Over the past few days, I have been dilligently working on my Makerbot. I have finished assembling the body, and now, finally, all of the tedious surface mount soldering is finished. Now my task is to remove all of the solder bridges left behind on the IC’s, solder the though-hole components, test them all out, and wrap it up. The surface mount soldering in particular played hell with my nerves. There were two problems with it for me. First, the electronics are expensive, and any mistake I made could have meant the end of that particular board. Since I’m new to surface mount soldering, I assumed I would be apt to make mistakes, especially since I’ve only seen it done on Youtube. Second, I used a lead-free solder. It turned out to be pretty awesome, but there was one unexpected side-effect – apparently it managed to screw up my soldering iron tip. The very end of the tip would become dark, and it wouldn’t transfer heat as effectively, which made de-soldering very difficult (i.e. impossible).
I was so anxious after two days of soldering that I took a day and a half off. The joy had gone from it, and I had to put it down for a day or two before I ruined it. Today I finally bought some new tips, found my cleaner/tinner, and I resumed my work with renewed excitement. The new tips worked like a charm, and the tinner seemed to sheild the tip from damage. I guess it’s good practice to use tinner anyway, so I’ll probably continue to use it. A friend and I soldered the extruder board today, and later on I removed all of the bridges and placed an LED that had fallen off as we were straightening out the components. The moral of the story: use tinner, and have a few spare soldering tips on hand.
There is still one further problem: my power supply doesn’t want to turn on. It’s brand new, and I payed $92 for it. I’m not pleased. I think it won’t turn on without a motherboard attached, which I think is stupid, but I guess that means I’ll just have to finish the motherboard before I test my stepper drivers. That’s just as well, but I’d feel better limitting the number of variables I have to deal with at one time. To that end I’ll probably test the mother board first before I play with the stepper drivers. Either that or I may plug the power supply into a working PC motherboard and see if I can get the stepper drivers to power on that way, but I haven’t decided yet.
Sadly my kit didn’t ship with any IDC headers in the stepper driver kits or any Kapton tape in the Plastruder kit, but I contacted Makerbot Industries and got a reply right away… literally, right away. Both items are going to be shipped to me soon.
That’s it for now. I’ll try to include some pictures once I get them all uploaded from my camera, and I’ll also try to write a post with tips, suggestions, and things to watch out for from my experience.