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10 Dec 2014


Even a simple, well-designed tool can help significantly – we´ll introduce to you some of them …

Sometimes, only a little bit is necessary to make our work more happy – a good ergonomic chair, workbench in a suitable height, good lighting … and last but not least also a good screwdriver, magnifying lens, tweezers, or „something“ what can help at extraction of a component from a PCB or at cleaning of a suspicious place with a possible shortcut.

If we´d start by the smallest one, then it could be the ZD-151 set – i.e. six various “surgery” tools serving for bending of THT components leads, extraction of components from a PCB, cleaning of a joint (brass brush) as well as interruption of unwanted connection on a PCB. Especially suitable for work with SMT components is the set of four stainless steel tweezers 816748. By the way, for a work with sensitive components it´s certainly worth to use antistatic wrist band (suitably earthed).

If you already find a place, which should be resoldered or a component should be extracted, then there will be certainly useful desoldering pumps ZD-192 or ZD-108 from an ESD plastic. For a thorough removing of all solder residues, especially at exchange of SMT components, it´s usually necessary to use a desoldering braid, for example Toolcraft – in various thicknesses (1.0-3.0mm) or a top-quality braid with a synthetic flux Soldabsorb.

Soldering tool – that should be laid off into a reliable holder – for example ZD-10 but we´re also able to supply you various original parts from Weller, Ersa and other.

At soldering and especially at a lead-free process, it often happens, that even a relatively new soldering tip gets covered by a thin oxide layer and the tip then “doesn´t catch” solder (poor wetting). If a mild cleaning on a soft-wetted sponge (ZD-937), doesn´t help, or often better – on a dry brass or stainless steel wool – AT-A900, then it might be good to use something more efficient – regenerator of tips Stannol Tippy or Weller TIP ACTIVATOR (T0051303199).

It´s known, that solder smoke and fumes are harmful and your health is surely worth much more than the ZD-153 fumes extractor.

Do you need to extract a hard-to-reach component from a PCB? - [Link]

8 Dec 2014


Andrew Sarangan @ edn.com:

Why make your own printed circuit boards when you can get them commercially made for low cost? For one, it can take one to four weeks to receive the boards. For prototyping, this can be a major hurdle. Each design iteration will then take a month or more, and a project may need many months to get done. The DIYer can fab the board and assemble everything in one evening. That advantage is really hard to beat.

Besides time, there are other reasons to make your own board. Commercial services charge by board size, not complexity. Larger boards will cost more even if they are completely blank. I once had to make an oversized PCB because the parts had to be spaced far apart. It was a very sparse board, but getting it made from even the cheapest commercial source would have been expensive.

Make high-quality double-sided PCBs – at home - [Link]

4 Dec 2014


by Michael Dunn @ edn.com:

The first batch of test PCBs has arrived from Maker Studio, and overall, I like what I see.

Maker Studio’s basic board fab service supplies 10 PCBs for $9.99, with a basic international shipping cost of around $7. Interestingly, you get to choose shipping from several countries, including China, Singapore, and Sweden! Does this mean there are several fab sites? IIRC, I chose Sweden for my order.

Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Maker Studio - [Link]

3 Dec 2014


… and will prevent to spread there, where you don´t want to. Fluxes in pen Stannol series Mini Fluxer belong to the invaluable helpers of every electro-technician.

How could I work without a flux so far? That´s a probable question of probably everyone, who once tried action of a solder flux. In a common wire solder, there´s some amount of a flux, usually sufficient for one-time soldering of a given joint, if the components to be soldered are clean and oxides-free. However, we know well a case, when we use for example an older PCB, or an older component with slightly oxidized leads and suddenly it´s much harder to reach an acceptable joint. Similar situation happens at an exchange of a component or any service action, when a solder tends to oxidize on a surface and create various bad-looking creatures, which are quite far from a professional joint. Fortunately, there´s a flux here …

In general, fluxes act in a manner, that a solder is as if „more movable“ after application. It is mainly thanks to the protection against oxidation, change of surface tension and other influences. As a result it means, that a solder spreads well on metals and joints with a given material (what we naturally want) and on the non-metal substances (PCB) is a solder repelled as if on an oily surface.

