• dd

a lil' BB gutz update

...we just finished up an update to the bb's sub boards (circuits we make to rout inputs to where we want um). Though this took months to tool up for and prep, it all kinda rolled out in waves,,, first introducing the new fire button board on all new boxes made from Jan 6th onward,,, a little break to tweak some of the tooling... then the new control boards (up/down) got thrown into play for all boxes starting a little over a week ago ( mid march). We're making these boards in house from DuPont's family of materials for fpcbs called Pyralux. Don't know what that is? don't worry, neither do i.... i picked the stuff cuz i thought the name sounded super neat....

old green fiberglass boards on the left. new orange Pyralux boards on the right.


anyways, cool name aside, Pyraulx is a family of materials specifically for making flexible pcbs, and to that end, it's the best stuff you can get. These boards were something i wanted to incorporate into the rev.4 from day one, but as simple as they look, this material demands quite a bit to pull off successfully, a substantial amount specialized equipment, engineering and production of specialty tooling, and a good deal of time getting used to and tweaking the process.

For most, these new board won't make a bit of difference... with the previous boards fully assembled in place, it would take somethin' like a flat out train impact to threaten hurtin' um.. but for those that like to tinker, the old boards became pretty damn fragile once disassembled. These new components are intended to solve this, they are hugely more durable, a simpler layout, have less solder joints, provide no chance for accidentally crushing control wires when replacing the button plate (a periodic mistake on button swaps), and despite not being seen, they look way cleaner... bottom line, it was on my "to do list" to implement the best material for the job, this is the best material for the job.

If the amber hue looks familiar, you might be thinkin' bout this material's super hot sister in law, Ultem... These materials are not by any means new, yet to date, for flat circuits, this stuff is still the unrivaled king... If you have a cell phone, this stuff is in it, along with any satellite it's talking too... Nothin' much going to space or Mars doesn't include it somehow. It's insulating 90% of all poly bag'd lithium cell leads, and connects the screen of every single DNA that has ever had one...


anywhoooo, that's it... no, they don't dry out and crack.. yes, they work with every aftermarket button or button plate we know of with the same amount of light fitting...

not an exciting update cuz you no can see,,,, but i'll drop some pics to show the process as it stands, still have a few things to build to make things simpler for us, but until then...


How to make Pyralux flex pcbs with special celebrity guest host--- Doom Guy!!!


Step 1.) design and build all this crap... i can't remember what it all does, but you 100% need all of it....

umm,,, he's not even holding the right size shoulder bolt.... i an't gonna say nothin'... he seems determined.... i'll just let him figure it out on his own...

some of the smaller details of this tooling i need a macro lens just so i can check that i'm machining what i intend to...

smaller the cutter, faster it needs to spin... so this little air turbine spindle spins at 150,000 rpms, for end mills 0.025" and under...

Once the tooling is all sorted (it's not, but you don't know yet, that you'll have to rework it again later) whip out your Pyralux order... for this simple board we got two different materials... sheets that are half polymer / half copper, and a roll that is half polymer / half adhesive....

in case you can't see what he's reading (cuz smol), under "RESPECT" it reads "DuPont's Environmental Commitment". In case you can't see his face (cuz helmet), it displays "one extremely raised eyebrow".....

so before we get to play with the stuff, we first need to laminate it with a special uv reactive film, that's the blue stuff,, the roll in front of it, takes up a protective layer from the UV film, and a lower roll of paper prevents the uv stuff from sticking to the lower laminating roller in between sheets of copper sided Pyralux we'z gunna shove through there.

Copper side up, we run the sheets on through... if everything is set up just right, this all goes extremely fast.... if something's just a little off, it's an elegant display of how to efficiently destroy a great deal of expensive films...

more or less a one man job.. regardless,,, it's nice to have someone inspecting what pops out the other side... a lot of focus coming out of this guy.....

K, so shiz got a little weird... he was just standing there looking at it for like 3 hours... turns out his helmet can stream netflix and he hadn't ever seen "chitty chitty bang bang"....

k, so all laminated and with dick van dyke out of the picture....we need to chop the big sheetz into little sheetz to work with all our tooling...

now we need to take um to the punch and pop index holes so they can line up with the rest of the tools and other sheets..

