The first FUNcube Dongle mini-production line

While we’re in pre-production, we’re busy ensuring that we’ve characterised the FUNcube Dongle. Here are some pictures of the pre-production construction process.

Here’s the jig for the solder paste stencil

The solder pasting takes about fifteen minutes per board: it’s not unusual to mess it up and have to restart. This means cleaning the board and stencil again, so on avergae it’s about 15 minutes per board.

The paste applied to one of the PCBs

 

Placing the parts is the most time consuming part

A batch ready for reflow

Once the parts are placed, the boards are carefully placed in the oven.

After only a couple of minutes in the reflow oven everything’s soldered… but it doesn’t end there. A complete microscope inspection of every part on the whole board is conducted. Those 32 pin leadless QFNs almost always seem to need hand touchup.

Placing the surface mount parts on four boards takes me about two hours – that’s placing 400 parts in total. Optical inspection and associated rework takes about 20 minutes per board.

Once the boards have been built, I need to mount the SMA and USB plugs and the crystal. That takes about another 15 minutes per board.

The rework for the LNA in the first PCB “spin”

 We found in initial tests that sensitivity at VHF wasn’t quite good enough so we’ve been testing various LNAs. The rework for each LNA is about 30 minutes for each FUNcube Dongle.

Samples from the mini-production line – with the orginal outline schematic of the first FUNcube Dongle

So, after about 1.5 hour labour per board, finally here is a selection of some of the first ten pre production units!

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7 Responses to The first FUNcube Dongle mini-production line

  1. Bernd Kroener says:

    Hello,

    I am very interested in this great project.
    Please let me know, when it will be available, what will be be the price for the Pro version and how to order it.

    vy 73

    Bernd

    • admin says:

      Price has yet to be finalised as we are still obtaining assembly quotes. Indicative costs suggest around GBP100/EUR115/USD150 for the Pro version. Once we have assembly started we’ll look into distribution and I’ll let you know on the site.

      Howard (G6LVB)

  2. Anton Dülg says:

    Hello,
    I am also very interested in this great project.
    May I have information when the FunCube Dongle is available, please.
    I am interested also in technical details about this project.
    Thanks a lot in advance for your information

    Kind regards

    vy 73 Toni
    DL6NBB

  3. Hello,

    The ARP Radio-club de Paris is just beginning his microwave project,

    http://arp75.free.fr/ParaboleARP/index.php?

    We would appreciate to order two FunCube Dongle Pro to test them as soon as possible.

    Congratulations and best 73.

    Laurent F6GOX

    • admin says:

      Laurent

      I’m afraid that there’s no ordering facility yet, but there will be in the next week or two.

      Many thanks, Howard

  4. Hi,
    This seems a great tool. I am very interested to use it and compare it to our current SDR at the Dwingeloo observatory. We are regularly QRV with EME as PI9CAM and during operationhours, our SDR is always on-line.
    You can find it here: http://websdr.camras.nl:8901/

    Hope to hear soon about availablity of the SDR, thanks for this FB project!

    73, Dick PA2DW

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