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Creating an 8x8x8 3D LED Cube: The Base PCB

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David Ashton
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Surface Mount connectors - AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
David Ashton   11/21/2014 11:12:46 PM
Steve - "As mentioned a moment ago, the connectors for the control circuitry will be surface mounted."

In my view, it's a hanging offence to merely mention "connectors" and "surface-mounted" in the same sentence.  As you have I hope discovered - I read the above and looked at your pictures with mounting horror.   Even through-hole connectors go wrong when they don't have enough solder applied to them - which covers the majority of automated soldering methods.  If I had a dollar for every connector I have resoldered - both through-hole and SM - I would be able to buy most of the EET membership a beer.

Your idea of the cut-down terminal block inserts soldered to a big pad is not bad, and you have no doubt considered the through-hole terminal strips you can buy, but have you considered solutions like the following:


You seem to ahve used something like these and rejected them (why?) You could probably solder these to a LARGE pad, but I'd be far happier to see a nice bolt and nut through the centre hole of the first two, holding it to the board.  AND a spring washer to make sure it does not come undone.

If you can bear the thought of going through-hole and have a reason for not using terminal blocks, the following are possibilities, if soldered on both sides of the board, and you can get straight-up or right-angle types:

Please think about going through-hole, you will avoid lots of tears later!  Even for your single-in-line lower current connectors, through hole is the way to go.

PS please don't think I am whingeing...I think your led cube is VERY cool!


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antedeluvian   11/21/2014 9:56:59 PM

Drafting the PCB
My first hurdle for creating the base PCB was to choose the right software. I use a Mac, so that possibly limits the choices.

An option you may want to consider is a Schematic/PCB package called Upverter which runs on a browser and so is OS independent and everything resides in the cloud.

I wrote a review on it for a Canadian magzine that you can find here. As you can see from the review it is an interesting approach. If you are prepeared to leave your designs in the public domain, it is free.

Duane Benson
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Hat's off to you Steve
Duane Benson   11/21/2014 7:32:02 PM
Very nice job on this. I like the disciplined approach of the project and the narration of the process. You've created a piece or art as much as a cool display.

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