Yep, you read it correctly. Its not ASCII art, is ASIIC. Confused? I'll explain.
ASCII art are some nice pictures made only with text characters. You can find plenty all over the internet, and they act nice as a signature at the end of your emails, but nevermind...
Well, ASIIC means ASmall, Itty-bitty Integrated Circuit Art. It is something made with small QFN Integrated circuit packages and requires a good close vision and firm hands. It is definitely a nerd stuff. But is pretty and can even be used on a Halloween prank.
Still confused? Check the rest of this instructable and you'll understand.
Step 1: First, the Materials and Tools...
You will need basic electronics tools:
- A soldering iron with a sharp tip
- A cutting knife
- Cutting pliers
- A magnifying glass (optional)
- A well illuminated bench
And the following materias
- A small QFN Integrated circuit. A disposed cell phone typically has a dozen of such chips.
- Thin, good quality solder (1mm)
- Enameled wire (0.2mm diameter is a good start)
- Double sided tape
Step 2: Preparing for Work
- Use the cutting knife to cut the legs and aerials of your ASIIC. The length is not critical. I have used eight segments of 2cm in order to get 6 legs and two aerials. After cutting, use the tweezers to have an idea of the final work.
- Use the soldering Iron and the solder to stain one side of each segment. After some seconds of heating the enamel cover will dissolve and the wire will be covered with solder.
- Cut a small piece of double sided tape and glue it on the wooden base. Then remove the protection of the other side of the tape and glue the QFN IC on the tape. The gel tape I have used has shown to be very difficult to remove later, so my advice is to use ordinary double sided tape.
- Stain the external pads of the chip with the soldering iron. This step is crucial, since this action will deposit over each terminal the solder (and the flux) needed to melt and retain the legs its place.
Step 3: Funny Part: the Solderwork
- Position the 'leg' wire over one terminal and hold it firmly.
- Press the wire into the pad with the tip of the soldering iron. Hold your breath to help you to stabilize your movements.
- After soldering the wire, check the quality of the welding by pulling the wire. A bad soldering will not resist such effort
- Do the same for all the legs of one side of the chip. Then rotate the wooden base and do it for the other side
- Finally, twist the wooden base again to solder the aerials.
Step 4: Finishing
- Use the cutting knife to take the chip out of the double sided tape. It has shown to be the most difficult step, due the gel tape I have used.
- Use the tweezers to help you to bend the legs without stressing the solder connections.
- Trim the legs, as you wish.
Step 5: Party Time
You might be wondering why didn't I have soldered all the legs on the big metal plate under the chip?
My answer is: Yes, it would be simpler, but it wouldn't be nerd enough!!!
Besides the fun that comes with the challenge of perform a so delicate solder 'art' work, now I am able to use (T)QFN chips for serious experimenting, without wasting money on a custom PCB, like in the "PI Nokia" development board