HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby MCes » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:40 pm

Gyro Gearloose wrote:No you dummy, I didn't write to you, I wrote AT you publicly. I'll say it again: you're a SCHMUCK.

How do I block users here?


I am honored to be considered unpleasant by you.
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby norm8332 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:31 pm

eslapion wrote:
norm8332 wrote:It appears that the gold plated connector is of varying quality on different 2-pin VIC-20s suggesting a larger potential issue. Therefore maybe cartridge design should be scrutinized in respect to it's contribution to the wear on the connector as suggested.

For one thing I have to say you did a rather impressive job at taking photos in your last post.

Would you be able to associate these photos with a brand and/or model of connector ?


Thanks, This cheap microscope was worth every penny: https://www.ebay.com/itm/282556102576 (I paid $35)
I took the pictures with the VICs assembled. I will have to go back and open the cases. It may take awhile for me to get to this.

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby eslapion » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:53 pm

norm8332 wrote:Thanks, This cheap microscope was worth every penny: https://www.ebay.com/itm/282556102576 (I paid $35)
I took the pictures with the VICs assembled. I will have to go back and open the cases. It may take awhile for me to get to this.

I'd say that's a small amount of money pretty well invested. I thought good optics absolutely had to be insanely expensive...
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby Radical Brad » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:59 pm

Hey man, let's lighten this up a bit!
The enemy is the modern PC, not any of us VIC users.

Besides, real hackers don't worry about expansion port problems, we find a way around them...

Image

Image

Image

Image

Yeah, that's a VIC-20 front loading expansion docking bay!
And the original port is still fully functional.

Now stop bickering before I release VIC-20 Unexpanded WannaCry or MeltDown 6502A!

Radical Brad

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby eslapion » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:45 pm

Radical Brad wrote:Now stop bickering before I release VIC-20 Unexpanded WannaCry or MeltDown 6502A!

Radical Brad

I think me, Norm and Thomas were having a very constructive and friendly exchange until...
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby Mayhem » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:47 pm

And it's time to calm down, calm down here again... unless you want this thread going the same as so many others in the past...
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby Radical Brad » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:50 pm

Indeed, I just felt like loosening it up a bit.
I never considered the wear on the port until this all started.
When I do my own PCB, it will definitely be plated properly after seeing all of this information.

Brad

eslapion wrote:
Radical Brad wrote:Now stop bickering before I release VIC-20 Unexpanded WannaCry or MeltDown 6502A!

Radical Brad

I think me, Norm and Thomas were having a very constructive and friendly exchange until...

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby TLovskog » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:50 am

eslapion wrote:In your professional opinion, how important is it to avoid the presence of fiberglass in circuit boards used for C64/VIC-20/C128 ? Can the shape of the edge of that board (beveling, rouding, flat) mitigate the detrimental effects ?

What are the long term effects of using HASL circuit boards in C64/VIC-20/C128 cartridge port connectors ? (on the female connectors - we already know about the effects on the boards themselves)


I am a bit intrigued by the question and will dive a little deeper, and it is also a long time since I actually needed to bother about it so.

However ...

  • Glas is always an issue and it is quite abrasive. Glass filled plastics is a pain to cutting tools, but then the diameter of the glassfibers are 10-20um. Here they are around 5um.
  • The connector will also hit the sharp edge of the copper/plating when travelling on-top of the finger. That would also be pretty abrasive.
  • A different angle is that it is very uncommon nowadays with PCBs without glassfiber. I would also think that the reason the older cartridges used FR2 without glassfiber was because of cost, not the abrasive nature.
  • All the common manufacturer of connectors (Samtech, Molex, Amphenol) stipulate FR4 material with glassfiber and 45 degree chamfer.
So in short it would be hard to get hold of anything without glassfiber, nobody seams to really care. If you make an effort with FR2 you end up with the problems with that technology. If you go exotic with ceramics it is expensive.

Some of the modern electronics use HDI boards and they are built using a FR-4 core and resin only outer layers. So if you really wanted that's the road I would go. Unfortunately the outer layers are also very thin. Then you would "for free" also get laser drilled via with a diameter of max 0.1mm. 4 layers and upwards. 75um line/spacing as standard.

