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Equipment for hand SMD soldering
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Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by robodude666 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:10 pm

Hey guys,

I'm venturing into the world of hand SMD soldering very soon. It's something I've always wanted to do, and it seems like a very useful skill to have combined with the ability to etch your own boards!

I have a few questions and concerns regarding what I need to get started.

- What solder is best for hand SMD work? I've read Leaded solder is easier to work with; specially, 63/37 is recommended for leaded solder. What gauge is also good to work with? I've read some people saying you need .15mm or .3mm solder, while others say .5mm or .8mm will suffice. Does it make a difference? Is it worth it to spend $30-40 on a huge spool, or are 100g spools okay? Mouser doesn't seem to have many options for solder that are in stock.

- My Aoyue 2900 station is advertised as being a "lead-free" station. Does that mean it's assembly is lead-free, or that it is meant for lead-free work? Would this imply that it will perform poorly if used with leaded solder?

- Does the tip's shape make a huge difference? My Aoyue comes with a conical tip (looks like the stock .5mm LF-2B). I see most SMD tutorials use a tip that comes down to a flathead screwdriver-like shape. Is this required, or simply make life a bit easier? What a beveled tip work just as well as a screwdriver tip, or are those more for drag soldering pins of SMD ICs?

- What type of flux is recommended? I know flux comes in a lot of different viscosities and containers. Would a liquid pen, like the Kester 2331 be a good start?

- Does the quality of desoldering wick/braid make much of a difference? i.e. generic $2 stuff vs $5 stuff.

- What type of magnification is recommended, if at all required? I like the OptiVisor Adafruit stocks a lot (it looks really cool, to be honest), but with a budget the cost is a little high. Is it worth the money over a cheap $5 loupe?

- Is dedicated Tip Tinner/Cleaner like this stuff needed, or would a simple sponge suffice?

- What kind of a holding device works well? The small third-hand is cheap, but looks like it can be tipped over easily. The Panavise Jr. looks much more solid but the cost is more solid as well. Is the Panavise a worthy investment?

Any advice would greatly be appreciated! SMD soldering looks very scare to get into. Lots of new tools required and lots of new skills to develop... but the end seems to be very rewarding.

Cheers & Thanks,
-robodude666
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by franklin97355 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:24 pm

(my opinions only) You don't need any new tools to get started (practice). The panavice jr is a good investment but a bit of tape to hold the board still will work. Get some practice boards and larger components and try some. You will soon find what works and what doesn't.

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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by robodude666 on Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:33 pm

Well, I currently have no Flux and I have about 1/2" of solder left... so I need to buy at least that those two things.

I'll start off with the Circuit Skills SMD Experimenter kit. I'll get some extra boards and an assortment of other parts to start off with. I have some "ding and dent" PCBs from SparkFun which I'll use as practice for the really small components, though I'll unlikely use them in my designs.

What do your thoughts regarding the solder and soldering tip questions in my original post, at least.

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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by uhe on Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:01 pm

Hand soldering SMD usually means *with tweezer* and thats all you need (except the iron) to get started. If you need to buy new, get some ESD / anti static tweezer. Flux is not essential but it helps a lot! :)
For 0805 or SOIC8 devices I don't need any magnification but I use a 10x magnifier to check for bridges after soldering.
For soldering I use 0.8mm wire not lead free. 0.5mm would also be handy but you have to feed a lot if you use it with bigger components. The lead free advertisment on your station could imply *assembly is lead-free* or *usable for lead free solder*. Lead free needs a little higher temperatur...
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by robodude666 on Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:07 pm

uhe, Yeah :). I'm not asking about specific tweezers because I already found some. I'm getting a pointy straight type and another that are curved at the end with very fine tips. They're both cheapies (<$5 each) but they should suffice. I'll get better ones later if I decide to do more SMD work. For now, I just want to learn the basics and get some practice.

I've ordered .02" (.5mm) solder and some flux (both no-clean) from Stanley Supplies & Services. I've got a little bit of thicker .032" solder around for connectors and stuff like that.

Also got the 3rd hand from Adafruit. I know I can get away with just taping the board to my desk, but I figure it will be useful for holding wires or other things. It has a magnifying glass, which while isn't very good i'm sure is better than nothing. Later on if I decide to do even finer pitch components I'll get a real loupe or the OptiVisor.

