Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

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myelin
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Wed May 22, 2019 1:59 pm

Boards arrived last night! Parts won't be here for a week (whoops...) but I have pictures :)

First a closeup on the FPGA. Those are 0.34mm pads, spaced 0.8mm apart. You can see that I used "NSMD" (non solder mask defined) pads -- the gap in the solder mask is 0.37mm, so there's a little ring of unmasked board around each pad. This allows the BGA ball to really melt down into the pad, and also gives more room for trace routing as NSMD pads are typically smaller than SMD pads.
2019-05-22 elkula fpga closeup.jpg
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Thu May 23, 2019 8:37 am

Oh! . . . This is going to be sooooo interesting!

Dave H :D

p.s. Your parcel should be in the post by the end of the week :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:38 am

Here we gooooooo...
B05F3D78-296A-42EB-B6EF-FDC07265C452.jpeg
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:41 am

myelin wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:38 am
Here we gooooooo...

B05F3D78-296A-42EB-B6EF-FDC07265C452.jpeg
Ooo baby!!!!

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:19 am

Fully assembled:
1B07FA1C-0602-4ADB-A299-820A88CB9C0A.jpeg
Definitely the most difficult board I’ve ever soldered. Took almost two hours — about 45 mins to stencil the paste and place all the components, 15 to reflow, and another 45 for fixup and to solder all the through hole parts. Phew! Now I can get on to programming it :)
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:35 am

I've just smacked my Gob :lol:

Is this a first - I'm almost speechless . . . Brilliant =D>

(understatement) I'm very excited :mrgreen:

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by danielj » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:58 am

Big round of applause! Haha! :D

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:02 am

OK . . . Recovered a little 8)

Three thing, with this board, that I think should happen:

(1) The PCBs will need testing by the PCB manufacture (can you imagine tracking down a open trace on this board?). This would require an ODB file to be produced. It adds a little to the price but is invaluable for PCBs with this level of design e.g. How many tracks did you squeeze between those pins :shock:

(2) Unless you're very brave (?) I think the manufacturing should also be outsourced. In my case: My eyesight is getting worse - I can't do anything without a really good magnifier, these days. I'm not expecting it to get better in this timeline :(

(3) There's a way to test each pin connection to ICs with JTAG e.g. you can measure from within the device, via the JTAG connector, to somewhere external to the device and check that the resistance meets a Gold Standard - again, this will remove doubt about the soldering of the BGAs. Designs I've worked on had test pads for every BGA pin, and other ICs, so that thorough testing could be carried out. It wouldn't take a lot to put together a simple jig for this operation.

OK, There are a lot of capable assemblers on the Forum, on the other hand there are a lot more novice solderers! All this 'will' increase the price, however, I can't see it reaching a wider audience without the above e.g. Who would be prepared to build 50 or 100 (or even more) and troubleshoot them?

Comment?

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:42 am

While personally, I would be prepared to have a go at making one for myself (and probably destroy 6 boards in the process) I agree, the BGAs limits the audience who can do it DIY.

Perhaps if just the BGAs were preinstalled that would make all the difference. But I wonder that if you are getting someone to pick and place a single BGA then you might as well do all the surface mount parts on the whole board.

I could put a pick and place machine and automated reflow oven on my Christmas list .... but I suspect I wont get it.

Looks great though,
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by davidb » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:23 am

Wow! :D =D>

This definitely looks like a board that needs to be manufactured rather than hand assembled, unless you want to limit it to the five or so people reading the forums who could solder everything on and have a chance of making it work. :lol:

Still - one step at a time. Looking forward to reading about the programming part. :)

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by rharper » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:33 am

I would buy a 'working' board but my soldering skills are only up to about 5% of it.
Ray :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:16 pm

Also note that there are several 0402 (?) capacitors! Although I've been able to handle these in the past I doubt I could now :?

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster » Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:28 pm

daveejhitchins wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:16 pm
Also note that there are several 0402 (?) capacitors! Although I've been able to handle these in the past I doubt I could now :?

Dave H :D
You just need a bigger magnifying glass, and an electron controlled robotic arm.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:41 pm

50 to 100 units! And here was me thinking that this board would only be of interest to me, Dave H, and Hoglet :) (Dave H and Hoglet, you'll be getting one each sometime in the coming months once I've verified that there aren't any big mistakes in this one.)

At this point my only concern is getting this thing working. I wasn't sure at the start whether I'd be able to pull it off, but here I am with a completed board that passes the basic smoke tests (no power-ground shorts, the microprocessor will talk to an SWD debugger, and the FPGA will talk to a USB-Blaster), so while there's still a bunch of things to implement and test (buffers, flash, SDRAM, DAC, soft USB) and verify (that all the tightly packed traces driven by a high speed FPGA don't cause horrible crosstalk), it's starting out well.