.... the first thing they index to, is a light mask. the mask is gunna let light though to any place we want the uv film to cure (in this case, anything we want to stay copper).

then throw um in the uv vac table... this table usually holds a lot more, but stopping to take pictures is something i actively have to work to remember and there was only two by the time i did.....

anyway, vac table thingy is pretty neat.... close the lid and a pump sucks out all the airz.... after it hit's pressure (or removed all the pressure? one or the other) the uv bulbs fire and expose the mask and sheet to some happy uv radiation...

the uv cures the film just where the mask lets it.

the uncured film melts right off in a little water and soda ash.... ideally, this is done with a machine that sprays the solution on the sheets,,,, it's on my agenda to build said machine,,, but it's also on my agenda to build a bunch'o other crap too.... this is fine for now i guess.....

if you get your water / ash / temp bit right, it certainly does a more than adequate job with a some sharp resolution defining the traces... what is left now is all that's going to define our actual copper traces in the next bit...

now this is the fun bit... but one i really need to make the chemical spray'y thing (urrg, maybe i just buy one,).... the pleasant green colored stuff is the enchant that eats away at the exposed copper not protected by the cured uv pattern... again, if the bath full of science juice is just right, this only takes just about 90 seconds to eat away a full sheet.

he super not giving off the impression he knows how to read those ph sticks, he said he lost the color matching chart,,, and just called this one "sulfer over three year sun bleached ram skull"

anywayzzz....the trick here is a balance of keeping the mix in a perpetual state of "exothermic happy place" by way of adding just the right amount of "government puts your ass on a watch list" percent hydrogen peroxide... don't worry, had our new lady run out to buy it,,,, i'm good...


err... i doubt she'll read this........ it'll be fine...

*acting natural whistle sounds*... the rinse bath is lit from below to check everything went ok, and gives some contrast to check for any errorz...

and here i missed some steps cuz the whole, remember to take f'n pictures instead of just do the thing,,, i typically just do the thing...... ummm... eh, whatever steps i'm glossing over were probably dumb anyway... my god this is long, how many more these are there....... i'm starting to kinda tune out... oh look,,, it's some copper... in a shape we want, yayyy....

k, so almost forgot this one two,,, but you gotta remember way at the beginning we had that roll of half polymer, half b staged adhesive... k, so we chop that stuff up into lil' sheets same as the others but instead of just punching index holes, the punch and die set also creates pockets that will become the solder pads for the switches and also for soldering to the DNA's inputs.

..the two sheets get immaculately cleaned and rolled to take off any stray dust nibblits... here you can see DG cleaning some sheets at a different stage cuz i thought i had taken a pic of this part, but turns out i didn't..... same concept, clean the things like super mega good....

...a protective film is taken off the newly punched sheet's adhesive side, and quickly indexed on top of the copper etched side using steel dowel pins to position everything....

a little poke with an 800 deg soldering iron tip in a few places is enough to tack / fuse the layers together enough to keep the sheets aligned for the next step without the dowel pins...


a number of these "tacked together" sheets are then stacked in between layers of silicone and Teflon sheets / films... the entire stack gets placed in a hydraulic press with heated upper and lower plates. After the a few tons of pressure has closed the press, the plates heat up to a little over 350 deg fahrenheit... now, i know what your thinking, and yes, Fahrenheit is German,,, but it's not a fun one you can break down... just some Pruss-onian dude's name that came up with the temp scale....he also invented the thermometer too.... originally, he wanted to call um' "fahrenheiterz", but people were getting tired of him naming all this crap after himself and eventually he was tarred, feathered, and umm forced to.. ehh.. marry a tortoise (note, this bit may not be 100% historically accurate,,,,).. ughh,, k, what were we talking about? got it,,, k so all the sheets, super hot, and lots of pressure....


the press maintains it's pressure after the heating cycle and throughout the time it takes for everything to cool down. The two sheets have amalgamated to the point of inseparable singularity and our copper is sandwiched in the middle, with only our solder pads exposed on one side..

another cleaning, and a final light table examination. any errors or questionable areas get marked for later rejection. now back to the hydraulic press for one last time.

More steel dowel pins index them into position on their corresponding dies... in a gentle soothing voice, they get told not to worry about a thing and that what's coming next won't hurt a bit...

then they'z violently punched with 20,000 lbs of force....

they ded....

but if Fahrenheit was a real type German'ishy word, it would mean somethin' kinda like "driving-ness"...

held tight by the die tooling, they just need some gentle poke'n out, but that's about it...

...well,,,, that's the end the new bit anyway,,, from here they still need to go to assembly for their component soldering, ultrasonic alcohol bath (ohhh, damn that sounds good right now) and all that other stuff the original ones needed,,, but that's all for right now, cuz me and doom guy got an appointment we need to get to...

thanks for all the help DG,,, (like you did a damn thing) Great work!! Sure! you bet you can keep it as a souvenir.... trade u for the helmet???


oh, hell, yes. (i didn't think he'd do it)..... umm,, is this thing good against coronavirus?

...woot

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