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6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

Reflow Soldering

Here is a quick tutorial that will show you how to do reflow soldering at home. It's not that hard as seems. There are some up­front costs, but it's easily within the means of the average hobbyist. I h sucessfully used this process for the manufacturing of the SARK­110 Antenna Analyzer prototype which will the example shown in this tutorial.

In most of the cases the assembly of SMT components is simple and accessible for all amateurs a does not require special tools. The basic tools needed for the board assembly are a solder iron (b if it has temperature control), tweezzers, thin solder wire, solder flux, solder wick, and magnifying glasses. In some cases it may be necessary to have some additional tools such a soldering statio air, e.g. for replacement of parts or leadless components (QFN type for example).

There is a great video explaining surface mount soldering techniques. You will discover that the us the solder flux and the wick are key for the success of the work.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB Reflow Soldering Here is a quick tutorial that will show you

However, for the cases where it would be necessary assembling a small series of prototypes, or if have to face a design with many small size SMD components or they are difficult to solder manual (QFN, BGA); it would be convenient doing the assembly using the reflow soldering technique.

The first question that arises is what would be the necessary equipment and whether it would be affordable for the average amateur. It is obvious that the professional grade equipment is far away budget and the provided features normally exceed the hobbiyst needs. However this technique co be implemented using affordable tools, which could be even available at home. As examples, ther are some references in the Internet in how to convert a convential oven or a bread toaster in a refl oven, or even there are some tutorials in how to implement this technique using a hotplate. In my case I didn't have time to experiment with this type of reworked ovens and my choice has b purchasing a cheap SMD oven, in this case the T­962 model available at e­Bay at $319 (including shipping), see image below.

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=T ­ 962 SMT O ven Once it has been decided which oven will be the right one for our needs, it would be necessary so how to dispense the solder paste on the PCB contact pads. The more convenient solution for amateurs would be the use of a stencil. The stencils used normally are made out of metal and pro an optimum control of the slder paste volume to apply. This type of stencil is available from http://www.stencilsunlimited.com/ at prices between $125 and $185 (plus shipping) which is rather expensive. However, iTeadStudio has recently introduced a cheap chemical­etched stencil service http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php? main_page=product_info&cPath=19_20&products_id=523 starting at $45 that it is really affordable There is even another cheaper alternative, which is the use of plastic based (PET, Mylar, Kapton) stencil. In my case I have used a PET based stencil from http://www.smtstencil.co.uk/ for £14.00 (including shipping). Obviously this type of stencil does not have the durability and the precission metal stencil but it is more than enough for amateur work. There are other providers offering Myla Kapton based stencils such as http://www.pololu.com/ and http://www.applied­electronics.com/ . Th image below shows the stencil used for the SARK110 prototype: PET St enc il The soldering paste is another important element for the process. In my case I decided using soldering paste with lead (Sn63Pb37) because the required temperature profile is less demanding the required for lead­less paste. In my case I have sourced the paste at DigiKey: KE1507­ND (Solderpaste no clean 63/37 35gm), with a pricing of 24.5€. Notice that the paste has to be stored cool place, like a refrigerator. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 2/7 " id="pdf-obj-1-7" src="pdf-obj-1-7.jpg">

T­962 SMT Oven

Once it has been decided which oven will be the right one for our needs, it would be necessary so how to dispense the solder paste on the PCB contact pads. The more convenient solution for amateurs would be the use of a stencil. The stencils used normally are made out of metal and pro an optimum control of the slder paste volume to apply. This type of stencil is available from http://www.stencilsunlimited.com/ at prices between $125 and $185 (plus shipping) which is rather expensive. However, iTeadStudio has recently introduced a cheap chemical­etched stencil service http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php? main_page=product_info&cPath=19_20&products_id=523 starting at $45 that it is really affordable

There is even another cheaper alternative, which is the use of plastic based (PET, Mylar, Kapton) stencil. In my case I have used a PET based stencil from http://www.smtstencil.co.uk/ for £14.00 (including shipping). Obviously this type of stencil does not have the durability and the precission metal stencil but it is more than enough for amateur work. There are other providers offering Myla Kapton based stencils such as http://www.pololu.com/ and http://www.applied­electronics.com/. Th image below shows the stencil used for the SARK110 prototype:

