Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Electronic board game- pieces etched

Steve challenged us to have a demonstrable working board game by the next BuildBrighton Open Night. While we probably won't have the full RF-to-UART-to-Ethernet part working, it would be nice to at least build an interesting looking board from a few different sections. So, last night, we set about etching and cutting a load of copper board:

We didn't get everything finished (there are still quite a few mdf shapes left to cut) but there's an interesting selection of just about every type of board game section ready for soldering. So far we've got

  • straight corridor bits (6 across, 2 down - or 2 across, 6 down!)
  • right angled corners (4 across, 4 down)
  • 4 x 4 room with one exit
  • 4 x 4 room with two exits
  • 4 x 4 room with four exits (not  sure why we missed out a 3-exit version)
  • crossroads (6 across, 6 down)
  • t-junction (6 across, 4 down)

And, of course, our two original corner sections (which just need new mdf tops cutting for them, to make them compatible with this slightly wider range of rooms and corridors).

Hand-etching so many sections (and drilling, we've yet to drill the boards) is a pain. And they've yet to be populated with tiny little SMT components. We knew it would be and, when challenged, immediately thought about CNC drilling the boards and building some kind of rig for printing the PCBs. In time, that's probably how we're going to make these boards, particularly if they need to be made in any kind of volume. But for now, we've enough to get ready for next Thursday evening!

Populating them is a scary thought too. We've got a load of hall sensors on their way from RS (less than half the price than from Farnell) and there are about 160 to solder onto various boards. We did wonder about building an x/y frame to assist (even if it was manually controlled using a joystick or computer keyboard, it would be easier than trying to place all these tiny SOT-23 components using just tweezers and a steady hand!) but it's unlikely that we'll have time to build that, and use it to solder the components in time for  next Thursday.

So it looks like we're in for a few late nights.
Pass the solder paste and let's get going!

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