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kmanstudios

Not specific to 3D Printing, but will be applied in the future as I progress

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OK, I am just starting to get into wiring and solder and all that shocking sort of stuff.

I have a regular soldering setup for basic stuff with the various tips and helping hands with magnifying glass.

But as I got further into things, I found I needed something like the Zeny 853D SMD rework station to really get into microelectronics and such. I can see, from other posts that get deep into the PCB and such for the printers, that this will be a handy skill to develop as the machine goes out of warranty, or I get crazy and take on homemade mods and such.

Now I have gone to YouTube (that muddled mess of tuts that are either out of date or just not complete enough) and am looking for some suggestions on a brand or type of Soldering paste.

Most of the links posted with those tuts are either dead or out of country and am hoping for a basic guideline on the type of paste (with flux?) and what size nozzle or needle or what ever I would need to look into. Preferably something that can be procured in the US. Looking to do some teensy weensy stuff.

Thanks! The clumsy noob is ready to electrocute himself :)

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I don't really find I have a need for paste and hot air to solder anything. But I don't do a ton of soldering of course, I don't produce lots of boards were I need to assembly line the process. I really only break out the hot air to do de-soldering.

How teensy are we talking? 0805 is dead easy to do, 0604 isn't much of an issue either if your eyes can keep up (which mine are starting to fail to do...). Packages like SOT-8 are also very easy as there's plenty of space between the pins.

Finer pitch packages are usually not an issue either with enough flux. Look up "drag soldering". What most beginners think is that they need to do each pin separately, you don't. You put on enough flux and kinda wipe the pre-tinned tip in the general vicinity of the pins and it kinda just... works. :)

Speaking of tip. Don't get the crappy pointy ones, they're useless. Get a chisel tip, 1.5-3mm wide or so (yes, even 3mm will work fine for SMD work).

Skip the crappy lead free solder, it's harder to work with and doesn't offer any advantages. Get regular 60/40 solder, flux core, and thin. I use 0.4mm solder myself, makes it easy to regulate how much solder you're putting on a joint.

As for flux. I would say get a random no-clean flux pen and also some of the gel type. See which type you like the most. The gel type can be nice as it can help hold things in place a bit. But it's more of a preference thing. Brand doesn't really matter all that much IMHO if you're just doing hobby stuff. Just make sure it's no-clean and made for soldering so that it's not too aggressive (such as the flux used for soldering pipes for example).

Get some de-soldering braid as well. It can be useful if you have been a bit overly generous with the solder and need to remove some. If you find it's not working very well, soak some extra flux into it. It should already have flux in it, but I find it sometimes helps to add some extra (flux is a life saver in soldering).

Also get some isopropyl alcochol to clean the boards when you're done (and before you start for that matter). "No-clean" flux means you can technically leave it, but it's sticky. I prefer clean boards.

Oh, and get some tweezers as well. Very useful. I use weezers with a curved tip because I find that easier to use than a straight tip. But not all people like that so go with what makes sense to you.

This series is very old and mostly talks about through hole soldering, but it's very very good. Worth watching:

 

And here's one that's a bit more modern and quick paced:

 

Don't be afraid of SMD soldering, people make it out to be something special, it's not. I find that it can actually be easier than through hole soldering sometimes.

Oh, and always buy an extra or two of the components you need unless they're super expensive. You WILL fling them across the room when the tweezers slip, or drop them on the floor, and they will be gone forever.

Finally, practice. Buy some super cheap SMD electronics kits from Ebay to practice on. Some blinky lights or whatever. Something you can throw away if it doesn't work when you're done and not cry about.

 

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Thank you. All good info. I was wondering about the "No Clean Flux". Thanks for clearing that up as well.

The reason I asked about the paste is that I saw several vids that people would tack the part to the board and then run a line of soldering paste over it. Then with the heat gun just hit it and it would migrate right onto the pins. Not everybody cleaned their boards afterwards, but I am.

Not afraid of it a bit. Just gotta get the clumsy hands to work on it properly. Takes practice for me.

And, yup, got tons of LEDs, simple lighting kits and a few prewired LED chaser lights that I want to migrate some of the controls off the board. That will be some fine wire to make it fit into those tiny holes, but it will keep from having to handle delicate printed light casings.

One I plan to put a button switch on (No biggie as it is standard soldering), but want to migrate the button switch for changing the light patterns as well as the speed control to an area on the lamp for easy manipulating.

When I started to look into that, that is when I realized I needed the SMD/SMT setup. That hot air gun would have saved one of my print cores that really, really gummed up and wound up pulling out wires as the plastic got too solid. Plus the general shrink tubing stuff and all. But, some of the LED kits I got are assembled and it will be good to use to release those parts I want to migrate.

Man, I have not touched electronics like this in 36 years, since the Navy days.

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