Surface mount soldering

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Surface mount and micro soldering tools and techniques.


Modern electronic gadgets of all sorts tend to make use of surface mount techniques, where components are soldered onto the surface of a circuit board, rather than with leads passing through holes in the board and soldered on the other side ("through-hole" construction). Surface mount devices are generally smaller, often much smaller than their through-hole counterparts, making repair much harder. Nevertheless, much is still possible, as described here.


Take care with a soldering iron - it can give you a nasty burn. Avoid breathing fumes from flux or from any adjacent plastic which might get overheated.

Tools required

For serious surface mount work a proper surface mount solder station is essential. This will include a fin tipped soldering iron, a hot air soldering tool, and ideally a pair of soldering tweezers, and will cost a 3 figure sum. But if you can't justify that, you can do a lot by supplementing the tools you probably already have with just a few more, at a very modest cost. The following is a minimum:

  • Soldering iron with a 1mm bit. All but the cheapest irons have interchangeable bits, and you can probably get a 1mm bit for the iron you already have. But it needs to be a small soldering iron which you can manipulate more like a pencil than a crowbar.
  • Thin solder - 22SWG (which is 0.028in or 0.711mm) or thinner.
  • A solder flux pen.
  • A magnifying glass and/or close working glasses.
  • Fine tweezers.

For normal work, people may tell you that you don't need flux as solder has flux in it. In fact it only has a minimum which is insufficient for surface mount work.

If your eyes can focus at 20cm (8in) then you ill still need a magnifying glass for inspection. One that usually comes included with a "helping hand" will do.

If not, get yourself a cheap pair of "ready specs". Test the ones on display in many shops, and find ones that allow you to focus at a distance of 20cm. If you have needed reading glasses with only a simple prescription for some years (minimal astigmatism or difference between the eyes) then a strength of 3.5 dioptres will be about right.

Additionally, if your near vision is no longer as good as it used to be a jeweller's eye loupe is well worth getting. After a little practice holding it in your eye socket you will find it invaluable for close inspection.

External links

  • External links (if any) as bullet points.
  • If non, delete this section.