Author Topic: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone  (Read 3326 times)

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Offline Ariamella

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Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« on: Sat, 17 October 2020, 05:13:00 »
Just wanted to make a USB C Pro Micro clone I could easily solder together that doesn't use parts I can barely see and will disappear when I breath on them. Soldering one takes about an hour for me. This design needs to be panelized to work with JLC PCBA, according to feedback from other users.

The photo is of V1.0, whereas the renders are of the latest version.

CAD files here: https://github.com/Ariamelon/Alvaro




Changelog:
  • 27/09/2020: Initial commit.
  • 29/09/2020: Switched D1 size from SOD323 to SOD123.
  • 13/10/2020: Updated to V1.1. Added F1 1206 500mA polyfuse.
  • 17/10/2020: Updated to V1.2. Moved location of parts closer to center.
  • 31/10/2020: Updated to V1.3. Added 0603 power indicator LED, changed R6 from 10k to 1k LED resistor.
  • 29/11/2020: Updated to V1.4. Increased size of 3225 crystal pads, changed USB C THT holes back to single oval shape, added THT pad under 32u4 to allow for the entire thing to be hand-soldered easier.
  • 3/12/2020: Updated to V1.5. Decreased size of 3225 crystal pads again and changed them to THT. Staggered components to allow for easier soldering.
« Last Edit: Thu, 03 December 2020, 01:44:09 by Ariamella »

Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 17 October 2020, 06:29:27 »
I was looking for 'wasted' space on v1.0 and couldn't see any yet you managed to fit a 'big' fuse on v1.1 - very impressive!

Thanks for sharing the files :thumb:
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 17 October 2020, 09:33:01 »
Easier to solder? Good work!

I noticed that the pins on short edge are those of the older Goldfish revision B, not matching Goldfish revision C and Elite-C.
Was that intentional or a gaffe? ;)
Man must shape his tools lest they shape him
-- Arthur Miller

Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 17 October 2020, 10:19:20 »
I was looking for 'wasted' space on v1.0 and couldn't see any yet you managed to fit a 'big' fuse on v1.1 - very impressive!

Thanks for sharing the files :thumb:

Thank you! 1.2 is even tighter for better compatibility with pin headers :)

Easier to solder? Good work!

I noticed that the pins on short edge are those of the older Goldfish revision B, not matching Goldfish revision C and Elite-C.
Was that intentional or a gaffe? ;)

Most definitely a gaffe but thankfully it was just the silkscreen that was off! The pins electrically match the Elite C and Goldfish Rev C :) fixed for 1.2!


Offline gorbachev

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 25 October 2020, 16:52:03 »
I've got a set coming in next week from JLCPCB. Nice work! Can't wait to try these out.

Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 30 October 2020, 11:12:42 »
I've got a set coming in next week from JLCPCB. Nice work! Can't wait to try these out.

Thank you! Do let me know how they work and if they're any issues <3

Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 31 October 2020, 15:34:03 »
1.3 online, managed to squeeze a LED on too :)

Also, for those using 1.2, I just realized it's better to swap R6 and C6 during assembly as c6 isn't directly in the path of vbus, oops.

Offline gorbachev

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 01 November 2020, 16:14:15 »
Looks like 1.3 BOM has R3 listed twice with two different values. 10K is probably the right one, yea?
« Last Edit: Sun, 01 November 2020, 16:29:48 by gorbachev »

Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 11 November 2020, 20:03:25 »
Ah whoops yeah R3 is 10k

Offline honoka

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 12 November 2020, 09:57:48 »
hey dude! thanks for the project, it suits my needs perfectly.
there have been some changes recently and there are a combination of versions between 1.3 and 1.1 which makes it a bit hard for any outsider to know what is compatible with what.

would you be able to release a version where compatibility is sorted out?
« Last Edit: Thu, 12 November 2020, 15:00:43 by honoka »

Offline gorbachev

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 13 November 2020, 11:55:26 »
I assembled two Alvaro v1.2s last night after I got the last few missing components in the mail. I'm soldering these myself rather than use PCB assembly service from a PCB fabricator like JLCPCB. One of the things that attracted me to Alvaro's design is that with the 0603 components you could actually do that.

