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Got the PCB I ordered from PCBWay in just six days! and assembled the IV-6VFD clock!

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I ordered PCBs for the IV-6VFD clock from PCBWay last week, and they arrived in just 6 days. Here are the details about the PCB I ordered.

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From ordering to receiving

Only 6 days

This is the PCBWay order details screen. the PCB I ordered on May 6 was manufactured 3 days later on May 9, and was delivered to DHL on May 10. Two days later, on the 12th, it was delivered to my work place in Tokyo.

PCBWay takes about 5 minutes to check the board when placing an order, 3 days for manufacturing, and 2 days for delivery! I really like the fact that they work fast and I don't have to stress about waiting.

Check the board

This is the first time I've ordered matte black resist color from PCBWay. What kind of finish will it be?

The matte black resist is applied very nicely. It is a perfect matte black.

The silk is also printed very nicely. I once ordered a similar board in matte black from a different, cheaper board manufacturer, but the resist on the board was blurred, and I received a bad board with the blurred areas painted over with a magic pen to fix it. The PCBWay's matte black resist is not like that and is applied very nicely.

The metal mask is also very well manufactured. The alignment holes on the four corners are also in place. This alignment is very useful. For more information on how to set up, please click here.

Applying solder paste

Now, let's start assembling.

Applying solder paste

Place the board on a piece of cardboard.

Place the stencil on top, and put studs in the holes at the four corners to align the board with the stencil.

Place the solder paste. I use CHOPQUIK's low-melting-point lead-free TS391LT50. It can be reflowed at a low temperature, so it takes a short time.

The solder paste is printed on a plastic card such as a credit card or membership card.

Printing is complete.

The solder paste is positioned with a thumbtack so that it can be printed at the correct position.

Mounting the components

I use an electric vacuum pick HAKKO 394 instead of tweezers to mount the components.

It can pick up parts like a vacuum cleaner over the top of the part and release them at the desired location, allowing me to pick and place parts consistently, from small parts like 1005 to ICs in SOP packages.

I use these instead of the stock ones for my nozzles.

バキュームピック用ノズル2種類セット | kohacraftのshop

It has a slightly thicker hole for better suction, and a shorter nozzle for easier positioning.

With the SMD feeder, you can pick up parts while they are facing a certain direction, so it's very easy to align the direction.

In this case, the number of parts is small, so mounting was completed in no time at all.


Reflow is done in Tescom TSF601, a convection oven that can heat the inside of the chamber evenly with hot air.

This convection oven allows you to change the temperature during the heating process, so you can follow the temperature profile of the solder paste.


Reflow is completed in about 8 minutes. Cooling with a fan.

Reflow was completed beautifully.

Mounting DIP components

On the front side, the VFD clock IC and pin sockets.

Solder the time setting switch and USB connector on the back side.

Painting the PCBs

Paint the surface of the board with a matte black spray paint to improve the appearance.

Leave it to dry for a while.

Soldering the VFD

While the paint on the main board is drying, we will mount the VFD.

Paint the VDF board as well

The VFD board was also spray painted with matte black paint beforehand so that the edge surface would be black.

The IV-6 VFD display tube will be attached to this board.

Carefully adjust the tilt of the IV-6 so that it is vertical while soldering.

After attaching the VFD and pin headers, the VFD board is complete.

Testing the clock

Attach the VFD board to the main board.

It's starting to take shape.

Connect a USB cable to the board to supply power, and check if it works properly.

Ohhhh! It lit up. It's working fine.。

Assembling the Clock

Now, let's start assembling the clock.

Disassembly and preparation of the clock

Disassemble the alarm clock and remove the movement.

Attach the ripple board to the inside of the clock.

Fix the circuit board

Store the PCB inside the clock and fix it with a glue gun.

Connect the USB connector.

Glue the back cover with the glue gun.


IV-6 VFD clock is now complete!

The fluorescent display element housed in this tube is very cool.

Nixie tube clocks are nice, but VFD clocks are also nice.

If you remove the back cover, you can access the switch for setting the time.

I am in the process of ordering the VFD from Russia and the clock IC from China. The IV-6 VFD tubes are cheaper than the Nixie tubes, so the price of the kit will be lower. Looking forward to it.

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