SComan Build Log

Hello Everyone,
My name’s Stephen, I joined CE so I can build on the basic skills I learned and left dormant in the early 90’s. I earned a vocational certificate in the 90’s, but ended up in IT. While I’ve played with various kits over the years and have a basic home lab, I haven’t created anything from scratch. I’m hoping to learn enough to build two personal projects, one a radiation detector, and the other a solar power remote sensing platform.

Welcome Stephen, you are in good company. My story is basically the same.

Welcome Stephen! Looking forward to seeing your projects and having you join in on the CE ones.

Thanks for the warm welcome. I’ve jumped right in and run through Getting to Blinky, submitted my
Gerbers to OSH and ordered the parts (with 1203 Caps :-). I learned a few lessons:

  • Version Control - I need to implement version control with KiCad. I think the next lesson I’ll jump on will be Revision Control. I ended up starting from a previous save point a few times and once I had to restart the PCB layout process after making an early error that I wasn’t sure how to correct.

  • Glitchy OS X KiCAD - I’ve found the OS X version to be a little glitchy with artifacts being common. They could be eliminated by refreshing the build. It’s more an annoyance than a show stopper. At least I hope that is the case, there were some that suggested some ghost traces I could’nt get rid of. I didn’t see them on the OSH builds, but it’s a concern.

I really enjoyed the lesson and think I learned the basics of KiCAD. To reinforce the ideas, I’m going to build a version two, this time with two trimmer potentiometers to replace the two fixed voltage divider resistors. It should add some challenges to the layout with through hole parts while avoiding shorting the battery. However, based on the Build blinky video, I’ll wait until my parts and boards come in before submitting version two.


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Good idea, I made the mistake of ordering Rev B before receiving Rev A and found an issue that I wished I could have fixed.

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I’ve Made Fire, err Blinky.

Today was an exciting day, as I completed ‘Getting to Blinky’. The OSH boards arrived yesterday, and the Digi-Key parts were waiting. The first thing that really sank in, was how incredibly small these parts are and how bad my eyesight has become in the 20 years since I last dealt with SMD parts. Eventually, I did get to blinky; after I learned/relearned a few lessons:

Don’t Blindly Follow Video’s - The side of the LED with the cathode marker, is not the upside, might have been mentioned, but if so I missed it.
Verify BOM Before Ordering – The 470 ohm resistors I ordered will not stand in for 470k resistors. Hence my Franken-sistor configuration.
Tools Matter – Not having a quality set of curved tweezer was painful with these small parts. I also decided to upgrade to a Hakko from my 20’ish year old Radio Shack soldering iron. I ordered a few extra tips, for SMD parts and drag soldering (probably more dream than reality with my skills).
Poor Near Vision – I hadn’t realized just how bad my vision was until this soldering attempt. I’ve ordered a USB microscope and I find myself very tempted by the dark side of toaster ovens.

       The positive was, it was fun to build from scratch and in the end I have two blinky boards. I’m going to move on to the next phase tomorrow. I’ll start the “CE Header” course and in parallel continue to work on a revised version of the blinky with an additional LED (ala #ALeggeup). Additionally, I’ve been working on a design for a simple radiation detector. I think I’ve got a simple circuit to test my SBM-20 Geiger tubes, so I'll also be working on a POC.  

Also just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading the forum, it’s been very instructive.



Awesome, congrats on the blinky!

Might be worth noting having components on hand like Mattias was asking about can be very helpful, especially if you standardize on a component size like 0805

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