I’ve been trying to learn more about electronics. I’ve been piecing together schematics in KiCad for a small circuit to let an MCU read a handful of magnetic sensors and light up LEDs in response to specific combinations. I’ve done simple Arduino projects before but I’m trying to learn more about the actual circuitry by challenging myself to make something that can run on few AA NIMH cells. It has been a challenge identifying parts I can both prototype with on my breadboard and also either use in a final through-hole assembly or find direct counterparts that I can select for 3rd party PCB assembly (my solder skills are nowhere near good enough for SMD). I won’t have a lot of time this weekend since I’ll be watching the NFL play-off games but I’ve committed to just biting the bullet and purchasing components for the breadboard stage and ignoring the later final assembly needs. I figure I should be able to at least get an idea of the magnitude of power draw I’ve put together and start writing some of the software, especially the power management bits.
Unless you’re dealing with high-speed signaling, no need to optimize for assembly when you’re still in the learning and development stage. Get your breadboard working, then worry about your power problems (you are going to have a lot of power problems), and then if you finally get something workable you can worry about how to adjust design the for manufacturing. Early optimization, particularly if you don’t know the space well, is the death of many home projects.
Also give SMD soldering a shot! It’s a lot easier than you think. I had been soldering through-hole for ages and always kind of stayed away from SMD assembly if I could. Finally needed to jump in for a project where I quickly learned that it’s actually loads easier than through-hole and you don’t really need any additional special tools (until you want to undo something, at which point hot air/plate/etc comes in handy). Having reflow etc is handy when you get to that point, but it’s only something that really applies if you’re building a bunch of boards. Easy enough to just take the tip of your pencil iron + lots of flux and drag-solder a chip in seconds.
I learned this recently myself. i designed my own keyboard in kicad, and chose to do SM for diodes, switch sockets, and the JST connector. so much less headache than Through Hole. no clipping of extra leg length on diodes, less need for tape to hold things while you work on the other side. i highly recommend it