NimbleSig III Construction Tips

I have decided to build up another NS3 module to try out some different output transformers and would like to relate some construction tips based on what I notice as I build this one up. I hope this information is found helpful. I plan to build on this page as I get feedback from others.  I will give contribution credit for any received tips that I add to this list.

Mechanical Layout
SMB Connector Mounting
Parts Placement ReferenceNew SMD Parts - Installation Sequence
   
With the experience of building up a half dozen or more of NS3 modules under my belt I have settled on the sequence described below. Note that I use conventional soldering techniques with a very fine tipped temperature controlled iron along with very fine (0.015") solder. I use a good quality 7X dissecting type stereo microscope along with good florescent (daylight color temperature) lighting. This information will be of limited value to those set up for more advanced techniques. The sequence that works best for me is as follows:
  1. build the low pass filters up with the tiny 0402 components
  2. build and test the power supply sections. (Note: If you are soldering by hand it is easier to install the relatively low profile power regulator chips, resistors and ferrite beads that are located close to tantalum capacitors prior to soldering in the higher profile tantalums. Otherwise the tantalums tend to get in the way of the tweezers. Similarly do not install the JTAG connector until after all the small passive components have been installed.)
  3. install the remaining passive components, re-check the power supply buses
  4. install the EEPROM and AD8307, re-check the power supply buses
  5. install the MPU, complete continuity tests for adjacent pin shorts and re-check the power supply buses
  6. the last and probably most critical step is to install the AD9958. I have written a more detailed procedure for this step which can be found here:   NS3_AD9958_ChipInstallProcedure

SMD Parts Management
Low Pass Filters
JTAG SIP Connector
MPU Idle Loop Execution Pin Voltage Reference