Because the waiting period for boards to reach here is normally quite lengthy, I print out the build guide first and spent time trying to figure out how the circuit operates. At this stage I can more or less trace the audio path, figure out which elements are power supply and which not, but deeper than that I dare not go. ‘A little learning,’ I have found, ‘is a dangerous thing.’
Next I prepare the off-board components (pots and jacks) and try to colour-code them consistently, so that white is always the tip of the in jack, yellow likewise for out, and the pots are likewise same colour wire for corresponding terminals. Red for positive, green for ground, and so on.
I then gather all the components together as per the BoM and once the PCB reaches here, I work much like Barry, shortest to tallest, ticking the parts off as I go. This all sounds fairly OCD, I guess, but these methods work for me.
Nowadays I seldom try to finish an entire project in a single sitting. Onboard parts first, double-check solder joints, then maybe sleep on it and re-inspect the next day.
Next the off-board parts, and this where I sometimes come unstuck. Stranded wire seems to be my particular nemesis.
What I have learned from this newish hobby (three years or so into it) is that mistakes are not the end of the world. They sometimes teach one the most valuable lessons. This insight, combined with the collective help and wisdom of the forum’s elders and newbies alike, has made me less compulsive about perfection and success and more concerned with how things work, and getting them to work when they don’t.
The fact that electronics is unforgiving (either right or wrong) becomes then one of its more welcome aspects, and failure (in relative terms) a source of curiosity rather than something to fear.
I raise a virtual glass of cheer to you all from the deep South (of Africa) and hope we will meet face to face at some stage in the near future.