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Mike, NI2S's Ham Blog

Page 6

SSB Module Assembly

05/Aug/06: Near the end of the Front Panel PCB build, the instructions state to assemble the SSB module, and install the parts on the Front PCB that support the SSB add-on (included in the SSB module parts bag).  The SSB Module is particularly challenging because the spacing of components is extremely close, as the manual aptly warns.  Here, I don't think I will be able to get away with doing only a relative few components before soldering.

Here is a Pic of the unassembled SSB PCB:     - now that's one crowded board!

Here I had my 2nd solder iron goof.  While soldering in the mic 10 pin connecter, (this component is installed on the back of the Front Panel PCB, and soldered on the component side, a millimeter away the S4 & S6 switch bodies) I brushed a switch cover with my iron, partially melting it.  No way to salvage this mistake.  I will have to get a replacement cover from Elecraft.  

I think this should be part of the mic connector install procedure:  When soldering the 10 pin connector, REMOVE the button covers from S2, S4 and S6.  Re-install covers after this step (note that my add-on module manuals are all about 4 years old, so it is possible that some of my comments may have been addressed by Elecraft since then.  I am using an up-to-date version of the Transceiver manual, which I purchased along with the Rev B upgrade pack - only the add-ons are old docs.)

Having installed most of the capacitors on the SSB board, I adopted a different solder strategy.  I am installing all the parts 'dry' as per instructions, and then I solder from the outside edges of the PCB and work my way in, usually soldering 3 - 4 components at a time, snipping leads, and continuing on.  Works just fine.

This is definitely a challenging module, requiring solder skill, needle-nose pliers skill, and patience.  I found that many of the small sized capacitors (2.5mm lead spacing) did not sit flush against the PCB.  There are several warnings in the SSB manual regarding the dangers of not seating the caps flush against the PCB.  Using a small pair of needle nose pliers, I had to straighten the cap leads at the body of the cap into order to get them flush against the PCB.  This is rather perilous work, as you can easily wreck a capacitor and not know it.  Some caps I could tug through the PCB holes, but many needed to be worked with the pliers.  Time will tell if I got it right or not.  Even though the SSB PCB is much smaller than the Control and Front Panel PCB's, I am spending more time on the SSB board than either of the two others.  Patience, patience.