Friday, September 28, 2012

Soldering the electronics

When I was building my Clonedel, the Printrboard had just come out onto the market, and I was rather torn between that 160$ all in one board, or the 200$ RAMPS 1.4 board. I decided to go with RAMPS for a few reasons.
  • I had very little soldering skills, and soldering an entire board was a great way for me to practice.
  • If any of the Polulu stepper drivers burn out, I can simply pop them out and replace them.
  • I wanted dual extrusion capabilities in the future.
  • Lastly, RAMPS has been around longer, and is more "tried and true"
I ordered my RAMPS board from Ultimachine, and got the DIY kit (with SMT pieces already assembled). Then Tyler (who also ordered the same board) and I sat down for a few hours and knocked out the entire assembly.

A short timelapse of assembling the RAMPS 1.4 board

The assembled RAMPS 1.4 board (Taken from the RepRap wiki)

I am pleased to say that both Tyler and I were successful in soldering our boards. No magic smoke genies, thankfully.

I would highly recommend soldering your own board to anyone who is considering purchasing a RAMPS 1.4. The through hole soldering is very simple to do, especially if you have a friend with experience walking you through it. It also gives you the confidence to tweak the electronics if something isn't working. One of my Polulus was not talking to my motor correctly, and this resulted in jagged motion rather than smooth. I quickly found that one of the pins had become loose because I didn't put enough solder on. What could have been a disaster was a two minute fix.

That's it for the electronics! Next step was the hot end.

More to come.

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