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Advice for someone just getting into DIY (O2 DIY and cable fix)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

OK! So over the summer I have two pending projects that I'm preparing to do.

The first is fixing my Sennheiser IE6. Sennheiser said that the damage was my fault (not sure how, but apparently the cable got disconnected in the ear that went out). So I plan on resoldering that. Which shouldn't be hard. It is possible that the wire twisted a bit, because it was loose after about 2 months use, but it shouldn't have been enough to disconnect the wire.

The second is building the DIY O2, with possible ODac down the line. Now I know the instructions should be easy enough to come by (I believe he has it on his blog). I learned to solder years ago as a teenager, as my uncle taught me, but am out of practice. 

So basically I need advice on how to practice soldering before I try either of these projects that will be effective practice. Like should I get a cheap board and practice on that with some extra capacitors and resistors?

Also, I want advice on the best way to ensure that I don't screw up the O2. That is most what I'm worried about. I'm less concerned about the headphones, as I'm merely fixing them to give to a friend who is interested as I am happy with my HJE900s. And if I screw that up, he said he would understand and not to worry about it if that is the case. However, I'd rather not fry any components of the O2 or poorly solder the board leading to a short while in use, potentially destroying any headphone plugged into it.

 

Thanks in advance for any help and advice. 


Edited by kyuuketsuki - 5/22/12 at 3:09am
post #2 of 18

A few months ago, I had never picked up a soldering iron. Two nights ago I completed my O2 build. Woot!

 

If you have already learned how to solder and have the gear, then you're already many steps ahead of where I started.

 

The first thing I did was pick up this Learn to Solder kit from local Fry's (showing Amazon link since I don't know your accessibility to Fry's or similar store). It was a nice primer, but likely unnecessary for you. I also watched a lot of videos on YouTube and Tangent's site.

 

Once I realized this was a hobby I was going to like, I ordered a soldering station -- the Hakko FX-888. While plenty of DIYers say you can do great work with lesser/cheaper equipment, I don't think I could have tackled the O2 (or the CMoyBB, beforehand) with the iron that came with the kit above. My buddy that started on this journey with me picked up a Weller WES51 around the same time.

 

With the Hakko and other standard gear in hand (helping hands, solder, braid, solder pump, etc), I started building several Velleman kits. Again I picked these up at Fry's for $5-10 each. My favorite because it had the most components to solder for the cheapest price was the LED heart. These kits really allowed me to refine my technique and get familiar with the Hakko. I ended up building three kits, all of which worked. I strongly recommend at least one or two of these builds.

 

Next up my buddy and I built the CMoyBB. Again, this is a optional step in your learning. However, I personally found it important to "step up" to the tiny PCB and its tiny contacts. Analogy: The Velleman kits were high-school baseball, the CMoy was college baseball, and the O2 was an upgrade to the pros (I'm reserving "minor" vs. "major league" designations, as surface-mount soldering sounds even harder than the O2).

 

After building the CMoy, I felt confident enough to build the O2. I knew how little solder was actually needed, how the solder would behave on such a small PCB, how to fix problems (of which I had 2-3 during the O2 build), etc.

 

I thought the training "regiment" worked perfectly for me. And my friend thought the same. Good luck on your builds. The O2 has been a joy to listen to!

 

P.S. It took me months to go through this process mostly because my friend and I would wait weeks in between builds (due to work, life, vacations). I could have completed the regiment alone in a few weeks, but it wouldn't been as fun.  :)


Edited by mchang - 5/22/12 at 7:59am
post #3 of 18
I honestly believe you could try and start with the O2 right away as a beginner project, but that may requiring some extra dedication to make sure parts are aligned in the correct direction. A Cmoy amp would be a good start, but you could jump into the O2 if you want.

As for poorly soldering the board, you will probably end up with a lot of strange joints at first as you get used to it, but if you want to practice beforehand on breadboards and resistors you should be fine. I second the suggestion as well to go with the station if you are planning to do more of this, it is a godsend. You need not worry about frying anything as long as you are careful and don't set the temperature too high.

The O2 and the Cmoy are good beginner projects and its up to you whether you want to simply dive into them or practice with resistors and breadboards. I went the Cmoy route a few years back, and it was a great experience indeed!
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hm... Ok. What I think I'll do is get the soldering kit to relearn and then see how well it works (as in how well I can solder with it) If I can do well enough, I'll just jump right into the Cmoy and see how that works out. I'll put off the O2 until I'm confident and have a completed Cmoy. If not I'll grab a soldering station, because I know I do want to get into this, and besides... soldering is a great skill to know, and it saves money if I can build good DIY amps and rewire and such on my own. 

When I first learned it was with my uncles soldering station. I'm not sure which it was, as he had it since the 70s... It was an old station, but extremely good. I'll probably end up investing in a proper station though... I just have that feeling...

post #5 of 18

I am also embarking on my first soldering project, and like you am jumping into the O2 with both feet. The price of components is basically the same price as the CmoyBB, and I figure for that price, I might as well go whole hog and get a real desktop amp out of the deal. First real soldering job was last weekend I replaced a switch on the Millett Starving Student Hybrid amp I have, so I'm really looking forward to this :) Good luck!

post #6 of 18

Good luck to you all.

