Surface Mount Device (SMD) Soldering
The Nixie clock project is requiring me to learn a new skill – Surface Mount Device (SMD) soldering.
An SMD is a small electronic component with many small pins down to 0.5mm that need to be individually attached to contact pads on the surface of a printed circuit board. The pads are very close together, and you must be very careful to not cause solder "bridges" between the pads.
For a machine, this installation is an easy job. For a human it is more difficult…and for me it is VERY difficult. But that’s why this blog is called "A Learning Adventure." Soldering SMDs is my "adventure" for the Nixie project.
The following two web sites have SMD hand-soldering tutorials. Several different methods exist for soldering SMDs, and I will try a couple of them on this project.
This website has three different methods:
This website shows the "flood and suck" method that Peter recommends for the Nixie kit:
The Nixie kit has two driver chips that require SMD soldering, and I successfully used the "flood and suck" method to install the first one, but I permanently damaged the second driver chip using this method. I learned that you NEVER use a sharp, pointed instrument to scrape out a solder bridge…you will destroy the chip (or at least "I" will). Always use the copper braid removal method instead.
So, I’ve ordered a replacement driver chip from Peter Jensen, and when it arrives I will try again.