■ FIGURE 10. Components placed.
I think a lot of people — myself included — shy
away from SMD fabrication because it seems like it's
going to be very difficult; it really isn't. Another issue is
the life and storage of solder paste. One of the things
that sold me on the Zephyrtronics paste is that it has a
rated shelf-life of six months without refrigeration (one
year with refrigeration). I can tell you from experience
that they're customer service is very friendly and
helpful, too. Still, with companies like Pololu and
others offering low cost stencils, I will probably try
that for a project that requires more than a couple
boards being built. How long did it take? I put
together two at a time and could do it from bare
board to completion in about an hour. Don't rush,
though. The quality is worth the extra time.
Figure 12 shows the completed board with through-hole components mounted to a QuickStart PCB and ready
to be deployed. Before I wrap up, let me show you one of
the prop elements that used the QuickStart LED driver. In
Figure 13, you'll see what looks like an old-school
cannonball bomb that is sitting in the ground. If you look
closely you'll see the end of the wick has an orange glow;
when seen in person, this appears to be sparking.
May 2013 19