Circuit Classics

Exquisite printed circuit boards that bring to life Forrest Mims' vintage designs from "Getting Started in Electronics."

Jul 12, 2016

Project update 12 of 20

Final Board Revs, Stands, and Alligator Clips

Piles of good news! I have a bunch of updates on what’s happened in the weeks since my last update to you: First Articles (production prototypes) are coming — the first boards we’ll see in blue! Lots of changes and testing the changes, as well as samples of accessories like wooden stands and alligator clips starting to come in. Woohoo!

The final board revs are done. (What a milestone it is — even committing to writing that sentence feels weighty!)

As with any creative project, when asked to sign off "done forever" on my board designs, I went into this whole flurry of fine-tooth-combing the project for details that I will never get to touch again: all the little annoyances that hadn’t cropped up before (the "well, I’ve finally noticed that this tiny detail is driving me mad and I can’t live with it this way"), as well as the things I didn’t have time to push to perfection previously (cashing the checks on my "this is way too annoying to do right now, I will deal with it later.." debt.)

And after a couple of weeks of furious polishing, I went ahead and ordered "final" board prototypes from OshPark. I have received those prototype versions back. Yay! Here are the adjustments I made between what you last saw, and these finals:

These boards also have the new potentiometer components, which required new footprints and land patterns (which you see in the new board silkscreen.) I ordered & received samples of them. And yes, they feel great.

Thus with the board design verified, I have been proceeding with getting First Articles from Bay Area Circuits. This is a big deal: these will be the first boards I get back in blue, and I’ll get to see that for the first time as well. I really really can’t wait.

For fun, I thought I’d share this paper print out of what my fab files look like. I printed out this piece of paper the day I needed to verify that my new potentiometer footprints were the correct size and scale (a keen eye will spot the minor perforation in the paper where I punched the legs through the page in mock-assembly.) The other thing that’s cool here is the fab notes style on the far right. This type of communication makes a big deal to the board house to check that what they think they’re making is the same as what you think they’re making. When I create my Gerber file package for the board house, I also include a PDF of this that shows those notes on the far right:

Okay so that’s good for Board updates — what ELSE is going on?

My tentative supplier for wooden stands has fabricated samples and is shipping those out to me right now, also! So many things are shipping that it’s difficult to keep track of. I’m looking forward to evaluating production samples later this week.

Aside from this I have been sourcing alligator clips. Samples arrived today. Tentatively, these clips are going to be 5" long, mini clips (about the same length as the board dimension overall) because you probably don’t need another pasta bowl’s worth of alligator clips, and, these cute lil’ thangs should do just the trick and no more. I’m going to make sure to test out the interaction with a variety of battery packs before I decide on this for sure, but I have enjoyed testing these out for right now.

Looking ahead to what’s next — I am teaching myself everything I can about how to design good documentation and I am focusing on creating decent instructions, and working on packaging design. In service of this I will also be svengali-ing a friend or two into assembling some of these while I watch, which I’m sure will be amusing for all involved.


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