How to make soldering fine pitch surface mount ridiculously easy.

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This simple tool will change your life. I was lucky to learn how to solder surface mount from a master. He had crafted a tool very similar to this for himself and used it daily.  The design is simple, a weighted pin is attached to a piece of round stock and this holds the part down on the board. Using this tool I soldered an entire surface mount board with no errors on my first try.

When you assemble the tool make sure that you push the bolt through and thread the nut first, because you might bend the threads while filing the tip down. Make sure that the tip has a round point about the size of a standard ball point pen. Any sharper and you could damage/mar parts.final

To use the tool just put the part under the pin and go. It’s that simple, no re flow plates or panavises or any of that junk. You don’t need to worry about tip size for most jobs either. Another plus is that the bolt acts as a heat sink so small parts don’t fry.

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You see that tiiiiiny little part. You’re welcome.

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21 thoughts on “How to make soldering fine pitch surface mount ridiculously easy.

  1. Interesting approach. I usually just apply solder to one pad, then reflow the solder with an iron while placing the small component with tweezers. From then on the component is effectively pinned. Works well down to 0402s for me.

  2. That’s brilliant. You’re right, it will change my life. Thanks for sharing.

    Ignore Don; he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

  3. Zapp, you don’t have to do any of that with this. I normally tap the part into position and just solder away. It actually makes it easier than through hole, if you can believe it. It works faaaantastic for multipin parts too. IC’s with 20+ pins are no problem at all.

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  6. I just purchased from harbor freight a multi-purpose with magnetic base with fine adjustment to make a smd holding tool…but your SM helper is a good idea also.

  7. @mikekoma

    haha! I really like it. That’s the beauty of this project, you can make it out of anything. The one I originally saw was made of brass and angle iron.

  8. Very interesting take on an “Eleventh Finger” SMT holder (there’s some ongoing discussion of these on an amateur radio mailinglist I’m on focusing on an SMT-heavy transceiver kit).

    Just to verify some dimensions and such:

    Roughly 2″ diameter dowel segment for bottom, roughly 1/2 to 1″ diameter dowel segment for top, 6-32 bolt and washers?

    (Among other things, I’d like to build this beauty myself and possibly provide a parts list to the mailinglist as a whole with pointers to your simple instructions)

  9. A much quicker way to do it:

    1. Apply small amount of solder to one pad, preferably a pad that is on the side of your iron hand (right hand for me)
    2. Grab SMT component with tweezers, hold in place
    3. Heat the pad with pre-applied solder, then apply solder to the rest of the pads. Make sure to add a little solder to the original pad.

    This method is quick and easy. You can pre-apply solder to a pad for each component on a PCB, and then literally do hundreds of components per hour, even IC’s.

  10. Lol, sorry but your “master” clearly doesn’t know how to solder SMD very well.

    Anyway, for heat sinking it’s a nice idea, if you need it.

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  13. :sad: Well that won’t really work for smaller than 0603 unless you whittle down that pin, even then tweezers are probably better. You also need a finer solder tip if you want to go smaller than 0402, but its a nice idea for some medium size parts. 0201 and 1005 components are rare, but new cellphones have em if you ever try to fix one. BTW fine pitch usually refers to IC’s, QFP’s, BGA’s, and connectors.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uiroWBkdFY&feature=fvwrel

    Good drag in the middle of the video. Use solder wick and flux to get rid of bridges. I use a flux that has the consistency of water though, it seems to work better.

    I don’t hand solder much though myself, just try to let our machines put onto solder paste and cook. 46 seconds per board with 517 parts last night (a video card.)

  14. I use a similar thing to hold scope-probes when measuring. No need for “chin-debug” anymore.

    /Lasse

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