Author Archive for Chris

Farnell daily downtime

I just thought I’d share the wonders of Farnell website as yet again I’m unable to order. farnell-daily-downtime

One day they might figure out how to have a website they don’t need to take offline so frequently – well I can hope!




Bluetooth “Mushroom” Speaker Micro USB Repair

Waterproof bluetooth speakerI have a cheapie Bluetooth speaker from Kickstarter for listening to the radio whilst in the shower but recently I noticed the USB socket was missing.

Shortly after the speakers shipped they reported around 5% had an issue with the USB socket coming free so I don’t know if mine was just slow to develop the problem or maybe I broke it :).

Bluetooth speaker inside

With the silicone sleeve carefully pulled over the plastic case it revealed 4 small screws holding the case together, with these removed it was easy to see the soldering on the USB connector was poor.- there was more solder on the underside of the board where the USB connector was held to the board which obviously hadn’t got a good hold on the USB connector (it looked like the solder hadn’t fully melted).

WS2812B RGB LED Cube 9x9x9 – Thoughts and Testing

Although I’m (very) late to the game I do like LED cubes and thought it was about time I joined in with the fun.

Initially i was thinking of a 10x10x10 RGB LED Cube based on 5mm LEDs most likely built on a PCB base.

On the LED side of things using RGB LEDs seemed to be the norm but all those wires look to cause both a major soldering task and they also get in the way of viewing the LEDs. Having recently seen the NeoPixel / WS2812B on Adafruit I thought I’d try try using those although they may need some diffusion since the light only comes out of the top of the SMD LEDs.

Sunday Soldering







Soldering Sunday PCBsI thought it was about time I assembled some of the boards – so today I assembled the latest revision of the Low voltage power distribution PCB, LED indicator boards and partially an adapter board.




Low voltage power distributionOn the latest revision of the Low voltage power distribution (from DirtyPCBs) holes have been added to allow the screws to tighten all the way down as I feared shorting out the PSU if I get overzealous. I’ve also used my 3d printed 5cm PCB ends to give the solder side some clearance.




LED IndicatorI’ve had these 10 LED indicator boards (from ITEAD Studio) for well over a year so I thought it was about time I assembled a few with different options.

The black 0.1″ headers (both male and female) are common cathode and the blue pin header is common anode to give a little flexibility when using them. For those with good eyesight you may spot the PCB was designed for 1206 resistors and LEDs in mind but I managed to get 0806 resistors onto the pads so used those since I now have 680R on reals.



0.1" headers to 1mm socket adapterThe little adapter board converts from a 6 way 1mm connector (SM06B-SRSS-TB) to 0.1″ although I have currently misplaced the SMD 0.1″ right angle pin headers so these was left for another day.

ITEAD Studio vs DirtyPCBs

I recently placed an order with both ITEAD Studio and DirtyPCBs a few hours apart and thought I’d see how they fared.




ITEAD Studio










The time taken for both was very good – obviously with anything coming via post there can be delays and sometimes this can add weeks but I got lucky with both. Since neither board was of any sort of complexity there was no problems I could see with the silkscreen alignment.

  Order Placed At board house Shipped Arrived
DirtyPCBs 5 Aug 2014 6 Aug 2014 11 Aug 2014 23 Aug 2014
ITEAD Studio 4 Aug 2014 6 Aug 2014 19 Aug 2014 27 Aug 2014

The ITEAD Studio order took longer to process due to there being an empty drill file (it’s a small all SMD adapter board I plan to cover with heat shrink). It was nice of them to confirm this before sending it on but obviously it added to the time taken to process the order (note to self – advise them it’s to be expected next time).

From DirtyPCBs I ordered the “Protopack +/- 10″ which from their website means “You almost always get more than 10 boards. However, very rarely orders are short 1 (~3%) or 2 (~0.5%) PCBs” – as you can see from the double stack of PCB I ended up with a lot more boards, stickers and a pair of tweezers.

I think on this occasion DirtyPCBs wins having delivered 47 PCBs, stickers and a pair of tweezers quicker and slightly cheaper than ITEAD Studio although I will continue to order from both suppliers. ITEAD Studio have recently announced a more automated online ordering process for uploading Gerbers so I will probably give them both a run against each other again in the future.