At an automated „all-surface“ soldering, fluxes are usually applied by wetting (foam) or by spraying. At development and servicing smaller packages are much more practical, for example in a form of a pen. Two novelties in our offer also belong to this category:

  • Stannol MINI-FLUXER X32-10i – halogen free, activated „No clean“ flux, practically residue-free, vey tolerant to various working conditions. Minimum amount of electrically safe transparent residues with a high insulation resistance enables its usage even at visible places and at production of highly reliable devices, including solar panels. Significantly eliminates build-up of bridges, that´s why it´s very suitable even for manual soldering of fine-pitch components.
  • Stannol MINI-FLUXER X33S-07i – highly activated halogen-free „No clean“, resin-free flux, with a corrosion inhibitor, very suitable even for copper surfaces – clean, passivated or lacquered by rosin-based agents. Excellent wetting even on poorly adherent surfaces. Excellent spreading manifests by for example trouble-free filling of vias by a solder.

Stainless steel spring mechanism of a pen enables simple and precise dosage and also a long pen lifetime. During application, it´s only necessary to softly press on the tip. Both fluxes are in our stable stock offer, available immediately or in a short leadtime (in case of a temporary out-of -stock status).

Detailed information will provide you the Stannol-X32-10i and Stannol-X33S-07i datasheets.

Mini Fluxer will spread solder there, where you want - [Link]

19 Nov 2014

EEVblog #684 – Ness SMT Manufacturing & Assembly Factory Tour - [Link]

5 Nov 2014


by Michael Dunn @ edn.com:

Well, the “Test PCB” project is finally underway. In case you don’t remember my original blog, the idea is to send a PCB design out to a half-dozen or so low-cost PCB prototype shops, then review their service and quality.

I’ve created a 6 × 6cm double-sided design for this project. I would have made it larger, but at least one fab’s prices (I’m looking at you, OSH Park) rise steeply with board size, and I wanted to keep within budget.

Quick-Turn PCB shop review project: Step 1, the PCB - [Link]

31 Oct 2014

In this tutorial Dave explains what a PCB spark gap is and how it can be a useful zero cost addition to your PCB layout to help prevent ESD damage.
He shows how to easily design them into your board and calculate the approximate voltage rating.
And of course has some fun applying 5kV to some gaps to show how them at work.

EEVblog #678 – What is a PCB Spark Gap? - [Link]

24 Oct 2014

Introducing PCBWeb Designer, our new desktop schematic capture and layout tool that’s free and easy to use.  Create multi-sheet schematics, use the parts toolbar that includes the Digi-Key parts catalog, in a browsable and searchable database.  The PCB view is always in sync with your schematic, and includes all the tools you need to create a design with up to 12 layers.  Then you can keep your gerber files locally or send them off to one of our manufacturing partners for production from within the tool.  Download at www.pcbweb.com

Introducing PCBWeb Designer - [Link]

17 Oct 2014

LG-LED-141013-PR-CircuitMaker Fig1 PCB screen shot.575x332

by Lee Goldberg @ edn.com:

The CircuitMaker PCB design tool could be thought of as the electronics enthusiast’s equivalent of Picassa, the free alternative to Photoshop – except that it’s a got a much more refined interface which makes it easy use. The program’s 3D modeling capabilities (more about that later) and other advanced features will help designers deal better with the “lumpy” nature of LED lighting products, or any other design project which involves large, irregular components. But that’s only half of the story. The software’s creators have also taken an interesting approach to solving several important technical and economic issues which have arisen with the Maker Economy by borrowing a few lessons from the movement’s own playbook.

Free PCB design tool includes 3D modeling, crowd-sourced parts database - [Link]

13 Oct 2014


by mlerman @ instructables.com:

This is the second version of my E260 modification. It uses an ATtiny13 MCU to control the timing of the printer and make it possible to print double sided PCBs at home.

As an electronic hobbyist and inventor I often need to make printed circuit boards (PCBs) in single or small quantities. Usually these are relatively simple circuits, an MCU, some input conditioning circuitry, some output circuitry, and usually they are single sided or perhaps double sided, with just a few vias. And usually I want them right now!

Toner Transfer (TT) has become the method of choice for most hobbyists. A laser printer is used to print an image of the PCB on special “transfer paper” which is then placed on the bare copperclad board and either ironed on or run through a modified laminator to transfer the image to the copper. When the PCB is etched, the toner acts as a resist, preserving the copper below it while the rest of the copper surface is etched away.

Modification of the Lexmark E260 for Direct Laser Printing of Printed Circuit Boards - [Link]





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