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

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David Ashton
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Re: Surface Mount connectors - AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
David Ashton   11/22/2014 6:35:12 PM
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@Steve... "Please don't hang me!"   I'll grant you a special exemption based on the needs of your board, which are fairly unique.

The connectors I showed are form one of my suppliers in Australia, Rockby Electronics.  I just searched on "spade"- here's the link for that

http://www.rockby.com.au/SearchresSql_12.cfm?Searchkey=spade

For you Element 14 (farnell) would be easier...here's what they have in Australia, just grab the numbers and try the UK one...

However Farnell sell them to you at 39c each and Rockby sell you a bag of 100 for $5 (5c each).  If you'd like me to get some for you and post them over let me know (it's the least I can do to atone for my unworthy thoughs of hanging you :-)

BTW Elektor Magazine December issue has an 8x8x8 led cube very similar to yours.  You have to be a subscriber to get into their website and look.  It is by 

By Ben Rowland, Matrix Technology Solutions Ltd. (UK)

His premise is that he's using an Elektor language called flowcode to develop the project.  Just wondering if he's plagiarising your work at all (or, god forbid, the other way round)?

BTW given the circumstances. your idea of using sawn off screw connectors is probably better than spade lugs - vertical force on the board rather than horizontal which would be more likely to separate the pad.  So good on ya!

Steve Manley
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Re: Upverter
Steve Manley   11/22/2014 1:23:47 PM
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@Aubrey: Collaboration with different tools is the topic of my December blog, that is the blog I intend to submit in December. When it gets published is out of my control...

I look forward to reading it.

antedeluvian
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Re: Upverter
antedeluvian   11/22/2014 1:11:08 PM
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Steve

The collaboration side of it looks like it could be very useful.

Collaboration with different tools is the topic of my December blog, that is the blog I intend to submit in December. When it gets published is out of my control...

 

Steve Manley
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Re: Surface Mount connectors - AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
Steve Manley   11/22/2014 10:46:14 AM
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@David: In my view, it's a hanging offence to merely mention "connectors" and "surface-mounted" in the same sentence.

Please don't hang me!, I am learning as I go and wouldn't be able to correct my designs in the future if I was dead LOL.

I was looking for some terminal strips like those in the first couple of images you supplied but hadn't been lucky enough to find any. The through hole types also look a good solution.

I still maintain that I want the top surface of the cube base to be clear of components and solder joints as much as possible, If I were to have used through hole I would have needed to make a top panel for the cube tails to pass through then into a PCB. This would have added expense and assembly complications. I had contemplated an interface plate but I would have needed it to be drilled as accurately as the PCB and I don't have the tools to do that. If I were to do another cube I would re-consider making a plate or compromise on my requirements.

Thank you for your great words of advice, I will remember them for all future projects. Also glad you like the led cube.

Steve Manley
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Re: Upverter
Steve Manley   11/22/2014 10:20:39 AM
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@Aubrey: 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.

Thanks for the heads-up on Upverter, I will give it a spin and see what I think of it. The collaboration side of it looks like it could be very useful.

Steve Manley
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Re: Hat's off to you Steve
Steve Manley   11/22/2014 10:05:13 AM
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@Duane: 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.

Thanks for your kind comments, they are much appreciated.

David Ashton
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Surface Mount connectors - AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!
David Ashton   11/21/2014 11:12:46 PM
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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!

 

antedeluvian
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Upverter
antedeluvian   11/21/2014 9:56:59 PM
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Steve

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
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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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