It appears the Aoyue 2900 is advertised as a Lead-Free station, in the sense that it is meant for lead-free work. Because it has temperature control (and temperature calibration) it should be fine for leaded work. I've used lead solder with it previously and haven't seen any issues.

At this point in time, I'll stick with my .5mm conical tip that came with my station. In the future, if I find difficulties in using this tip I'll buy a few replacement bevel/chisel/hoof tips.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by pstemari on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:27 am

A real loupe (BelOMO is very good and reasonably priced, Buash & Lomb is traditional) AND the OptiVisor are what I'd recommend. The Optivisor is good for doing the soldering, while the loupe is what you want for a close inspection of the work.

The magnifying glasses on the 3rd hands aren't worth a bucket of warm spit.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by robodude666 on Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:55 am

I don't know exactly how much "The magnifying glasses on the 3rd hands aren't worth a bucket of warm spit." is worth, but in the two boards that I've soldered so far I've noticed I can see the board better with my glasses and a good light source better than through the glass. The glass magnifies the view, but not enough.

I'll definitely be getting the OptiVisor and a BelOMO next time I do another SMD board. I'll hopefully learn etching soon, which will make that more frequent :).

I'm thinking of maybe getting one of those magnifying lamps sees as my desk lamp is very weak and more light never hurts.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by rct on Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:02 pm

Regarding Optivisor:
- They are available in different magnifications / focal lengths.
- There is an option loupe attachment - the optiloupe. The attachment of the Optiloupe to the Optivisor needs some improvement. I doesn't compete quality wise with a real loupe but it's an additional handsfree option that is worth mentioning if you are getting an optivisor.

http://www.doneganoptical.com/optivisor.php

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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by Entropy on Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:49 pm

robodude666 wrote:
It appears the Aoyue 2900 is advertised as a Lead-Free station, in the sense that it is meant for lead-free work. Because it has temperature control (and temperature calibration) it should be fine for leaded work. I've used lead solder with it previously and haven't seen any issues.

A soldering station good for lead-free work will do fine for leaded work, but not necessarily vice versa.

This is due to the fact that lead-free solder requires higher temperatures, and maintaining these higher temperatures requires a higher wattage.

IIRC, the "normal" Aoyues are 35 watt units, the "lead-free" ones are 70 watts. As you surmise, nothing prevents you from "dialing back" the 70w unit to a lower temp to work with lead-free solder.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by robodude666 on Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:52 pm

@rct: I noticed the loupe attachment for the optivisor when searching for it before. It's definitely something I'll consider when I plan to get magnification stuff.

@Entropy: Yup :). I figured so. What is the recommended temperature for doing leaded soldering? I noticed 350c, the lead-free temperature, works too but ends up melting the solder nearly instantly. I built the above board using 340c and it seems to have worked.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by Entropy on Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:28 pm

Hmm, I've been using 340-350C, I thought lead-free was higher than that.

Maybe I've been running too hot...
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by franklin97355 on Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:37 pm

Wikipedia says (I know) Lead free eutectic melts at 217 and Lead eutectic melts at 182. Inalloy melts even lower.

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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by Hamradio2008 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:41 am

the best soldering iron I have seen for SMD is the "weller WD1000" it costs $600. I have a "weller WESD 51" when I bought mine they went for about $170 now they have a street price of about $130. Both of these take special propriatery tips.
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by wayneft on Sun May 29, 2011 9:23 am

Always shop around for the equipment and don't forget about places that sell second hand items.

the best soldering iron I have seen for SMD is the "weller WD1000" it costs $600.

I actually picked up this whole soldering station for 100 bucks at a pawn shop a couple of months ago...it even had an up to date calibration sticker on it! :D
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Re: Equipment for hand SMD soldering

by chhrisedwards on Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:52 am

SMD stands for Surface Mount Device and I am sharing you some main soldering tools that you should have in order to solder surface mount components. Inexpensive Tools for Surface Mount Soldering which are available easily also.

Soldering iron and tip
Solder
Solder flux -the key to surface mount soldering
Tweezers
Microscope
Attachments
smt_start_kit_larger.jpg
smt_start_kit_larger.jpg (26.28 KiB) Viewed 1320 times

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