Finally the components arrived. The next step was to check them against a printout of the PCB to ensure that all the footprints matched up. I had already checked that the printout was a 1:1 scale of the PCB artwork.
Once I had verified that all the footprints were correct and fixed any that were off I sent the artwork off to BatchPCB for manufacture and waited for delivery.
6 weeks later I received 4 boards, it was time for assembly.
When populating surface mount PCBs I start with the large multi-leaded packages as they tend to have other components close to them. In this case I stated with the PIC (U3), followed by the buck converter (U2) and then the charge controller (U1). Next to be installed were the FETs and other transistors, followed by the passive components. I’ll populate one side of the board at a time and I use PCB standoffs to raise the board and keep it level when populating the other side. Finally the sockets and connectors were soldered onto the board.
It’s usually at this stage that design errors will show up, in this case I have no programming header on the board. It’s not a big deal as I can attach directly to the PIC pins. It would be more of a problem if it was a lead-less package.
Now to upload the firmware and give it a test.