A few weeks ago, I got a Free PCB from Dangerous Prototypes for a Bus Pirate.  This is a pretty cool hardware swiss army knife that I'm still learning how to use.

This is the bus pirate in front of the terminal background.

This is the bus pirate in front of the terminal background.

I had a few issues with the build (none a fault of Dangerous Prototypes or the PCB manufacturer).  First off, I didn't get the LEDs on correctly the first time, and I'm pretty sure I didn't get the USB one right the second time, either.  Also, I didn't get good solder joints on the PIC24.  I was seeing problems that were identical to these reported on the DP Forum, and feared that the FTDI chip was fake.  After removing the FTDI chip and pulling one from another FTDI board I had, I tried sjaak's advice of pushing on the chips and found that if I pushed on one part of the PIC24, the VREG light came on, so I reflowed the solder on both chips and voila!

I also learned that PIC chips aren't as easy as Arduinos to burn, and after initially finishing the PCB, I had to order a PICKit3 to burn the chip.  It wasn't a big deal to order the PICKit, but it was a nearly week delay as I inadvertently (and unknowingly) selected a shipping option that used UPS for the long haul from Ft. Worth to Cincinnati and then used the postal service to deliver it the last 2 miles from the post office to my house (to use another ham's quote, "you get the incredible slowness of the ground services + the normal 2 day delivery of USPS. you save cents. yay!?" ... yeah, that's about right - 100 cents to add two days to the delivery time).

I did slightly deviate from what I think was intended with this - this was built for a USB Micro connector, but I put a USB Mini connector on it.  It hangs off a little, but I'm fine with that (I have minor personal reasons too, but it really boils down to preference).

I also deviated on the connector.  I didn't look back in my order history to get the correct connector, and ended up with an incorrect connector.  So I put header pins on it and called it done.

A final thing I learned was the value in over-ordering.  Since I'm not a pro in this, my parts orders tend to be small, and normally there is a price break at 10.  Having extras on hand means that as soon as I get a PCB, I can start building right away.

Thanks to Dangerous Prototypes for the PCB!  I'm already learning a lot about using it and I'm (of course) using my last free PCB build to learn more about using it.


Category: Equipment

About the Author

Andrew is the owner of this blog and enjoys computer programming, building things, and photography. He's a pretty busy guy, which explains why updates to this blog are so infrequent.

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