n2kbod6 - need to know Body, chapter 6

last updated 15 oct 97 - mjh

6) assembly

You have a bare board; you have your parts. How do they get together?

6.1) in house

We have some fairly sophisticated tools for assembly. There are several good quality soldering irons, as well as a hot-air pencil and under-board hot-air bath. We have several gauges of solder (thick to fine), and several forms of solder paste (including no-clean and aqueous flux). Talk to Todd.

But who does the work?

6.1.1) yourself

You can, if you wish. Talk to Todd. He can set you up.

6.1.2) Harold, Neil, and/or PES support

If you are not so inclined as to do it yourself, we have two technicians available, Harold and Neil, who can help with assembly. Please be aware that Todd is responsible for work assignments for both Harold and Neil. Please ask Todd to ask...

And please be aware that both Harold and Neil have lots of other things that they are responsible for. Don't expect to be able to have someone instantly available to you. Plan ahead, and provide early warning (to Todd).

If the workload is large enough, or if Harold/Neil are not available, we have in the past subcontracted to have help from the Physics Electronics Shop. Talk to Todd.

6.1.3) armies of students...

If you need a *lot* of simple assembly, and you have sensibly alerted Todd (months) in advance, he can hire undergraduates to help. This is the standard way that we approach large volume, in-house assembly. Training time is non-negligible, so you really need to plan large projects well in advance. You also need to keep in mind the school schedule. Students disappear for finals and holidays, and if you don't get them *early* in the spring then they won't be around for the summer.

6.2) contract

It is expensive, but may well be cost effective, to consider contract assembly. Our current providers is ICS, located in Decatur. Todd has worked with them, and has formed an effective working relationship. They are capable of both prototype and production level assembly of both conventional through-pin and reasonable surface mount; they balk at the really fine-pitch SMT and ball-grid parts.

Working with a contract assembler requires a fair amount of protocol, documentation, and prior planning. Talk to Todd, and be prepared to visit ICS several times before and during your assembly project. Do not treat this as an "over-the-wall" task where bright people will simply figure out what you meant. Get involved and stay involved, or you will spend a lot of money, run over schedule, and get back trash.

To date, our results have been fairly good.