Instructables

Advanced Soldering: Fast and Easy Soldering of Surface Mount Components

Featured
Picture of Advanced Soldering: Fast and Easy Soldering of Surface Mount Components
Easily solder surface mount components like the tiniest LEDs and SOIC sized ICs. Make your own break out boards.

As more and more DIP ICs are being fazed out, some of them are now only available as surface mount devices. Creating a custom printed circuit board for each one is impractical for the amateur robot builder or electronics experimenter. Pre-etched Breakout boards which adapt a surface mount IC to the standard .1" spacing of breadboards are available. Unfortunately, they often cost more than the IC itself.

In this instructable are some techniques for making your own breakout board using standard copper traced strip board or perfboard. Also included are some techniques for easily mounting other ridiculously small surface mount components.

The first pic shows a breakout board for a SOIC-8 sized surface mount IC.

 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

.015" diameter Kester 44 solder from: http://www.mouser.com/

30 gauge heat strippable magnet wire from Mouser

Heavy duty aluminum foil from WalMart

Loctite mounting putty from WalMart

Soldering iron with 1/32" tip

Brass shavings tip cleaner available from: http://www.jameco.com/

.055" spring wire or music wire to make a surface mount clamp

achand83 months ago

Nice Idea! But I think it's worth the time to etch a board

I have been looking for this after spending 3 hours ruining two (of 12) SMs i accidentally ordered.

The foil is BRILLIANT and this info is not so easy to find onlin- although now it seems obvious!

Thankyou
What did you use to remove the copper from the stripboard?
looks like a drill bit..
I really enjoyed your instructable, I wish I had come across it sooner as I have been soldering IC's from above still connected to the PCB. Yours is definitely more work but you get such a fantastic result - thanks
orksecurity4 years ago
Nicely illustrated. One thing to remember, when using the dead-bug technique or otherwise mounting a chip "upside down" -- The circuitry is often mounted close to the official top of the housing, to allow best heat transfer. Mounting it upside down can interfere with that, so if you do flip the chip you may want to flip it onto something that will act as a heat-sink.

(Look up descriptions of IBM's old Thermal Conduction Modules for an illustration of the extremes they went to in order to remove heat from face-down bipolar chips. I believe a description of TCMs was published in one of the IBM Journals in the late 1970's or early 1980's.)
Most chips made in more recent years have the circuitry mounted on the bottom because it means shorter traces, because it means shorter thermal path to traces and when the chip has higher thermal density there is a heatsink pad under it and exposed metal plate on the bottom. The one big exception to this is chips that create so much heat they must wear a sizable *real* heatsink instead of 'sinking to the PCB copper, for example CPUs, GPUs and chipsets found in computers.
bigjeff5 ac-dc3 years ago
You can tell immediately when you have one of these chips because it will have a metal plate on the bottom and the datasheet will specify soldering the pad to a copper pad on the PCB.
taurus1233 years ago
So you have taken an SMD chip and converted into a through hole chip. So what? Most SMDs come in through hole format and vice versa. What is the purpose of this, other than wasting time to re-invent the soup dish?
There are literally thousands of very useful IC's that only come in various forms of SMD.

DIP is deprecated tech, so it's kind of amazing there is still a decent subset of components that can still be found in that format. I think it's pretty much only the hobby electronics that have kept the format alive, so you can generally expect anything that wasn't targeted at hobbyists to not have a DIP package version.
That's not really true. Many types of chips are not available in DIP or are much more expensive in through-hole packaging than SMT. This is a very useful way to still be able to breadboard or through-hole solder those chips. Good instructable!
i agree with FaxJaxton on this one it can also save space on a thru-hole board if you are pressed for space
ouss763 years ago
sorry to say that but your solder is horrible: you added too much tin. a little less and it'll be perfect regards
agreed with this, less tin will make it perfect.
dhopper1223 years ago
I work soldering smaller components by hand. And let me tell you that is a pain in the orifice. I would not use the putty, as it might melt and contaminate the solder joint. I use a tooth pick to hold the item down while soldering. YES, it takes a good deal of consintration to work both tooth pick and iron, at the same time. Plus, what I see here is that the "coated" wire wasnt cleaned prior to soldering. I needs to be, as the coating will contaminate the solder joint also. Please understand this isnt a beat-down, but professional, "been there done that", experience.
MaXoR3 years ago
I like your wire holder, I built one for myself using an old metal coat hanger... works like a charm!

