Started my first build-Rf Drive

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Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 14 Jan 2014, 16:41

After a few months of slowly gathering the proper tools and parts, I started my first build last night. I decided to build the Wattkins RF Drive, since it has a nice PCB and a low parts count. I have soldered cables in the past, but not pcb. On my first joint, the solder only filled half the pad. I'll go back and re-solder this one just to be safe. The rest of the joints look like shiny metallic pearls. I put too much solder on a couple, but not overly done. I clipped the leads first, then soldered the parts. In two hours, I have the board populated, except for the IC socket. Hmm, maybe I should have done the socket first? I started with the 10K resistors. I figured that I would do cheap parts that I have several of, rather than risk the IC socket without practicing first.

Observations: Solder fumes are like a campfire. No matter where you stand, they always seem to go right in your face. I need to watch out for the tip. I randomly burned a couple spots in my place mat by being careless. I also need a mat that won't melt or burn. I need better lighting than the one over my breakfast table provides. I think I'll crack the window and suck the fumes out with a fan. This stuff is easy to get hooked on! Once I started soldering I didn't want to stop. I had to stop to learn some new songs for this weekend, so I forced myself to put it down. So far so good. I hope the thing works when i get done. :D
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby biliousfrog » 14 Jan 2014, 17:26

I generally build with the parts that lay "flattest" to the board first, that way you're less likely to need tweezers or struggle with squeezing in other parts. Buy some sockets for IC's and transistors, you don't need to worry about frying anything then...and it makes it easier to experiment or replace if the part is DOA. I also leave the leads full length until they are soldered, then clip off the excess - it dissipates the heat a little and makes for a cleaner board in many cases...and makes building quicker in my experience.

It's a fun and addictive hobby, you'll find your "groove" in no time. :thumbsup
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Sadcadaver » 14 Jan 2014, 17:45

Stellablue wrote: The rest of the joints look like shiny metallic pearls.


Do you mean like little balls of solder? If so, thats not good. They should be like little cones.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby DrNomis » 14 Jan 2014, 18:11

Stellablue wrote:After a few months of slowly gathering the proper tools and parts, I started my first build last night. I decided to build the Wattkins RF Drive, since it has a nice PCB and a low parts count. I have soldered cables in the past, but not pcb. On my first joint, the solder only filled half the pad. I'll go back and re-solder this one just to be safe. The rest of the joints look like shiny metallic pearls. I put too much solder on a couple, but not overly done. I clipped the leads first, then soldered the parts. In two hours, I have the board populated, except for the IC socket. Hmm, maybe I should have done the socket first? I started with the 10K resistors. I figured that I would do cheap parts that I have several of, rather than risk the IC socket without practicing first.

Observations: Solder fumes are like a campfire. No matter where you stand, they always seem to go right in your face. I need to watch out for the tip. I randomly burned a couple spots in my place mat by being careless. I also need a mat that won't melt or burn. I need better lighting than the one over my breakfast table provides. I think I'll crack the window and suck the fumes out with a fan. This stuff is easy to get hooked on! Once I started soldering I didn't want to stop. I had to stop to learn some new songs for this weekend, so I forced myself to put it down. So far so good. I hope the thing works when i get done. :D



Sounds like you're putting a little too much solder on the solder pads, or the other possibility is that the copper tracks and the component leads are a bit dirty and need cleaning before applying the solder, a good solder joint should look shiny and the solder should easily "take" to the copper tracks and component lead leaving a small conical shape...... :thumbsup
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby biliousfrog » 14 Jan 2014, 19:24

I've had some bad solder do similar things too - the kind of stuff you can pick up at the average $1/£1 store.

Possibly not enough heat too? Just thinking aloud, perhaps you're being too tentative and taking the iron away before it has warmed the track/component enough to form a good joint?...This goes back to leaving the component legs long so they can grip the board, leaving your hands free to hold the solder and the iron.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 14 Jan 2014, 19:47

I checked my work over lunch. I'm pretty happy. 95% of the joints have a nice shiny conical shape. On a few of the others, I have a tiny bit too much solder. Maybe I'll remove some of it, or resolder the joint. I can definitely tell when the solder fills the pad well. I cleaned the board with alcohol before I started.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm still setting my final iron temp. I think I had the dial around 350-375. I see some tutorials that suggest trimming the leads before soldering so that it doesn't take as much heat to make the joint. Some of you are saying that the longer lead has value as a heat sink. I wonder which way is better? I bent the leads, then trimmed them down before soldering. I went back and trimmed them a bit more afterwards.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby DrNomis » 14 Jan 2014, 20:16

