrettable but unavoidable purpose of joining two or more boards together or achieving isolation of the galvanical type.
But it is my sad duty to report that the current state of understanding of One Plane magic† is still so incomplete that this is rarely attempted. Some consider the SI, PI and EMC horrors that inevitably emerge to rival even the legendary depredations of the Orcs upon the Elves and the Dwarves. 

Apologies to:



[2] See Arthur C Clark’s 3rd Law, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”,

[3] The term “Electro-Mage-Netics” appears here courtesy of its inventor: Professor Alistair Duffy, Arch-Electro-Mage of De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Also see:

Tim Williams’: “The Lord of the Board”, free from:

Part 4, “Reference Planes for 0V and Power”, in the 2004-5 article series: “Basic and Advanced Design of PCBs”, by Keith Armstrong, free from: 

Chapter 4, “Reference Planes”, in “EMC for Printed Circuit Boards” by Keith Armstrong, Nutwood UK, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9555118-1, available for new purchase only from

“Module 6A - Essential PCB design techniques for cost-effective SI, PI, and EMC in 2019”, Keith Armstrong’s up-to-date training course notes, purchase from:

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