What is the one thing that intimidates most people when working with electronics? The circuit board. You can relax though. PCB board assembly is not nearly as scary as it appears to be because it is not as high tech. The main thing you need to do is be prepared. The process is very clean and concise, as long as you follow a few simple rules with the preparation.
1) Keep everything organized because that is key. You will have your kits when you first start. You will also see a checklist. Go through that checklist and make sure you dot every “i” and cross every “t”.
A great example is when you set up a PCB project. Inventory the parts and clean as you go. This is one habit you do not want to ever get out of. It is going to make everything much easier as you move forward. Some of you may start “building in your head.” You will want to block that idea out. Focus on cataloging and labeling everything you have.
2) The next thing you want to do is give your boards a bath. Yes, you heard me right. Some people find cleaning your circuit boards when they first arrive counter-productive. It is actually one of the best things you can do.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
I am sure most of you have heard that line before. However, when you are working with circuit boards, the line is “cleanliness is next to solderliness.” A freshly scrubbed copper board takes less heat than its counterpart. You also get a more thorough wetness through the process.
You can use alcohol and a scotch brite pad because that works the best. Those of you who are facing bad corrosion, you are going to want a glass fiber pen and a steel wool scrub pad. This article https://www.digikey.com/en/maker/blogs/cleaning-pcbs has some very insightful and comprehensive tips on how to clean your PCB. It might also provide valuable insight into what other cleaning solutions you can use besides alcohol. Give it a read sometime.
3) You should work low to high. The reason is that your board can become very crowded, very fast. You might run out of room for everything you need. One way you can avoid that is by planning out your strategy in advance. Plan out how you are going to populate your board. That is why you go low to high. You are probably going to want to start with the resistors and work your way up.
4) A pair of tweezers is going to be your new best friend. They are small enough to get into the tiny places and large enough not to topple over the larger pieces. Just something to think about.
5) A magnifying glass is also going to be your new best friend. You will need to see in the tiny spaces on your board. I do not care how great your eyesight is. There is no way you can see that well. Your best bet is to use one the jeweler’s use. You can find them online or in a store. Make sure they work well with your eyes though.
6) You are going to want to get a hot glue gun. A hot glue gun can help secure the insulation in your circuit board.