These instructions have been written for the benefit of those who have obtained a PC board and components from FAR Circuits for my digital setting circles interface circuit. The remaining parts needed for this kit are inexpensive and are readily available from a variety of sources. If you have any electronic construction experience at all, you should find this interface to be easy to build. If you have questions or problems, please leave a comment below and I’ll help as best as I can.

See my software page for a list of software packages known to work with my interface.

Parts List

All the parts can be obtained from Jameco, but I recommend that you purchase the 4 MHz oscillator from Mouser Electronics instead. I’ve seen two of the oscillators provided by Jameco cause trouble. The oscillators from Mouser seem to work more reliably.

Encoder interface parts list

Component Description Jameco Part No.
U1 7805 voltage regulator 51262
U2 Programmed PIC16F84/04P microcontroller chip 145111
18-pin socket for U2 112231
U3 MAX232CPE RS-232 level converter 24811
16-pin socket for U3 (optional) 112222
C1, C4-C7 10uF 35V electrolytic capacitor 94370
C2, C3 0.1uF monolithic capacitor 25523
R1-R13 10K-Ohm 1/4 watt resistor 29912
D1 1N4001 diode 35975
D2 LED (any small LED will do)  (this and R13 are optional) 94511
OSC1 4 MHz TTL crystal clock oscillator Mouser Stock Number 815-ACO-4-EK
Switch (not shown on schematic) Normally open momentary SPST pushbutton for a reset switch (optional) 164486

Feel free to substitute your own preferences for the connectors, but I highly recommend that you do not wire the encoder or serial cables directly to the board (they’ll break off easily). Use pins and connectors for a sturdier connection. The right-angle DB9F connector for the serial cable is especially good for ensuring a good connection.

Some recommended connectors for the interface PC board

Description Jameco Part No.
0.1″ non-polarized connector housing (5-pin) for connecting to the encoders 163686
0.1″ non-polarized connector housing (4-pin) for attaching encoder cables to PC board 100803
D-Subminiature right-angle PC mount DB9F connector 104978
Female connector pins for housings 100766
0.1″ right-angle headers (male pins board-mounted over which the housings fit) 103271
Pin crimping tool for crimping the female connector pins 99443
4-conductor cable (phone wire) for encoder cables 103430

PC Board Parts and Foil Layout

These diagrams are not drawn to scale. If you want to make your own board, download this file. See the readme.txt file in that file for further information.

parts

PC board parts layout

foil

PC board foil side layout

Programming the PIC16F84 Microcontroller

Note: you can purchase a preprogrammed PIC16F84 microcontroller chip–go here for details. The PIC16F84 microcontroller chip requires a bit more attention than simply buying one and popping it into the circuit. First, it must be programmed. A hardware device called a programmer is required for this task. Luckily, this particular chip can be programmed with very simple-to-build hardware. I’m not going to go into details about programming the chip because there is a ton of information on the web about this topic. I will mention that the Oct 98 issue of QST magazine contained an article titled “Using PIC Microcontrollers in Amateur Radio Projects,” by John Hansen (p. 34)–this was the article that got me started on this project. If you choose to program the chip yourself, the firmware file you need for this project is dsc.hex.

Encoders

My interface is capable of working with encoder setups having up to 65535 tics per revolution of the telescope axis. Frankly, a resolution that high is overkill and runs the risk of dropping counts if the telescope is moved quickly. I usually encourage builders to choose encoders that result in somewhere between 4000 and 10000 encoder tics/rev, factoring in any gearing or pulley systems that are used to connect the encoders to the telescope. My own setup uses about 4500 tics/rev for each axis, and I haven’t been able to make the interface drop a count. The S5S and S6S incremental rotary shaft encoders from U.S. Digital should work well with my interface. You don’t need the index or ball-bearing options. U.S. Digital also sells connectors for these encoders, and it might be wise to purchase those as well.

Connecting encoders to your telescope can be a challenge, depending on the design of your mount. Unfortunately, I can’t offer much in the way of help, since the mounts vary so widely. There are links to some illustrated digital setting circle projects on my links page that might be of help. Regardless of the type of mount, it’s important that your encoders always turn whenever the telescope moves, whether manually or by a drive motor.

