Building Rampart


You’ll need the usual.

  • Soldering iron,
  • solder (I use .5mm solder),
  • clippers,
  • kneedle nose pliers (or similar)
  • I need a magnifying glass
  • good light.
  • small screw drivers
  • multimeter? I like em.

All parts are labeled on the bottom pcb and parts in the kit are labeled.

Start with the resistors. I usually mount 2 at a time, and alternate with pins from one to the other to keep from heating any part too much.


Trim directly to let your iron heat up and keep from having pins get in the way.

Then the capacitors. The electrolytic capacitor is a bit high, so you can leave it till later.

resistors & caps

Now the audio jacks. They are a bit difficult to squeeze in as the pcb does not have slots but holes (limitation of using Fritzing). Be careful not to push down and bend a leg under the housing. You can wiggle squeeze them down. I usually flip the board back and forth checking from sides and bottom to make sure I haven’t bend the pins.

I usually do soldering in two rounds. First a bit of solder to hold, then trim the legs, then solder fill.

audio jacks

This step is working around a vestigial design decision. I had kept the buttons on the main board in case I wanted to build into another enclosure. They are redundant since they come on top. So, we need to bridge them, unless you decide to build another top /enclosure :)


We now place the stacked arduino headers. You can do this in different ways, but if you have no other way of keeping things aligned, place them stacked …

nano headers

… and place the nano/lgtbf. Solder the nano/lgtbf. Be careful with the smd parts. I do this soldering ‘from the side’ so the iron tip is the only thing near the board.

lgtbf328p placed

Then, I solder five points on each of the headers on the bottom of the pcb, remove the nano, and complete soldering the nano headers. You can leave the board mounted if you ensure not to heat any one area too much. Alternate with pins on opposite ends on opposite sides.

lgtbf328p removed again

Now we prepare for soldering the pin headers. I use the top plate as a guide, first adding the spacers as depicted.

top plate with spacers

As with all parts in general, I usually trim the pins after soldering each part. Otherwise I’ll overlook some later.

first headers

Start with the 4 pin 2 row and the 6 pin as depicted to aid alignment of the rest. When soldering, I usually hold the header with a finger, flip the board top down and solder one pin first. Flip the board over to see how it sits and continue.

Sometimes we need to wiggle a bit but all the headers should have wiggle room.

headers done

Now on to the pots and encoder. Place the nano if you had removed it, and place the pots and encoder. With the encoder, insert the side with 2 pins first and it’s easier to align and insert the 3 pin side. Now, place the top on again as a guide an to ensure the pots are centered.

pots in

Start by holding the pots so they ‘sit’ straight and solder a single pin. Turn over and to the side to see if the pot is sitting properly, then finish the rest of the pins or reheat and reseat the pot. For the fat supports, I also do this in two round, a little solder to hold and then trim and fill. But, since the rampart has higher rubber feet, you can just fill solder and trim.

start with one pin....

Now with need to solder the connecting 5 pin headers. Remove the top plate and place the stacked 5 pin headers …. and place the top plate again.

stacked headers

This is usually a bit tricky and requires some wiggling. Sometimes you need to push against a header if wiggling is not enough. The stacked headers are a bit on the short side, but short as below is ok. I solder the top first.

stacked headers, top

Since the pins are not protruding high, you shouldn’t need to trim them. Then solder and trim on the bottom side.

stacked headers, top finished

Now we can move on to the top (ok, I forgot the led, but we’ll get back to that:) …

touch button, buttons

Fist solder a header onto the touch button. Then, use pliers to straighten the legs of the buttons. The ‘snap’ angled buttons just tend to bend if you don’t straighten the pins. The buttons should just wiggle in nicely when the pins are straight.


Almost forgot it, didn’t I! I place the led, long leg anode into the square hole, and it with a finger to keep it slightly above the board. You can substitute a larger, 5mm, led if you wish and just let it sink into the hole.

flash test and then finish!

We’re basically done! At this point, if the chip isn’t already flashed (I ship flashed), I flash and do a functional test. And then I bolt everything down, add the pot knobs and get out the jumpers to make some funny music!


You rock!