3D Resin Casting Electronics – Fails and Wins

For a current project, I needed to cast some electronics in epoxy resin. The process was eventually successful, but it did take 3 attempts to get it right.

Three attempts at casting resin in 3D printed PETG molds.

The aim was to encapsulate a Neopixel ring and control electronics in epoxy and use this as an underwater macro ring light for my underwater camera.

This blog post is just going to detail the process I used and the mistakes made. Once I finish the ring light, I’ll make post about it.

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Skillet Reflow 0603 SMD Capacitors = Tombstones

A recent project involved using an electric skillet to reflow solder some APA102C RGB LEDs to a PCB. The aim was to make a device similar to the Adafruit Neopixel Strips, but arranged in a 3×3 square and using the APA102C LEDs.

Honestly, each board that was made was a fail. Electrically, they all worked correctly. The failure was during the manufacturing stage – reflow soldering very small SMD components.

Just as an aside, Adafruit Neopixel devices use WS2812B LEDs which have some very strict timing requirements – this can be problematic for some devices that use software interrupts. Whereas, the APA102C LED is a chip that does not suffer from strict timing.

Each small PCB, contains 9x APA102C SMD LEDs and 8x 0.1uF 0603 ceramic capacitors for power supply decoupling. Each APA102C LED is the large white square with white circle. Between the rows of the APA102C LEDs are the SMD pads for the 0603 size capacitors.

PCB layout for APA102C LEDs
Top surface of the PCB layout.

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