I agree with Dave's comments about board testing. This board has supposedly undergone electrical testing at JLC, but I'm not sure what that means. Did they test continuity for every one of the BGA balls, or was it just a sample of various pads to make sure nothing had gone badly wrong? I designed it comfortably within their design rules -- 4 mil trace and 5 mil space, and they can do 3.5/3.5 -- but took some risks (0402 caps in between ULA socket pins), so have high hopes, but until it's been properly tested, who knows?

As far as manufacturing... yes; I don't want to be building more than a handful of these. I'm pretty sure this board would be trivial for most manufacturers to assemble; the smallest pin spacing is 0.65mm, and the BGAs are all 0.8mm, which is even easier. Getting the through hole pins straight is the hardest part!
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Ramtop » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:29 pm

myelin wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:41 pm
I agree with Dave's comments about board testing. This board has supposedly undergone electrical testing at JLC, but I'm not sure what that means.
In my experience JLCPCB's testing consists of looking at the board for a few seconds, saying "yep, that looks fine to me" and shipping it out. Since switching to them from ALLPCB I've had several boards that were stone dead on assembly, with the issue traced to defective tracks on the PCB. Although this was only on 2 layer boards, I've never had a 4 layer from JLC turn up bad.
Gary

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by mr-macrisc » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:56 pm

Feck, there are loads interested in this and imagine poss more as it gets harder to find spare elk's and/or replacement ULA's

I am a defo for one when they are avail.

Some amazing possibilities

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:20 pm

myelin wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:41 pm
I agree with Dave's comments about board testing. This board has supposedly undergone electrical testing at JLC, but I'm not sure what that means. Did they test continuity for every one of the BGA balls, or was it just a sample of various pads to make sure nothing had gone badly wrong? I designed it comfortably within their design rules -- 4 mil trace and 5 mil space, and they can do 3.5/3.5 -- but took some risks (0402 caps in between ULA socket pins), so have high hopes, but until it's been properly tested, who knows?
There are two ways manufacturers can electrically test a board. (1) They visually inspect one PCB and then test it on a bed-of-nails continuity tester to obtain a Gold Standard. The results of which are used to test the rest of the PCBs - Hit an miss at the best of times, however, better then no test! (2) You send them an ODB file. This will contain a net list that they use to carry out the testing. 100% reliable! If you didn't send them either a netlist or ODB file then it's the first method or none - and the first method is time consuming . . . !

I've attached an ODB file for anyone interested in having a gander.

Dave H :D

New AP5 ODB++ - 12-04-17.zip
(773.37 KiB) Downloaded 3 times
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by marcusjambler » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:25 pm

Putting my hand up for a built n tested board :D :lol: =D> =D>

Marcus

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:02 pm

Hm, interesting. Looks like ODB++ includes all the Gerber data plus a netlist and all the pick & place data, and some more maybe. KiCad doesn't support ODB++ (or IPC-2581) export; it's on the roadmap for the next version, but that might be years away. When we get to the point of wanting to make a bunch of these, though, it looks like there are ways to generate ODB++ info from all the various files I do have, so that should work out OK :)
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by danielj » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:07 am

JLC, afaik, do continuity testing based on an analysis of the gerber's nets with flying probes.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by derek » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:56 am

Hi,

I would interested in a built board. I have fitted a socket ti one of my spare Electron boards.

With regards to a company building the board, I had a UK company called Quick-tek make some double sided pcbs and solder the all the smd components including a FPGA chip. The board was sold to people into the Sinclair QL, called the Q68.
q68_board.jpg
Q68 PCB
q68_board.jpg (30.4 KiB) Viewed 190 times
I could done the the SMD soldering, but some components are very small and the Lattice XP2 FPGA is a very fine pitched chip to solder.

I sold 74 of these boards, I would blind if I did the I soldering of the SMD, I did in the THT components.

I had no failures of the SMD soldering, so maybe this a possible solution to high volume construction.
Regards,

Derek

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:01 am

danielj wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:07 am
JLC, afaik, do continuity testing based on an analysis of the gerber's nets with flying probes.
Flying probes takes an age this video shows the difference in speed, however, I doubt we'll be able to afford the 'quick' method as it requires a dedicated bed-of-nails!

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:37 pm

This may be worth investigating? - at least to see what price we're looking at!

