Introduction: Simple Soldering Jig

I often have to solder up a bunch of PCBs that are the same size, but have a bunch of fiddly components on them.

To save time and frustration, I decided to re-purpose a used chewing gum tin to make a jig so I could solder multiple boards at once and keep my components from moving about.

Step 1: Prep the Tin

Choose a tin that's bigger than your PCB. I chose to use a chewing gum tin since 3 of my PCBs just fit, but you could use a standard sized mint tin if you have a bigger PCB.

Place your PCB on the underside of the tin and draw around it.

Make the line about 1/8" thicker on the inside to give you a cut guide.

Cut the bottom of your tin out (I used a Dremel).

DANGER! The edges will be sharp, so make sure you file and sandpaper them afterward to dull them a little. Even then, they can still cut you so use caution with your jig.

Step 2: Foam Is the Magic Ingredient

Get some spongy foam that's a bit bigger than your tin. Start with a piece much bigger than your tin and reduce it until you get something you're happy with. The more foam you use the more pressure will be on your components and PCB and the less they will move around. But also the more the lid will want to pop open, so keep this in mind or fasten the lid with tape.

DANGER! Soldering can get very hot, so choose a foam that is flame retardant. It's better to play it safe than to explain to people how you burned your house down.

Step 3: Populate Your PCB

Insert all the components into your PCB(s) and place in the bottom of your tin with the legs dangling through the hole in the bottom.

Then squish your foam in the top of the tin and close the lid. This will hold all your components in place while you solder them.

If you have large differences in height between you components you could also cut you foam to match this, so that there is less foam over the taller components. I didn't need to do this since my components are similar heights and the memory foam compressed really well.

Don't forget to close the lid. If it won't stay closed, use some tape or a maybe a rubber band to keep it shut. You could also reduce the amount of foam at the cost of your components being able to move about a little.

Step 4: Use Your Creation!

Flip the tin over and get ready to solder. You may also be able to readjust the angle of components (if they are a bit off) by tugging on the legs a little.

Because my boards are designed to be a tiny footprint some of the solder pads are very close to the edge of the hole. You can mark this and then file the hole out accordingly.

Get soldering.

The jig gives you the freedom to move to work around to get the best soldering angles, but because the lid in this tin is curved, it's not the most stable surface (this bigger tins are flat on top so are not a problem). To remedy this, you can put the tin in a clamp, tape it down, or stick it on some modeling clay (which is the method I used) to stop it from moving around.

Step 5: Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor!

Once the soldering is complete just open the tin, remove the foam and your boards and you are done.

I took the opportunity to snip the component legs while they were still in the jig.

All that remained for me was to snap apart the 3 PCBs into individual amps.

Job done :)

Comments

author
Berserk87 (author)2009-01-01

nice instructable. you should make a new instructable showing a "universal" jig. plus you could use a $0.50 spounge instead of the bread :P

author
jwoo2023 (author)Berserk872011-05-12

he said that he used a memory foam from the pillows and cut a piece off and it looked like bread.

author
tagno25 (author)Berserk872009-01-01

Cannot use a $0.50 sponge, because they are usually NOT flame retardant.

author
Berserk87 (author)tagno252009-01-02

bread is? lol. couldnt you soak the sponge in something? the main point being, there are better things that a piece of bread :P

author
johnson_steve (author)Berserk872009-01-02

did you read it? it's not bread.

author
Berserk87 (author)johnson_steve2009-01-02

he edited it. i remember seeing "fresh baked bread" in there.

author
johnson_steve (author)Berserk872009-01-02

ahh I see. it does kind of look like bread.

author
awang8 (author)johnson_steve2009-01-05

I don't see the problem with using bread. When you're done all you have to do is eat the new lead-poisoning toast. Mmm...

author
11tillr (author)2011-02-09

good idea very productive

author
learning-teaching (author)2009-08-17

Great idea, pretty cool too!

author
5Volt (author)2009-01-02

Yes, clever and a very good idea, just make sure not to breath the fumes from the sponge : it might not melt or burn but I suspect that some fumes should come off of it.

author
Instant Arcade (author)5Volt2009-01-02

It's just a safety precaution really. The sponge doesn't even get hot. Also, any soldering I do is right in front of my fume extractor anyway, so hopefully I'm covered.

author
rimar2000 (author)2009-01-02

Very smart idea.

author
Phil B (author)2009-01-01

Clever and a very good idea, especially for making multiple copies of the same circuit board.

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a professional video game programmer.
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