I found the disadvantage of using these cheap $0.30 boards… you have to wire up everything yourself. That got pretty painful pretty fast. But I remembered that if your only going to be making 1 or 2 boards, using these $0.30 boards is faster than laying out a PCB.
With PCB’s, you create the schematic, making any parts you need. Then you lay it out in the positions that you want. Then you have to route the wires, check clearances, and make sure everything is there and connected. Then you send it out for a small quantity batch, at about $5 a sq inch. Then you wait…
If you went with an expensive PCB service, the wait might not be long. If you went the budget route, then you may have to wait up to a month. So not only have you invested the time to lay it out and route it, but your having to wait an additional month to get an actual board in. And that is assuming that you didn’t make any mistakes in the PCB.
Wiring up your own circuit, even though it may be long and painful (I spent like 4 or 5 hours soldering today), its cheaper, in both cost, and time. Not only is it cheaper, but it gives you more experience, so next time, you won’t repeat similar mistakes.
So I finished soldering together the main board, I think. I check for shorts pretty often as I’m doing it, and sometimes I stopped for a sanity check (or to regain my sanity). The two 20 pin connectors will connect with the front panel, one for the LCD, and the other for the LED’s and buttons. I’m sneaking Reset RX + TX up there too, so that I can quickly connect them to an XBee to do a reflash.
Connecting the two boards won’t be as easy as I thought, since both boards only have solder pads on one side of the board. I’m going to have to brainstorm ways to get them connected, not only this, but for my future plans of using the boards.