Preventing Accidental Shorts on Prototypes

 In hard hacks

Many of the boards that we make never end up in an enclosure.  Whether for prototyping at the office or projects for home, it is just extra work we don’t want to mess with.  If the board ends up needing a little more protection due to lots of loose wires or it is given to someone that doesn’t understand what magic smoke is, protection is required.  The three easy ways are:

  1. Through-hole standoffs – These are either ones that go through the PCB (putting the holes in there before fabrication or finding a place to drill them yourself later.  The standoffs used in a computer case between the motherboard and its mounting surface are an example of this.  These can be either conductive or non-conductive.
  2. Adhesive standoffs – There are usually some type of plastic with an adhesive that attaches to the board
  3. Encapsulation – The easiest way to do this is with a hot-melt glue gun.  It won’t be hot enough to melt solder, but will allow you to protect just what you want.  This is also great if you need to put a few parts inline with a wire.  I’ve used this to stiffen some diodes that were used to drop the voltage for a DC charging cable.

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