pcb-training

Table of Contents

  1. TL;DR
  2. Basics
    • Will the PIs at the Hive make a board for me?
    • What’s the process for getting trained?
    • What is SUMS?
    • Ugh, this sounds like way more work and time than I'm willing to dedicate to this. Do you have any recommendations for professional fabrication houses?
  3. Training Videos
    • What do the videos cover?
    • Do I have to have any prior knowledge before starting the videos?
    • Where can I find the videos?
    • I need subtitles, but you said don’t go to YouTube.
    • Help! The videos won’t play.
    • What’s next?
  4. Quiz and Checkoff
    • I don’t see the quiz! Where is it?
    • How do I schedule a checkoff?
    • What should I expect at a checkoff?
    • I didn’t get a checkoff scheduled and all of my requested dates have passed. What now?
    • What if I don’t successfully complete the checkoff?
    • Can I bring my own design to fabricate instead of the training board for my checkoff?

—–

TL;DR

The Hive is home to a suite of equipment that enable our users to fabricated PCBs without much manual work. Once trained, users have access to these tools and all the materials we have as long as the space is available. Training is handled through SUMS, and is done in three steps:

  1. Training videos - watch them all on your own time and at your own pace.
  2. Quiz - ten questions, get nine to proceed.
  3. Checkoff - show off what you've learned by fabricating the board from the training videos in a one-on-one session with a trainer. Complete it in two hours, and the tools are your for the using.

Read on for more details about this process, or head directly to SUMS to get started.


Basics

Will the PIs at the Hive make a board for me?
No, even better: we’ll train you! That’s right, watch two videos and demonstrate that you watched them to gain the ability to make as many PCBs as you want for free! What a great deal, what a time to be alive. Only making one board? It can take several tries to get it right. In other words, if you think you only need one board done, you might actually need two (or more - how often is a design perfect the first time?)!

What’s the process for getting trained?
Training is a three step process that is handled through SUMS.

  1. Watch both training videos. No time or replay limits here, so feel free to get comfortable with the process. Read through the Wiki too, if you'd like.
  2. Pass the 10 question quiz.
  3. Successfully fabricate our training board under the guidance of a PCB trainer during a Checkoff.

What is SUMS?
If “SUMS” makes you think of arithmetic, have no fear. SUMS (Shared User Management System) is a user access control system made here at Tech that The Hive uses to control access to some of the more sensitive or complicated tools. For PCB fabrication, it is also used to manage training and checkoff sessions, and users can schedule time on the tools through it, as well. You can get many more details in our SUMS Guide.

Ugh, this sounds like way more work and time than I'm willing to dedicate to this. Do you have any recommendations for professional fabrication houses?
We don’t officially recommend a specific fabrication houses. All of them have positives and negatives. The following is a very incomplete list of fab houses that we've used with varying levels of success.

  • You can use PCB Shopper to compare prices across a number of different fab houses.
  • JLC and AllPCB are two Chinese companies that offer super fast turnaround and super low prices with a wide range of capabilities and good results. But since they're made in China, there may be shipping and IP issues.
  • OshPark is the cheapest USA-based fabrication house because they aren't actually a fab house - they're a middleman to another fab house. Basically, they collect a bunch of designs, and when they have enough, they all get sent off. They're well-known for their purple PBCs, and their capabilities are growing all the time. They also can make solderpaste stencils through their affiliates at OshStencils.
  • Advanced Circuits is another American-made fab facility that has a much more extensive list of capabilities than OshPark. It's more expensive, but the quality is higher, and the turn-around times can be same- or next-day, if you're willing to pay for it. They also have deals on rectangular 2- or 4-layer boards, and deals for students.
  • Epec Engineered Technologies is the most expensive of this list, but also the highest reliability and widest range of fabrication options. If you need a 16 layer board with super-fine pitches and tolerances and varying copper weights for the internal stack with specialized prepreg, and you need 1000 pieces assembled tomorrow, these are your people. (Okay, that's an exaggeration, but seriously, for non-standard work, or precision standard work, Epec is great.)

Training Videos

Videos? What happened training sessions?
The training sessions were a major drag on both Trainer and User time, and they were a significant deterrent to many people getting trained on the tools. The video format allows users to train at their own pace when they have time, not when we have time.

What do the videos cover?
The videos are broken into two parts (hopefully more in the future, just to shorten everything), and cover the same material as the old training sessions. Part 1 covers turning on the tools, and setting up a non-plated process on the ProtoMat. Part 2 covers etching and routing of a double-sided board, as well as the setup of a plated process, the electroplating itself, and our “single-sided no-holes” ProtoLaser-only process. Training sessions do not address board design or layout. For questions regarding design, find one of our PCB MPIs.