A typical good solder joint should take about 4 to 5 seconds to make, when you go to make a solder joint on a PCB, make sure the tip of the soldering iron is in good contact with the solder pad and the component lead, then let the soldering iron heat the solder pad and component lead up for about three seconds, then apply the solder and then remove the soldering iron tip after enough solder has flowed to create a good joint, then let the solder cool down, a good solder joint should look shiny and silvery not dull and grey...... :thumbsup

I usually wait till the solder has cooled before I trim the component leads off....... :thumbsup


A Soldering Iron temperature setting of 350 Degrees C tends to work fine for me...... :thumbsup
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 15 Jan 2014, 15:44

I finished the board last night. Soldering the IC socket was easier than I thought it would be. The pins are small as hell! I'll need some magnifiers to work on stuff this small more comfortably. The pots I ordered are not board mounted. Is one style preferred over the other? Seems like it would be a bitch to line up the pots with the holes in the case. The board went together faster than I thought it would. I don't have a case or jacks yet. Quick question, can you paint over powder coat? My buddy has a small paint booth. He paints models with a n air gun. I'd like to put a big Ford logo on the pedal. Should I get it raw, or order one that's already coated? I guess the logo could be a decal, but the paint would be more durable. Plus, my buddy owes me a favor.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby biliousfrog » 15 Jan 2014, 17:33

Stellablue wrote:I finished the board last night. Soldering the IC socket was easier than I thought it would be. The pins are small as hell! I'll need some magnifiers to work on stuff this small more comfortably. The pots I ordered are not board mounted. Is one style preferred over the other? Seems like it would be a bitch to line up the pots with the holes in the case. The board went together faster than I thought it would. I don't have a case or jacks yet. Quick question, can you paint over powder coat? My buddy has a small paint booth. He paints models with a n air gun. I'd like to put a big Ford logo on the pedal. Should I get it raw, or order one that's already coated? I guess the logo could be a decal, but the paint would be more durable. Plus, my buddy owes me a favor.


Pots - if the PCB isn't designed for board mounted pots then you'll have to wire them off-board. Very few kits come with board mounted pots although it is sometimes possible to use solid core wire to join pots to the PCB, that way the PCB is held in place by the pots...I wouldn't recommend it until you've had a bit more practice though, it's quite fiddly.

You can paint aluminium enclosures but they aren't the easiest to get a decent finish with. Ideally you'd use enamel and bake them to get a hard finish but it takes practice to get right and leaves carcinogens inside the oven - so don't use the one at home! You can use other paints and not bother to bake but it is prone to chipping off easily. Ensure that the aluminium is rubbed down before finishing to create a "key" and remove the oxide layer, clean, dry and spray a coat of primer as soon as possible afterwards. Once that is dry you can finish with a suitable paint and/or top coat. If you leave the metal unfinished it will develop an oxide layer that will prevent paint from adhering to it properly.

If you get a powder coat I'd guess that your friend could spray the logo and then finish the whole thing with a clear coat to seal it - but I haven't tried that and don't know how some paints would react to the powder finish.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 20 Jan 2014, 14:29

Tragedy averted. I was reading through some BYOC directions when I noticed that the IC socket is supposed be oriented in a particular direction. Of course mine was in backwards. I desoldered it and put it back in correctly. I also discovered the dot on the chip to install it properly. My enclosure should be here next week. Looking forward to testing it out. My next build will be the SOCJ yats pedal.
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 27 Jan 2014, 02:26

Here's a link to my debug thread. Any help is appreciated.
viewtopic.php?f=58&t=23949
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby deltafred » 27 Jan 2014, 16:49

Stellablue wrote:Here's a link to my debug thread. Any help is appreciated.
viewtopic.php?f=58&t=23949

You probably won't get a lot of response because the "View Active Topics" search function is not working in the forum where that thread is (I have reported it so let's hope it can be fixed soon).
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Re: Started my first build-Rf Drive

Postby Stellablue » 27 Jan 2014, 19:49

I think I have the correct forum now. New pic of the schematic is there also. Thanks for looking.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=23953
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