by Dave Young
Anyone who has learned a layout package like EAGLE and sent a board off to a fab knows the trepidation felt when submitting the final gerbers. It doesn’t matter if the order is for 3 PCBs or 3,000 PCBs. The time lost from an error can ruin a project’s momentum, especially if it is a boneheaded error.
There is a better way to check all of the footprints with a layout: Paper PCB Protos. This low-tech technique only takes an hour, but can provide 100% confidence in the footprints checked. Thanks to proper scaling of the PCB, it is possible to create a PDF and print out an exact representation of the board. The designer can then place parts on the paper to quickly determine if a component’s footprint will be suitable, at least for a pilot production build.
Using Paper Protos to Check Footprints with EAGLE - [Link]
Instructions for Soldering and Desoldering SMDs featuring up-close shots of fine-pitch soldering.
Surface Mount Soldering 101 - [Link]
An Arduino-compatible smart outlet designed to instantly turn your toaster oven into a reflow soldering station.
Advances in technology continue to shrink the size of components. Hobbyists, who have traditionally worked with through-hole parts, are finding these parts harder and harder to come by as more parts become unavailable in through-hole variants.
Soldering surface mount components with a soldering iron, while possible, can be a rather tedious task. In particular, when you’re working with densely packed pins like those of a microcontroller, hand soldering a board quickly becomes a daunting task.
Reflowster – Soldering Controller for Surface Mount PCBs - [Link]
This is a walk-through for making cheap high quality SMD metal stencils at home, using commonly available materials.
DIY home-made SMT metal stencil - [Link]
Reflow soldering of resistors, capacitors, diodes, controller, and other surface mounted components using a hot air gun. This is a prototype PCB of a custom designed mechanical keyboard, GH60.
SMD soldering by hot air - [Link]
This project is a simple LED tester and LED polarity checker. It can be used to check 1206, 0805, 0603 and 5mm LEDs. All parts are readily available and they are very cheap. Usage is very simple. Just press the tack switch to first check the battery is good. The blue led will turn on. Now you are ready to test your leds and check their polarity.
Simple SMD LED tester - [Link]
Home built Arduino powered SMD Reflow oven based on a toaster oven.
Home built SMD Reflow Oven - [Link]
An in depth tutorial showing how to solder surface mount parts. Covering the tools, techniques and tips that can really help learn how to properly solder electronics! If you are new to soldering this video should have you soldering SMD components in no time!
With just a bit of pratice it becomes much easier to solder SMD then through hole soldering. As shown in the video the main key is lots of flux, but be sure to properly clean your work once you are finished soldering it.
HowTo SMD Soldering - [Link]
Nick Leijenhorst build a 555 PWM circuit to dim his room LED lighting. He writes:
I wanted to dim my room LED lighting with a potentiometer, and decided on creating a solution from scratch to make it more fun and educative. I decided to go with the fairly well-known 555 PWM circuit. To decrease size and for learning purposes I decided on using surface-mount components for the first time. The reason I wanted to make this 555 PWM circuit is actually just to see if I could solder SMD components on home-etched PCB’s, and to see how hard it actually is.
Surface-mount 555 PWM circuit - [Link]