Build your own Xprotolab! - Hardware version 1.8
This kit contains everything you need to build an Xprotolab, the microcontroller will be programmed with the latest firmware before shipping.
This latest kit uses the XMEGA with USB, ATXMEGA32A4U
Click the Assembly icon for assembly instructions.
Dennis Chang (Thursday, 03 November 2016)
Samantha Whitaker (Sunday, 29 September 2013)
It was fun to put this kit together, although I would not do it again due to the labor involved. I used a very fine-tipped Hakko 30W pencil iron, paste flux and no magnifier.
Thanks to the other comments, it went smoothly for me and was perfect on first power-up.
1) The new crystal does not have a dot but has one pad on the bottom that is differently-shaped than the others. That is pad 1. This was the toughest install for me because there is so little surface exposed at each corner for the iron to touch. I ended up building up a large drop of solder on the tip and touching this to the u-shaped vertical channels at each corner that suck the solder down to the board's pads. Sadly I was not tweezing the crystal firmly enough and got it installed a bit crooked.
2) I did not have trouble with the microUSB port. What I did was clamp it in place and solder the pins first, without soldering the shell. I scraped the tip of the iron back and forth across the pins, randomly bridging some of them, until eventually by luck none of them were bridged. Immediately, I stopped scraping and then proceeded to solder down the shell through the board.
3) Thanks to the good close-up photos on the assembly page, I did not have any trouble identifying any of the non-passive parts or determining their alignment.
4) Roger Vernon's tip about soldering the OLED screen made it an easy install.
5) Install the components from the inside out so that the components that would be blocked first are installed before the ones that would block them.
6) It was surprising how tiny the screen was and how hard it is to actually read the tiny text. I would build the xminilab instead next time. This is especially true given that one can install either the J8 1x6 OR the PDI 1x6 but not both at the same time on the xprotolab. The xminilab allows for both 1x6 connectors to be installed.
Roger Vernon (Wednesday, 17 October 2012)
The kit would be fun if I could finish it. A couple of the parts weren't labeled or labeled wrong so I can't figure out which is the voltage regulator and voltage ref. Originally one of those was labeled as the crystal so I had to take it off which isn't an easy task with all the other components on there. I am also missing a voltage component, just not sure which one because they aren't labeled. Was also missing a capacitor, thought maybe I lost it but when I counted out the number on the diagram and number of empty slots it was missing, I did however have extras of two other components.
Ante Vukorepa (Sunday, 31 July 2011)
HA! My very first surface mount soldering project and it worked the first time with no reflowing/fixing!!
Thanks to everyone who provided tons of soldering advice. You NEED a fine tip iron, very small gauge solder, fine tweezers, a good clamp to hold the board, good light, and a good large magnifying stand. Oh, and a bucket of flux. Set the iron to 675 degrees F and That's it!
The OLED was actually one of the easiest parts to solder. Forget the paperclip advice and use some tape across the ribbon above the pads. I was fumbling with paperclips. Tape is so much easier. Just pre-tin the pads with a small amount of solder, put down a slim layer of paste, sandwich the ribbon on with tape and run your tip down the ribbon pads one at a time. That's all I did!
Reid Bishop (Friday, 27 May 2011)
Just finished building mine. It was a blast. No issues with any of the SMDs, apart from the lack of space in some places (I had to keep the soldering iron almost completely vertical to reach a few resistors) and my own idiocy (managed to solder one resistor in the wrong spot, had to reflow and desolder it with a gas-powered Weller). The crystal osc was a (very slight) bit of a pain in that it was impossible (for me at least) to solder it on. Ended up using solder paste and hot air to mount it, worked perfectly. Had absolutely 0 issues with the kit, everything seems to be fully functional and operational. All in all, AWESOME little device. Love it! :)
I just finished my first kit (my third XProtolab).
David is right- this requires good steady hand, very fine tipped iron, good flux, and confidence in doing fine SMT work.Let me add a couple of hints. The USB jack was indeed the most challenging component to mount. Use liquid flux on the pads first, then tin VERY lightly. Apply more flux, apply flux on the USB pins, and place the jack on board. Now take your fine tipped iron and touch all the pins (no solder yet) to get it "tacked" down. Make sure your iron is at least 760F. Then apply more flux, and use the iron to apply a very small amount of solder to each pin and let it flow towards traces on board. Finally, turn board over, apply flux to holes, and fill those holes with hot solder! You want this to be a strong mount as it is a high stress point.The display would be the next hardest component. Again, lots of flux and a very light pre-tin to the pads on the board. Flux the connector, get it positioned on the board, and touch each pad with the iron (again, don't use any solder yet). Tack down each pad. Now add flux, and lightly go over each pad with a teensy bit of solder and let it flow towards traces on board.One final tip- leave the display and switches to last. Get everything soldered up to the board except display and switches. Now use Alcohol, soap, and hot water to CLEAN the board up nice. Don't worry- you can drown the board all you like at this stage without harm. This could make a big difference in how clean the signals will be. Then proceed with mounting the display. Use alcohol to clean up the display pads real good, and finally mount the switches. Great kit- you can do it in one evening if your skills allow. Don't be afraid- SMD work is actually easier than thru-hole if you have a nice fine tipped iron and some means to magnify your work. I use one of those harbor freight magnifying headbands- it makes a huge difference in seeing what you are working on.