I received the boards towards the end of October 2016, but school was unfortunately very busy and I didn’t have time to devote to the project. I finally got around to doing some soldering over Christmas break.
For some reason, not all of the silkscreen got printed. Specifically, the outlines of the components were present but none of the component names were printed. This was probably something I did when generating the Gerber files for fabrication; I’ll have to look into it for my next layout.
This board gave me plenty of practice in SMD soldering! There were a lot of 0603 resistors and capacitors. I found this video tutorial particularly helpful. At first, a lot of my joints were ugly, but I got better at it. I found that the solder would stick to the soldering iron, even though I was using a fine point tip with solder containing flux, in addition to applying rosin flux paste to the PCB. I hope that this is just a matter of inexperience. In any case, I am much more confident in my soldering skills now.
This was my first PCB layout, so I had no expectation of it working on the first revision. So far, I have gotten the display working. This required fixing some missing wires for the display by soldering directly to the SOIC microcontroller (not very pretty – see the picture). It was so reliving and rewarding when I was able to successfully program the microcontroller to get a blinking LED and a test message on the display. Next, I have to finish writing the firmware and test the rest of the circuit.