September 30, 2016

Solar Cluster: Getting PCBs made

So a few weeks ago, I gave the charge controller a test, seeing if it in fact reacted in the manner I expected before deciding whether to proceed with the existing prototype or whether I should iterate the design.

In the end, I decided I’d tweak the design and get new boards built. By using SMD parts and a 4-layer board, I was able to shrink my design down to a 5×5cm square, which is relatively inexpensive to have fabricated.

I’ll be getting a few boards which means I can have some spares in case something goes bang or if I want to scale out my battery bank.

The updated design is published in the files section. This also incorporates @K.C. Lee‘s advice regarding back-to-back MOSFETs.

After some fun and games, one PCB fab house telling me to “check my passwords match” (when I know for certain that they did match), and another seemingly ignoring the inner two layers, I settled on a PCB manufacturer (thanks to PCBShopper) and got the boards ordered.

I put down my home address for the billing address and my work address as the delivery address. Both given as being in “Queensland, Australia”.

This is a learning experience for me, I’m used to just drawing my circuit out with a dalo pen, but unfortunately my skills aren’t up to producing a board for SOICs.

They reported that they shipped the boards on the 21st, and had previously estimated about 2-3 weeks for delivery. No problem there.

Just one niggling concern…

Not familiar with Swiss Post procedures, I’d have expected it to show Hong Kong → Australia, but maybe that’s how they do things. I do hope someone didn’t get Queensland, Australia mixed up with Quebec, Canada!

Update: Just been in touch, no the manufacturer didn’t get it mixed up, and it’s the right tracking number. They’re chasing it up with Swiss Post.