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Aug 19

4 months

Assembling some panels for the shop

Hello there!

It was time this weekend to assemble some more modules to replenish the stock for the shop.

I wanted to share a bit of the process, so you can see what goes into manufacturing your Swiss-made modules!

Setting up for stenciling

Stenciling is the first step of the process. The point here is to deposit some solder paste on the raw PCB panels through a stainless steel stencil.

With the help of a squeegee, the solder paste is pushed through the stencil and accurately applied to the PCB panel.

At this point I want to thank OSH Stencils and Digi-Key Switzerland for their amazing service.

OSH Stencils produce the stencils that I use to manufacture your modules. Their quality is perfect and consistent, and they offer very good support.

Digi-Key Switzerland supply the components with which I build your modules. Their selection of parts seems just endless and always in stock. Plus, their support is outstanding.

I was not paid to say any of this. I honestly enjoy working with these people - they are the best.

After completing this first step, the panels have all their solder pads covered in paste. The texture is similar to toothpaste, but I don't recommend brushing your teeth with it...

Pick & place

Now comes the most time-consuming part: placing every component on the panels.

Every single resistor, capacitor, IC chip, etc... They are simply "dropped" into place, right into the paste. The toothpaste-like consistency and texture will actually maintain the components in place until they are soldered.

For this, I use simple tweezers and some patience. After about two hours, all components are in place.

Well... ALMOST all components :)

Some components are not included at this stage and will be individually soldered later on. These are the through-hole components (large capacitors, 3.5mm stereo jacks) and sensitive components (mini-joysticks, switches, buttons) that risk being damaged by the heat during reflow.

Hot air reflow

Once the components are all sitting comfortably in solder paste, the next step is to expose the panels to enough heat for the paste to reflow.

The temperature must be carefully controlled to follow as accurately as possible the reflow profile of the solder paste's specification.

For this I use an Aoyue hot air station with a wide nozzle and low-speed flow.

After a few minutes the reflow is complete and everything is soldered into place. Unless extreme caution is applied during stenciling, some solder bridges will appear during reflow.

Rework

Now comes the time to clean up those solder bridges, as well as touch up any small defects that may have resulted from the reflow soldering step.

For this part I use a WT1010 soldering station from Weller tools and some solder wick.

When heated, the wick magically sucks away any excess solder through capillary action.

Finishing up

Once everything is reflowed, I finally add the remaining components and solder them by hand with the same WT1010 station.

After this, only one last step is still necessary: cleaning the panels.

I dip the panels in some alcohol (IPA, not vodka...) and gently rub them with a medium-soft toothbrush.

And that's it! The panels are now ready to be broken into individual modules for packaging and shipping :)

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Aug 12

4 months

Creating a case for the Maracas player

Once you've built your awesome custom MP3 player with the Maracas kit, you may want to protect it.

You wouldn't want to risk damaging it while listening to your music on the go!

I'm quite a fan of 3D printing technology as it allows me to prototype many things very quickly and easily. Therefore I started sketching up a very primitive "generic" enclosure / case for projects based on the ioProto (medium size) prototyping board.

The case features small pegs to hold the board through its four holes, as well as openings on all sides and the top to allow access to connectors, switches, displays etc...

Turns out the Maracas I've built fits very neatly in this case and is more comfortable to use than I had expected!


The case is presented in the Dooba Wiki. You can download the source file for Autodesk Fusion 360 and adapt it to your needs.

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242

Jul 31

4 months

Build your own portable MP3 player!

The wait is over...

The long-awaited Maracas kit is finally here - go check it out in the shop!

It contains everything you need to build your own custom portable MP3 player.

The best part is that we have a complete tutorial that will guide you through every aspect of the build process: assembling the hardware, writing the software and putting everything together.

Check it out here: Portable MP3 player on wiki.dooba.io.

This kit represents a bit of a challenge if you are new to electronics, but by following the tutorial you should get through it without any trouble.

Take your skills further and show off your super maker powers with this complete kit! The only things not included are a soldering iron and some solder.

Here are some pictures from one example build process:

Contents

These are the complete contents of the kit:


  • ioNode

  • Aecho MP3 decoder module

  • Nomad LiPo battery module

  • Inpad user input module

  • ioProto board (medium)

  • 160x128 TFT color display

  • 2x 10k Ohm resistors


  • Single-core hookup wire (~ 3m / 9.8ft)

  • LiPo battery

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225

Jun 26

6 months

Shop is finally open!

Unbelievable!

We thought we'd never get there... After countless promises of "opening soon", "almost there", "check back next week" and the likes, I am very pleased to announce that the Dooba shop is now finally open for business!

Why the ridiculous wait, you ask?

I did not want to open before the ioNode was tested enough. Same goes for the SDK and core libraries. It took me a while to gather enough experience and feedback with these.

What I really wanted to avoid was to have people start using Dooba stuff and then radically change fundamental things - I personally hate this nightmare of constantly changing the very basics of a system / framework / technology.

This of course does not mean that Dooba will not evolve. The point here is making sure that I'm not going to completely re-think the SDK or the ioNode just three days after you've started playing with this stuff.

What to expect

For now, I'm starting with just the basics: the ioNode, a few modules and some nice t-shirts.

I am currently putting together some really cool kits that will help you build incredible projects. First up are the Remote-controlled vehicle kit and the Portable MP3 player kit.

Also, I have more amazing modules coming up for your projects, including motion sensing, GSM/3G, Ethernet, and more!

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