1+2+1.png

The patents mentioned are also "fixing" this as a byproduct. One with plastic casing around the edges, one with not letting the contacts ride on the PCB top, but instead of gold-plated connector pads. If you can fix a potential problem anyway, you do it. If you can expand a patent, you do it. When you supply the patent lawyer/engineer your 3 page PowerPoint, they usually return with 300 pages of text and expansions.

So theory is one thing, practice another. I would not loose any sleep over it.

Regarding HASL or GOLD.

  • Again the manufacturers of connectors state gold plated fingers, unless the connector is with tin contacts then either HASL or chemical tin.
  • Whoever you would ask in the industry would say that you should never use HASL/TIN on any edge connector, unless cost cost cost.
  • Longevity is of course also a factor. Since our darlings now are decade old, maybe we want the best for them.
Also the price for selective gold is not that expensive. It is not like anybody would make 100 miljon cartridges where the cents count.

So again from a practical point of view I would, and do, go with gold.I always use ENIG on the rest of the boards for planarity reasons.
Last edited by TLovskog on Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
BR
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby TLovskog » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:51 am

Radical Brad wrote:Hey man, let's lighten this up a bit!
The enemy is the modern PC, not any of us VIC users.


Another radical design. Me like!
BR

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby eslapion » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:17 am

TLovskog wrote:Some of the modern electronics use HDI boards and they are built using a FR-4 core and resin only outer layers. So if you really wanted that's the road I would go. Unfortunately the outer layers are also very thin. The you would "for free" also get laser drilled via with 0.1mm. 4 layers and upwards. 75um line/spacing as standard.

Impressive solution. Is this something you could get me if I had you make a batch of 50 boards for the Behr-Bonz or similar size boards ? Maybe this is only available on very large batches...

TLovskog wrote:...If you can fix a potential problem anyway, you do it. If you can expand a patent, you do it. When you supply the patent lawyer/engineer your 3 page PowerPoint, they usually return with 300 pages of text and expansions.

So theory is one thing, practice another. I would not loose any sleep over it.

This sounds quite familiar...

Regarding HASL or GOLD.

  • Again the manufacturers of connectors state gold plated fingers, unless the connector is with tin contacts then either HASL or chemical tin.
  • Whoever you would ask in the industry would say that you should never use HASL/TIN on any edge connector, unless cost cost cost.
  • Longevity is of course also a factor. Since our darlings now are decade old, maybe we want the best for them.
Also the price for selective gold is not that expensive. It is not like anybody would make 100 million cartridges where the cents count.

So again from a practical point of view I would, and do, go with gold.I always use ENIG on the rest of the boards for planarity reasons.

I have to admit I did some boards with HASL but this was always limited to a small number of 'prototypes', 'concept testers' or preproduction units.

I either kept them for myself or sold them with notification.

I still have my C64 low power REU boards...
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby norm8332 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:44 pm

TLovskog wrote:The connector will also hit the sharp edge of the copper/plating when travelling on-top of the finger. That would also be pretty abrasive.


I understand this could be true because of the smaller surface area making contact causes higher pressure, but it is also a softer material and the question in my mind is: is it more or less abrasive than the glass fibers. I guess the only way to answer this is a controlled test that I'm not prepared to do. I can say that in this application I don't notice any difference in the insertion force between the beveled and non-beveled cartridges. And it also seems that the cartridges vary as to whether they are beveled or not across different platforms and manufacturers.

Personally, I will use the non-beveled format from this point forward since I believe based on my observations that the glass fiber edge definitely erodes the plating on the connector. I also still believe that the only permanent detrimental effect of HASL is on the cartridge itself. My microscopic examinations of many highly used connectors show that HASL deposits are wiped off upon insertion and removal and may just accumulate as a fine dust that can be blown or rinsed out in worst case scenarios. Of course I do recommend ENIG or hard gold for production as recommended by the connector manufacturers and because it is more durable.

All that said and on a side note...I have had no functional problem with even the most worn connector I have found on the VIC-20. They still seem to work fine even with completely exposed, partly oxidized copper/brass.
Last edited by norm8332 on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby eslapion » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:58 pm

norm8332 wrote:... I can say that in this application I don't notice any difference in the insertion force between the beveled and non-beveled cartridges. And it also seems that the cartridges vary as to whether they are beveled or not across different platforms and manufacturers.