Before You Start

Construction of this interface is quite straightforward, but there are a few issues worth considering prior to starting. First, this interface has a number of external connections: the serial cable, the encoder cables, and the power supply. Some thought should be given to exactly how you intend to make these connections so that they are solid and reliable. I’ve designed the PC board so that you can install 0.1″ male headers at the encoder and power connections, and use 0.1″ connector housings with crimp pins on the ends of the cables. This sort of arrangement is much stronger and more reliable than soldering the wires directly to the board.

Similarly, the serial connection is laid out so you can use a straight or right-angle pc-board-mount DB9 connector. Pins 1, 4, and 6 are connected via traces on the circuit board, as are pins 7 and 8, to accommodate software that expects serial handshaking to be implemented. If you only use the connections for pins 2, 3, and 5 on the board, make sure that you connect pins 1, 4, and 6, and pins 7 and 8, at some other point in the cable to achieve the same effect.

It’s very important to make sure that you make the encoder connections correctly. The encoder connections are labeled on the PC board for each of the two encoders. There are typically five pins on an encoder, labeled Ch. B, +5V, Ch. A, N/C, and GND. Sometimes the N/C pin is labeled Index, but my encoder interface circuit does not use the index signal. If your encoders have index pins, leave those pins unconnected.

Similarly, the interface PC board has five holes for connecting each encoder, with the same labels. On the PC board, the N/C hole for each encoder is connected to the GND hole next to it. This allows you to use a four-pin male header and connector housing rather than a five-pin, if you desire (if you use a four-pin connector, mount it in the holes for Ch. B, +5V, Ch. A, and N/C. The N/C hole will serve as your ground and should connect to the GND pin on your encoder).

encoderconn

There is also a place on the PC board for connecting a reset switch. It’s labeled “RESET” and is located between C7 and R11. If you use a reset switch, it should be a normally-open momentary SPST pushbutton switch. Pressing and releasing it restarts the software in the microcontroller. If the interface is not functioning correctly, resetting it will usually fix the problem.

Parts Orientation

Construction of the interface is not difficult. The parts may be placed on the board in nearly any order. Make sure to note the polarity of the diodes, the electrolytic capacitors, the IC’s, the voltage regulator, and the oscillator.

  1. The diode will have a silver band on one end. Mount the diode on the board so that the silver band on the diode is aligned with the band on the diode legend on the board.
  2. U1, the voltage regulator, should be mounted so that the metal tab with the hole is on the side away from D1 and toward C1.
  3. Note the little notches on one end of the legends for U2 and U3. This corresponds to the end of the IC with pin 1. The IC will have a similar notch, or will have a small dot indentation in the corner over pin 1. Make sure that the IC’s are installed with pin 1 where it’s supposed to be.
  4. The electrolytic capacitors also have a polarization. You’ll notice that one lead is marked with a minus (and is the shorter of the two leads). Similarly, one hole for each electrolytic capacitor is marked with a plus sign on the PC board. Make sure that the positive lead goes in the hole marked with the plus.
  5. The clock oscillator has tree rounded corners and one that is not. The outline on the PC board is shaped the same. Make sure you insert the oscillator so that its shape matches that on the board.

Construction

Soldering

First things first–good soldering is the key to having this interface work the first time your power it up. About 90% of the problems that builders have in getting their interfaces to work are related to poor soldering. Often the problem is that insufficient heat was used, resulting in solder joints that appear gray and rough instead of shiny and smooth. Other times, too much solder is used, and solder bridges are formed that connect components that shouldn’t be connected. Sometimes, joints are left unsoldered.

In case you aren’t sure you can tell the difference between bad soldering and good soldering, here are examples of each:

badsolder

Bad solder joints

goodsolder

Better solder joints

Elecraft, a maker of high-quality ham radio kits, has an excellent tech note on its web site regarding soldering technique. You can find the article by accessing their Tech Notes page from their main page and scrolling down the Tech Notes page to find the “soldering tutorial” link.

Parts Installation

The order in which you install the parts isn’t critical. Here’s what I’d recommend:

  1. First, install the sockets for the IC’s. You don’t have to use a socket for the MAX232 (though I recommend it), but do use a socket for the PIC16F84 so you can remove it and reprogram it at a later time if there is an update to the program or you choose to modify it. Make sure you orient the sockets according to the outlines on the board. Wait until last, though, to install the IC’s in their sockets.
  2. Next, install the resistors. They should lie flat on the board. Resistors do not have a polarity. Either lead can go in either hole.
  3. Next, install the 0.1 mF capacitors. They do not have a polarity so either lead can go in either hole.
  4. Now install the electrolytic capacitors. Carefully observe the polarity as explained previously.
  5. Install the diodes, the voltage regulator (U1), and the oscillator. Again, make certain you’ve installed them with the proper polarity, as explained previously.
  6. Now install your choice of connectors for the power, the encoders, and the serial connection.
  7. Install the reset switch if desired.
  8. Finally, install the IC’s in their sockets, making certain they are installed in the proper orientation. Make sure you program the PIC16F84 if you haven’t already (and if you didn’t buy it preprogrammed from FAR Circuits).

