Best soldering iron for smd



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Best soldering iron for smd

Postby Jwar » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:12 pm

Hey fellas and gals! Gals and fellas??? Whatever. So I have a decent (Radioshack cough) iron. It actually is pretty good. Goes up to 800 degrees and has served me well for years now. I've had the same tip for fucking 3 years and haven't had to replace it, though it needs it. LOL.

Anyway. I just circuit bent a DOD Boneshaker. I overheated a few components and fucked a few here and there. Though it does work, just not every bend. Part of the issue is the soldering iron, and part is the tip.

What would you all suggest for SMD soldering? I'm planning on doing much much more in regards to circuit bending, so I'd love some suggestions. Also, what's the best way to not fuck up SMD? It's so sensitive and the solder definitely does not love it. It sticks well, but it's a bitch to work with.

Any suggestions/feedback would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby culturejam » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:20 pm

I had a big detailed post but the forum ate it. :grumpy:

The key for me is getting the finest tip possible. I have a separate tip for SMD that I swap out. It's this one: http://amzn.to/2xHlDP2 It fits a few of the hobby-grade Hakko irons (they are relatively reasonably priced). These tips last a loooooong time. The most popular hobby Hakko is the FX-888.

Second thing is to get fine solder. I use 0.031 for standard through-hole stuff, but 0.020 for SMD. Flux is critical, which means either get the good solder (Kester, etc) or consider getting some flux paste in a syringe.

My process for passives and transistors: Apply a very small amount of solder to one pad. Use tweezers to position the part and then put down-pressure on the part as you reheat the soldered pad. The part will "suck down" onto the pad. Then you can solder the other pad(s). Sounds complicated, but it's not so bad.

Also, if your eyes aren't eagle-sharp, you might consider a magnifier of some sort.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby crochambeau » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:47 pm

^this.

I use a Weller station, the tip I grab if I'm doing any SMD is the Weller ETU.

The key here is to use a variable temp iron with changeable tips, as I can't stand using fine points with through-hole or other big & bulky formats.

I inherited a half pound of 0.010" 63/37 from an old job that was going full RoHS, I expect it to last me a very long time.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby moid » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:43 pm

Jwar I hope you don' t mind me sidetracking your thread , but I have a silly question for everyone here about soldering tips. I normally use a fine thin point tip for everything; it seemed the right thing to do with components... but I work on vero mostly with normal size resistors etc so should I be using a chisel tip? I have one that came with my iron, but I assumed it would be too clumsy... is there a benefit to using a chisel tip over a fine tip point?
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby crochambeau » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:00 pm

moid wrote:is there a benefit to using a chisel tip over a fine tip point?


Thermal mass, the more thermal mass you have at the business end of the iron, the faster all necessary surfaces come up to temp.

That said, finesse is more important, so don't use a larger tip than you can effectively wield.

I prefer conical tips. Though I do have a narrow wedge, I tend to think of wedges as pretty bulky, great for point to point or turret amp builds, not so great for tight layouts.

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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby culturejam » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:08 pm

Jwar, if you don't want to cough up a benjamin on a Hakko FX-888, this X-Tronic station is surprisingly good for $40: http://amzn.to/2wxWilq

It also uses the same size tips as the Hakko 900-series stations, which means they will be easy to find and there are lots of options.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby Jwar » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:57 pm

Ordered the tip and the solder! Thanks so much guys!

I'll probably upgrade machines down the road, but for now, this guy is doing just fine for me. It's the Radio Shack Digital Soldering Station 64-053. I'm surprised to see negative reviews of it. Makes me think people just don't know how to use a soldering station. Anyway, it was like 60 bucks new and I've used it for years like I said and it's great still. The tip is shit but I have some extras, I'm just a lazy ass. haha

So just to be a 100%. I do not need flux if I buy that Kester solder?
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby culturejam » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:03 am

jwar wrote:So just to be a 100%. I do not need flux if I buy that Kester solder?

I've not *needed* extra flux using Kester solder, but if you start doing lots of ICs, you'll want it. It just makes everything so much easier and faster. For doing mods here and there, I think you're fine without it.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby ibarakishi » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:59 am

This is a really useful thread, thanks for posting it jwar and thanks for everyone else who gave input. I am really interested in getting into this sometime in the near future, so i will be referencing this again here soon
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby moid » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:38 pm

crochambeau wrote:
moid wrote:is there a benefit to using a chisel tip over a fine tip point?


Thermal mass, the more thermal mass you have at the business end of the iron, the faster all necessary surfaces come up to temp.

That said, finesse is more important, so don't use a larger tip than you can effectively wield.

I prefer conical tips. Though I do have a narrow wedge, I tend to think of wedges as pretty bulky, great for point to point or turret amp builds, not so great for tight layouts.

Image

My daily driver and the aforementioned SMD tip.


Thanks Crochambeau - that makes sense regarding the thermal mass... Looks like I need to look for a fatter conical tip then - I only have fine point conical ones and a couple of chunky chisel tips that I've found hard to control.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby imJonWain » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:00 pm

just my .02 but I'm personally a fan of small "hoof" style tips for SMD work.

I use a tiny bit of flux to hold the parts leads/pins/whatever onto their pads, then use tweezers to hold the part still as I drag the soldering tip from the pin/contact area on the part down to the pad and off (if that description makes sense?).
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby pickdropper » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:33 am

I've got a couple of different irons. A variable temp Weller and a Metcal station. These days, I use the Metcal almost exclusively, even though the temperature is fixed by the tips.

Generally, a smaller geometry tip helps for SMT, but a it doesn't necessarily need to be a pencil; a small chisel can be OK as well. I also recommend buying some sort of magnification and a flux pen/syringe. You can get Jeweler's magnifiers on Amazon for $10 or so.

You can get pretty good results by hand with a bit of practice:

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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby multi_s » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:10 am

^^those boards though... damn :cool:

also my 2 cents, i use a small chisel tip for smd.
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby Jwar » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:17 pm

I love how many replies I've gotten here! I do have a chisel soldering tip laying around somewhere as well. I bet that would make things easier. I tried the SMD tip and it's fucking great! I haven't had much time to do anything however with all the other crap I've been busy with.

I can't wait to dive into this more!

Thanks so much guys!
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Re: Best soldering iron for smd

Postby Bartimaeus » Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:19 pm

Imho, a small bevel tip is the best for soldering SMD IC's. Much better than a tiny conical tip. As long as you use a decent amount of flux (just a single swipe with a flux pen), you can just glide the tip across the pins and you're set.

For SMD resistors and caps, a smallish conical or chisel tip works well too. You should always decide based on the particular board, and don't be afraid to switch tips for a denser section of a board (it only adds a few minutes).

One thing that's always true, but especially so in the case of SMD with unleaded solder, is that setting your iron for a higher temperature can actually lower the chance of damage. The higher temp allows you to solder more quickly. Obviously, a super high temperature will always cause damage. The best thing is to look up the melting point of the solder that you're using, and setting your iron just a little above that value. I've ruined boards using a leaded solder temperature for unleaded work.
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