Soldering with REAL equipment

I soldered my first SMD IC tonight. It was a SSOP16 and a SSOP28 with 1.27mm pin pitch onto some e-bay breakout boards. I decided to drag my little project to work, and borrowed our avionics lab for a bit. Wow!!! I've got to say that it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Granted, I was using a Weller digital solder station instead of my junk A/C outlet Weller from home, and I also had a bunch if different size solder to choose from. Mmmmmmm that .015 is nice stuff. So, if I were to try this again on my own homemade PCB without solder mask, would it really suck? I've heard it does, but now that I can use my avionics labs equipment I can't see it being so difficult.

I am not sure it matters. What matters is having a board to solder the IC to that has a good solder mask, using lots of flux, and using a chisel tip. The solder should just "know" where to go at that point. Since you are wetting the edge of a chisel tip, the size of the solder wire is immaterial. At least that is how it works for me. I almost never see solder bridges at .65mm or larger spacing and at .5mm and .4mm the ones that occur are easy enough to clean up, usually it doesn't even take wick.

This is called drag-soldering and here is a quick demo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUyetZ5RtPs

The trick is to realize that you don't have to solder individual pins, the solder mask on the board does all the work for you. All you do it put some solder in the general area, heat it up, let it flow into place. The only real trick is in not using too much solder (hint: Thin solder makes it harder to use too much).

Once you get your mind around that concept ... it's easy enough.

You don't even need stencils/paste when you're doing it by hand. Stencils and paste is for ovens.

Indeed, solder mask is essential for fine SMT work.

Once you try out stencil / solder paste and reflow oven you'll wonder why you ever used a soldering iron at all BTW.

MarkT: you'll wonder why you ever used a soldering iron at all BTW.

Usually because there isn't a nice, neat, surface-mount PCB lying around for the thing we're trying to make.

MarkT: Indeed, solder mask is essential for fine SMT work.

Once you try out stencil / solder paste and reflow oven you'll wonder why you ever used a soldering iron at all BTW.

I saw a cool youtube video of a guy making them from soda cans. I think I'll try the hot plate method. It seems to be the cheapest ws to go. Right now my numerous hobbies don't need any more equipment according to SWMBO.

fungus:

MarkT: you'll wonder why you ever used a soldering iron at all BTW.

Usually because there isn't a nice, neat, surface-mount PCB lying around for the thing we're trying to make.

thats my problem too...as a home hobbyist I havent yet got round to fabbing my own little boards...kind of putting it off and making big thruhole things atm

I do hand solder 0805s and soic tho...my one life experience on that front is cheap solder is a false economy. I get a lot of stuff off ebay with no problems, but solder aint one of em. I may as well have used chocolate on some occasions...

get the best you can afford and keep stuff spotless with acetone...working for me so far on handmade smd stuff

BareMetal:

fungus:

MarkT: you'll wonder why you ever used a soldering iron at all BTW.

Usually because there isn't a nice, neat, surface-mount PCB lying around for the thing we're trying to make.

thats my problem too...as a home hobbyist I havent yet got round to fabbing my own little boards...kind of putting it off and making big thruhole things atm

I do hand solder 0805s and soic tho...my one life experience on that front is cheap solder is a false economy. I get a lot of stuff off ebay with no problems, but solder aint one of em. I may as well have used chocolate on some occasions...

get the best you can afford and keep stuff spotless with acetone...working for me so far on handmade smd stuff

I forgot to clean the board first, but it still went very well. I'm quiet impressed with those little Chinese breakout boards.