Chris Howell is a long-time community member and LumenPnP user. He runs his business using a mix of three LumenPnPs and traditional outsourced assembly. We caught up with Chris about what he makes, and what's worked well for him while building Open Hardware.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you make.
I am the founder and CEO of OpenEVSE. We make open source Electric Vehicle charging stations, kits, and components.
What are you building with your LumenPnP?
We make prototypes, the OpenEVSE LCD backpack board, the OpenEVSE WiFi board, and an LED light strip. We are not currently making our controller due to the number of parts and numerous TH parts. We may reconsider as feeders mature.
Did you build or buy a LumenPnP? Have you made any modifications from the original build?
OpenEVSE started with a 2.0.x kit. When 3.0.x came out I built a 3.0.x from parts intending to move over the 2.0.x kit electronics, however I just bought the motherboard, vacuum parts and cameras from Opulo so I would have 1 to keep in production and another to tinker with. When the linear rail community mod came out I began building a third with many mods, and began updating the other two. The third machine is ready, waiting on a motherboard from Opulo once they become available again.
One machine will be dedicated to LCD backpacks, the second to WiFi boards and LED light strips (WiFi/LED boards share common components), and the third for prototyping.
How many boards a month do you produce with your machines?
Production has been variable depending on part availability and need. We have also had each machine down to bring all three up to the same configuration and mods. Once complete we will likely produce 1000+ boards per month.
How were you building these boards before the LumenPnP?
OpenEVSE continues to build boards in FABs both in China and the USA. During the post Covid component shortages, the LumenPnP was first to quickly build boards when components were found, in order to fill orders quickly without a 4 to 8 week delay between component availability and shipment.
What's the single most important piece of advice for running an SMT line?
Learn the machine and OpenPNP and spend a couple of days getting it calibrated well. Once done, the machine can place very precisely.
What's your solder paste of choice?
I use Chipquick SMDLTLF250T4.