Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Guitar fingerboard PCBs arrived

3pcb.com rushed through our order (although we did pay for the 24 hour processing!) and this morning took receipt of x15 big long PCBs.


They look great and at just 0.6mm thick, aren't going to add much bulk to our guitar fingerboards


They sit on our 25.5" scale guitar neck just perfectly.


The width is consistent all the way along the neck length and even the bottom curve is pretty close to the shape of the neck pocket.


The PCBs were deliberately designed with elongated pads, so that they could be easily accessible either with a hot-air gun, or a soldering iron tip, even with the SMT component in place.


While we're going to build a jig and CNC some patterns when it comes to building the final guitar, we couldn't wait to get started and stick some RGB LEDs down on our PCBs


Using a ruler and nothing more sophisticated than double-sided tape to hold the LEDs in place, we created our first line of LEDs. With the LEDs stuck in place, actually soldering them down was a quick and easy job, using a soldering iron and a reel of chunky 1mm solder. After just a few minutes of soldering, we had a partially working board. We stopped soldering and tested our boards every four or five rows of lights, just to help with debugging (a missed or dry solder joint could easily stop all LEDs after it from working properly).

I took about 20 minutes - allowing for breaks, cups of tea and multi-step debugging - to get soldered up to the fifteenth fret.


When lighting up all fifteen rows of lights, we're drawing more than the 500mA that our USB power will give us (and the LEDs start flickering all kinds of crazy colours) but this was easily fixed by using a dedicated power supply to power the entire board.

Now we have a working 15-fret LED matrix, it's time to get that firmware updated to actually display useful patterns. Speaking from experience, knowing just box one of the pentatonic scale is only ever going to get you so far........