Check all your solder joints. They should look smooth and shiny. If they don’t, give them a bit of heat with the iron to remelt them. Also, check for solder bridges (solder connecting two points that should not be connected).

Testing

The basic approach to testing the interface is to hook everything up and see if it works. I’ve written a small test program called EkBoxTester that you can download to aid in testing. EkBoxTester requires Microsoft .Net 4.0 to be installed on your computer. EkBoxTester consists of a single executable file (EkBoxTester.exe) that can be run from wherever you want. There is no installer–just download and run it. (The source code for EkBoxTester can be downloaded from here. It was written using Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express Edition–a free but reasonably complete development environment for writing .Net applications in C#.)

When you launch EkBoxTester, the following window appears:

EkBox Tester opening screen

It’s pretty simple to use. Before you do anything else, select the COM port to which your interface is connected. Once you do that, you can do any of the following:

  • enter encoder resolutions in the “Az Resolution” and “Alt Resolution” fields and click the “Set Resolutions” button to send those resolutions to the EkBox
  • click the “Get Errors” button to read the number of errors in the EkBox (usually zero)
  • click the “Get Resolutions” button to read and display the encoder resolutions from the EkBox
  • click the “Start Test” button to begin reading and displaying the encoder positions

If you click the “Start Test” button, the EkBox Tester will begin reading and displaying the raw encoder positions coming from the EkBox. The numbers will be displayed in red as you can see below. The numbers will continuously update as you move the encoders until you click the “Stop Test” button. Note that clicking the “Start Test” button doesn’t automatically initialize the encoder resolutions–whatever resolutions are already in the EkBox will be used.

EkBox Tester after the “Start Test” button is clicked

If you don’t have any encoders connected, you’ll still see the red numbers but they will not change (obviously), but this is an indicator that things on the board appear to be working correctly.

Once you’re finished, click the “Stop Test” button, or just exit the program by clicking the red X in the top right corner.

You can also use a communications program such as Hyperterminal on your PC to test the interface. Connect your interface to your PC and configure Hyperterminal to talk to the correct COM port using 9600 baud, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, and no flow control (handshaking). Then, in Hyperterminal, type the (uppercase) letter Q (note that it won’t appear on your screen unless you turn local echo on, because the interface doesn’t echo the characters sent to it). You should see “+00000 +00000” appear. If so, the communications are working correctly. Next, if you have encoders connected to your interface, turn each encoder a little and type Q again. The numbers that appear on your screen shouldnow be nonzero. If they’re still zero, check your encoder connections.

If the interface doesn’t appear to be working properly, first check all the connectors to make sure that they are properly connected and that they are firmly seated. Next, make sure that you’re supplying the interface with power. A 9V transistor battery is sufficient to power the interface, but it must be a fresh battery. You can also use other voltage sources, but make sure that the voltage is at least 9V (but preferably no more than about 15V) and capable of supplying 50 mA of current on a continuous basis. Nearly all battery configurations that result in 9V or more can supply this moderate amount of current. If possible, measure the output of U1, the voltage regulator, to verify that it’s supplying 5V to the rest of the circuit (you can measure this at pin 14 of U2).

If you’re still having trouble, verify that all the parts have been installed with the proper polarity. Pay special attention to the orientation of U2 and U3. The circuit will not work if either of these is installed backwards. Also, if you have an oscilloscope or frequency counter, see if you can detect the 4 MHz clock signal coming from OSC1 (check at pin 16 of U2).

If everything’s installed correctly, flip the board over and double-check all your soldering. Bad or missing solder joints are the number one cause of problems in this project. Also check for solder bridges that connect things that shouldn’t be connected. Your solder joints should appear shiny and smooth and should completely cover the hole and surround the part leads. Use just enough solder to make the joint, but no more. If you don’t see any obvious solder problems, heat up your iron and reheat each solder joint, and try again.

Configuring Your Software

My software page describes how to use my interface with the software packages that support it.

Getting Help

Leave a comment below if you need assistance or have questions. I’ll do my best to help.