It is pretty tight though. Not much space between components, which makes using a soldering iron a bit challenging. The T12 BC1 tip I'm using is pretty small, but I think I'd prefer something even smaller. I don't have a reflow oven or hot air setup, so I can't try with solder paste quite yet. I'll eventually do it that way, but I'll need to get the equipment first.

Anyway, not enormously difficult. The USB-C connector used on is much less painful than I thought it would be. The atmega32u4 chip is a pain. Some of the capacitors are so close to each other that I had trouble soldering them without creating bridges between them.

Out of the two, one is working perfectly. I was able to flash several different QMK firmware on it with no issues using QMK Toolbox, and test that the firmware was working fine. The other one is not recognized as a USB device by my computer. I couldn't see anything obviously wrong, like bridged connections when inspecting it last night. It's probably the crystal not being properly soldered. Those things have bottom pads only, so soldering with an iron is a bit of a challenge.

Really liking the USB connector, btw. Incredibly secure, absolutely no danger for it to break off like the connectors on the Pro Micros have a tendency to do.

Offline Rayndalf

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 15 November 2020, 17:06:15 »
I was checking at JLCPCB and for some reason they only support factory SMT for boards 20x20 mm or larger (this one is 33x18 mm). I wonder if there is a workaround of some kind.

Offline hanya

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 15 November 2020, 17:35:00 »
I was checking at JLCPCB and for some reason they only support factory SMT for boards 20x20 mm or larger (this one is 33x18 mm). I wonder if there is a workaround of some kind.
Their limitation is size of PCB or panel. So you can panelize the board to increase the panel size to match their requirement.
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Offline Rayndalf

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 15 November 2020, 19:39:10 »
I was checking at JLCPCB and for some reason they only support factory SMT for boards 20x20 mm or larger (this one is 33x18 mm). I wonder if there is a workaround of some kind.
Their limitation is size of PCB or panel. So you can panelize the board to increase the panel size to match their requirement.
I'd seen that as an option when I ordered a PCB from them in the past but didn't see the option this time. I assume that would mean having them make the PCB in pairs so they're twice as wide.
I have a couple questions. Would they still score the division between halves or would I have to cut them out myself? Also... how would I modify the file or setting on their site to order a batch that way?

Offline hanya

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 19 November 2020, 07:42:32 »
JLCPCB SMT does not support V-cut. So we have to use "mouse bites" way to connect boards each other for SMT.
You can find the way to add bites on the net. Just copy current board on Pcbnew and paste it to next to board. Then, draw board outline with tab with mouse bits.
If you do not need twice of board, just add rectangle and connect the board with it by tabs to extend your board to manufacture. But maybe they reject your board as single design.
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Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 29 November 2020, 03:11:14 »
hey dude! thanks for the project, it suits my needs perfectly.
there have been some changes recently and there are a combination of versions between 1.3 and 1.1 which makes it a bit hard for any outsider to know what is compatible with what.

would you be able to release a version where compatibility is sorted out?

Sorry, I don't understand what this means. Could you elaborate please?

I assembled two Alvaro v1.2s last night after I got the last few missing components in the mail. I'm soldering these myself rather than use PCB assembly service from a PCB fabricator like JLCPCB. One of the things that attracted me to Alvaro's design is that with the 0603 components you could actually do that.

It is pretty tight though. Not much space between components, which makes using a soldering iron a bit challenging. The T12 BC1 tip I'm using is pretty small, but I think I'd prefer something even smaller. I don't have a reflow oven or hot air setup, so I can't try with solder paste quite yet. I'll eventually do it that way, but I'll need to get the equipment first.

Anyway, not enormously difficult. The USB-C connector used on is much less painful than I thought it would be. The atmega32u4 chip is a pain. Some of the capacitors are so close to each other that I had trouble soldering them without creating bridges between them.

Out of the two, one is working perfectly. I was able to flash several different QMK firmware on it with no issues using QMK Toolbox, and test that the firmware was working fine. The other one is not recognized as a USB device by my computer. I couldn't see anything obviously wrong, like bridged connections when inspecting it last night. It's probably the crystal not being properly soldered. Those things have bottom pads only, so soldering with an iron is a bit of a challenge.