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:39 pm

daveejhitchins wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:37 pm
This may be worth investigating? - at least to see what price we're looking at!

Dave H :D
That video has been in my 'watch this' youtube feed all week as well :)

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by hoglet » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:52 pm

derek wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:56 am
With regards to a company building the board, I had a UK company called Quick-tek make some double sided pcbs and solder the all the smd components including a FPGA chip. The board was sold to people into the Sinclair QL, called the Q68.
The end result does look very good. Am I right that these boards sold for £150.

It's probably worth setting some expectations here on pricing. Myelin's ULA replacement board is not going to be cheap! It's part of the reason I haven't really put much energy into this. The other reason is I still think it's going to be challenging to actually get this working. But that's part of what makes this hobby fun.

Anyway, amazing progress on this Myelin. I'm in complete awe of your SMT soldering skills! I wouldn't know where to start with a BGA.

Dave

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Elminster » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:42 pm

hoglet wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:52 pm
derek wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:56 am
With regards to a company building the board, I had a UK company called Quick-tek make some double sided pcbs and solder the all the smd components including a FPGA chip. The board was sold to people into the Sinclair QL, called the Q68.
The end result does look very good. Am I right that these boards sold for £150.
I guess the next question is if you 'could do the boards at cost' only how much does a board cost? Ignoring the fact you might destroy lots of them in the process.

I suppose if you didn't want the additional features of the ultimate board, then still going to be cheaper to buy another Electron for sometime yet.

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by Ramtop » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:01 pm

hoglet wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:52 pm
It's probably worth setting some expectations here on pricing. Myelin's ULA replacement board is not going to be cheap!
Looking at it, I have to agree on that. It'll cost quite a bit to build. I'm presently working on an external Electron expansion that involves much of the same components, including a Max 10 FPGA, and I can't see any way of keeping under £100. Complex boards cost money, no way around it.
Gary

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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by daveejhitchins » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:32 pm

I'll do a costing - Phil . . . could you send me a BoM, please?

PCB price is not going to be the issue. But let's wait and see what the BoM cost is. And then I'll check around various PCB houses that offer a manufacture and build service.

Dave H :D
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by fordp » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:42 pm

I am not sure if hoglet already mentioned that the original Raspberry Pi Copro connected via SPI. It could maybe be brought back to life for this project?
Last edited by fordp on Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Proposed: "The Ultimate Electron Upgrade"

Post by myelin » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:53 pm

daveejhitchins wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:32 pm
I'll do a costing - Phil . . . could you send me a BoM, please?

PCB price is not going to be the issue. But let's wait and see what the BoM cost is. And then I'll check around various PCB houses that offer a manufacture and build service.
Here's the latest BOM; let me know if all the detail you need is in there, as I see it is missing Digikey links for parts I cut and pasted from older designs: https://github.com/myelin/ElectronFpga/ ... erials.txt

Tallying it up in my head with price estimates from what I remember when doing the last part order, I think it comes to about US$32 for the chips, and maybe $1-2 for the passives. I pay $60 for a run of 10 boards and a solder stencil, although that's only relevant for me making boards at home and will be totally different in quantity. So my personal cost per board for the first three will be about $54, assuming the v1 board doesn't have any major bugs that necessitate a respin. I've heard a rule of thumb that you can expect to pay the BOM cost again for assembly, so my rough guess for assembled boards in quantity is $70 (£55). Selling for less than 3X cost pretty much guarantees you lose money after all the overheads, so we end up with a potential price of £165. With any luck it's possible to bring this down a bit using cheaper assembly services (pcbway and friends), but those are some starting numbers...
hoglet wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:52 pm
It's probably worth setting some expectations here on pricing. Myelin's ULA replacement board is not going to be cheap! It's part of the reason I haven't really put much energy into this. The other reason is I still think it's going to be challenging to actually get this working. But that's part of what makes this hobby fun.

Anyway, amazing progress on this Myelin. I'm in complete awe of your SMT soldering skills! I wouldn't know where to start with a BGA.
Thank you! I'll see if I can set up a camera next time I make one of these, because it's an interesting process. Very much possible to do at home, although you do need steady hands. Of course I may be underestimating the difficulty because I've built up my soldering skills slowly over the last seven years or so, but it's not as hard as I expected -- I think BGA parts do a better job of orienting themselves during reflow than equivalent pitch QFP chips.

The tools I used for the BGA/SMT soldering were a pair of tweezers, an OptiVisor DA-4 with the Quasar LED lighting attachment, and an electric griddle. To fix the bridges on the TSSOP parts and to solder the through hole parts, I used my Weller WES51.
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