Also, I agree with dagenius when he said "if you have time to surf random ible's, you have time for a hobby". Also why surf here if you don't have time for the things you see.... Isn't that just wasting more of your precious time carlo$?
3366carlos4 years ago
Very nice, too bad I don't have time to mess with electronics anymore.
If you have time to surf random instructables, then I'm sure you can put aside some time for hobby.
endolith3 years ago
gsionek3 years ago
Thanks for all those tips! Very very useful!
I have over thirty years of professional experience with a soldering iron. This is the best article I have ever seen on surface mount hint and tips, especially for DIY applications. The aluminum foil trick to protect adjacent contacts should also prove handy for assembling high density connectors. First rate, A+, and many thanks.
Loki-me4 years ago

well done! I like the aluminum foil to prevent surface tension bonding between contacts.   
I find that designing and etching PCBs is much easier of a process than doing something like this, but I don't like magnet wire very much. This is a good idea, but people, please consider making your own custom boards. I am SOOOO glad that I learned Eagle. With my custom boards, I find that SMD is easier than through-hole.
Designing custom boards is more aesthetically pleasing, often more durable, and sometimes necessary to keep fast chips stable, but it also takes a LOT more time to do it. Something modular like pictured can at least be done in batches so you make a few dozen boards at a time but for most DIY work you wouldn't be making the same thing that many times.
If it works for you, then more power to you! However, I have had problems using protoboard and breadboard methods for some SMD chips. For the binary watch that I am building, I needed a boost/buck converter. Every time I used a breakout board with my breadboard, the chip failed. When I took the time to make a custom board, all the problems went away. (chip was MAX1724, but I am now using REG711)
juanangel4 years ago
My comment is related to soldering the SMT components. Something you should add to save the components is that the soldering tip must not be in contact with the component for more than 3 (three) seconds or damage to the internal electronics will happen instantly or later in use. If having problem with applying solder to the component, verify it is not Pb Free(lead free) which requires higher temperatures. No needs to add excess solder to terminals or cables (just check a board and familiarize with the amount of solder applied). Never move or verify the solder by moving the cable or connections while it is hot / warm. Use a magnifying glass to verify it, it should be smooth and shinny. Amount of solder should not be a reference to decide if connection is wrong. Hope this helps you.
bill20094 years ago
thank you. good tips generally for fine soldering. and the pic-on-a-stick with color coded header pins is cute.
spas994 years ago
will forgive, but it is ugly ....... so you can not make a PCB as it should?
mooseo4 years ago
Nice instructable. I'd like to add that a cheap dissecting microscope can make the actual soldering much easier. Suddenly the pins look huge and you can see how little bits of solder and wire might bridge between gaps. They're often available on ebay. A well lighted workspace is super helpful, too.
Wire wrap wire works as well as magnet wire for this type of soldering, as long as you have the right-sized stripper
wkuace4 years ago
Great Instructable and great soldering job, I'm an Electrical Engineering student and i've seen some awful soldering jobs even from junior and senior students. I'll bet even this would be impossible on a SOT-323, they are about the size of a small freckle lol. I don't like to use anything smaller then 0805's with the pick and place at school. so far i've stayed away from smt in my hobby work but i'll defiantly try this if i ever have to convert
I recommend designing custom boards if you switch to SMD. They are easier than through-hole on perfboard.
I remove a lot of stuff even SM with a pen torch and use the same method to solder SM components, just check the data sheet for temp and times almost all SM components are meant to be soldered in a oven. if you move the pen torch fast in a circle with the blue tip a inch or so off the pcb "really small flame" it will work every time. you may encounter a learning curve... I like this best for sm cmos and through hole fets
Calorie4 years ago
Well executed. I like that you reused a scarce resource, and that you were clever about it.
sageserver4 years ago
Nice macro shots! Does the blue-tac melt? If it does, wouldnt it stick to the led and make it messy?
ironsmiter4 years ago
Beautiful write-up on this technique.
I especially like the blue-tac for holding the led.
Since it'll melt if you get it too warm, it would probably work to let you know when you're putting the chip at risk of overheating too. :-)


Deadbug is your friend.

Flip the chip upside-down. Mark pin one. Glue onto the adapter board(superglue= permanent. hotglue=semi-permanent). now solder the wires.

If you use circuit planning software, just remember the change in pin locations. if you wirewrap the circuit, no worries. :-)

Cannot stress enough how much a good, small, clean solder tip is needed. A really good "fine" solder iron makes it about 80% easier.
possibly one of the most useful instructables iv'e ever seen, very nice!
marc.cryan4 years ago
Thanks for the tips!

Well done.
Wo0kiE4 years ago
good idea... another good clamp for soldering is medical hemostats like in the link below... http://www.scissorsales.com/hemostat.html they aren't great for tiny applications like the ones you are describing but work great for attaching component leads to wires and such. All in all, your idea here is very sound and well laid out. Good Job! Andy H. CET, FOI VVTS