Attempting surface mount parts - how to solder?

In my recent LCD multipurpose shield design, I want to add an SMT socket for a GPS module. I made the design but I don't know if one can solder an SMT with soldering irons.

Here's the socket:

Do I need stencil for this? (confused, what's stencil for?)

Can someone hand solder this socket?

Here's the shield sparkfun has for sale. They have the socket pre-soldered (expensive for a little board)

Thank you!

The key to SMT work is solder paste. I think you could do that part with a good temp controlled iron with a fine tip and a magnafier. Also braid may come in handy(but I haven't needed it yet).

Read sparkfuns tutorials on soldering smt, they have 3 or 4 of them.

edit: you don't need a stencil.

The way I solder by hand on a dip adapter print. I used soldering paste (solder + flux in a sticky paste) and a digital soldering station with a very fine point. I've done three chips now. My third attemp was the best. The second failed. Best method so far is to put a bit of paste on two oposite pads, place the component and just tough the paste not toughing the component. When it turns into liquid solder move your tip towards the chip to cover the lead. After doing the two first leads the chip should be fixed in the right spot. Then do the other leads one by one. I use a wooden tootpick to apply the paste.

By the way I just tried this last week, tried three different methods on three chips. One failure so far. The above methos came out working for me.

Thank you very much guys. I will try the way wortelsoft mentioned. I do have a tooth pick although my iron is not digitally controlled. I have a metal tool with a sharp point. I'll see if I can use that to solder fine parts.

I've seen some stuff on sparkfun, talking about their reflow oven. So if you have, say a number of SMT chips and a big board with many identical small boards on it, then you need stecil to apply solder paste, add components, then cook, right?

I've not done any smt soldering myself, but I've looked into it. It looks like the easiest method is to use solder paste and a hot plate. You just stick the components to the paste, and turn on the hot plate and they magically align themselves with the pads when the solder gets hot enough to melt. Do a search on youtube, there's videos of it.

Also, you can get smt stencils from Pololu, if you don't want to have to apply paste to hundreds of tiny pads one by one.

I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to soldering, but I successfully soldered a similar connector for the 408 on to the Sparkfun GPS shield using a soldering iron with a fine tip. (Not ultra fine, just smaller than I'm used to.)

I spread on a little flux and soldered one mechanical mount first. Since everything was still lined up I did the other mount and then touched each of the connections.

It was the first tiny part I'd done, and it worked so I'm happy! (Not to say I did a great job, but it does work. :D)

A couple of other resources and a technique I have found useful:

1 -- Schmartboards ( They're adapter boards for a variety of common SMT packages designed for hand soldering with wire solder. They appear to have an extra thick solder mask, which produces a nice little trench for each pad. Dead easy to solder.

2 -- Zephyrtronicss ( sells a line of bench-optimized solder paste in convenient syringes. If you use the right needle, you can lay a bead of this stuff down a line of pads and have it reflow with no bridges and a good joint on each pad. That takes practice, tho.

3 -- I have soldered SOICs, TSSOPs and TQFPs successfully with a good fine-tipped iron, fine flux core solder, solder braid, and liquid flux. This process only works when there's solder mask. First, I clean and flux the board and the leads. You should be generous, especially on the board. I then place the component and solder down two pads, making sure to keep the component aligned to all of its pads. Then I load up the tip of the iron with solder and drag it down each row of pins. If you get the speed and temp right, have enough flux, and just the right amount of solder, you'll solder all of the contacts on that row of pins. This takes lots of practice; in the meantime, use the braid to remove the bridges after you've soldered all the contacts.

Thank you all! That makes me want to try. I've got a fine tip (can always pick up a finer one at the shack). I'll get some solder braid, and try to hand solder some old PC motherboard for practice. I've got many of those that I collected (I'm a collector of old computer processors and Apple didn't make it easy for me. They soldered lots CPUs on board!).

I hand solder SMT all the time, you don't need paste or a fine tip. The trick is lots of flux and to flow over the pins using a "hoof" shaped bit. Personally I find it easier to hand solder SMT chips.

this was the video I learned the technique from,

I think I need to get one of those hoof-shaped tips...

