As of today, the first revision of the board (actually the third revision, but the first one at full scale) has been sent to the PCB fab house, and we should get the boards within a week. This is still a prototyping board, and an opportunity to make sure the components all work and that the board is legible in daylight from a distance. We got about as far as we could get with my small scale prototype boards, which contained all the components and circuitry on a small 4×5″ board. Now we’re moving up to what we hope is normal sized.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, the PCB is a printed circuit board. It’s the sheet of fiberglass with copper traces etched on it that holds all the electronic components and the LEDs. It will set inside the enclosure.
A lot of people have asked why not have multiple PCBs with the different sections. With this approach, a single PCB is manufactured, which already has the black color so no additional steps are necessary, and which can be assembled quickly, and which doesn’t require expensive cable assemblies attaching all the parts together or another piece of plastic to hold it all into a single frame. It’s still small enough to be manufacturable and cost effective, and it’ll still fit through the pick and place machines and solder ovens, so it should be easy to automate production, and it should look good.
We’ll see how everything works when we get the boards back and I can spend a day hand soldering all the components on a prototype board.