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=T ­ 962 SMT O ven Once it has been decided which oven will be the right one for our needs, it would be necessary so how to dispense the solder paste on the PCB contact pads. The more convenient solution for amateurs would be the use of a stencil. The stencils used normally are made out of metal and pro an optimum control of the slder paste volume to apply. This type of stencil is available from http://www.stencilsunlimited.com/ at prices between $125 and $185 (plus shipping) which is rather expensive. However, iTeadStudio has recently introduced a cheap chemical­etched stencil service http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php? main_page=product_info&cPath=19_20&products_id=523 starting at $45 that it is really affordable There is even another cheaper alternative, which is the use of plastic based (PET, Mylar, Kapton) stencil. In my case I have used a PET based stencil from http://www.smtstencil.co.uk/ for £14.00 (including shipping). Obviously this type of stencil does not have the durability and the precission metal stencil but it is more than enough for amateur work. There are other providers offering Myla Kapton based stencils such as http://www.pololu.com/ and http://www.applied­electronics.com/ . Th image below shows the stencil used for the SARK110 prototype: PET St enc il The soldering paste is another important element for the process. In my case I decided using soldering paste with lead (Sn63Pb37) because the required temperature profile is less demanding the required for lead­less paste. In my case I have sourced the paste at DigiKey: KE1507­ND (Solderpaste no clean 63/37 35gm), with a pricing of 24.5€. Notice that the paste has to be stored cool place, like a refrigerator. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 2/7 " id="pdf-obj-1-29" src="pdf-obj-1-29.jpg">

The soldering paste is another important element for the process. In my case I decided using soldering paste with lead (Sn63Pb37) because the required temperature profile is less demanding the required for lead­less paste. In my case I have sourced the paste at DigiKey: KE1507­ND (Solderpaste no clean 63/37 35gm), with a pricing of 24.5€. Notice that the paste has to be stored cool place, like a refrigerator.

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=S o ld er P as t e To dispense the solder paste it will be needed a wiper of some sort, such as a paste squeege or a spatule. The paste squeeges are quite expensive so in my case I have used simple credit cards w success. Other tools that will be needed are rubbing alcohol, lot of paper towels, gloves to safely handle the paste, and a screw driver or mixing tool. For the positioning of components you will need a set of tweezers including one with extra fine tip, some sort of magnifying glass, and good lighting. To accurately position the stencil I decided to use a printed circuit board and cut it in the center following the contour of the board. This solution really worked well for this board but this is just an example in how to do it. F rame f or pos iti on i ng th e s t enc il It is very important correctly aligning the stencil, therefore the magnifying glass will be of great hel here, specially because the transparent stencil. Then I used tape firstly in the left side and second the right side to fix the stencil. For the right side I used a tape of smaller length in order to allow lift the stencil easily. Pl ac i ng th e s t enc il https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 3/7 " id="pdf-obj-2-7" src="pdf-obj-2-7.jpg">

Solder Paste

To dispense the solder paste it will be needed a wiper of some sort, such as a paste squeege or a spatule. The paste squeeges are quite expensive so in my case I have used simple credit cards w success. Other tools that will be needed are rubbing alcohol, lot of paper towels, gloves to safely handle the paste, and a screw driver or mixing tool. For the positioning of components you will need a set of tweezers including one with extra fine tip, some sort of magnifying glass, and good lighting.

To accurately position the stencil I decided to use a printed circuit board and cut it in the center following the contour of the board. This solution really worked well for this board but this is just an example in how to do it.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=S o ld er P as t e To dispense the solder paste it will be needed a wiper of some sort, such as a paste squeege or a spatule. The paste squeeges are quite expensive so in my case I have used simple credit cards w success. Other tools that will be needed are rubbing alcohol, lot of paper towels, gloves to safely handle the paste, and a screw driver or mixing tool. For the positioning of components you will need a set of tweezers including one with extra fine tip, some sort of magnifying glass, and good lighting. To accurately position the stencil I decided to use a printed circuit board and cut it in the center following the contour of the board. This solution really worked well for this board but this is just an example in how to do it. F rame f or pos iti on i ng th e s t enc il It is very important correctly aligning the stencil, therefore the magnifying glass will be of great hel here, specially because the transparent stencil. Then I used tape firstly in the left side and second the right side to fix the stencil. For the right side I used a tape of smaller length in order to allow lift the stencil easily. Pl ac i ng th e s t enc il https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 3/7 " id="pdf-obj-2-22" src="pdf-obj-2-22.jpg">

