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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Q: Pre-placed SMD PCBs?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  

Would you like kits with all the SMD parts already soldered on?
No way!
34%
 34%  [ 12 ]
Way!
42%
 42%  [ 15 ]
Meh.
22%
 22%  [ 8 ]
Total Votes : 35

Author Q: Pre-placed SMD PCBs?
thx2112
What do you think about kits with the SMD parts already mounted?

Or is that cheating? hihi

I'm putting together a system to quickly/easily check our PCBs after the pick-n-place machine. Before this PCBs could only be tested after they had all the hardware mounted (pots, jacks, etc). This new system will make it trivial to provide PCBs with all the tiny annoying bits on them (and verified working).

Does having to deal with surface-mounted parts stop you from those types of kits? Or is SMD no biggie nowadays?
abelovesfun
I don't mind the "bigger" smd parts, but I'm not skilled enough for tiny parts like on mutable clones.
veets
I used to be intimated by SMD. Now I prefer it and I soldered it by hand. The finer the pitch, the bigger the challenge, the more satisfying the build. (Though I draw the line at 0403 unless the PCB is spacious... no Kinks for me.) The R*S DIY stuff looks cool, but frankly I avoid it because the challenging part is already done. I might as well purchase a completed module.

That said, I think there are lots of wigglers who will like your approach.
Synth Con Meo
At this stage it is a little better (for me) to have them preinstalled. I do feel a little like cheating though but I haven't really sat down and messed with mounting SMD's myself yet. So if there is a kit that is mostly/completely DIY SMD then I have avoided them so far.

That's my outlook.
kreiff
Poster Boogie has done a couple projects (MiniP7, MP7, Clap-a-trap) where he provided pre-populated SMD boards.

Not sure how much it added to the overall cost of the boards. I don't really have a stock of SMD parts at this point anyway - so I found it pretty convenient. I still put together my own case for the MiniP7 and made it unique with some NOS knobs and sliders. So, I'm cool with pre-populated boards.
synthetek
Most people that are intimidated by SMD probably haven't tried it. With a little practice its not that difficult and I prefer it over through hole now. When you get to 0402 it gets difficult but most DIY is 0603 or larger. If I am going to DIY I don't want a pre populated board. I have built all the syinsi clock tiles and it wouldn't be DIY to me just installing jacks and pots and front panel.
realitycontrol
If the board is pre-populated with SMD components then it would have to be something really special for me to be interested in the project; I'd much prefer to solder them myself.
Synth Con Meo
realitycontrol wrote:
If the board is pre-populated with SMD components then it would have to be something really special for me to be interested in the project; I'd much prefer to solder them myself.


When I wrote my response I was more thinking about Kits that there are a few SMD's on it and that those are pre-populated but then the rest of the components are through hole. Like sometimes there is just one PCB and usually a small one at that with SMD's. That's where I was going. But yeah if it's all SMD's and those are all pre-populated then that does take out some of the whole reason why I want to get DIY kits.

I really need to sit down and start practicing mounted SMD's. In fact I have quite a few of those practice SMD kits that I just haven't taken the time to mess with.
jimi23
Depends on the complexity and documentation.
NLC is easy, as its only 0805 and schematics are provided. I find this preferable to through hole. But if it were 0603 and schematics were not given for debugging? Needs to be prepopulated.
realitycontrol
Synth Con Meo wrote:
I really need to sit down and start practicing mounted SMD's. In fact I have quite a few of those practice SMD kits that I just haven't taken the time to mess with.


If I look back on my soldering experiences there was certainly a point before I'd tried SMD where I would have been more than intimidated by the idea of soldering something so small.
But once you've gotten just a little practice in it (1 or 2 of those practice boards) a whole new world of synth DIY opens up to you!
joem
I used to avoid SMD until I tried it (one of the Turing Machine expanders was my first SMD), and now I'm perfectly happy with 0603 or larger and SOIC ICs or larger. (I'm going to be trying my first SOP part soon, so my SOIC-or-larger requirement may change, hopefully!) Even happier if the board isn't too cramped, though I can make do with cramped boards. I downright refuse to try smaller than 0603 since I hand solder and that's right at the comfortable limit for me. I could probably manage 0402 but I don't think it'd be fun. Not up for trying hotplate reflow yet since I don't want to invest more money in my tools... I just want to build modules now!

Since I can manage a lot of SMD and have a decent cache of passives and some common ICs, I generally prefer boards without SMD pre-soldered, especially since the times I've seen people offering that option there's been a bigger premium for the soldering than I wanted to pay. But if it were the only way to get a module I wanted, I'd be fine with pre-soldered SMD.
ricko
I must avoid SMD like the plague. All my life I have a very slight tremor, nothing disabling: I can thread a needle but SMD placement takes too many goes to be anything other than a frustrating ordeal. I cannot use unpopulated SMD boards.
The other thing is density: how close components are to each other. Just because an SMD component is 1/8 the size, it does not mean your board can be 1/64 of the size.
Would it really kill people making PCBs for hobbyists to have throughhole holes as well as SMD pads? Having one board for the panel components and one board for the functional components is not really a big cost, for the convenience.
I can understand SND for commervial product, but not for hobbyists, please.
marcelds
i think there's a huge market for "beginner" diy kits. when I was starting out i would have jumped at the option to start by assembling the panel hardware and building faceplates, etc as an entry point. i'm sure a distributor like thonk would have interesting insight into how well their PCB kits sell depending on difficulty.
note that this forum has a lot more hardcore diy enthusiasts!
Addam
jimi23 wrote:
Depends on the complexity and documentation.
NLC is easy, as its only 0805 and schematics are provided. I find this preferable to through hole. But if it were 0603 and schematics were not given for debugging? Needs to be prepopulated.

This is basically how I feel too. Just the time it takes to find substitutions for backordred SMD passives is enough to make me prefer a prepopulated option. L-1 does this and I don’t find I feel cheated out of a diy experience in any way. After all, you’re still building someone else’s design and potentially using their panel, etc. Plus.. something prepopulated is much more likely to climb to the top of Backlog Mountain! hihi
Jarno
I do not mind soldering SMT, but I do not mind pre-assembled PCB's if they are reasonably priced (a certain 259 inspired "backlog free" initiative springs to mind).

Also, I still think schematics are a minimum requirement for a DIY project, even when delivering a PCB assembly.
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