How to Solder SMD / SMT Components With a Soldering Iron

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Introduction: How to Solder SMD / SMT Components With a Soldering Iron

Surface-Mount Technology (SMT) and Surface-Mount Devices (SMD) are essentially just tiny little components that are soldered to the surface of the PCB, not through it like many larger components. The Radio-Electronics website and, of course, Wikipedia, have some good overviews of these kind of components.

The purpose of this Instructable is to show how I've successfully soldered some SMD components without any special tools, and to show some techniques you can try. I am not an expert; I'm simply a hobbyist without training; I appreciate all constructive feedback and tips in the comments below!

These pictures were taken as I assembled an ATMEGA328P based Transistor Tester - which I have documented in full, here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Circuit-Circus-in-Depth-Tech/

I thought a more focused Instructable might be helpful for those wanting only this specific information.

Instructables.com automatically compresses the pictures in the Instructable. Viewing the full sized picture may be more helpful in some cases; just click the picture, click it again, and you should see a way to view the "original image".

**Edit - 3 OCT: Be sure to read through the comments for additional great tips and pointers!

Step 1: The Solder and Soldering Iron Tip

Step 2: Cut Tiny Chunks of Solder

Step 3: Pick a Piece of Solder

Step 4: Place the Piece of Solder

Step 5: Melt the Piece of Solder

Step 6: Place the Component

Step 7: Solder the Component

Now it is fixed in place!

Step 8: Place Next Piece of Solder

Step 9: Solder the Next Leg!

Step 10: Inspect the Contacts

I'll provide one more example below, but this is basically how I've done it.

Step 11: Repeat the Process!

Step 12: The Next Completed Piece

And this concludes the Instructable. I hope it is helpful for your projects!~

1 Person Made This Project!

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47 Discussions

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Victor805
Victor805

2 years ago

I recommend investing in a cheap hot air station and some quality solder paste and flux.

0
jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

I probably will one day, but this instructable was to show a technique for simply using a soldering iron. I do need to get some flux and learn how to use soldering paste, but i've not yet done that. I hear it makes things easier!

0
Victor805
Victor805

Reply 2 years ago

I've soldered components with solder paste and hot air and it's really easy, the solder melts and components just stick into place. For IC's with many legs it's also a really fast process.

0
drmpf
drmpf

3 years ago

A few tips:

i) For very small smd, and those with earth pads underneath I use a temperature controlled heat gun (Bosch PHG 630 DCE) set to 320 degC and solder paste. I apply the gun to the underside of the board until I see the solder paste melt and then finish off with a bit of heat from the top.

ii) You often end up with bridged pins after soldering. Clean the soldering iron well and wipe it across the pins so that is picks up the excess solder and removes the bridges

iii) These small chips are easier to handle if you first solder them to a DIP adaptor e.g. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/717 or search "smd to dip adaptor" on digikey.

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Dave Mc
Dave Mc

Reply 2 years ago

Any idea, where I would get a 100pin smd to dip adapter (Its for a C8051F020)

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drmpf
drmpf

Reply 2 years ago

Go to digikey, enter smd to dip adaptor in the search bar and then, when Adapter, Breakout Boards page shows up, click in the "No of Positions" filter col. scroll down and click on 100

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Dave Mc
Dave Mc

Reply 2 years ago

You sir, are a legend and I thank you :)

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jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

Great tips, thanks! I'll look into the DIP adapter idea, sounds helpful.

0
Jesper MartinS
Jesper MartinS

2 years ago

Hi

I´am sorry to say , but you have way too mutch solder on you transistors or IC, it should never end up on the upper side. this will remove the flexibillity in the legs of the component.

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jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks, I'll look into that. What do you recommend to fix it? Cut smaller pieces? Or wick/desolder it?

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Jesper MartinS
Jesper MartinS

Reply 2 years ago

Use tinner solder. If there too much, desolder. But be careful with the amount of heat. Don't exceed 360 degree tip temperature.

0
EMCguy
EMCguy

2 years ago

Soldering at work is a breeze with a zoom microscope and teeny-tiny irons and tweezers. At home I have a standard adjustable temp Weller and a nice flip down Donegan Opti-Visor magnifying visor. If you can spring for the glass lenses, they are worth the money.

The other thing I use is round wooded toothpicks and a block of beeswax. I have terrible luck with parts jumping out of tweezers, so I stroke one end of the toothpick lightly across the beeswax and I can pick up anything 0805 or smaller and transfer it to the board. Just roll the toothpick off the part and use the un-waxed in to push it around. Tweezers have a nasty habit of getting magnetized and dragging your tiny part away when you want to let go of it.

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jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

thanks for the tips! I'll need to try that. I've launched several parts through the air with my clumsy tweezer handling.

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donpin
donpin

3 years ago

I solder 0204 (1mm x 1/2mm) resistors and other small smd components (on DIY boards with no mask) using a .5mm tip & a 13w Goot iron and one or two goose-neck magnifying glasses stacked.

Lightly pre-solder the pads, then place the resistor and put a light weight on it with a canter-levered weight (a round head pin pressed through a 50mm length of plastic works just fine) to stop the resistor tomb-stoning (suddenly flicking upright). Touch the iron to the pad/resistor to remelt the pre-soldered pad. Clean and tidy.

(PS: If you drop an 0204 resistor do not even bother looking for it)!

0
jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

thanks for the tip. Do you have a picture of what you mean with the canter-levered weight?

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donpin
donpin

Reply 2 years ago

Here you are Jumson ....

SMD 0204 Canterlevered hold-down while soldering.jpg
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jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

ok I see what you mean now. That should help prevent me pressing too hard and the part goes flying off....

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RobertM463
RobertM463

2 years ago

Interesting tutorial. Everyone eventually comes up with their own process that works for them. I've been working with SMD components for about a year now as a hobby and my technique is different:

1. I use a 80W temp controlled iron with a 2.2mm chisel tip, set at 600-670*F, and 0.039" diameter solder, the smallest size possible.

2. When I design a board, I choose footprints with largest pads possible. In Eagle, these are referred to as kits.

3. I use plenty of liquid flux (flux pen or syringe) on the pads, set the part on the pads and align by pushing with tweezers

4. Once in place, I touch the solder to the iron tip (just a little), hold the part in place by pressing it down onto the board with the tweezers and touch the iron tip to the pad. Max. 3 seconds the solder has flowed around the part and I remove the iron.

5. If it's a cap or resistor, I solder the remaining end to the pad. If it's an IC, I repeat the tacking procedure in 4. to another pin to secure the IC to the board and then proceed to apply solder to the iron and touch the iron to the pins.

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jumson
jumson

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for the description, sounds like a good technique I'll have to try!

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keesj
keesj

2 years ago

Soldering.
Placing the ic on the pc board can be done with a piece of tape in the beginning of soldering the components onto the board.
However when the surface of the pcb becomes not flat for instance with elco's then the tape is useless.
With a piece of a tape with a doublesided adhesive, with the component attached to it and to the tool which brings the component between the components on its place. Then with an uv glue pen and a small drop on the part and pcb board will stick the component to the board. You can now take the tool away with the tape on it.
In this case you work with 2 hands.
The right hand brings the glue on the component and after that the uv light on the glue bubble. Now it can be soldered on the pcb.
When many components have to be soldered choose the flat ones first.
What also helps is to pre solder the component pens and ends of components and copper strips on the pcb. The components are being placed in a hand with magnifying glasses. This method will prevent soldering with to much solder.