If you wish to modify the circuit or the embedded software, I can provide you with the source files you might need. The circuit diagram and PC board layout were done with a freeware package called Eagle Layout Editor (the lite version) from CadSoft USA. The embedded software was written using Microchip’s MPLAB software (another freeware package). Contact me for details.

40 thoughts on “Building the Circuit

  1. EK Box Testing:
    1). Hooked up to HyperTerminal on PC… Nothing reported after typing “Q” Note: same results with or without encoders connected. Result: Interface (PC board) not communicating with HyperTerminal on PC. Also reported same results on second PC.
    a). tried all com ports same results.
    b). verified 9600 baud, 8 bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, no flow control.
    c). verified encoder wiring to interface. Good
    d). verified wiring to header pins on board. Good.
    e). Checked and repaired possible bad solder joints. Also, after performing repairs, I inspected PC board back side with a magnifying glass. No bridges or bad solder joints noted. Verified circuit with fluke meter. (.3) ohms average all PC circuits.
    f). Checked all 10K ohm resisters with fluke meter. All checked good.
    g). Checked polarity on caps. All checked good.
    h). Voltage to pin 14 on U2 is 5 VDC. Voltage on volt regulator good.
    i). Verified U2 and U3 orientation correct. Same for OSC1.
    j). Diode installed correctly and tested with fluke meter. Checked good.
    k). Check resistance on PC board circuit from U2 and U3 sockets. All checked good. (.3) ohms typical indication on meter.
    l). Verified wiring on DB 9 harness. Good. Harness configuration = pin 1 on male DB9 connector to pin 1 on female DB9 connector. Same configuration for pins 2 through 9. Harness also checked fine with fluke meter. No open connections found.
    2). Questions:
    Q). would faulty OSC 1 inhibit interface from communicating with PC? Have extra OSC 1 to swap out if necessary. Don’t have an oscilloscope yet.
    Q). do you suspect faulty U2? Programmed unit (version 3) purchased from FAR over year ago. Could mishandling caused chip to go bad? I was very careful with static issues. However I did need to position all 18 pins to fit in socket
    Q). Any other checks? I’m open for suggestions!!!!

    Reply
    • Barry,
      You typed an uppercase Q, right? Just checking–I’ve seen several cases where folks typed lowercase q instead of uppercase Q. Also, you don’t need encoders connected to test the communications.

      Otherwise, it looks like a pretty thorough job of checking the circuit. One other thing you might check for (unlikely, but possible) is a faulty circuit board trace. I encountered one of those once–it had a tiny crack that needed to be patched with solder.

      If the oscillator were faulty, that would definitely keep the circuit from working, so that’s another thing you could check. Also, try wiring a reset switch into the circuit and try pressing the reset switch while the circuit’s connected to the PC and powered up, to see if that restores communications. Occasionally, an oscillator will be a slow starter and cause the circuit not to work on initial power-up, but hitting the reset button will fix that.

      Rarely have I encountered a problem with the chips, but it has happened once or twice.

      Like I’ve said on my web site, almost always the problem is with a bad solder joint. Hopefully, your solder joints look smooth and shiny. If not, don’t be afraid to go back and rework them with a soldering iron. Often, all it takes is a little touch of the iron to fix a bad joint.

      Reply
  2. Hello!

    Great device! Can I ask you to share source code of PIC firmware – I want to rewrite it for Atmega microcontroller?

    Thanks in advance!
    Andrey

    Reply
    • Hello Andrey,

      did you manage to rewrite the code for the Atmega?
      I used an Atmega 32 for a different astro project and
      learned to program it (a little bit!).
      I would love to use this microcontroller for a DSC project!

      Thanks in advance,

      Hermann

      Reply
  3. Hello

    these are the encoders

    S2 2000 (US DIGITAL)

    that the config.dat

    [*** encoder section ***]
    ;EncoderString NoEncoders
    ;EncoderString Bseg
    ;EncoderString ResetViaR
    ;EncoderString ResetViaZ
    ;EncoderString NoReset
    ;EncoderString Mouse
    ;EncoderString Ek
    ;EncoderString SkyCommander
    EncoderString Ek
    EncoderComPort 2
    EncoderBaudRate 9600
    SerialWriteDelayMs 50
    AltEncoderCountsPerRev 8000
    AzEncoderCountsPerRev 8000
    AltEncoderDir 1
    AzEncoderDir 0
    EncoderErrorThresholdDeg 0.100000
    TrackEncoderErrorThresholdDeg 1.000000
    MakeEncoderResetLogFile 1
    EncoderOffset.A 0.195999
    EncoderOffset.Z 5.144705

    Hello!! The encoders work perfectly in Scoope program, because they will do what you want when you spin it with your hand. Yes, I could find the encoder log. If you want to watch what my pc’s screen shows take a look at this website: –

    http://www.astrosurf.com/jcgastroccd/Links.html

    Number 1, means: quantity of the enconder’s pulse
    Number 2, means: message, which appears asking for the quantity of movement of the telescope
    Number 3, means: encoder log.

