Hardware Manufacture Begins! Part 1: emonTH Temperature and Humidity Node

It's a busy for weeks for us at the moment. If you've been following us on twitter you will have see in the last week we have had the production PCB's designs for the emonTx V3, emonTx Shield SMT and emonTH (temperature and humidity) back from our manufactures. This coincided with manufacture of all three units starting this week.

Even though the designs have undergone several iterations and have been extensively tested over the past 12 months or so it was still a nail biting moment assembling, powering up and testing the final designs. Luckily it all went smoothly and all functions on all three designs seem to be working exactly as planned..just as well since we have 500 PCS of each!

Building up the final productions designs..scary! Thankfully it all went smoothly

Final designs for emonTx V3, emonTx Arduino Shield SMT and emonTH all working!
Last week I traveled over to Ciseco  in Nottingham to oversee starting manufacture of the emonTH Temperature and Humidity monitoring node. Ciseco have come a long way since I first visited them over a year ago. They've moved new offices, upgraded their pick-and-place machine and picked up a few more pairs of hands along the way. 

Here's a few photos of the manufacture of the emonTH:

Step 1: solder paste being applied

Step 2: Setup the pick-and-place to identify the 'fiducials' on the emonTH...Google it! If you look hard you will see these little shiny round marks on all SMT boards.

Step 3: practice placements

Step 4: let the pick-and-place do it's stuff! I love watching machines at work

Step 5 & 6: Reflow the board in the oven then add the thru-hole bits

Step 7: Test, test and test! Here's show's testing of the RFu328 (ATmega328 MCU + Radio) modules 

Step 8: Done!

Unfortunately we had a few issues during step 7; a some of the RF12B's which were reflowed onto the RFu328's were not working as they should. We think this was down to the large MCU package on the RFM12B absorbing more heat during the reflow process than expected. For the next batch we will look at tweaking the reflow oven's temperature profile. For now we will be hand soldering the RF modules. These sorts of niggles are not uncommon in manufacture, this is why testing is so important. We will be testing the units at several stages before they're shipped to ensure all functions are working. 

emonTx V3 final production design ready to go! 

The emonTx V3 and emonTx Arduino Shield are now in our shop on pre-order. The emonTH should be in the shop in the next few days (just waiting to tie down pricing). We hope to start shipping at the end of this month (November), so hopefully everyone who want's one should get them in time for Christmas. Documentation for all the units is slowly coming together, please bare with us during the next week or so; we hope to have all the documentation and open-source designs ready for we start shipping. Likewise it would be most helpful if you spot any typos (or screaming errors!) in the shop description or wiki documentation please let us know. If you want to take a look the Arduino compatible firmware code for all three units has been pushed to GitHub.

I'm currently on on the train down to London ready to travel to Cambridge tomorrow to meet with another manufacturer and begin manufacture of the emonTx V3 and emonTx Arduino Shield. Stay tuned for another post in the next couple of days! I will also try and tweet some sneak-peak photos of the manufacturing process as it happens tomorrow. 

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