Introduction: DIY SOIC to DIP Chip Adaptors

The world of electronics is moving further and further away from Through-Hole components and towards SMT (Surface Mount Technology) every day.  Sometimes this doesn't always go well for the enthusiasts building at home, so we have to adapt. 


SOIC to DIP adaptors are useful for many things:
  • For prototyping a circuit on a through-hole proto-board and later converting to SMT
  • For saving money with cheaper SMT chips
  • Some chips might only be available in SOIC packages
  • Programming SOIC microcontrollers without expensive ZIF sockets
These kinds of boards are available at websites for $1 to $3, but if you are trying to cut costs by using SMT components in the first place, you may want to make your own.  If you have circuit board etching supplies handy, you can make these adaptors for 25 cents apiece.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Heres what you will need to build these:

  • Copper clad board
  • Breakaway male strip headers (like these)
  • Ferric Chloride etchant (or equivalent)
  • Additional supplies for your etching method of choice
  • Solder
  • Drill
  • 1mm drill bit (3/64" is what I use and it works well enough)
  • Tin snips or other PCB cutting tool

Step 2: Etch the Boards

Now, I'm not going to go into detail about etching because it has been done to death here and all over the internet.  I use the el-cheapo Magazine paper transfer method. It works great for me and is probably the cheapest possible at-home small production solution.

I have supplied a .docx file with the correctly scaled layout inside, which can be printed on whatever medium you are going to use.  The file is available below.

If you're doing the magazine paper method, after printing, ironing, dissolving, and etching, drill the holes for the header pins and cut the boards apart with the tin snips.  Trim them as necessary to make them smaller.

Step 3: Soldering

Take your header strips and break off a 4-pin segment, and solder in place.  If you're having a hard time keeping them in place while soldering, you can put them into a proto-board and then place the PCB over top, and solder them in place when held down.  Then, gently position the SMT chip with tweezers and solder it in place. 

The method I use for doing SMT chips is to place some solder on the pad for Pin 1, then hold the chips with tweezers in place and apply heat so Pin 1 sinks into the ball of solder on Pad 1, and holding the chip in place until it cools.  Now the chip is sturdy while the rest of the pins are being attached.

Step 4: Complete!

Now you've got a sturdy chip that can be inserted into a proto-board, perf-board or an existing chip socket without issue.

I hope you enjoyed this short little guide, and I hope it will help someone out.  Please leave any suggestions, questions or remarks in the comments section.