 

I'd recommend reading the O2 Details page (not sure if I can post the URL) in detail -- and referencing it during the build. Highlighting and writing notes on a schematic printout was really helpful for me.

 

Start with the smallest components (all resistors). Then capacitors. Clean flux off back of board with 99.9% alcohol if desired. Then move on to the jacks. MOSFETs and 8-pin sockets last.

 

Very important note on MOSFETs (Q1 and Q2) and U5 and U6 that didn't seem to be noted in the Details: These components have to be placed in a particular way. Note the thicker line on the boxes on the PCBs. You have to align metal edge of the components (and the "chair back" on Q2) to this thicker line. I didn't know this, and amp didn't work. When I desoldered and flipped around Q1 and Q2, everything came online.

 

Have fun!

post #7 of 18
Thanks for the advice! I have the o2 summary and details pages both bookmarked to reference. parts are on their way as we speak smily_headphones1.gif
post #8 of 18

Wait to you guys get to the more advanced stuff that deals with AC electricity like an EHHA or Beta22 or even SMD soldering. I've been at this for a few years now and I'm finally getting to the EHHA Rev A. I still have a ton to learn and admittedly don't know how to build an amp from a schematic. I'm slowing figuring it out though.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mullet View Post

Wait to you guys get to the more advanced stuff that deals with AC electricity like an EHHA or Beta22 or even SMD soldering. I've been at this for a few years now and I'm finally getting to the EHHA Rev A. I still have a ton to learn and admittedly don't know how to build an amp from a schematic. I'm slowing figuring it out though.

 

Funny thing is that I know how to read a schematic. Not sure if I could do it competently, but I'm certain I could do it with a bit of practice. But honestly, I'm just jumping into the foray of DIY and I'd rather not do something so insane like go strictly from a schematic. 

 

I'm also building the O2 as a portable because I already have a NFB-11 that I'm quite pleased with as a desktop amp.

post #10 of 18

Others have commented on good soldering irons. I use this one I ordered from Amazon and like it very much.

 

I'd suggest heading to Radio Shack and getting a perf board with solder-ready pads and a cheap bag of assorted resistors (I didn't see them online, but I bought mine at Radio Shack.) Then start practice soldering the resistors to the board. It's a cheap way to get experience soldering and it won't take you long to get good joints. You'll have a lot more confidence when it comes to soldering the O2 together.   

 

I put together a how-to document on Google docs for a friend, outlining how I proceeded when I made my O2 amp. Some of the stuff has been touched on above and some of it may have been updated slightly by the designer of the O2 (for instance, he replaced the values on a couple resistors because some folks had problems with a popping sound when the battery was just about drained.) Mostly what the doc does is distill down what was on the designer's blog and put it into a step-by-step sequence. I think you might find it helpful.     

 

The O2 was my first DIY electronics project. Aside from practicing on a perf board, it was my only experience with through-the-board soldering. The build went well and the amp works mighty fine. It was a great initiation into DIY stuff.  

 

Good luck!


Edited by micmacmo - 5/26/12 at 11:46pm
post #11 of 18
Just spent 5 hours straight putting the o2 together! Unfortunately waiting on two capacitors I didn't order enough of to come from mouser but it's otherwise finished! Will try and get pics up tomorrow smily_headphones1.gif that was the most fun I've had since building Lego as a kid
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashbeowulf View Post

Just spent 5 hours straight putting the o2 together! Unfortunately waiting on two capacitors I didn't order enough of to come from mouser but it's otherwise finished! Will try and get pics up tomorrow smily_headphones1.gif that was the most fun I've had since building Lego as a kid

 

I'm ordering the tools, and the parts will be ordered with my next pay check. I can't wait to get started. Will probably be the first or second week of June. I'm excited about this. Hope everything works ash!

post #13 of 18

Just wanted to post that I now have a working O2 amp! :D Words can't describe how pleased I am with myself that I actually built something electronic that works. I just sold my D5000s yesterday, so I don't have any REAL headphones to try this out with, but right now just basking in the wonderment of the fact :P

 

Time to order an enclosure since the cardboard box it's sitting in at the moment isn't exactly super professional looking. I had a slight problem with getting no power through the board the first time. Must have been due to some faulty solders somewhere in the circuit, so I took a close look, resoldered, and got power. Good luck to anyone else who takes this on as a first project :)

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashbeowulf View Post

Just wanted to post that I now have a working O2 amp! :D Words can't describe how pleased I am with myself that I actually built something electronic that works. I just sold my D5000s yesterday, so I don't have any REAL headphones to try this out with, but right now just basking in the wonderment of the fact :P

 

Time to order an enclosure since the cardboard box it's sitting in at the moment isn't exactly super professional looking. I had a slight problem with getting no power through the board the first time. Must have been due to some faulty solders somewhere in the circuit, so I took a close look, resoldered, and got power. Good luck to anyone else who takes this on as a first project :)

 

Question... You ordered all parts from Mouser, right? How quickly did they ship the back ordered parts? That is the only thing worrying me. There is one part that says it won't ship until September

post #15 of 18
I ordered the backorder parts through element 14 instead. Just search the part number through them instead smily_headphones1.gif also nwavguy addresses the backorder power plug in one of the pages' comments. Pm me if you have any issues I'll try and help!

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