By Umay Salma
Printed Circuit Boards, generally called as PCBs, greatly reduce the chances for error in patching of a circuit and unlike bread boards they are not prone to damage. Many students require them for their projects but none of the initial engineering courses teach their usage and handling. So IEEE-SEECS arranged a workshop for students to be trained for using PCBs.
About 29 participants were seated in Basic Electronics Lab in PG-Block, SEECS on November 11, 2013. The instructors were Rizwan Ahmed Bhatti, Fawad Ejaz Bhatti, Abdul Rehman and Ishtiaq Malik.The juniors and sophomores dominated the participant list.
The workshop began with an introduction to PCBs. A Printed Circuit board electrically connects the components through conductive tracks of copper while providing mechanical support to the components. PCBs can be single sided (one copper layer), double sided (two copper layers) or multi-layer. They are used in almost all simple electronic products. Where sophomores were holding onto every word from instructor’s mouth, juniors were a bit impatient to rush to later level. Yet, the instructors had all the patience to carry on steadily answering all the questions from starting ISIS to picking up a transistor.
Day 1 ended with participants drawing an amplifier circuit on ISIS and learning to route the same. Next day, the participants were to print the same circuit and paste it on their PCB. The calmness of first day was gone and now students could be seen roaming about in the lab. Where some had to get a second print on account of extracting the wrong layer, others headed to grab the cutter to save the remaining PCB. The iron stand was also crowded with queues.
Third day was dedicated to Chemical Etching, Drilling, placing the components and Soldering. Not many showed up this day and left home because of the upcoming four holidays. And they did miss “something”! Chemical Etching was done with Ferric Chloride. The participants were to make the solution themselves but seeing their inappropriate approach, the responsibility was soon taken away and this led to one epic scene that was the Events’ Head IEEE, Ahmad Ashraf, himself standing with a huge kettle in the Gents’ Washroom while the participants came one after the other. In full charge, as he was, he refused to trust anyone with “THE Kettle” and hence the queue continued to grow.
With chits and chats, the participants now moved to next round that was to drill. Some timely ones successfully completed this as well. But then the nozzle broke and could not be fixed. The fortunate ones soldered the component legs. Meanwhile, Fawad Ejaz Bhatti maintained that he’ll see only those participants whose LED was actually blinking get a certificate. (In that case, nobody is getting any!) The workshop concluded with a positive feedback from participants who said that it was a good initiative by IEEE and they hope that a phase-2 be arranged in next semester.
“We enrolled ourselves because working with PCBs requires a skill and training. We will now use this comprehension in our projects. We hope that a second phase will be arranged soon.”
“I went to this workshop questioning what does PCB stands for, I came out being able to make one.”
“It was awesome- a much needed initiative. The presenters were quite knowledgeable.
PS: Never touch a broken tool.”