The Buildathon is an ambitious undertaking and will require the utmost in organization, preparation, and skill from those who staff the Elmer stations. This page provides instructions to help you, the Elmer get ready for the event.

The Stations

Each station is briefly described below. Click on the station heading to link to a more detailed description with the list of tools, instruments, and materials required for the station, a set of Elmer instructions that detail the process for the station, and details on any test measurements that are to be taken.

  • Smoke Test

    Builders will come here every time they have completed a stage (or have performed any rework). This station compares the current draw of the builder's board under current-limited and unlimited conditions.

  • SMT

    This station provides special ESD protection and special facilities for installing and soldering SMT ICs (the builders do their SMT caps at the builder station, but can ask the SMT Elmers for guidance on that process). Builders come here during the Divider stage and the OpAmp stage. The Elmer consults on the correct alignment, orientation, and placement of the ICs on the board. The Elmer also consults with the builders at their stations on soldering of the SMT chips.

  • Op-Amp Test

    This station provides the facilities (clip leads, resistors, DMM) for the "Functional Test" at the end of the Op-Amps stage.

  • Inductors

    This station provides facilities (clamps, tinning materials, extra wire/cores, LC Meter, microscope) to facilitate the builders' coil and transformer winding tasks. The Elmer not only consults on winding the inductors but also consults on their mounting on the board.

  • Frequency Test

    This station is where the builder tests his board following completion of the Local Oscillator amd Divider stages. It has a frequency counter and a dual-trace oscilloscope for verifying frequency and quadrature.

  • Final RX Test

    This station is the final test where the builder discovers whether the RX receives. It consists of a signal generator, a PC with Rocky installed, a soundcard with stereo inputs, a signal generator, and a connection to a 50 ohm, 20m HF antenna.

  • Rework/Troubleshooting

    This station will contain facilities and skills for trouble-shooting builders' boards where they have failed one or more tests. Facilities at this station will include ESD protected cookie sheet, Panavise, lamp with magnification, good temperature controlled solder station, hot-air gun, tweezers, and a DMM.

    This station will also have the spare parts junk box and (limited) spare connection materials.

    The Elmer will be available for consultation at builders' stations, as well.

Two of the above stations (SMT and Inductors are likely to become bottlenecks, due to the time it takes to perform those tasks. If we have a sizeable number of builders (and MARS does, at 18 builders!), we need to set up two SMT stations and enable the inductor station to handle three to four "winders" simultaneously. The winding and tinning of the inductors are asynchronous tasks which can be done at any point in the build up to the BPF stage. This will allow us to divert backed up SMT traffic to the inductor station and keep the builders occupied with productive work.

DMM Listing 3rd Hand Listing Combination Diag Cutter/Wire Stripper listing Tweezer Set Listing Set of Eye Loupes - Listing Velleman Solder Station Listing
Power Supply Components Local Oscillator Components Divider (no passive components to organize) Band Pass Filter Components Operational Amplifier Components Mixer Components
Get Inductor station Details Details on Smoke Test Station Details on Frequency Test Station Details on SMT Station Details on Op-Amp Test Station Details on Troubleshooting/Rework Station Details on Final Test