This makes sense to me as the force of insertion is actually the force required to cause the curved contacts to bend outwards until the PCB can slide into the female connector.

IMHO, the idea behind using a beveled edge connector is that this force is applied on a larger surface thereby reducing the potential damage to the female connector. This, of course, does not account for the abrasion of the glass fibers.

Personally, I will use the non-beveled format from this point forward since I believe based on my observations that the glass fiber edge definitely erodes the plating on the connector. I also still believe that the only permanent detrimental effect of HASL is on the cartridge itself. My microscopic examinations of many highly used connectors show that HASL deposits are wiped off upon insertion and removal and may just accumulate as a fine dust that can be blown or rinsed out in worst case scenarios. Of course I do recommend ENIG or hard gold for production.

All that said and on a side note...I have had no functional problem with even the most worn connector I have found on the VIC-20. They still seem to work fine even with completely exposed, partly oxidized copper.

As I said, I have one connector here which became unusable after a few hundreds of insertions of HASL boards.

The need to replace cartridge port connectors is more often seen in the C64 community. I suspect that's because the plated contacts inside the female receptacle connector are narrower so they may degrade faster.
Last edited by eslapion on Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby norm8332 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:12 pm

Yes, All I am saying is we don't know for sure that the non beveled edge is actually causing damage. It could in theory at this point. But I believe it is very likely that the beveled fiberglass boards are causing damage. So that's a "theory" vs "very likely".

The reason I mention the insertion force is because it seems as friction is not increased with the non beveled edge. I believe there is some give or compression of the sharp edge upon the first insertion of a new board because it is a softer material and it's the board edge that gets abraded when it is inserted.

EDIT: I looked at it with the microscope and there are small scratches on the edge of the non beveled board from the contacts. I didn't see any contaminates or debris on the board or in the scratches as a result of me inserting and removing it 20 times with the Vic-20 connector in the first picture of the gold contacts I posted above and the contacts still look the same. So if there is an issue it may need more use to detect.

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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby eslapion » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:04 am

norm8332 wrote:Yes, All I am saying is we don't know for sure that the non beveled edge is actually causing damage. It could in theory at this point. But I believe it is very likely that the beveled fiberglass boards are causing damage. So that's a "theory" vs "very likely".

The reason I mention the insertion force is because it seems as friction is not increased with the non beveled edge. I believe there is some give or compression of the sharp edge upon the first insertion of a new board because it is a softer material and it's the board edge that gets abraded when it is inserted.

EDIT: I looked at it with the microscope and there are small scratches on the edge of the non beveled board from the contacts. I didn't see any contaminates or debris on the board or in the scratches as a result of me inserting and removing it 20 times with the Vic-20 connector in the first picture of the gold contacts I posted above and the contacts still look the same. So if there is an issue it may need more use to detect.

Your observations make me realize I missed an important opportunity over the last 12 months.

I have sold about 50 Behr-Bonz but did not bother to take macrophotos of the PCBs when perfectly new vs after 1 or 2 insertions.

All of them were gold plated, beveled and had fiberglass FR4 material.

Because of the heat sink and cart port frame in my VIC-20 PSK, it is virtually impossible to tell exactly what model and brand the female receptacle is but it is gold plated and it does show extensive wear. On one of the eyelets, I see 'JAPAN' and 'KEL'.
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Re: HASL for cartridges? (split/OT from: Cheese & Onion)

Postby norm8332 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:44 am

Apparently because of the large size of the pins/fingers It appears that even with extensive wear, the contact between the board and connector is enough to function properly. A percentage of the VICs out there most likely have wear on the connector, but as seen in the above first two pictures of the gold contacts some do not. Maybe because of limited cartridge use. I think as a result of this thread we could try to minimize further damage going forward.

Some people think that this is a trivial thing. And in some ways they are correct. But others like to know these things and want to develop best practices to possibly extend the longevity of the VIC-20 and try to contribute to the community. Plus I personally enjoy this stuff. :D


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