How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packages?

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How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packages?

Post by milad1234 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:19 pm

Hello everyone,

I am working on an open source project that will be released for hobbyist to create their own devices in high volume at lower cost.
We have to make a decision to design the PCB and select components for SMD packages or redesign for DIP packages.
I am not able to find many options for DIP components.I know DIP packages are getting harder to find these days. A few years ago SMD wasn't common among hobbyist as they did not have the tools to deal with SMD chips.

As SMT tools have become cheaper and it's becoming easier to use SMD, how difficult is it to build a home project with SMD parts for hobbyist if DIP package is not available?

So in short,how would people deal with it if only SMD parts are available for the chip they need?

And if SMD parts are fine then what package type you would recommend? We are thinking to use 1206 or 0805 SMD Package type.

I appreciate your feedback's in advance.

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Re: How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packag

Post by Externet » Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:43 pm

---->How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packages?

For repairs, there is removal and solder back.
Hot tweezers are fine for two lead components. Multi pin can be nightmarish without proper equipment if you do not use tricks.

For assembling kits, even a soldering pencil works. Pin by pin. Kits better have all the components supplied, and spares! , as ordering a
$ 0.001 component quantity 1 is absurd.

Layouts on board can accommodate both trough hole and SMD components simoultaneously if patiently designed, for assemblers to choose the components on hand.

Size of packaging goes with finished product size needs and calculations.

A couple of times got home after work and found a SMD component lodged under my short fingernails...

If the product will likely be purchased in quantity one, obtaining proper soldering equipment to assemble only that one unit, may make no sense investing on it.
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Re: How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packag

Post by aretallack » Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:33 am

There are plenty of Youtube videos showing how to work with SMD components. Check out EEVBlog on Youtube and search for his tutorial on SMD soldering - it'll probably answer all your questions as well as a bunch you haven't yet thought of.
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Re: How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packag

Post by VernGraner » Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:41 am

This topic is being discussed right now as it was brought up in our weekly newsletter. Take a look at the discussion here:

Some good stuff in there. :)

Vern Graner

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Re: How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packag

Post by Lenp » Sat Apr 30, 2016 2:42 pm

The real problem with SMD is that us aging folks, who grew up with simple things like tube sockets with real solder lugs and human sized wires have some issues that cannot easily be resolved.

The last time I did a SMD board, I spent hours with the strange board artwork since the software wanted to put parts on both sides. Then I had to wait for it to arrive from the supplier because the resolution was finer than I could do by hand. Then I had to order the components, and when they arrived I spent considerable time trying to identify the itty bitty critters in the foil packaging. Now, at last, it was time to start assembly. I had to spread out the antistatic mat, ground everything, adjust the lighting, and search for the magnifying goggles, set up the PCB board holder and re-read the instructions on the solder paste. When I picked up the first part it promptly disappears in a streak through the air, so I'm glad I ordered multiples. An hour or more later the parts are placed, correctly I hope. It's time to take the board to the wife's toaster oven in the kitchen since I don't have a proper reflow system. As it heated, I got so distracted that when she walked in, that I put in a bagel, made a cup of coffee and completely forget about what I was doing.

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Re: How difficult it is for hobbyist to work with SMD packag

Post by haklesup » Tue May 03, 2016 2:54 pm

it really depends on the packages and if the PCB lands were designed well for hand assembly. Naturally soldering a BGA or QFN package where all the leads are hidden on the bottom requires a small reflow oven (see you tube for toaster oven hacks) I would avoid these packages and focus on QFP with larger pitch or SOIC type also with gull wing leads. larger pitch is not so bad but you will need a low mag microscope for fine pitch soldering. Use plenty of flux and the solder will stay on the pad where you want it and use fine gauge solder. I prefer water clean flux but alcohol clean should be OK for most work.

Rework is actually easier on SMT than THT boards because you can often desolder a whole part in one operation rather than cleaning each pin by pin but you may need a hot air soldering tool,

So a few new tools which you can get on ebay for not too much and you can be assembling and reworking low density SMT in no time. High density SMT work requires a few more tools like a rework station that integrates a hot plate, hot air, magnification and picking tools into one platform.

PCBs generally get easier to design because the thru via count goes way down and you have more space to route on inner layers. Durability of the boards is better too. Make sure to get High Tg PCBs (that's high temperature and doesn't scorch as easy with the hot air guns and the pads stay down better if you abuse them.

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