Best practices to include in your final projects

electronic-best-practices

Making that final push to button up your projects can be a bit daunting. It’s kind of like the punch list on a construction project — add switch plates, fill nail holes in baseboards, screw in light bulbs, clean windows — that stuff adds up quickly. But having a set of best practices in mind throughout the development phase will cut down on that burden. [Caleb P.] just published a quick guide using a recent project as an example.

First and foremost is the label seen on the project box lid. How many times have you pulled out a circuit board from a year or two earlier and not been able to figure out the pinout? As with ancient televisions and radios, including the service schematic will save you big time! He also mentions that the size and orientation of the components in the case was in the back of his mind the whole time. That paid off because everything fits like a glove. [Caleb] makes sure the battery is easy to get to, and the each component has some type of connector so that it may be removed and serviced/replace without soldering. There’s certainly nothing groundbreaking in this guide. But ask yourself: have I been following all of these guidelines in my own work?

Comments

  1. dext0rb says:

    DIY ISO9001

  2. /Marc says:

    Basic, but very very useful indeed.

  3. Whatnot says:

    Some good tips, but man that soldering and ‘finish’ is atrocious looking, but if it works eh.

  4. Philip says:

    Thought it was already common practise to have the schematic put inside the enclosure for your project…

  5. Sven says:

    Talking about plagues and bad practices, hot glue really should not be used in final versions for anything but filler, it has a nasty tendency to lose grip and fall off. Unless you want to remove it in which case it never comes off.

    It doesn’t handle UV well either so never use it anywhere that will be hit by sunlight.

    • Whatnot says:

      From what I understand there are various mixtures for hot glue used, so they would have various properties. The problem though is that it’s very rare to know what you are dealing with – unless you are some big conglomerate I guess.
      And then there are surfaces that don’t adhere to hot glue in any circumstance, sigh.

      • Sven says:

        Of course, there is even heat activated glue used in glue guns that then set and won’t melt again.

        I was talking about the general hot glue you get when you buy “glue sticks”. I have never come across one that actually works for anything but filling or temporary fastening.

  6. JJ says:

    On a recent project I did for an organization I just stuck a USB drive inside the case with schematics, code, datasheets and the entire development environment. An 8GB drive costs less than $4 and makes the job a whole lot easier for the next person who needs to repair or mod the device.

  7. echodelta says:

    Each component has it’s own connector. Sounds like trouble in the future. Nothing like hard soldered. Molex schmolex, peterson pain. Mother board, daughter dropouts. I clip these things off and solder direct in so many repairs. Make the wires tough and long enough. Never use single strand wire outside of test strips, flex 3 times it breaks.
    Hot glue=temporally liquid duct tape.

  8. 0xfred says:

    Wow. If that’s a neatly finished end product, then I’d hate to see what he does if he’s in a bit of a hurry.

    Not a bad idea to include a schematic inside – although maybe also add a link to something like a dropbox folder where you can find more details.

    • Caleb says:

      I was in a hurry! This was something needed the day before I was asked to do it. But this is also a cheep and garage friendly way of building it. No custom printed boards, no crazy parts or connectors just good old hacker friendly parts, hot glue and solder.

      Dropbox links don’t last. In fact most things on the internet don’t stand the test of time. A physical piece should be included. I like the idea above of using a jump drive or micro SD card.

      • Whatnot says:

        Yes internet things do not last, But you could always use the law that gives you a right to view information about yourself to access the NSA copies :) That should add another 100 years of backups to your options.

        • Whatnot says:

          Come to think of it, if they make those NSA stores accessible by the ‘target’ it might actually become a thing that’s accepted and a big hit, like facebook is. Free unlimited storage of your life.

  9. MRE says:

    Good points:
    Best practices – * documentation! Especially attached to the devices in some way so as to be permanent. Someone mentioned an SD card. Also a good idea. Personally, both sounds great; printed schematic and more details on the card.
    * Button it up good and tight. Hot glue, while less than ideal, is far better than just leaving things hanging.
    Not sure I agree on: Everything on the nasty side of the relay. For the specs stated on the cover, banana jacks are not really wise. Although, it largely depends on the intended application, which we know not. But if this is switching 110-220 AC at up to 7 amps, there should be some other form of connector there, or appropriate pig-tailed power cords. If it is just a general purpose low current DC switch, yeah ok Bananas are fine.
    Again, it depends on the actual duty of the device, but using header pins on the relay board outlets is clever but questionable. Sure, it solves a problem. But it is not ideal. And, given the love of hot glue, why not a mass of it on the spade pins on the female end of the headers?!?! If you have high current/AC passing through there, you most certainly would want to insulate that of all places.

  10. deadlydad says:

    The proper mindsets: ‘Overkill’ is a good starting point, the term ‘Minimal requirements’ isn’t used in polite company, and ‘milspec’ is only suitable for prototypes. ‘Nuff said.

    • Sven says:

      ‘milspec’ is when you use a 35A 2kV 500MHz connector and cable for an LED and a button because someone decided that’s the minimum requirements for your application. There is thorough, then there is overkill, then there is milspec…

  11. engineer says:

    ISO 9001 is just a gold star, you can have the certification but you only have to follow them during audits.

  12. engineer says:

    Reminds me of this post:

    http://hackaday.com/2013/03/15/script-makes-custom-pinout-labels-for-your-chips/

    It may be a good addition to your BBP

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