Really liking the USB connector, btw. Incredibly secure, absolutely no danger for it to break off like the connectors on the Pro Micros have a tendency to do.

Glad you enjoy it!

I added some small quality of life changes for V1.4 based on your feedback: Increased size of 3225 crystal pads, changed USB C THT holes back to single oval shape, added THT pad under 32u4 to allow for the entire thing to be hand-soldered easier. Hopefully these changes should make the entire thing doable by hand. Unfortunately, without changing the crystal to a resonator and removing the 22pF crystals, it's gonna be hard to space out the components better, but it's good to know it's at least manageable!

By the way, if possible, could you post pictures of the completed boards? I'd like to update the github repository with the newest boards that people have done! :)
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 November 2020, 03:15:38 by Ariamella »

Offline gorbachev

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 02 December 2020, 13:37:58 »
Glad you enjoy it!

I added some small quality of life changes for V1.4 based on your feedback: Increased size of 3225 crystal pads, changed USB C THT holes back to single oval shape, added THT pad under 32u4 to allow for the entire thing to be hand-soldered easier. Hopefully these changes should make the entire thing doable by hand. Unfortunately, without changing the crystal to a resonator and removing the 22pF crystals, it's gonna be hard to space out the components better, but it's good to know it's at least manageable!

By the way, if possible, could you post pictures of the completed boards? I'd like to update the github repository with the newest boards that people have done! :)

I wouldn't worry about the design that much. I think it's as good as it can be.

I'm not all that experienced with PCB design, but one potential improvement could be staggering the 0603 components a little. Don't align them in a straight line, but stagger them as much as you can. That would, I think, make it a bit harder to bridge components next to each other. On the v1.4 R1, R2 and R3 are done that way. R4 and R5 are not. C4 and C10 are, but IMHO not enough to be helpful. Because the capacitors are taller, and require a bit more solder than the resistors, they are easier to screw up than the resistors. It doesn't look like you actually have much space to play without though...nothing you can do about placement of C5 and C6, for example.

The size of the pads on the crystal don't matter that much if the crystal itself only has bottom pads. Those are always a problem if you're hand soldering.

The 32u4 is also fine. I know you can't use the 32u4-AU, because there simply isn't enough space for the legs on the board. The AU model would be easier to solder, but the soldering on the MU isn't that much harder. It is harder to spot the bridges though, especially if your eyes aren't what they used to be (old age doesn't come alone...).

Anyway, all this stuff is moot, if you use a hot air gun. I should receive the one I ordered later this week. Definitely going to use it to assemble a few more Alvaros. It should go much easier than hand soldering.

I'll take some photos after I do that. I'm curious myself to see the difference in the hand soldered and hot air gun assembled boards.

Offline Ariamella

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Re: Alvaro USB C Pro Micro Clone
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 03 December 2020, 01:42:29 »

I wouldn't worry about the design that much. I think it's as good as it can be.

I always find incremental improvements for my designs eheh.

I'm not all that experienced with PCB design, but one potential improvement could be staggering the 0603 components a little.

The size of the pads on the crystal don't matter that much if the crystal itself only has bottom pads. Those are always a problem if you're hand soldering.

The 32u4 is also fine. I know you can't use the 32u4-AU, because there simply isn't enough space for the legs on the board. The AU model would be easier to solder, but the soldering on the MU isn't that much harder. It is harder to spot the bridges though, especially if your eyes aren't what they used to be (old age doesn't come alone...).

I managed to stagger everything that's not supposed to be connected to each other :) I also changed the pads of the crystal to THT to make them easier to solder too. Hopefully that won't introduce too many problems.

Anyway, all this stuff is moot, if you use a hot air gun. I should receive the one I ordered later this week. Definitely going to use it to assemble a few more Alvaros. It should go much easier than hand soldering.

I'll take some photos after I do that. I'm curious myself to see the difference in the hand soldered and hot air gun assembled boards.

I second that having a hot-air gun makes it easier but hopefully these changes I'm making make it possible to use just an iron!