Few days ago PCBs came and I had a chance to solder ICs and test schematics.
Usually I order prototypes with small components soldered already, and large ICs I solder myself. Few reasons for that
- I cannot solder small ones manually, so if I'd have to do it myself, I wouldn't be able to use 0402 sized components and smaller. When robots handle those, I can have more space on the PCB for essentials.
- Recent design tend to have more and more 'optional' components, that are not strictly necessary, but add reliability. Therefore list of things I'd have to solder is growing, and amount of time I have is decreasing unfortunately.
- Some manufacturers provide SMT assembly service for reasonable price, if you stay within frequently used components values and sized, so called basic parts. When designing having this in mind, you can reduce costs even more.
All and all, PCB is soldered, and works like a charm. Next I plan to secure external button somewhere within the reach and call it done.
Recent design is publicly available.