    The problem which I have is: When I turn on the programme, and I wrote in it the code to watch a star(which I knew it before), I do reset the encoders, and after a while, the program ask me to do big a movement of the telescope. If you want to watch it, you will watch it in the other website(Image Number 3).

    I wish you all to have a Merry Christmas

    Reply
    • Jose, you’ll need to ask Mel Bartels to help you with this problem. Mel’s software is doing all the calculations, and he should be able to explain to you why you are seeing the behavior you see.

      Good luck –

      Dave

      Reply
  4. Hi Dave,
    Great device, works perfectly with my bartelised dobson, thank you :-)

    I would like to rewrite the code for different processor (F330 from Sil Labs).
    Could you send me the source?
    Thanks,
    Bojan

    Reply
  5. Hi Dave,
    I assume the 2 holes marked JP1 (pos/gnd) next to the U1 location is for 12 volt power supply? Read through everything I could find and found no info regarding these.
    Thanks
    Randy

    Reply
  6. I am testing the board with Hyperterminal but do not get a response after typing “Q”. I haven’t installed the driver yet. Do I need that in place before testing with hyperterminal?

    Reply
    • Gary,

      No, the driver doesn’t need to be installed. But make sure you have hyperterminal configured for the correct serial port, buad rate, etc. (9600 baud, 8 bits, one stop bit, no parity, no flow control). If you’re certain you have the right port, it’s likely that your board has a problem. Follow the troubleshooting steps given on the web page and let me know what you see.

      Dave

      Reply
  7. Is there any harm in jumpering the 5VDC power for the encoders over to pin 9 of the db9 connector? One of the serial to bluetooth adapters I’m looking at can get power from pin 9. It takes 5VDC and it looks like it uses 100mAh

    Reply
    • Thanks for the reply! I had thought about the battery but figured I’d see what happens. I think maybe now I’ll just plan on another 8-AA NiMH pack.

      Reply
  8. Dave,

    Can I get a copy of the source code?

    Would like to incorporate into a larger PIC at some point.

    Thanks for all the info, I have built the board and tested. Now just waiting for the encoders, should be here tomorrow.

    Thanks
    Robert

    Reply
  9. Hi Dave

    Just received your board from FAr Circuits. Supplied with the board, among the other components, is the 4mhz oscillator. However, unlike the one you described under “Building the Circiuit”, I have been supplied with a two legged oscillator, rather the mentioned four legged one.

    The marking on the oscillator is 4.00ECSH. Assuming that this is compatible with your board, and I have not been sent the wrong component, how do I fix it to the board? Does one leg go to the hole which goes to pin 16 of the PIC chip and the other to VCC, or does it go to GND? Or do I need to get the prescrided four legged oscillator?

    Many thanks

    Keith

    Reply
    • Keith,

      If you ordered the serial version of the kit, then you need a 4-pin oscillator (and that’s what FAR should have sent you). In this case, email FAR and let them know you received the wrong part and they should send you a replacement.

      If you ordered the USB version, then the two-pin crystal is the right part.

      Dave

      Reply
  10. Hi Dave

    Thanks for getting back to me. I ordered the serial version which means they sent me the wrong one.

    To avoid trying to obtain a replacement, I note that I could possibly make it work by connecting each leg of my two legged oscillator to pins 15 and 16 of the PIC chip and then connect a 22pF capacitor between pin 15 to GND and another between pin 16 to GND. Do you think this might work? If not I shall chase up FAR…

    Many thanks

    Keith

    Reply
    • Yup, that should work. You can refer to the schematic diagram for the USB version if needed–the USB version works exactly that way.

      Dave

      Reply
  11. When i test via your testing program or Hyoerterminal, moving the encoders doe change the numbers, but only by one e.g. from 0000 to -0001 and then back to 0000.

