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Identify Component vs Solder Sides of PCBs with a Small Symbol

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Boldport is tackling the simple error of accidentally soldering a component to the wrong side of a PCB, by identifying the appropriate side with a respective symbol – the ‘component’ side symbol is shown above, the solder side below.

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Anyone who’s soldered even (or especially!) for a short while will recall the sinking feeling of soldering a component on the wrong side of the board. It’s usually not a disaster, but it is annoying to have to deal with the re-work when you’re excited with getting on with building the thing to completion.

For stylistic reasons, Boldport Club Project #1, the Pease, confusingly had the component symbols on the back of the board, while the components actually needed to be soldered from the top side. Even though pin-1 markings for the IC (the most crucial component in this context) were there to avoid the ambiguity, many — particularly experienced engineers who make assumptions based on prior experience — soldered the components on the wrong side.

This is a design — not a user — issue that needs addressing. While there’s only so far a designer can go in order to prevent users from making mistakes, helping them with effective but unobtrusive cues greatly helps attain a better overall experience. This is a primary goal in my work.

Read more.

You can see the TAP prototype, sans symbol, in this tweet – the purpose of the symbol being to easily identify ‘this is the component side’ or ‘this is the solder side.’


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