SMD soldering practice

Well, I’ve become confident in my soldering skills enough to give surface mount soldering a try. The trouble is, not know if I’m any good at it or not, I’d like to practice some first, but I have no idea where to begin. I thought maybe I could pick up some scrap PCBs off of eBay, and buy some SMD resistors, etc, and try that out, but I can’t seem to find any PCBs for reasonable prices.

Sparkfun used to have their dings and dents collection, but none of the scrap boards are available, so that’s no help.

If anyone could suggest a good way to practice, that’d be great! :smiley:

[edit]If anyone were feeling particularly nice, they could toner transfer a PCB for me and mail it to me. I’d gladly cover the cost of materials and shipping (assuming they weren’t too high :O).[/edit]

Find an brocken peice of electronic gear and tear it apart. Or go spend $15 on a cheap portable CD player and take it apart.

All the electronics I don’t care about are really old, and most of their components are through-hole unfortunately. I can keep looking though :O.

From what I recall, both Sparkfun and Make produce/sell SMD practice kits.

Well, sparkfun has a few kits that are SMD, but they’re kind of pricey, and all I really want is a board with pads and I can buy some dummy/cheap components. I really didn’t plan on the thing doing anything.

Make’s is $25, and doesn’t have that many components. I was really looking for something specifically just for practice, like this, but that’s also a bit pricey considering they aren’t even real components.

From what I recall, both Sparkfun and Make produce/sell SMD practice kits.

Looks cool! I may put together an order from them. Since the shipping is so outrageous, I figured I’d get my money’s worth. I’ve got that kit, a small surprise box, a cool IC die (was only a dollar ;D), and looking for more cheap goodies.

Any suggestions? I’d like to keep this order under $20 (minus shipping), and so far I’m at $13.90.

The problem with electric gold mine is stopping at $20, not getting to $20. Beware that a lot of their stuff is not exactly high quality.

Yeah I agree, Paul!

Looks like the things I’m buying aren’t commercial products, but more like components, so I’m not really worried about quality (the most expensive thing isn’t even supposed to do anything! ;D).

Thanks for the heads-up though!

Just placed the order.

Total (with shipping): $25.44

Really wish they’d accept PayPal, I’ve got $15 sitting in my account that I can’t transfer out, but Oh well :).

if you got that kit i linked, then yea it will blink led’s, half is a led blinker the other half is practice space, the small smd soldering kit on the other hand does nothing

A few items that are on my own Goldmine wishlist:

Switches that work in Arduino boards

Rotary encoders. Several people have posted about using these as input devices.

Nylon hardware (lots of small screws and standoffs in the ones I’ve bought so far)

5K trimpots (good for Arduino analog inputs). Another variety here.

They also have some very good deals on consumer IR receiver modules, if you’re into that.



I got this one. Same title as the one you linked me to, but it’s different.

This one lists as having 150+ components (yours had 32), it is also nonfunctional (which doesn’t matter to me, it’s just for practice), and it is about $1.50 cheaper :).

I have no idea why it’d be cheaper to have more components, but whatever :).

I also bought some solder wick (I needed some), an IC die, and the surprise box, as I said earlier.

yea you can never have too much wick

oddly enough I never even used the stuff till a few years ago, always used those sucker things, which are great for giant blobs

Indeed. I bought a solder sucker when I first got into this stuff, and it works well for through-hole components, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t for SMD components :P.

SMT technology has been around a really long time; it was used in the Apollo flight control computers, for cryin’ out loud…

Just about any computer motherboard made in the 10 years has plenty of SMT stuff on it, from large and easy parts, to really tight pitch stuff, and in some cases, stuff that couldn’t even be attempted by hand without destroying things.

Go down to a thrift store (Goodwill is a great place), and find an old computer motherboard (or CD player, or old game console, whatever), buy it, and practice on it. Heck, you could probably dumpster dive behind some office complexes and find plenty of junk (I’ve never had a problem scrounging junk this way). Garage sales are a good source for this kind of stuff too.

Don’t spend more than $5.00 for whatever you plan to tear down.

I find it 10x harder to salvage smd VS new stock being put on a board, but that me

I was only talking about learning SMD skills, Osgeld, not for salvaging components - when I talked about scrounging, it was mostly in finding stuff (usually old computers and the like), not for pulling parts off.

If you wanted to pull parts, though, it can be done - use non-stick tweezers, a heat-gun, and mount the board in a vice. Probably not the best way to get parts for a project, though, unless you enjoy the tedium or have no other choice…

You can practice soldering 1206 SMDs (resistors, leds, capacitors) on a regular protoboard, since the distance between the 1206’s pins is 0.1".