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Surface mount OK for amateurs?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Jordan, Jan 11, 2006.

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  1. Jordan

    Jordan Guest

    Is SMT a practical proposition for the occasional kit builder?
    Seems like a fair bit of investment - special tools and techniques to learn?
    SMT components not stocked at hobby electronics shops?
    Do we need to learn it, or only when size matters?

  2. If you've got a steady hand, the right tools, and a properly-
    equipped work area, sure.
    Yes. Chip components and SOT transistors are relatively easy to
    deal with. It's when you start working with ICs that it gets dicey, and
    starts working up into the realm of $400-$700-$multi-thousand dollar
    surface-mount rework equipment.
    No, but they're available in plenty through channels such as
    Allied, DigiKey, Mouser, et al. They're also widely found at surplus
    electronic component dealers.
    Definitely worth learning at least enough to do testing and
    repairs, considering how much of commercially-made ham (and land/mobile)
    radio gear uses surface-mount stuff.

    Happy hunting.

    Dr. Anton T. Squeegee, Director, Dutch Surrealist Plumbing Institute.
    (Known to some as Bruce Lane, ARS KC7GR,
    kyrrin (a/t) bluefeathertech[d=o=t]calm --
    "If Salvador Dali had owned a computer, would it have been equipped
    with surreal ports?"
  3. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    a soldering iron with a pointed tip can be used, it's not as fast as the
    cooorrect tool, but it works.
    some kits come with SMT parts,
    Talking Electroonics's "Vooyager" FM wirelss mic.
    and Silicon Chip's "Micromitter" sterio FM transmitter
    are two that I've seen.

    locally Jaycar stocks some SMT parts,
    I expect you'll eventually need to deal with it.

    I made a continuity tester using SMT transisters salvaged from a motherboard
    ('cause that was all I had on hand) I soldered fine tinned wire (10A fueswire)
    to the tabs and stuck then on the non-solder side of some stripboard...
    8 months later it still works.

    expect to see stripboards and the like specifically made for SMT chips
    becoming more readily availablle.

    one problem with SMT in hobby stoores is shoplifting so they package them
    in blister packs which pushes the price up....
  4. Noway2

    Noway2 Guest

    Learning SMT is definately worth it, but it can require a fair
    investment in tools and materials. One option to consider that would
    likely be more than adequate for a hobbyist is the use of either a
    toaster over or an electric skillet as a reflow "oven". One friend of
    mine successfully built an SMT microprocessor board using his oven. If
    you search on line for the keywords, reflow and hotplate you should be
    able to find links to websites that provide instructions in how to do

    While it may sound ridiculous, the concept is really the same as used
    in professional equipment. The surface tension of the solder, i.e. use
    solder paste, causes the components to align themselves properly during
    the heating process. What this means for the hobbyist is that you
    don't need the absolute precision you can get with the expensive tools.
    You can set the oven temperature at various points and hold it there
    for so many minutes / seconds. For this reason, a smaller oven that
    responds faster would be advantageous.
  5. Pooh Bear

    Pooh Bear Guest

    Now try doing it with lead-free !

  6. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Easy. You'll need a soldering iron with a fine tip, a good desk lamp,
    some solder-wick, tweezers, and a pair of drugstore reading glasses.
    Maybe $50 and a bit of practice.

    For soldering big, fine-pitch parts, some liquid rosin flux is handy.
    Place the part, wet the pins with a little flux. Then load your
    soldering iron tip with a small blob of solder and run it down the row
    of pins. It automagically slurps solder onto the pins and board.

    For smd components, you can buy sample kits; some are free.

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