Production PCBs arrived! Now the fun begins

After much ado, the production PCBs are here! Worked like crazy today to get everything ready for cranking up production this weekend.

production pcbs delivered
Production PCBs delivered

And unit #002 put together for testing

SKBOWE #002a assembled
SKBOWE #002a assembled
SKBOWE #002a assembled in enclosure
SKBOWE #002a in it’s enclosure. New layout fits like a glove!

Also made some heatsinks – enough for 50 pairs. Didn’t take as long as I thought it would, once I got the system figured out.

Heat sink forming process
Forming the heatsinks. Starts off as a 1/2″ strip of aluminum, bent using a simple jig. Each strip makes 2 heatsinks (1 pair).
Lots of heatsinks formed
Nice pile of finished heatsinks. Should be about 50 pairs worth in there.

Also decided to go for cutting the wire, since I was on a kick. Each zip tie holds the wires for 5 pairs. The in/out wires will be soldered to the boards as loops, then cut to length and terminated after encapsulation to protect the ends. Here’s 50 pairs-worth of wire cut out:

50 pairs of wires cut
50 pairs of wires cut to size!

Tried out the potting system, worked pretty well, but there will be a learning curve. Lots of wasted goop on the first try. Vacuum system worked well though.

big old pile of potting goop mess
Big old pile of potting goop mess… Much better to do many at once, mixing up a small quantity wasted a bunch. And this stuff isn’t cheap – $120 for 1/2 gallon!

So here we go, the first official pair off the line… Drumroll please:

SKBOWEV2 SN #002 A and B after potting
SKBOWEV2 SN #002 A and B after potting
SKBOWEV2 SN #002 A and B assembled and tested
SKBOWEV2 SN #002 A and B assembled and tested

Don’t worry, the real ones will be prettier! I mixed up the wire lengths on the first one, and then crimped the connectors backwards (out-in and vise versa) so had to cut off the connectors and ended up with short stubs. These will most likely be destructively tested.

Emboldened by this success I decided to just jump in and bang out the remaining 25 or so units left to build for the preorders and batch 1.

An easy way to speed up production is to split a complex process into small steps and do all of the same step at the same time, probably as a combination of deveohpling muscle memory as well as reducing the number of different tools required. Downside is, should you make a mistake, it is likely to be repeated many times. After going through all steps serially with unit #002, and stuffing #003, I decided to do the next 5 in parallel.

Stuffing/soldering in parallel.
Stuffing/soldering in parallel. Only 4 pairs fit on my vice, which is annoying.

Only 4 pairs fit in my vice at a time, but by the time these were finished I found it faster to skip the vice all together except for soldering the wires, where they have to go in one at a time anyway.

Serial numbers 003-008 completed, ready for potting
Serial numbers 003-008 completed, ready for potting

Crimped connectors on #003A to check the process, and it tested good, so off to do the rest at once.

Beginning to stuff serials #009-#0028
Beginning to stuff serials #009-#0028

Hopefully be done with assembly today and can focus on potting this week. I just hope I can pot each one in less than the 2 hours it took me to do the first one (above).

See the rest of the Batch 1 build here.

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