Gamma2 DAC for Dummies - Gamma1

Building the Gamma2 should probably not be your first attempt at DIY audio since it requires the soldering of some rather small components.


This is the bare PCB as provided by AMB.
If, like me, you will be building the Gamma2 into a standard casing STOP IMMEDIATELY! Before soldering do yourself a favor and sand down the edges until you get to the ground planes and the front and back side also needs to be sanded down! Check your fit in the case, the PCB must be able to go tightly into the casing and you must be able to put the front and back panels flush on the case without the PCB interfering! It is a lot easier to do now than when all components are mounted (I learned the hard way).
Judging by the looks of it I thought:"It cannot be that hard". Hmm, let us proceed and find out if my initial thought was right...
First of all, all SMD (Surface Mount Device) components should be soldered since they require the most care and you do not want to be poking your soldering iron around the PCB trying to fit those when you have mounted all other components.

Oh dear, I was not! Mustering all of my apparently lacking sense of reasoning I went straight to soldering the most annoying part on the entire PCB, the U1D. I am aware that I will not be getting many compliments for this solder job, and I am not proud of it either. It took me about 20 minutes to get this little bastard soldered right

Next was the U1U (Burr-Brown USB DAC) and U4U.

Followed by U2D and U3D

Now would be a good time to solder the USB jack onto the PCB! I did not, and that was not a particularly easy job with ALL other components mounted.

If I remember correctly, the rest of the SMD components are quite easy to place, so get them soldered and continue with the resistors. You should now have a PCB looking like this.

Once more, HALT! The outermost ferrite bead actually touches the side rail of the casing in my build. When soldering this one, try to get it away from the edge of the PCB. If you do not, well, hopefully it will go in just like mine, but you risk it will not be able to slide into the case!

Now the time has come for the multilayer ceramic capacitors and after, those go on with the ferrite beads.

Solder DC jack and crystal onto the board.

Proceed with the resistor networks. Remember to get the orientation right!

Solder the input selector switch in place.

Get the transformers in place.

Solder the reset managers U4D and U9D onto the PCB.

Solder the transistors Q1D and Q2D onto the PCB.

Solder your remaining capacitors on.

Finally the time has come to solder the remaining jacks and receptacles onto the PCB. Your PCB should look something like this.

You should now perform the initial checks to see if there is even a remote chance you have gotten everything right!