Construction begins on KD1JV’s MTRv2

MTRv2With a mix of anticipation and dread I finally began construction of my MTR 2.0 this evening.

Prior to beginning I experimented with various methods of soldering on a pair of cheap SMD kits. After all that, I’m doing it the old way – the way that always worked before – standard old-fashioned soldering as would be done with through-hole parts.

The first and most difficult part of the kit is now finished with the exception of U10 which will be a beast to install correctly. U8 is done and went in with a few unavoidable solder bridges between pins but solder wick cleaned them up to the ohmmeter’s satisfaction and I expect U10 will go much the same way.

After that, it’ll be on to the caps, resistors and torroids…child’s play after these tiny chips.

I followed someone’s suggestion on the relevant Yahoo group for this kit and ordered an illuminated head-mounted magnifier. I thought it might help a bit – after the first ten minutes of starting the build, I realized I should have ordered one long ago.viewer

Faint markings on tiny parts are easy to read – even better than with a hand-held magnifier due to the small LED bulb, a second lens that can be dropped in front of one eye and the fact that is much easier to hold stable on the item of interest. And $8 – how do you beat that? A beer in Singapore’ll cost you more.

Amazon also had a variety pack of tips for my Hakko 936, one of which is just right for the task at hand.

This is my 5th SMD kit from Steve and, as I mentioned above, a certain amount of dread always accompanies me as I attempt to tackle such a project due to the fact that something can easily go wrong with such close spacing of many pins on some of the parts. The thought of a finished kit not working and then the accompanying troubleshooting looms over me until I power the kit up and make it through alignment to First Contact.

One good thing I realize upon completion of SMD kits is how quickly they go together due to not having to trim leads on the opposite side of the circuit board.

Phase 1 completed (except for U10).

Phase 1 completed (except for U10).

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  5 comments for “Construction begins on KD1JV’s MTRv2

  1. jerry terres
    July 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

    hi John,
    for me the biggie is that there are no markings on the caps making it hard to go back later and check if you put things in the right spot. in the past i have set up a routine of checking and double checking that it is the right part in the right place and checking that off on a list &/or a diagram with each part every step of the way. this gets tedious and fatigue sets in so i have to do it in spurts with rests in between. what i think is better is to go to staples or walmart and buy a pack of colored sharpies. believe it or not, i then mark each cap as i take it out of the strip with the same color(s) that steve used to label the strips. in part i do this because i use solder paste and all the caps on that side get layer down before any are soldered and i am worried they could get jostled before the soldering step. the sharpies do not seem to cause any problem with soldering or function but are pretty much all washed away if you use flux remover.
    other stuff: sometimes there are a couple of tiny 3 or 5 leg parts that can be mixed up, its easy to perfectly line up and mount an ic, and all its little pin, exactly 180 degrees the wrong way, sometimes you will see a label and a couple of pads next to the label but really they are pads to two different parts maybe at 90 degrees to the one you are supposed to be mounting. often steve will point out gottchas in the manual that you need to look out for. he does a really great manual. i have had it happen that i was absolutely sure that all the little pins on the bigger ics with a zillion tiny pins were properly soldered and in fact they were not.
    enjoy.
    jerry aa1of

    • July 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Hi Jerry,

      I’m being very meticulous and working in short stages followed by breaks from the eye strain. But I am soldering one part at a time as opposed to your method (and the most common one) of using paste and several components layed down at once. You’re right about the values though – if you are uncertain of a value after installing them, there is no way to reslove it later. I’m just going through all the parts and doing all of each value at a time.

      Last night I got all the SMD parts installed on the back (busy side) of the board except for those that determine the bands of operation. I wanted to build for 17, 20 and 40 meters and had the impression that all parts were included for these bands of choice. A query to the YahooGroup indicates this may not be the case and that the value selection is as cryptic to others as it is to me:

      https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AT_Sprint/conversations/messages/13613

      So I may build for 20, 30 and 40m simply because those values are clearly listed and included in the kit.

      I should be 90% finished after another round tonight.

      What point are you at, Jerry and what bands did you choose?

      • jerry terres
        July 19, 2014 at 2:18 am

        did not order a v2 as i already had the earlier 2 band version, 40 and 20

  2. July 19, 2014 at 4:08 am

    All parts are now mounted on both sides of the board except the toroids. Unfortunately, I’m missing two pieces of hardware – threaded metal stand-offs that allow the mounting of the board into the case. I’ve emailed Steve and will send him an sase for replacements.

    Tomorrow, I’ll wire the audio, 12V, key & antenna jacks to the board.

    After that – smoke test & alignment.

  3. July 30, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    The missing pieces arrived today with the envelope having been damaged in transit. The parts are okay though and completion of this kit nears…

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