Browsing Blog by Category "Electronics".

TIP: How to create a 3D printed solder stencil!

Posted on Sunday December 07, 2014 in 3D Printing, Electronics

Save time, save money and save your sanity. Solder stencils are invaluable if you’re making a printed circuit board with tiny SMD (surface mount parts). The low tech way to deal with SMD PCB’s is a syringe, and dabbing each spot with a tiny blob of solder paste by hand.
The better way is to use a solder stencil, which only allows solder to flow where you want it to. The concept is very similar to creating a silkscreen for a t-shirt actually. It’s amazing how skills bleed across disciplines.

Solder stencils are usually expensive, although there are services that do them cheaper. I recently found one that will print them for $5, but I haven’t used them yet so I can’t recommend them. Nevermind the price though, what I’m talking about here is being in a bind. You need a solder stencil, and for whatever reason (lack of planning, quick turn around) you don’t have one, and ordering one could take weeks.

Another method would be to use kapton film and a laser engraver. My laser is currently on loan to a friend though, so it was time to experiment!

The process is actually pretty simple:
-If you’re using Eagle to design your pcb’s, create a cam job, select the tCream layer (that’s the top paste layer) and choose to save it as an eps.
-Click ‘process job’. This will create the eps vector file.
-Open in adobe illustrator (or another vector program) if your cad software can’t import an eps. I used 3ds max so I needed to convert it to an AI file first.
-After import, convert the outline to an editable polygon and extrude it to desired thickness. 0.3mm seems to be perfect.
-Print at the highest resolution possible, ( e.g. 0.1mm layer height).
You should end up with something paper thin. In fact, it’ll feel a lot like paper. It may be a little rough around some of the holes depending on your printer, but it’ll do the job. You can clean it up or fill any areas it misses with a syringe. I’d much rather fix 10 pads with a syringe than 300.

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Posted on Tuesday December 02, 2014 in 3D Printing, Prototype, Electronics

A mere 13 days after I sketched this in a coffee shop with a team member sitting next to me, a pair of these prototypes are here on my desk in real life. Aluminum, plastic, professionally printed circuit boards from my design files, magnets, springs. etc. I love how fast I can go now from concept to reality - manufacturing really is a changing landscape. I have some tweaks to make and I have to redesign and print a few small parts today, but hey, I'm happy with the super fast progress so far and how clean it’s looking already.

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Sneak peek at my new product 01

Posted on Saturday November 01, 2014 in Prototype, Electronics

I won’t say too much, other than that it’s purple and it’s my design.. and it’s part of something big coming soon. I like printing circuit boards at home, but I LOVE getting them professionally printed in gold.

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Budweiser Redlight secret project

Posted on Thursday August 28, 2014 in 3D Printing, Prototype, Advertising, Electronics

Well look here, one of the Budweiser Redlights I helped originally design and launch came home.  Why?  Some secret modifications.  I gutted this unit and built all new electronics for it so it can work in a different way -  there’s a microphone on the front, some new leds, a new cpu and that’s really all I can say for now.

(This blog post was only visible long after the work was done for secrecy) 

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GPS RC car drone

Posted on Wednesday July 23, 2014 in Prototype, Electronics

My friend Rob and I are out today with an RC car of his, rigged up with a GPS receiver so that we can program in a route for it and have it drive that path automatically.  I love fun little projects like this.  No rhyme or reason, just experimenting to learn something new.  It worked!  We drew a path on the map and the car followed it and drove around all on its own.  Cool stuff.  What practical use would there be for it?  Filming, perhaps.  What if you could draw a path and then have a computer controlled dolly car move the camera around?  Automated seed planting perhaps?  I’m sure there’s lots of potential uses for drone technology, but for us, the use was fun.

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Secret Budlight Project

Posted on Friday April 04, 2014 in Advertising, Electronics

I’ll be putting this one in my portfolio for sure!  I just completed the electronics and assembly for a secret Budweiser project.  I can’t say more about it yet but it’s exciting.

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Prototype Shocktop Beer talking head poster

Posted on Tuesday April 01, 2014 in Advertising, Electronics

Quick little video of a prototype I made for an ad agency of a talking transit shelter ad. The brief was to make it look ‘indie’, as if the company making it was a small brand.

I designed the plastics to be thin, light and clear as the light needed to pass from behind at night and not create shadows on the poster.  Thus the motor and electronics were placed at the base of the poster and clear wire was used to pull the mechanics.  I didn’t have actual voice files yet so it was just my friend Rob talking as a test. I programmed up the electronics so that the mouth would move fairly accurately no matter what sound clip was used.

(Just a note, this blog post was only visible AFTER the campaign launched, no secrets were let loose..).

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