    At one point i had one axis working correctly and one not, but now they are both like this. It is detecting movement but not counting correctly?

    Reply
    • Scratch that

      I I found the issue. I eliminated problems with the cables and found it was isolated to the azimuth circuit. Found I had solder joining the Ch B to the 5V line.,

      Once I removed the excess solder, its all fine. Finally get to test it tonight!

      Reply
      • Hi Stu, glad you found the problem. Whenever the encoder count just changes back and forth like that, the problem is that either channel A or channel B isn’t changing like it should, and your description of the problem fits that perfectly.

        Dave

        Reply
  12. Dave, I’d like to port this over to a 16F628A/648A or a 16F88, as the 16F84 is getting rare and expensive. Is the source available in C or Assembly?
    Thanks, George

    Reply
  13. My board came with tiny board mount capacitors that I had to solder myself, they were smaller than BB’s. My question is I noticed on this page that there is supposed to be polarity, however even with a microscope set to low power, there is no indication of polarity. The instructions also say the oscillator should have 3 rounded corners, but on mine all corners are rounded, again, no indication of polarity. Should I trash this one and just order another kit with the correct parts? I am kind of stuck at an impasse.

    Reply
    • You’re referring to the USB version of the board. The building instructions on this page don’t really apply to the USB version. On the USB version, the chip capacitors are nonpolarized, as is the crystal (oscillator).

      Reply
  14. got farcircuts kit. the capacitors and resistors that i must order now at jameco are the same order numbers respectivley, on the circut board it has r and c numbers in specific spots. can you explain to me. thanks.

    Reply
  15. The R and C numbers on the board indicate where each of the resistors and capacitors go. All the resistors are the same–10 K-OHm 1/4 watt resistors. There are two different capacitor values: 0.1 uF and 10 uF. Just make sure that the right value goes in the right place on the board (in the right orientation, too, in the case of some of the parts–see the instructions for details).

    If this doesn’t answer your question, let me know.

    Dave

    Reply
  16. hi there,, interested in building this ,, however will I need to make any changes to the required hardware to suit New Zealand ?
    thanks Al

    Reply
  17. Hi Dave, am glad I came across your setting circle project here, it’s a great share!
    I’ve got an old Losmandy G11 with encoders for the JMI MicroMax already there. I should be able to just plug in the phone-type connectors to your interface, right?

    I checked on the Fox Oscillator at Mouser but it’s no longer available and Fox no longer has them either. Is there another that you can recommend that’s maybe more reliable than the Jameco you mentioned? Thanks alot!

    Reply
    • Hi Steven,

      The encoders that came with your Losmandy should work fine with my board. As far as the oscillator goes, I think that FAR Circuits sells the PC board, the oscillator, and the two ICs as a kit for $24. That’d be one way to go. Otherwise, Mouser part # 815-ACO-4-EK would work for the oscillator. I’ll update the parts list.

      Hope this helps –

      Dave

      Reply
  18. Hello Dave, if possible could I get a copy of the code for 16f628, it would be greatly appreciated. looking forward to building/ installing it on my Dob. Thank you

    Reply
  19. Hi Dave,
    I’m going to build serial version of your interface. Do you think is there any issue in substituting the 4Mhz TTL oscillator with a 4Mhz crystal and connecting each terminal to pin 15 and 16 and to GND via a 22pF capacitor as in USB version?

    Thanks,
    Simone

    Reply
  20. Hi Dave, I would like to make some modifications to serial interface layout . Can you send me the layout and pcb files ( I would use Eagle Express software)

    Thanks

    Simone

    Reply
  21. The circuit boards supplied by FAR Circuits are of a Horrible quality: Holes too small to mount components, over etched as to leaved no copper at the thru-holes pad, Breakouts and voids in the etch. Poor registration of the drilling in some cases almost missing the pad. I can make it work, but it will take a lot of hand rework.

    Reply
    • Occasionally you’ll get a board with a few defects from FAR Circuits, but Fred is usually pretty good about replacing a board. Get in touch with him and let him know there are some issues, and he’ll probably send you a new one. Fred was nice enough to become the board supplier about 15 years ago or so and I’ve heard very few complaints. Also, the price is right. If I were to get boards made by a big board house they’d cost a lot more, and I don’t want to get in the business of selling stuff.

      Alternatively, you could layout your own board and get it made, or you could build up the circuit on a generic board. It’s not a complicated circuit so it’s doable.

      Dave

      Reply

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