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.

About mattsanf

Matt Sanfilippo is the Chief Partnership Officer (CPO) for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Co-Director of its Engineering Research Accelerator. In this role, Matt coordinates and enables strategic and sponsored research opportunities across the college, and stewards the development of proposals for major research opportunities along strategic themes. Additionally, he enables collaboration among the college's research institute/center executive directors, and industrial and government relations personnel in the pursuit of opportunities with industry, federal and state governments. Before becoming CPO for the College, Matt was the Senior Executive Director for Research Initiatives, the Executive Director of CMU's SII (Smart Infrastructure Institute) and ICES (Institute for Complex Engineered Systems), and Associate Director of PITA (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance) and RAMP (Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania). Before CMU, Matt was Managing Director of Applied Technology for Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering and energy services firm. Matt managed Baker's technology division including Geographic Information System (GIS), software and web development, multimedia, virtual reality, visualization, Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping and surveying services. Before joining Baker, Matt was an Innovation Director for Redleaf Group, a Venture Capital/Operating Company focused on information security, supply chain and mobility solutions. While at Redleaf, Matt managed technical due diligence for seed-stage investments and coordinated relationships between Redleaf and their partner companies. Prior to Redleaf, Matt was CIO of GZA GeoEnvironmental Technologies, an infrastructure engineering firm, and operations manager for their Internet start-up that focused on web-technologies for health and safety and manufacturing metrics. Matt is on the board of Larson Design Group (LDG), past Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, current board member of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), current Vice President of the Sewickley Heights Gun Club (SHGC) and former member of the Information Sciences and Technology Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania State University Beaver. Matt is also former Vice President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Internet Professionals and former Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Baker Combined Charity of Pennsylvania.

Posted on August 25, 2006, in Gadgets and Gizmos, Nixie. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Surface Mount Device (SMD) Soldering.

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