2020 has been a horrible year, and I'm glad this is the last day of it. Tomorrow we get to start anew with a brand new year! And that will likely involve another TMPCB course with a different base schematic design.
Up until now, we've been taking all the individual projects, panelizing them, manufacturing the panels, and then shipping them to assembly. This was to save the assembly house the trouble of individually processing each board. That was the plan. As I'm sure you can surmise at this point, this is not going to be a happy email. I got a very sad email earlier this week.
This is the email:
"We had an issue when running through second side reflow. The panels fell off the guide chain and collided with the conveyor. With the paste being wet, mid-reflow we lost a significant amount of parts off the panel. This simply fell off due to a potato chip warp the panel developed. It’s thin and cannot support it’s own weight under thermal stress. We have never done an assembly that large/thickness so we had no idea this would present itself."
In short: Most of our boards are toast. Not all, but most. They're going to package and ship what they have, spare parts and all, and I'll see how bad it is when it arrives. But my suspicion is that we'll have solder bridges, tombstone, shorts, and just missing parts entirely. My hope is that we still have solder samples for everyone, which should give you a clean board and I might have enough parts left in overage to be able to create a semi-full kit for everyone -- at least get you the expensive or hard-to-find parts. You'll have to do toaster-oven reflow or hand-solder at home. I'm so sorry about this. I don't like "trying" to get stuff done. I like getting stuff done. But I can't ask Royal to spin our boards a third time, and I can't ask Digi for more parts, and I don't know that AA has the scalability for our designs to do them individually.
I still have the programmers and displays to mail out to you, along with certificates of participation. And I think I can make a compelling argument to get you some coupons for discount on future assembly (for those of you state-side that can make use of it).
Once I get these boards, I'll take some time to share all the things I learned about conglomerating and assembling boards. There is a way to make this happen -- but it's definitely not the way I did it.
Have a very happy New Year's everyone! Also, keep an eye out for an email asking for shipping information for each of you. Also, let me know if you can use any extra programmers or LCDs -- I should have 4-5 extra of each.