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SMT Soldering 101

I get a lot of questions regarding surface mount soldering. The thing is, with the right tools and a bit of practice, SMT (Surface Mount Technology) soldering is really not difficult.

First, please view this excellent video created by CuriousInventor.com (no affiliation. I just like this video very much). I’ve been doing SMT soldering for a while now, but was very impressed with the techniques shown in this video.

Here’s the list of tools/material you need:

  • Temperature controlled soldering iron/station (such as Hakko FX-888. Standard size tip works fine.)
  • Thin soldering wire – 0.015 inch (0.4 mm)
    Regular 0.03 inch (1 mm) gauge solder wire is too thick for small SMDs. A very common problem with SMT soldering is to apply too much solder. Small parts like 0603 resister only need tiny amount of solder.
  • Flux – pen type flux such as Kester 951 recommended. Apply generously – it will dry out quickly and does not harm the PCB.
  • Tweezers with small tips – get a good pair that’s confortable to use.
  • Magnifying glass – you can’t solder if you can’t see. I wear magnifier visor (OptiVisor #4).
  • Good lighting – you need much brighter lighting then reading a book to see the small details of SMT soldering.
  • Solder wick – as excess solder is the enemy of good SMT soldering, you need solder wick to remove excess solder. Perfectly soldering fine pitch packages like QFP is very unlikely without a help of solder wick. Thinner one like 1.5 mm wide is easier to use.

Traditional through hole technology is phasing out, and so many new devices are not offered in through hole style. Learn to solder SMT will broaden your choices.

(Let me know if I forgot to add anything here.)

 


See You at the Maker Faire New York!

World Maker Faire New York 2012


I’m excited to announce that I will be participating in the upcoming Maker Faire New York! (Sep. 29-30 @ New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY)
Details are not yet known, but I will bring all of available products and possibly some unpublished prototypes. I will post more info as it develops.

Update: My booth will be in Zone A, nysci building.

See you there!


Universal LED Driver kits now sold by LEDsales

My Universal High-Power LED Driver kit is now being sold by LEDsales in Australia. If you live in Australia, you will save by lower shipping fees.

LEDsales has a lot of cool stuff to aid in your projects, so you should check it out.


New “Preprogrammed” PIC option for Aurora

I realize that many people just want to assemble Aurora kits without having to purchase a PIC programmer. Now I added options to have the PIC microcontroller preprogrammed when you purchase the kits.

Note: PIC IC will be soldered to the PCB in order to be programmed.

Aurora 9×18 mk2 Kit and PCB

Aurora 18×18 Kit and PCB

 


Firmware Updates to the New Auroras

Aurora 9×18 mk2 and Aurora 18×18 firmware has been revised to detect the Audio Interface connection at the start up. The Aurora’s will check to see if the Audio Interface is connected to them, and disable the color organ modes (there are two). Which means you don’t have to go through two empty program modes when pushing the button to change modes without the Audio Interface connected.

 


The First batch of New Aurora Shipped

Many thanks to your support, the first batch of the new Aurora kits shipped out yesterday. There are a few more orders left to ship, however due to the shortage of a part (sorry I did not expect to run out of parts) the rest of orders will have to ship next Tuesday.

I will be updating my instructables to include new firmware, but meanwhile here are the files you need to program the PICs on the new Aurora’s.

There are also online version of the “Part Placement Guides”.


Aurora 9×18 mk2 and 18×18 Pre-order deals Ended

Thank you very much for your support!

I received a lot of pre-orders for the new Aurora’s. Now I will start shipping them this week in first come, first served bases. You will be receiving emails with the tracking numbers.

Thank you again!

 


Last call for Preorder!

The pre-order deals of 20% off Aurora 9×18 mk2 and Aurora 18×18 will end this weekend. Please check out the deal and take advantage of this bargain.

Those kits will be shipping next week!

I’d also like to remind people who ordered those kits to check out the Audio Interface. You will save the shipping (I will refund the shipping after checking out, if you have pre-ordered the kit), if you order this weekend.

Thank you!

 


New Aurora Kit Contents

Here are the pictures of Aurora 9×18 mk2 and Aurora 18×18 kit contents.


The kits include everything on the parts list, plus mounting screws & nuts. Those screws will also help you when you solder in the LEDs, by giving the PCB a lift off the working surface.

The smallest SMD parts are 0603 size, which is quite tiny. Naturally it’s very easy to lose them while assembling. Since it’s not much fun having to buy those little parts because you lose them, I’m including a few extras for all 0603 size parts. There are a few extra LEDs included as well. Hopefully you won’t have to stop the assembly because you’ve lost a few parts.

As I should be able to start shipping those kits early next week, the pre-order deals will end this weekend.


Colour Night Joule Thief kit Back in Stock

Thank you for your waiting. Colour Night Joule Thief kits and PCBs are back in stock.

 


Great SMD Soldering 101 Video

This video is not done by me or someone I know, butI thought that it would help a lot of people who are new to surface mount soldering. I’ve been soldering SMD for a while now, but was very impressed with the technique shown in this video.

The best part of it is that this guy uses regular soldering tip to do most of the jobs.


Aurora 9×18 Kits SOLD OUT

Thanks to your support, Aurora 9×18 kits are completely sold out.


Aurora 9×18 Kit Finally Available

*** Aurora 9×18 was available as a kit, but kits had been completely sold out. I’m keeping this post only as a record. The new & improved version is in the works. Please stay tuned. ***

The price for the kit is $179 and shipping is $5 for continental US. PCB alone is not available. This is to reduce the possibilities of malfunction or failure due to the part variance.

(international shipping is $13.50 except Canada which is $11.50)

The payments are accepted via PayPal (send to aki@theledart.com).

This is one-time only offering and the quantity is very limited.

You can find more details here.


Aurora 9×18 auction on eBay closing tonight!

Please check it out if you haven’t already.


Aurora 9×18 on eBay

Aurora 9×18 auction has just started on eBay.

If you are interested, here is my auction.

(http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120750388231)

Thank you very much!


The voting ended

Thank you very much for those who voted for me.
The voting ended for the LED contest, and now awaiting for the results. Winners will be announced on Monday…


Please vote for me – Aurora 9×18 is in the LED contest!

http://www.instructables.com/contest/led2011/?show=ENTRIES&sort=RATING


Aurora 9×18 on Instructables

Aurora 9×18 is now on Instructables! Which means you can learn how to build one of those yourself!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Aurora-9×18-RGB-LED-art/