Homemade Hardware - Milled LED Letter

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This week’s assignment was an intro the process of designing, milling and soldering surface-mount PCB boards. Each class member was assigned a letter in a phrase, and then once completed the letters will be wired together to create a fun, flashing LED sign.

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For the most part I ran into very few issues in the process of developing my board. I started by creating the schematic and board design in Eagle, before sending that file to the Bantam Othermill software. The milling process itself involved a series of steps to insure the mill was clean and running with precision, but following them closely my board milled with no errors.

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The process of soldering proved to be a very tedious one, simply because of the intense focus required to hand place the solder paste and surface-mount parts on such a small board. Once the parts had all been soldered, I also unfortunately ran into a problem where more than half of my LEDs did not turn on. Using my multimeter I determined that it was in fact the LEDs that had failed, and I suspect it was due to overzealous use of the soldering gun. I was forced to go back and replace all the broken LEDs, but doing so fixed the problem.