Posts Tagged ‘pcb’

Experimenting with DIY PCB dyeing

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This past weekend I experimented with dyeing some etched PCBs. I used Rit dye easily found in grocery stores. It was quick and dirty. I just boiled some water, mixed in a heavy concentration of black dye and let it sit for a couple of hours.
dyed pcbs


The dye worked well enough. Rather than just soaking in a cooling dye, I should have been applying a constant heat and agitating the solution in order to get a darker saturation. And when removing flux after soldering the board, dye came off as well. But in general this is a promising way to make nicer looking DIY PCB boards in the future.

Triple sensor board building

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The SALAMANDER triple sensor boards arrived and are under construction by students in the Gadget Lab at the University of Louisville. We used a laser-cut mylar stencil from Pololu to stencil solder paste onto the pads, then students placed the parts and we reflowed the solder on a hotplate. These boards were previously hand-soldered, but we need 50 of them for the summer so that had to change. If you’re considering the hotplate method, it is very very good and you should try it. The Gadget Lab has a fancy “lab” hotplate but I have just acquired the $20 Target skillet and will try it soon with that. We do all the surface-mount parts this way, then stick on a few through-hole connectors. The staggered SparkFun connector footprint does hold the connectors in place nicely (though much better for the 3-pin ones than the 2-pin parts) Now we have 27 working boards, and the bottleneck has moved to testing and sensor calibration. One person’s bottleneck is another person’s summer research project!

Triple sensor board

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Eagle layout for triple sensor board

This sensor board is for summer 2010 research students to carry out studies of sediment transport in streams. It’s for the SALAMANDER project: Serial Amphibious Linear Arrays of Micro And Nano Devices for Environmental Research.

It is mostly connectors with a few chips in between to sense ambient light levels, flow velocity and temperature. For the first time, I tried the SparkFun staggered Eagle footprints that are supposed to hold the connectors tightly during assembly and soldering. A solder stencil for the red pads is also on the way.

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