I'm new at this PCB stuff.  We're just doing prototypes so far, and after getting my 
3rd board back, I (finally) noticed that the
vias are not covered by solder mask.  Looking at various PC cards and development kit 
boards, I see that they usually are.

It looks like I can do this by setting a negative "solder mask expansion" design rule 
for the vias -- these are then (apparently)
referred to as "tented".

My question -- what are advantages and disadvantages of tented vias?  I thought of a 
couple disadvantages - they no longer serve
(readily) as testpoints, or for attaching corrective wiring.  I noticed that on our 
second board, which was machine (wave?)
soldered, most or all of the vias were filled with solder.

These are mixed analog-digital, the analog is audio, and the fastest digital clock is 
24Mhz (I imagine that if we had RF circuits,
the electrical characteristics of the vias would be more critical).

TIA for your thoughts,
Dwight.



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