Frame for positioning the stencil

It is very important correctly aligning the stencil, therefore the magnifying glass will be of great hel here, specially because the transparent stencil. Then I used tape firstly in the left side and second the right side to fix the stencil. For the right side I used a tape of smaller length in order to allow lift the stencil easily.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=S o ld er P as t e To dispense the solder paste it will be needed a wiper of some sort, such as a paste squeege or a spatule. The paste squeeges are quite expensive so in my case I have used simple credit cards w success. Other tools that will be needed are rubbing alcohol, lot of paper towels, gloves to safely handle the paste, and a screw driver or mixing tool. For the positioning of components you will need a set of tweezers including one with extra fine tip, some sort of magnifying glass, and good lighting. To accurately position the stencil I decided to use a printed circuit board and cut it in the center following the contour of the board. This solution really worked well for this board but this is just an example in how to do it. F rame f or pos iti on i ng th e s t enc il It is very important correctly aligning the stencil, therefore the magnifying glass will be of great hel here, specially because the transparent stencil. Then I used tape firstly in the left side and second the right side to fix the stencil. For the right side I used a tape of smaller length in order to allow lift the stencil easily. Pl ac i ng th e s t enc il https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 3/7 " id="pdf-obj-2-40" src="pdf-obj-2-40.jpg">

Placing the stencil

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

Once positioned the stencil we will proceed to the application of the solder paste. Firstly, it is impo that the solder paste is at the room temperature in order to have the right viscosity. My approach h been to drawn a small quantity of paste to another syringe and bring to the room temperature by heating with the hand. Once it is warmed enough, it will deposited a portion of paste on the stencil one end of the board as shown in the image below:

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB Once positioned the stencil we will proceed to the application ofDi spens i ng th e pas t e Di spens i ng th e pas t e https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 4/7 " id="pdf-obj-3-9" src="pdf-obj-3-9.jpg">

Depositing the solder paste

The paste is then dispensed using the squeege, in this case the card, at an angle of about 45º alo one diagonal first and then the other diagonal. It is important to ensure that all voids are filled. Fin the paste should be removed to the sides of the stencil, driving the squeege at an angle close to 9 Once finished, it is necessary to lift the right side of the stencil and then remove the board.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB Once positioned the stencil we will proceed to the application ofDi spens i ng th e pas t e Di spens i ng th e pas t e https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 4/7 " id="pdf-obj-3-15" src="pdf-obj-3-15.jpg">

Dispensing the paste

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB Once positioned the stencil we will proceed to the application ofDi spens i ng th e pas t e Di spens i ng th e pas t e https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 4/7 " id="pdf-obj-3-26" src="pdf-obj-3-26.jpg">

Dispensing the paste

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

The image below shows the result after dispensing the solder paste. It is important to clean the st with alcohol and the paper towels in order to get it ready for future applications.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB The image below shows the result after dispensing the solder paste.Th e b oar d s w ith th e so ld er pas t e Now this is the time to position the components on the board. For this project it was the more critic and laborious task because the significant number of components and its small size (most passive are in the 0402 size box). We have to be very careful to do not lose the components, avoid touchi the paste areas, and correctly align the components. It is very important preparing the placement process in advance, otherwise you will spend a lot of looking for the components on the board. What I did is printing several copies of the board silkscre Then I use a copy for each group of components, highlighting the components with a pen and the attaching the component box to the copy. Therefore, you will have easily identifed the components are going to place during the assembly. It will also necessary having at hand the printed silkscreen in the image below: B oar d pr i n t e d s ilk screen Once the placing process of the components have been finished it is time to oven the boards. We need to have extreme care to avoid moving the components. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 5/7 " id="pdf-obj-4-9" src="pdf-obj-4-9.jpg">

The boards with the solder paste

Now this is the time to position the components on the board. For this project it was the more critic and laborious task because the significant number of components and its small size (most passive are in the 0402 size box). We have to be very careful to do not lose the components, avoid touchi the paste areas, and correctly align the components.

