Soldering Surface Mount Components
Instead of dual in-line packages (DIP) that are easy for a hobbyist to
use, many new components are produced only in surface mount packages
because circuit board manufacturers prefer them for use on their high
volume assembly lines.
To make your life easier, you can solder surface mount components (also
referred to as an SMD) to adaptors that insert into your circuit board
just like a DIP. For example, Spark Fun Electronics offers adaptors that
they call breakout boards. When you combine these breakout boards with
header pins, they form an adaptor.
Methods to solder a surface mount component to one of these adaptors
range from using a common soldering iron to heating the part in a
skillet to reflow the solder.
refers to solder paste that you have placed on the metal pads of the
adapter to which you attach the component. When you heat up the pad, the
solder paste melts.
One word of caution: if you use a skillet or toaster oven (which I
personally question because of the danger of fire) or any other cooking
implement, it might become contaminated with lead. Because lead can be
poisonous, don't ever use that item to cook food in again.
I've put links to some excellent articles on the various methods of
soldering surface mount components below. Read through them and modify
the ideas into a method that works best for you.
You'll find an article explaining how to solder small surface mount
components such as capacitors using a soldering iron on the
University of California, Santa Barbara Web site.
There are many different techniques for soldering surface mount IC's
using a soldering iron. I'd suggest you read the article at
which covers a range of the methods, and pick the one that sounds
comfortable to you.
An article on the
Seattle Robotics Society Web site has
some excellent photos and text showing the steps used to solder large
surface mount components with solder paste and a toaster oven. However
based upon the information from the folks at
Spark Fun Electronics
I'd use a skillet to reflow the solder.
If you're only using a few surface mount components and don't want to
take the time needed to learn one of the techniques above try the
SchmartBoardEZ. Rather than resting the component's leads on pads
you insert the leads into grooves which makes the component easier to
Web site claims that a ten year old using a soldering iron for the first
time can quickly and flawlessly solder a surface mount component using
their product. These adapters are pricey, though, so if you have an
application that uses a lot and price is an issue, they may not be for
you. But for a project that uses only a few, they could be just what you
I hope you have fun adapting the ideas in these articles to your
particular project and please keep safety in mind whenever you're