Well, I got a few pieces of hardware in the mail today. A few drill bits of specific sizes, and most importantly, some specialized nuts for #4 screws.

Those are “Threaded, press fit” nuts for #4 screws. As you can probably guess by looking at it, it basically presses into whatever medium you’ve got a mounting hole in, and then it creates a threading for you internally in the hole.

The idea is for this to be pressed into the underside of the board, then use a #4 screw, lightly tightened into place. This would press the screw against the case, preventing the board from bending at all. The idea was nice, but unfortunately the mounting hole size they suggested did NOT work at all. 1, it did not press into the hole without making it bigger, and 2, I didn’t have a proper bit that’s one size bigger. So I ended up having to put a piece of tape over the hole I made, cut it, then press the nut into the hole where the tape actually takes up that minuscule amount of slack around it’s diameter.

I made a few adjustments to my pin positions, and decided to try another “mock up” to see how it would go. I was determined to get it right this time, so I decided to bring out the big guns… meet my new friend:

Yeah, this time I didn’t fuck around with a hand drill, I used this nice little drill press. Turns out my step-father’s old friend had one he hasn’t used in years, so now I have a drill press… for free, awesome.

I marked down my adjustments the night before by putting two of my prototypes stacked on top of each other, with the top one having the TE PCB clipped in. I slid the pins through and kind of eyeballed where they were at and where they “needed to be,” so to speak. Unfortunately, when I did this I was tired as hell, and I ended up going the wrong way with a few of the measurements. Of course I didn’t realize this until after I’d gone through this whole ordeal, but oh well…. they’re adjusted now, and unfortunately this mockup has been altered already. I’ll show you what I did anyhow, because it’s cathartic.

Here’s an example of my adjustments (currently fixed), PROTIP: always mark your adjustments near what you’re moving, that way if you ever screw up like I did, it’s very easy to go back and “undo” what you just did.

You’re reading that right, the directional header needs to be .5mm higher than the other headers in that row. I didn’t realize this until the other night, but have subsequently made the alterations required.

Here’s a shot of what the hell I’m talking about, and why looking at this shit late at night is hazardous to your health.

It’s hard to see, but it’s definitely higher than the other ones, I fucking hate madcatz right now for putting me through this shit (although I’ve done this entirely to myself). I’m jumping through hoops to get these measurements right since I don’t have any good equipment other than calipers I borrowed from work, and my eyeballs. Honestly though, at first glance they look dead even, but if you stare at it long enough like I have..you start to see things, and your mind plays tricks on you. For example, I see not only the directionals as .5mm higher than the other ones, but I also see the right most header in that top row as .1mm lower than the middle header. I’m going insane.

Anyhow, back to the drill press. So in order to make my drilling as accurate as possible, I clipped one of the old prototypes to the new mockup so that I could get the pin spacing correct:

I went through and drilled out all of the important holes like I did before, and you wouldn’t believe how awesomely the receptacles fit into a hole drilled at 1.35mm exactly. Unfortunately the fabrication house doesn’t have “exact” drills sometimes, so they’ll generally just mark your hole at a larger diameter and get it as close as possible. I’m sure the holes in the prototype that was fabricated are more like 1.39 mm or something, which does make a difference on this scale.

That’s the second round of mockups (before catching my screw up), you can see the press fit nut in place, and of course the pins all put into place.

Here’s a lesson for you though, no matter what tools you have…. a hand done job will always be off by a little bit. I drilled the holes straight down with a drill press, and they’re still magically crooked. You can also make out the piece of scotch tape to the right, modding a mod board… how fun.

Here’s the board installed into the case, you can get a better idea of what the screw/press fit nut will do for this thing. You pretty much install the board, then put the #4 screw in afterward, then press the TE PCB on top and clip it into place.

The board “installed,” this time I put a shrouded header kind of where it will end up to see if it would be in the way of the board’s edge, or the clips. Turns out it’s still in the way of the clip in the bottom left, so I moved the header left and up by .25/1mm, respectively. It’ll be a little off set with the dimensions of the board, but should work out a little easier for the user.

Anyhow, even though the mockup was kind of a throw away, it still taught me a few things, like not trying to do precision work when you’re tired, otherwise you’ll end up wasting more time in the end.

If I didn’t have screw ups, I wouldn’t learn anything, so I just need to keep pressing forward with this. I’ve invested far too much time and effort to not have this work. Money isn’t even an issue right now, I just want to make sure that the past 2 months of this shit have been worth it.

I am excited about putting in for another prototype, and I think I’ll send out for one by the end of the week. I read up a little more on the PCBfabexpress website, and they do “barebones” PCBs that don’t have solder mask or silk screen, and they’re like 30 bucks cheaper with a 5 day turnaround. I may do that this time, because even if it works 100% (which I doubt), it’s still nothing but a prototype, and having all the extra shit on there like silk screen doesn’t actually do anything other than look pretty. Also, the idea of quick fabrication of 5 prototypes for 50 bucks or less before shipping is pretty awesome.

Again, lessons learned, since I should have done that in the first place…but I wanted to be slick and have something that looked pretty, looking back that was really stupid, especially for something so measurement heavy where you can be OFF BY .5MM and have it completely wreck everything else. Any other project, sure…this one, totally wrong idea.