Well hello there. It’s finally time for a post about something fun!
I’ll tell you why later, but for now here’s the what. I’m making an arcade style control panel that interfaces with (for now) proprietary games over WiFi. I’ve been prototyping, testing, designing, soldering, coding, debugging, et cetera-ing over the last month or two getting a working version up and running and now have an, although incomplete, successful board that communicates with a computer over the wireless network.
I started off prototyping on a breadboard and an arduino paired with an esp8266 board from ebay for like $3. Once I familiarized myself with the esp8266 and proved that the theory should work I started designing a pcb. I started over once or twice. It was also my first time giving KiCad a chance. I ended up liking KiCad especially since OshPark now lets you upload your design directly without having to export gerbers. I decided to go with 0603 sized passives to help keep board size and cost down.
With the decision of going with the less-than-fun-size-for-hand-soldering option I opted to try hot air reflowing again. In the past I built a reflow oven out of a toaster oven but ended up burning out the relay or something… So now I bought a generic hot air station on ebay for around $30.
Once the boards, parts and stencil arrived I was ready to start building!
The paste went on quite nicely.
Here are the parts added to the board before reflowing.
Reflowing for the first time with a station went better than I could have expected really. The atmega328 was the only real issue with bridging, but nothing a little bit of solder wick couldn’t fix.
Ok, time to power this bad boy on for the first time… BBZZTT! I blew a tantalum capacitor (the larger tan colored things in the top left corner in the picture above)… All four of them were on backwards, but only suffered one casualty. After I spun those around it was time for another go! …Or no go. I’ll save you from the troubleshooting. Turns out the 5v regulator’s footprint was wrong. I should have triple checked it before I order the board. Oh well, Nothing a little imagination cant fix. I found a through-hole regulator I had laying around bent the pins and soldered it to the pads of the old one and finally we have power and can begin programming this guy!
Within the next few days I’m going to start building a “cabinet” for everything. I’m getting super excited that everything is working, even though it’s a little Frankenstein at the moment.