Do I have to have any prior knowledge before starting the videos?
Nope! However, if you are unfamiliar with PCBs, we recommend reading up on some basics on the internet before watching. This way, the videos will (might?) make more sense.

Where can I find the videos?
All PCB training and scheduling is all handled on SUMS. If you want to know more about SUMS, you can find in-depth information and a lot more FAQs in our SUMS Guide.

If you have never been to The Hive before, you’ll need to join our “Billing Group” and our “Equipment Group” first:

  1. Go to sums.gatech.edu and login (button is on the top right of the screen).
  2. In the main toolbar on top, click “Billing Groups” > “Billing Group List”.
  3. Search for “Interdisciplinary design commons” and click “Request entry to BG”.
  4. Now, in the main toolbar on top, click “Equipment Groups” > “Equipment Groups List”.
  5. Search for “The Hive” (no quotes). Click the link.
  6. Click “Become a member”. Follow the prompts to join. Note that the “exam” is simply our liability policy.

(If you are a member of multiple equipment and/or billing groups, make sure that the IDC and The Hive are active by clicking “Active BG/EG” in the top-right of the Dashboard.)

The videos are located on the Training Requirements page for both the plotter and laser:

  1. Go to sums.gatech.edu and login (button is on the top right of the screen).
  2. On the main screen, locate “Find training requirements”. Click it, click “View Training Requirements”, and search for “pcb plotter” (no quotes). Select S116.PCBPlotter-01 to get to the PCB plotter's training requirements screen.
  3. Click “Watch video” to begin playing. Don’t go to YouTube to watch them!! You will not get credit.
    1. Take notes! You can use any and all of your own notes for your checkoff. (Meaning no printing the guides or Wiki.)

I need subtitles, but you said don’t go to YouTube.
It’s currently a work-in-progress bug in the embedding. Sorry about that.

Help! The videos won’t play.
They’re embedded YouTube videos, so make sure things like cookies and sound are enabled on the page. If you still can’t get it to work, contact hive-pcb@ece.gatech.edu.

What’s next after watching the videos?
Go back to the Training Requirements page. Scroll down to take the “exam”. Then request a checkoff.


Quiz and Checkoffs

What should I expect for the quiz?
It's a 10 question quiz, all multiple choice. It's designed to just make sure you were paying attention during the videos. You have to get 9/10 to pass and be able to request a checkoff. If you don't get at least 9/10, you have an hour to study up, and the you can retake it. There's no limit to the number of retakes, but we do get emails when people fail.

What should I expect at a checkoff?
The purpose of a checkoff is to demonstrate your ability to safely fabricate a board without assistance. You will be making the same board created at the training session, followed by a quick run-through of the electroplater. You can use any and all of your own notes for your checkoff. (Meaning no printing the guides or Wiki.)

I don’t see the quiz! Where is it?
How do I schedule a checkoff?
The quiz and checkoff request link are both found on the Training Requirements page for the PCB Plotter on SUMS, right below where you watched the videos. To access this page:

  1. Go to sums.gatech.edu and login (button is on the top right of the screen).
  2. On the main screen, locate “Find training requirements”. Click it, click “View Training Requirements”, and search for “pcb plotter” (no quotes). Select S116.PCBPlotter-01 to get to the PCB plotter's training requirements screen.
  3. Scroll down to find the “Take Exam” button to take the 10 question quiz. Note that you must get 9/10 to pass. If not, you have an hour until you can re-take it.
  4. Once you have passed the quiz, return to the Training Requirements screen (step 2, above). Scroll to the bottom and press, “Request new checkoff”. Please make a selection for all five slots. If you are available more times, add those in the notes section. More availability is better than less! It's preferred to schedule these outside of opening hours.

However, even though you have requested one, it is possible that none of these times will work for our trainers (we’re students, too!). If this is the case, we will try to email you to find another time.

I didn’t get a checkoff scheduled and all of my requested dates have passed. What now?
Due to the large volume of checkoff requests, we are not able to schedule every checkoff on the first request. If this happens, request another one with new dates and times. Remember, more times offered by you means more opportunity for our schedules to align. Please note that there are no checkoffs during the last week of Hive open hours.

What if I don’t successfully complete the checkoff?
Schedule another checkoff following the same procedure. It is strongly recommended that you rewatch the training videos or read up on the fabrication process on the Wiki on our PCB Fabrication page.

Can I bring my own design to fabricate instead of the training board for my checkoff?
Probably not. It is, however, at the discretion of your trainer. If the board is small, simple, and on FR4/FR5, (i.e. very similar to the training board), then it might be fine. However, large boards can take an hour or more to etch just one side. Since most boards are larger than the training one, you will likely have to stick with the training board. It will be easier for everyone (especially if it fails), and afterwards you can simply schedule time on the tools to fabricate whatever you’d like.

  • pcb-training.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/06/03 21:26
  • by benh