Building FUNcube Dongles – video

Not very exciting, but it gives you a taster of the tedium of building these!

That’s 10,000 manually placed parts in total, almost all under the microscope. As you can see it’s rather time consuming – it takes a full day to do ten. At 13:15 is the reflow oven, and the solder melts around 13:45-13:55.(Background audio track is what was on the TV at the time, starts off with Dr Who).


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11 Responses to Building FUNcube Dongles – video

  1. Mark N8MH says:

    Absolutely, positively amazing–and humbling! You are one of a kind, Howard. Few people could, or would, do what you’re doing. Thanks–I’ll take even better care of my FCD now!

  2. Reid NØRC says:


    How much extra per board would it cost to send the boards and parts to a fabrication house? When we have large runs at work (something that would take more than a day), we package everything up and send it off to Harris PCB Designs to be fabricated. I’m sure you’ve already looked into this, but if not, something to think about.



    • admin says:

      Hi Reid.

      Thanks for your note.

      I didn’t anticipate having to build any production units at all, but I had a manufacturer pull out the day after they were due to deliver assembled units me about three weeks ago. In order to attempt to make the promised date prior to Christmas, I have had to do the assembly myself.

      I’d also organised another manufacturer, but these won’t be ready for a couple of weeks yet.


  3. Pat Barthelow says:

    Hi Howard,

    I am amazed!
    Thinking of using your litle miracle in EME.

    Also, I am working in/with the Space /Industry community in Mexico. Recently presented a paper there in Enesnada, and will present again in Puerto Vallarta, an Mexico City. If you are interested in investigating medium/large scale production in Mexico I can help.
    Get in touch… Pat AA6EG

  4. Bruce N1RX says:

    I can only echo Mark’s comments- “humbling” says it best. I received my FCD today (#122). I have done a good amount of surface mount assembly here at home. However, the sheer scale of what you have done for us is truly admirable. Thank you so much Howard, for your selfless efforts in bringing this superb device to us. Best wishes for a prosperous new year. I now raise my New Year’s Eve glass to toast your steady hand!
    Bruce, N1RX

    • admin says:

      Hi Bruce

      Thanks for youe note, although I hasten to add that my own New Year’s Eve indulgence seems to have left me with a less than steady hand this morning!


  5. Ralph says:

    Hello Howard,
    I think you didn’t drink much coffee before starting this 🙂
    Thanks for that really interesting video – I like special the last part in the oven – I’ve never see that


  6. KI2L says:

    Fantastic. I surely would have dragged my sleeve across all that about 10 components from the end.


  7. Terry, G0TMX says:

    All of the above! Absolutely incredible, especially to see the oven sequence.

    How on earth do you not lose track of where you are with each individual component?
    A good thing is truly worth waiting for!

    73 de Terry, G0TMX.

    • admin says:

      Hi Terry

      I have about 30 sheets of paper, each with a copy of the board’s layout, and each highlighted for a different unique part. So, say I come to do the 0.1uF caps (there’s 20 of those on each board), there’s a sheet which has the position of all those caps highlighted, so I know exactly where to put each part.

      After hitting about fifty boards, I didn’t even need the sheets anymore.

      You get into quite a swing after a while, although the thought of doing 100 boards like this a few of weeks ago filled me with terror.

      After a quick inventory check, I only have enough spare parts left for four more boards now. A rather more attainable goal for tomorrow!