Note: This is a continuation of a project started earlier.
The project details are outlined in the README of the github repo at neutrino-weather github
I got my boards this weekend. Luckily, they seem to work for the most part, with the one exception being that the DFN6 package I copied from somewhere seems to be a bit too small. I have a revision 1.2 being printed now. Still, I was able to carry on with the Bosch BMP180 sensor and get the modules sending data to my Raspberry Pi.
I learned a neat trick for soldering one-off surface mount boards. If you want to learn how to do surface mount soldering, I’d suggest trying this. The guys at SparkFun swear by hotplate soldering. I didn’t want to mess with the nasty, toxic soldering paste, or solder mask for this small job. Instead, I touched each pad with solder, leaving a little bubble of raised solder on each one.
Next, I put the board in a pan, and then carefully placed each part in its correct position. This isn’t that hard, but you do need some decent tweezers. I’d recommend curved ones like the Wiha 44510, as it’s easier to work around the parts and get into a populated board with the curved tip. Note, I used a teflon pan. You probably should not, as it will begin to smoke and release noxious gases if you get too hot. Here’s a pre-heated shot of the parts placed:
Then, just carefully place the pan on a burner, turn the heat on high, and wait 60-90 seconds for the solder to look like it is flowing, and for the parts to sink into place. You can also use the tweezers to fine tune the position during this stage. When you’re done, you should end up with a professional-looking SMD solder job.
Once done, you can solder any bigger pieces by hand. You need to ensure that all small parts are on one side of the board for this to work, of course.
Here’s a shot of the back of the board, with the battery clip and nRF24L01+ module installed.
I’m pretty excited about the progress I’m making with these little radios. I have them publishing data to my Raspberry Pi. The client publishes the data to a Zabbix server that I run at home, and also to an sqlite database. From this point, someone can do pretty much whatever they want by reading the data from the DB, and not have to mess with the radio or any C code. I’ve uploaded my work to github.