Dangerous Prototypes, my favorite hardware-hacking rock band, gives out the PCB’s left over from their prototyping process. It’s a clever promotion and I love free stuff, so I snagged one of their PCB ‘coupons’ a few weeks ago and built a breakout for the FTDI FT311, an Android-to-damn-near-everything bridge. Check it!
The FT311 is an Android Open Accessory host, which means it gives Android apps full-speed access to circuits. Through this, I can build an app that talks to UART, SPI, I2C, or plain old I/O – this thing lets me connect my phone to virtually anything.
Dangerous Prototypes’ products are almost all surface-mount, so I used the same special prototyping tools I use for client work. I applied Zephpaste solder paste (amazing quality, easy to clean, and made in America) with a fine-tipped syringe, and populated components I ordered from Mouser.
To solder the joints, I busted out The Hotness, my custom reflow oven made from Hurricane Sandy salvage. The board took about 20 seconds at 170° to reflow into beautiful, factory-perfect fillets.
I added the USB port and through-hole headers manually. In a factory, the reflow oven has infrared lamps with programmable hot spots that would give the USB port extra heat. Technicians would also use a wave solderer to zap the headers all at once. But grandpa-style worked fine – this took about 20 minutes start to finish! Perhaps new features for Hotness 2.0?
Also, big shout-out to Panavise, makers of the goddamned handiest circuit tool around. If you build a board a week, a Panavise will change your life.