It is very important preparing the placement process in advance, otherwise you will spend a lot of looking for the components on the board. What I did is printing several copies of the board silkscre Then I use a copy for each group of components, highlighting the components with a pen and the attaching the component box to the copy. Therefore, you will have easily identifed the components are going to place during the assembly. It will also necessary having at hand the printed silkscreen in the image below:

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB The image below shows the result after dispensing the solder paste.Th e b oar d s w ith th e so ld er pas t e Now this is the time to position the components on the board. For this project it was the more critic and laborious task because the significant number of components and its small size (most passive are in the 0402 size box). We have to be very careful to do not lose the components, avoid touchi the paste areas, and correctly align the components. It is very important preparing the placement process in advance, otherwise you will spend a lot of looking for the components on the board. What I did is printing several copies of the board silkscre Then I use a copy for each group of components, highlighting the components with a pen and the attaching the component box to the copy. Therefore, you will have easily identifed the components are going to place during the assembly. It will also necessary having at hand the printed silkscreen in the image below: B oar d pr i n t e d s ilk screen Once the placing process of the components have been finished it is time to oven the boards. We need to have extreme care to avoid moving the components. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 5/7 " id="pdf-obj-4-28" src="pdf-obj-4-28.jpg">

Board printed silkscreen

Once the placing process of the components have been finished it is time to oven the boards. We need to have extreme care to avoid moving the components.

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=C omponen t s p l ace d on th e b oar d Pl ac i ng th e b oar d i n th e oven For the alloy used (Sn63Pb37), the appropiate temperature profile for this oven will be the Wave 2 O ven i n opera ti on https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 6/7 " id="pdf-obj-5-7" src="pdf-obj-5-7.jpg">

Components placed on the board

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=C omponen t s p l ace d on th e b oar d Pl ac i ng th e b oar d i n th e oven For the alloy used (Sn63Pb37), the appropiate temperature profile for this oven will be the Wave 2 O ven i n opera ti on https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 6/7 " id="pdf-obj-5-23" src="pdf-obj-5-23.jpg">

Placing the board in the oven

For the alloy used (Sn63Pb37), the appropiate temperature profile for this oven will be the Wave 2

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=C omponen t s p l ace d on th e b oar d Pl ac i ng th e b oar d i n th e oven For the alloy used (Sn63Pb37), the appropiate temperature profile for this oven will be the Wave 2 O ven i n opera ti on https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 6/7 " id="pdf-obj-5-40" src="pdf-obj-5-40.jpg">

Oven in operation

6/3/2018

Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=SMT componen t s assem bl e d All the SMT components have been assembled to the board. Then we will proceed with the manu assembly of the insertion components. B oar d f u ll y assem bl e d Fi na l resu lt Then we will have to visually review and rework manually the board. It is normal to find short­circu and components that have been moved, specially the small 0402 components. For the rework I us soldering iron, flux, and solder wick...and a lot of patient! This was my first experience with this technique and with a somehow complex design. The positio of the components have been by far the most critical and laborious process and the boards requir some rework, specially for the first batches but the result has been quite satisfactory. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 7/7 " id="pdf-obj-6-7" src="pdf-obj-6-7.jpg">

SMT components assembled

All the SMT components have been assembled to the board. Then we will proceed with the manu assembly of the insertion components.

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=SMT componen t s assem bl e d All the SMT components have been assembled to the board. Then we will proceed with the manu assembly of the insertion components. B oar d f u ll y assem bl e d Fi na l resu lt Then we will have to visually review and rework manually the board. It is normal to find short­circu and components that have been moved, specially the small 0402 components. For the rework I us soldering iron, flux, and solder wick...and a lot of patient! This was my first experience with this technique and with a somehow complex design. The positio of the components have been by far the most critical and laborious process and the boards requir some rework, specially for the first batches but the result has been quite satisfactory. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 7/7 " id="pdf-obj-6-19" src="pdf-obj-6-19.jpg">

Board fully assembled

6/3/2018 Reflow Soldering ­ EA4FRB <a href=SMT componen t s assem bl e d All the SMT components have been assembled to the board. Then we will proceed with the manu assembly of the insertion components. B oar d f u ll y assem bl e d Fi na l resu lt Then we will have to visually review and rework manually the board. It is normal to find short­circu and components that have been moved, specially the small 0402 components. For the rework I us soldering iron, flux, and solder wick...and a lot of patient! This was my first experience with this technique and with a somehow complex design. The positio of the components have been by far the most critical and laborious process and the boards requir some rework, specially for the first batches but the result has been quite satisfactory. https://sites.google.com/site/ea4frb/techniques/reflowsoldering 7/7 " id="pdf-obj-6-31" src="pdf-obj-6-31.jpg">

Final result

Then we will have to visually review and rework manually the board. It is normal to find short­circu and components that have been moved, specially the small 0402 components. For the rework I us

soldering iron, flux, and solder

wick...and

a lot of patient!

This was my first experience with this technique and with a somehow complex design. The positio of the components have been by far the most critical and laborious process and the boards requir some rework, specially for the first batches but the result has been quite satisfactory.