Reflow Soldering Made Easy

Reflow soldering is a very effective method for soldering circuit boards with lots of surface mount components. But is this something you can do as a hobbyist?

Yes it is :)

Pre-requisites

To do reflow soldering, you should have the following tools:

  • Solder paste in a syringe
  • Flux
  • Tweezers

And one of the following:

  • A hot plate/skillet
  • A toaster oven
  • A “real” reflow oven

Beginner’s Guide to Eagle CAD

Have you tried the Eagle CAD software, but found it a bit confusing?

Don’t worry, I was also a bit confused the first time I tried it. In this guide I will teach you the basics on how to use Eagle, so that you’ll be able to start designing your own electronic circuits.

How I Learned The Flashing Light Circuit

The flashing light circuit was the first circuit I ever built.

I was at home and probably around 14 years old at the time. I was walking between the television and my computer as I used to. I would surf the net, then I’d hear something interesting from the television which my mom and dad was watching and I would walk over to see. Then back again to my computer.

I was pretty bored. But this was my routine.

Types of Resistors and How To Choose One

Did you know there are many types of resistors?

A mountain of different types of resistors

Your electronic schematic tells you that you need a resistor of 100k Ohms. Ok, so you go to an online store to buy one. But there you get all these choices: Thin film, carbon composition, metal film +++.

“Just give me a freaking 100k resistor man!”, you scream in despair.

Believe me, I know your frustration. It took me a long time to actually bother reading about different types of resistors. So I just chose random resistors for all my electronic circuits. Usually, it worked flawlessly. Maybe I was lucky or maybe I just didn’t identify the resistor as the problem when I had a problem.

Anyway, my aim here is to provide a simple guide on how to choose a resistor without diving deep into details.

How to Choose the Right Capacitor Types

“What capacitor types should I choose?”

This is a question asked by many beginners. I will give you a simple answer to this question without going into all the details. After reading this, my goal is that you should be able to go and find the capacitor you need right away.

Free PCB Design Software

Kicad 3D viewer

There are many PCB design software solutions available. The software you use should be able to draw both schematics and printed circuit boards.

And it should be able to output Gerber files that you can send to a PCB manufacturer and get your board made.

Below I’ve compiled a list of three free cross-platform programs available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS.

I have copied their own description of themselves from each of their websites. Just to give you an idea of what they are about (or at least how they like to present themselves).

And at the end, I’ll let you know my favorite ;)

How To Create Custom Eagle Components

In this tutorial I am going to teach you how to create custom Cadsoft Eagle components.

The part we are creating is a battery holder for a 9V battery from Keystone Electronics. This part is sold by both DigiKey and Farnell, so it is easy to get your hands on.

How To Choose Types of Solder to Use For Electronic Circuits?

Because it seems to be so many types of solder out there, choosing which solder to purchase can be confusing.

When I started out in electronics I had no clue, so I just used whatever solder I could find. But did you know that solder is not only used for soldering electronics?

Actually, solder is also used for plumbing.

And the solder used for plumbing should definitely not be used for electronics as it contains acid!


Loetzinn

By Ilja at de.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Using a Gerber Viewer To Check For Errors

A Gerber viewer is a great tool to use before you submit a PCB design to fabrication. This way, you will see exactly what you are sending to the fab house and you might find potential problems that aren’t easily spotted in the layout editor.

Gerber viewer screenshot

PCB Terminology 101

It is always good to know a bit of PCB terminology. Here is a reference table with the most common words.

Reading Schematics Is Easy

Reading schematics is just a matter of recognizing the symbols and see how they connect.

A symbol usually represents a part. Except for the ground and VCC symbols which just means connection to supply power.

The lines between the symbols represents

Creating Circuit Schematic Diagrams – An Overview

Very few start drawing circuit schematic diagrams from scratch. You usually start with a picture of a circuit diagram that you found in a book or on the web somewhere.

Either you start with a complete circuit where you only need to do minor changes or you combine several smaller circuits into a larger one. For example, you take the reference circuit for a microcontroller and add a LED driver circuit to drive some LEDs and an amplifier circuit to drive a speaker.

What You Need To Know About the Gerber Format

The Gerber format is the file format you use when you want to get your PCB made. By creating Gerber files from your design, your design files can be viewed by all the manufacturers out there.

If you want to understand the basics of Gerber files you should know that they: