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Monday, April 29, 2013

Chuck Adams' MUPPET Construction: Manhattan-Ugly-Professional Placement Experimental Technique

From a message from Chuck Adams, K7QO,  to the QRP-Tech list:

OK, the rush is on. I figured out what I want to do and now
the race is on to use up over 1,000,000 parts before the
estate sale. :0)

And you know I have to show this to every one, whether any
one uses it or not is up to them. I fell into the following MUPPET
technique through trial and error.

Manhattan Construction: Jim, K8IQY, 1998 winning of Dayton contest
started it.

and then there is the variation on this using the 'Island cutter' or
a special
diamond circular shaped drill for making pads. Generates hazard
dust and
I have yet to see some one that can make the same pad every time. I
don't know of a tutorial online that shows using a drill stop to get
uniformity. IMHO.

Ugly Construction:
and about 16,000,000 other sites with a Google search engine.

Professional Construction:

And using all of the above I'll call the 'MUPPET Construction' for
Manhattan-Ugly-Professional Placement Experimental Technique
for construction of electronic circuits.

Now, unless you have been hiding in a cave for about 20 years,
all of the above should be familiar to you, except MUPPET. For
lack of a better name, it is the term I will use for collecting all
the techniques together to build something.

OK. Going to the known techniques. What is it that you like and
don't like? How about expense to get started, other than the parts?

Ugly. Requires a supply of high valued >1Mohm resistors for standoffs.
But is is quick and easy. Some times difficult to debug for some else
that did not build the circuit. What is this gismo here for? ...

Manhattan. Nasty super glue and doing the layout. Harbor Freight or
similar punch, some people have difficulty finding. Takes time to place
the pads and let them set.

PCB. Layout time. AND, something no one bothered to mention.
Drilling a lot of holes and getting them all centered is a royal pain.


You still are going to be out some expense for equipment. For MUPPET
you will need a PCB shear/cutter and some cheap items for doing
PCB etching. Don't give me grief about the muriatic acid. Just
kill it with backing soda when you are done and flush.

Here is an example out of the gate. Just a simple VXO test fixture
to determine why I could not get constant startup on a VXO in a project.


Then I got excited about not having to drill holes, I can do Manhattan
layouts and as you will see I magically came across a tool that costs
very little and makes things entirely repeatable as many times as you

For the Manhattan projects and my stuff spread around the Internet
like bread crumbs in a fairy tale, I constantly get emails about how
I laid the project out and what software did I use and how I wrote it.
This new technique uses expressPCB for the layout. I just the layout
on the top layer. ExpressPCB, for economical reasons, does not
print out the top layer so that you can easily use the toner transfer
method to make a PCB.

Here is how I get around that limitation. I generate the PCB and
then 'print' it out, but not to my Samsung laser printer. I print it to
a 'PDF' printer, i.e. the image is sent to a file and converted in the
process to PDF format. I can now manipulate that to 'reflect it'
about the vertical to get a reverse image, like you do for iron on
shirts, in PDF format and then print that. So now I can do double
sided boards if I ever want to. The reversal is done using a package
called PDFjam for linux and is most likely available for windows.

OK. Here is the most valuable tool for PCB layouts.


Using the vector board I get exact distances desired between
component legs and when I bend them they will sit FLAT on the
surface of the PCB. And before removing the component from
the board, I cut the leads sticking through the other side to get
the exact same length every time. As it turns out, it is about
0.1", the same and the standard IC pin spacing and the same
snap points in ExpressPCB. I use 0.1" SMT pad sizes for the
solder points and 0.2" spacing in most cases so that I get
the neatest placement possible.

I can use the vector board edge to bend resistors to get
vertical placement on PCBs in kits and here. Each one
will look almost exactly the same. Try it. You'll like it.

OK, here is a XTAL OSC that I built up in less than an hour,
from start to finish. Yes, you can do it quicker. But I wanted
to able to reproduce the circuits numerous times, if needed,
and now I can easily share them without having to go through
hoops to get the same layout to you or any one else.

<http://www.k7qo.net/p4120007.jpg> Board before populating.
<http://www.k7qo.net/p4120008.jpg> See how neat the transistor sits?
<http://www.k7qo.net/p4120013.jpg> XTAL OSC complete.
<http://www.k7qo.net/p4120014.jpg> Running 11.040MHz crystal.

Side effects. You can do, on the PCB plane on the sides:
Ugly mods and add ons or replacements for larger projects.
Manhattan pad placement for mods, add-ons, etc.

Note. With judicious placement of text, you can document
parts placement for help in building and later showing
someone where you put things and why. Also will help
in debugging something years later.

And just as an experiment. I promise not to cheat.
I will, at 2200UTC, right after posting this email, I will go back
to the lab. I will not eat, nor will I rest until I have done the following
two projects from scratch.
1. Project 001. The HP 8640jr project.
2. Project 004. The G3UUR xtal osc and parameter fixture from QQ.

I want to do this and then show-and-tell the items at tomorrows
flea market/hamfest at DeVry Institute here in PHX AZ and the
AZ QRP luncheon just down the street at the burger place.

FYI and enjoy,

chuck, k7qo (the lab rat #2, since #1 is already taken in NH) :-)

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  1. This is fantastic, thanks for cross posting this from Chuck.

    73 Dan WA6PZB

  2. What a great collection of pointers to construction techniques! Thanks - Jack AI4SV

  3. Long live MUPPET boards!


  4. Many of the links are broken... can you embed the images or provide new links? The video on you tube is broken too.




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