# Surface mount OK for amateurs?

J

#### Jordan

Jan 1, 1970
0
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?

Jordan

D

#### Dr. Anton T. Squeegee

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is SMT a practical proposition for the occasional kit builder?

If you've got a steady hand, the right tools, and a properly-
equipped work area, sure.
Seems like a fair bit of investment - special tools and techniques to learn?

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. SMT components not stocked at hobby electronics shops? 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. Do we need to learn it, or only when size matters? 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 -- www.bluefeathertech.com "If Salvador Dali had owned a computer, would it have been equipped with surreal ports?" J #### Jasen Betts Jan 1, 1970 0 Is SMT a practical proposition for the occasional kit builder? yes. Seems like a fair bit of investment - special tools and techniques to learn? a soldering iron with a pointed tip can be used, it's not as fast as the cooorrect tool, but it works. SMT components not stocked at hobby electronics shops? 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, Do we need to learn it, or only when size matters? 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.... N #### Noway2 Jan 1, 1970 0 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 this. 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. P #### Pooh Bear Jan 1, 1970 0 Noway2 said: The surface tension of the solder, i.e. use solder paste, causes the components to align themselves properly during the heating process. Now try doing it with lead-free ! Graham J #### John Larkin Jan 1, 1970 0 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? Jordan 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. Maybe50 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.

John

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