FCD Pro ordering begins 19 Dec 2010 12:00UTC


The units we’ve built so far for the first production batch are working perfectly, and also we’re now consistently hitting 100% yield without any defect rework – very satisfying!

As we’re having to hand make this first batch, and units will be released in smaller batches, it’s currently limited to one device per purchase.

Ordering will start on 19 Dec 2010 12:00UTC and you can order yours by following this link.

I have set it up so that is says “Sold out” if we’re out of units and it won’t let you purchase. The alternative is to accept payments anyway and then back fill the orders, however although Paypal knows the inventory is empty, it does not inform the buyer of this directly of this prior to taking funds. I’ll look into seeing if there’s a way to automatically inform that we’re out of stock before committing to purchase.

The process and timing of building ten boards is this:

o Paste up boards – 20 mins
o Place the the three QFNs – 45 mins
o Place the other active devices – 45 mins
o Place the passive devices – 6 hours
o Oven – 5 mins
o Visual inspection – 30 mins
o Place the crystal and RF ESD diode (underside) – 1 hour
o Place the SMA connector – 30 mins
o Place the USB connector – 30 mins
o Program and initial test with the bootloader – 10 mins
o Program firmware – 5 mins
o RF test – 15 mins
o HPF rework – 45 mins
o Post HPF RF test – 15 mins
o Drill SMA hole in enclosures – 5 mins
o Label – 30 mins

Total for ten boards (without defects): 12 hours 30 minutes.

Defect rework per board can be anywhere from 1 minute for a missing part (discovered during visual inspection) to a couple of hours if I need to get the in circuit debugger out, so taking care to get 100% yield is important!


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13 Responses to FCD Pro ordering begins 19 Dec 2010 12:00UTC

  1. Hello Howard, congratulations on the new project is very interesting I wanted to buy one when I order it?
    73 Roberto

  2. Frank PH2M says:

    Wow Howard, this will keep you busy the coming months Hi Hi.
    I think this (ordering) site will explode next Sunday around 12:00 UTC, I hope I will be able to join all the others to give it a try and order a FCD Pro.

    Best 73 de Frank PH2M (ex PE1KNL, QRV on AO7, AO10, AO13, AO27, AO29 etc. ect.)

  3. Barry says:

    It is unclear if you are listing 10 units for sale in a lot, I assume to followed by listing another 10 in a day or so? Please clarify.

    1200UTC? It’s still dark here at 1200 UTC! (8-)

    Also, while Qt sounds great, don’t let support for all the platforms be a distraction. Pick the top 2-3 most needed and get something out in the field. There will be lots of feedback on the Sw and regression testing on multiple platforms is VERY time consuming. The minute you deliver unit #1, the project turns from exciting development to painful support.


    • admin says:


      Thank you for your note. It will be as many as I have built and tested on Sunday. I would anticipate I’ll have about 50 or so by then. I have enough parts in stock to make 110, so as they become available I’ll let you know in advance probably once a week. I also have another manufacturer making 100 for delivery in January.

      50 is about the most I can make in a week without going completely doolally. I have already started to get a little RSI in my left elbow which is my tweezer holding side.

      Agreed regarding cross platform. It is exceptionally time consuming testing across platforms. Even something as mundane as building yet-another-fresh-environment is painstakingly slow. Thing is, it actually gives me a little respite from the repetitive, almost soul destroying, placing of parts.

      Sorry about the timing! The timing of the release is such that I will have time to package and do the paperwork for the devices I have and catch Monday’s post for expedited delivery. Within the UK the units should at least arrive before Christmas. Had I not been let down by the original supplier I would have made Christmas worldwide, and I am sorry about that. Best laid plans…


  4. Chris says:

    Well done on the timing and scale of the work Howard, impressive to say you are doing this all on your own. Look forward to buying and using your FUNcube dongle on our next year satellites and may be teaching a few school children about our satellites and running a portable satellite ground station.

    Howard, I was doing to ask you later about developing some training aids for radio amateurs wanting to move into experimenting with SMD and SMT as you are more than qualified just from what you have done with your dongle. I fancy experimenting with SMD designs now you have opened a new door into our hobby and satellites, especially as the American ITAR closed many doors to other International AMSAT members. Any chance of you writing a few articles on SMD experimenting for AMSAT-UK OSCAR News and where we can buy development boards and cheap packs of SMT/SMD to experiment with?

    Thanks again for your work and efforts, it brings new hope and excitement to AMSAT and to other radio amateur operators too.

    Best regards,
    Chris, GW6KZZ

    • Barry says:

      As Chris GW6KZZ points out, this is a very impressive project. Please engage others in the cross platform development and testing. All of the effort counts toward your personal burn out threshold and we (speaking for all on the list) do not want to see you anywhere near that point!

      Barry wØiy

  5. Mike, N1JEZ says:

    I’ll be up bright and early in the morning Howard! Here’s hoping I can snag one. Keep up the great work.

    Mike, N1JEZ
    AMSAT 29649

  6. Henk PA3GUO says:

    Flawless order intake !
    Had the pleasure to be number 00001 🙂

    Thanks for driving innovation and especially SDR now.
    Soon we will see an SDR dongle in each mast mounted pre-amp !

    Best regards
    Henk, PA3GUO

  7. eric says:

    I was too slow, there was no more


  8. Rob says:

    Well i got to order page, and clicked pay ,and it crashed.:-(

  9. Dave says:

    Seems a great product. Have you considered supplying it as a kit? (Unless the pads of the ICs are not underneath !)


    • admin says:


      Thanks for your note.

      The prime motivation for the FCD was (and still is) to provide a means for anyone, in particular educators, to receive the FUNcube satellite. As such we felt that it needed to be made as easy as possible to get on air, and so the supply of the FCD as a kit have not been a priority, but keen pricing and ease of use are.

      If it were a kit, this would definitely be a very advanced project that needs a serious workshop. In particular, the QFNs really need to be reflowed as they have powerpads underneath the chip.

      Most of the passives are 0402, and there are some SOT23 and SC70 devices in there too. You would need a decent microscope.

      One other thing: one of the devices is subject to an NDA so for debugging a kit I’d need to release detailed schematics that would break the NDA I’m afraid.