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Hack A PCB Answered

Is there a good way to solder or just connect wires directly to traces on a one sided PCB?

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Patrick Pending (author)2007-09-06

What are you trying to achieve? Please give some more detail. Pat. Pending

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I want to use the buttons of a SNES controller to control a mod I'm working on.

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LasVegas (author)Doug Costlow2007-09-06

If you need to solder to a trace on a previously masked board (green covering over the traces) you need to first remove the masking from the area you need to solder. Use an Exacto knife to carefully scrape the making from the trace area. Be very careful not to cut the trace! Then tin the trace with a tiny amount of solder (melt solder onto the trace with the soldering iron.). I also like to tin the wire in advance if it's multistrand wire. This allows you to solder it to the trace very quickly preventing overheating of the trace.

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NachoMahma (author)LasVegas2007-09-07

. Yes! Tinning is an excellent idea.

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VIRON (author)2007-09-06

I've often made single sided boards by cleaning them with steel wool or large rubber "pen erasers", then drawing the lines of the schematic as traces with a permanent marker, then etching it, then soldering all the parts and wires where they go, without drilling any holes. It's like "surface mount" but with the older sizes of parts, such as DIP chips, resistors, diodes, capacitors, etc. Good for making just one of something really quick after breadboarding it and drawing the schematic. I like it better than perf board projects.

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NachoMahma (author)VIRON2007-09-06

. Hmmmmmm. Never thought of using DIPs as SMDs. Do you have to bend the leads or anything? Or just set it on the PCB and put a dab of solder on the pin tip?

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VIRON (author)NachoMahma2007-09-06

Bend the thin part of the DIP chip leads to rest on the traces... unless they're gone. It's convenient to salvage some chips by cutting them off a board instead of solder-sucking them, with a dremel... especially 40 pin DIP's, like retro processors (Z-80,6502,etc).

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NachoMahma (author)VIRON2007-09-07

. A little disconcerting to know the processors I cut my teeth on are now considered retro. Oh well, getting old is better than the alternative. :)

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VIRON (author)NachoMahma2007-09-07

Cheer up and take care of yourself and don't fear the little number of trips around the sun. I know a 91 y/o farmer who still loves life. Smile, You're alive! Enjoy the day. :)

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Goodhart (author)NachoMahma2007-09-06

>>> Or just set it on the PCB and put a dab of solder on the pin tip? >>> I was just thinking this also. Rosen core solder, so you get a little flux with it, but it would have to be quite tiny...might be difficult on, say a 8 pin or greater device

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Goodhart (author)VIRON2007-09-06

PCB repair pens from (name deleted, since several companies make them) offers ease of use, quality and performance for board repair and rework. The rework part can be useful. A small hole drilled into a trace, and "reworked" with the pen, can give a nice "through hole" connection.

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Doug Costlow (author)Goodhart2007-09-06

thats what I was thinking, drill trough the trace, ream the hole with a hobby knife and solder the wire on. I've got a few old boards around so i think try a few different methods.

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Goodhart (author)Doug Costlow2007-09-06

Yes, and if you can pick up one of those pens I refer to, it will help in the event of messing the trace up, or getting a better connection (sometimes)

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zachninme (author)VIRON2007-09-06

I've done that too. If you're tricky, you can solder standard resistors and such to the surface, and use a flat-head screwdriver to clip the excess.

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NachoMahma (author)2007-09-06

. I've soldered wires to traces before, so just about anyone ought to be able to. :) . Make sure the trace and wire are clean (I used a pencil eraser). Use thin, solid wire (telephone wire worked well for me). Work fast - the traces are thin and have a tendency to break, separate from the board, &c; when they get hot. . Practice on a junk board first. It's real easy, once you get the hang of it, but you're liable to destroy a few traces before you get good at it.

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Doug Costlow (author)NachoMahma2007-09-06

Could you explain a little more how you have done this?

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NachoMahma (author)Doug Costlow2007-09-06

. I just cleaned the wire and the spot on the trace I wanted to solder to with an eraser. Used a small tip iron and small diameter rosin core solder. Make sure your iron is hot enough that you can make a good solder joint fast and get away from the trace before it gets too hot.

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