Interesting, thanks for sharing UltraMagnus. I remember my dad had an iron with that type of tip. I always thought the tip is too big for any job. I guess I'm wrong. I'll go get one such tip.

You can also dispense the paste and reflow with a hot air gun, a hot plate or other heat source. You can dispense on the pad - top side or in the pad lead - bottom side

my problem with hot air, well is the air they tend to blow crap around, whereas a hotplate or toaster oven from freds is < 20 bucks new (heck I got a 18 inch skillet for 15$ one day, though toaster ovens are much more even, not that I use it for SMD, mostly pancakes and bacon, but once I get a house and not this cracker box apartment smd toaster oven with a arduino controlled thermostat is going in!)

Hot plate and toaster oven cover most of it...we even did a short production run with them last year. If you don't build a toaster oven reflow controller you can run a few tests with a stopwatch and notebook, and keep an eye on things.

Stencils are really nice, but in order to be convenient you need access to a laser cutter. I have rigged one on a moment's notice with some close razor work on mylar.

Osgeld, having a workshop is the only motive now for me to keep looking for a house. Now I’ve got a lot of electronics stuff, a dremel, en, a few hundred computer processors and a few boxes of old motherboards. I’m constantly stacking and un-stacking my boxes of stuff to get by. I’ll turn my toaster oven into a reflow oven once I do buy a house. It’s got some temperature and time controls. Will a coffee maker’s hot plate be hot enough for reflow work? ;D

yea it kills me, I grew up in a fully loaded piano wood shop, with my own corner for electronic work

now I have to pick bits of wire out of the carpet under my card table

NEED SHOP (even the heavy stuff is an hour drive to the parents house, to do a 10 min “durh” chore)

I look at stuff and say “man that is easy” then have to do it on 15 min breaks at work or drive cross town, even the stuff I do here the neighbors start looking weird at you when you have a tub of toxic chemicals sitting out in the sun for a day and you appear once in a while to poke at it with a stick … dont get me started on my 1960’s 20,000rpm drill and them, even simple holes in plastic take planning to avoid eyes as I do it on a chunk o wood on the back patio

btw once broke my wrist with that drill, and that my friends is a DRILL tyvm grandpa, if it didnt sound like a small jet engine :stuck_out_tongue:

even the stuff I do here the neighbors start looking weird at you when you have a tub of toxic chemicals sitting out in the sun for a day and you appear once in a while to poke at it with a stick …

Haha, every time I’m etching boards I’m half expecting the police to show up thinking I’m cooking up meth or something.

I wish there's a place like a library where people like us can go and work there and meet, like a machine or maker shop open to public. Now I'm wanting a drill press, a mill, a band saw, and shop vac, big bench, vice, files, etc. My monthly budget is $100, most of which is spent on parts and small tools. I wish I could share tools some way but I don't know nobody here.

I wish there's a place like a library where people like us can go and work there and meet, like a machine or maker shop open to public.

Look into "hacker spaces" - I don't know if there is one near you; maybe you could start one up?

We have one here in the Phoenix area called "HeatSync Labs"; you pay a membership dues fee, and get access to tools and other stuff (you have to have gone to a few of the meetings - participation - before they'll consider you as a member).

Unfortunately for me, given where it is located, and the way the freeway system here is, and when they hold the meetings (Thursdays @ 7pm) - I would likely get to the meeting just as it was ending.


I wish I could start something like this up on my side of town, but I am not socially oriented, and with other things going on and such (that, and lack of motivation and organizational skills) - it just doesn't seem likely.

The only tools I would like to have access to are a metal lathe and a laser cutter. I have a small mini-mill/drill waiting for me to get around to cleaning it (still in the packing grease), and I have a ton of other tools, parts, etc - so that isn't really a big issue for me. Other tools I might need I can buy cheaply (a metal bending brake would be be nice).

Other than that, I would like such a space just for the sense of local community for robotics projects...


yea sounds like the hackerspace here, its over an hour away so dues are not appealing (though I understand) and its actually less of a hassle to go to dad's, though dad doesn't have a laser cutter or a hip group to hang with, he has everything else

and we have a (small) wood shop and a (big) paint shop at work, so I can hang out at breaks or a little after to do some lighter stuff