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Tiny soldering - How I do it.

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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
EDIT: the pics aren't available, the webserver they were on was destroyed in a flood. google for shelby ohio flood and you should find some info on it.
edit 8-22-2016 I found an old hard drive with a broken SATA connector. So naturally I soldered a cable onto the board and plugged it in to see what goodies I'd find on it, and within that treasure trove was all of these pictures. So I have uploaded them to photobucket and am fixing the links here.

I've been doing a bit of soldering to TINY components lately, and I took a few pics of it and hope to offer a guide that you guys can follow. The pics aren't of Vmods, but similarly small, if not smaller, components.

A HUGE thanks goes to johan851 for his help in correcting my grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

Preparation:

First, you'll want to get together all of the supplies you'll need. In my opinion, the most important tool you'll use is a magnifying glass. I have one from my dad that folds up and is like an inch and a half square, and unfolds to stand itself up at about an inch and a half high. One great thing about it is that my camera's lense fits right up against it, and it actually takes good pics (which inspired me to write this guide!). PS2-2%20015_zpsd3zfyr1e.jpg

Next is the soldering iron. For this I used a Radioshack dual 15/30 watt iron. You can make a 30 watt iron into a 15 the same way RS does it by sticking a diode in one of the 110V lines. The switch just bypasses the diode. I used the tip as it came out of the box, didn't even have to file it to a better point or anything.

Solder, wire, desoldering braid. I have a roll of solder that is quite old, it's a pretty fine diameter, and I dont know what mix it is. All I know is that it is small and has rosin flux in it. I sacrificed one of my rounded IDE cables that I got from Newegg a couple years ago. It has some nice fine wires, and they are all free from each other. I bought a roll of desoldering braid PS2-2%20041_zpslfmqjenq.jpg from RadioShack (referred to as RS from now on) and it's serving me pretty well. I also have handy a RS desoldering iron, but its only good for big things. Another handy thing to have around is super glue or hot glue for a less permanent mod. If you have it, flash tac or another super glue accelerator is suggested.

Now is a good time to prepare yourself. Work in a well-lit, clean environment; I chose my kitchen table. I noticed that when making connections at 6 PM as opposed to 6 AM the next morning, I had much more success on the first shot, obviously because I was tired and running on BAWLS. My back was sore from hunching over for the last 12 hours and my eyes were burning from being tired and from superglue fumes....so basically be in a good mood, not tired or anything. I forgot to add, If you're fat like me, it makes a huge difference in comfort to take off your belt. Might as well take the keys and wireless card out of your pockets while you're at it.

Get your stuff out and handy, and get the board or whatever out of the case and cleaned up of dust and whatnot. Get the iron in a conveniently reachable spot, preferably sitting on its stand or in its holder if it's a station, plug it in and get it heated and tinned, and clean the tip with the damp sponge that I didn't mention up in the supplies list. I position the board i was soldering with the region I was soldering facing either away from me or to my right. This way I can use my left hand to hold the wire in place and hold the iron in my right. Have solder, your magnifier, and everything else in convenient reach.

Now to the actual soldering.
 
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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
I like to touch the iron to the pin im soldering to to be sure there isnt some kind of coating that will make things difficult on it. Then prepare the wire. I start with a piece of wire with 7 strands in it, strip about 3/4 inch from it ps2%20031_zpsfhhsocne.jpg , and pull 4 of them back so i have 3. you can cut off the spare strands, or leave them, it doesnt matter. I cut them off usually. then i twist the 3 remaining strands ps2%20032_zpskm8lapp8.jpg . i hold the strands in my right hand, between the pointer finger and thumb, and spin the whole wire in the left hand. After it's stripped, seperated and twisted, I tin it. I have a habbit of just sticking the wire up from bottom through a screw hole on the board im working on to hold it. Then come from the bottom of the wire with the iron and put the solder on top of the wire. I start at the end of the wire and work my way towards the insulation, I've found that this minimizes the amount of melted / burnt insulation. I then trim the wire to 3 to 5 mm in length. ps2%20035_zpsaoacj6ra.jpg In the pic, the dark line is one of my hairs, for a size reference we can usually relate to. above the wire is a piece of solder.

Once I have the wire ready, I get it good and lined up on the pin. It is usually helpful to make a 45 degree or so bend on the end of the wire we'll be using. Then I lay the wire on the chip, bent part down parallel to the pins, and get it lined up. Magnifier is really handy here. After it's good and lined up, I hold my left index finger over it nice and snug ps2%20034_zpsubyf8skt.jpg , and check that it's on the right pin again. When I'm lucky, the wire will be bent so it's laying right on the pin at the same angle as the pin.

From here, check that it's the right pin one last time, then gently touch the iron to the wire. Be very careful not to push it to either side, just straight down. I like to be looking through the magnifier while doing this, another reason the free standing one is handy. If you do it this way, be careful if you have long hair, it might fall and hit the iron, and a facefull of burnt hair smoke isnt a good thing when trying to solder a delicate joint. The wire should heat and the solder melt very quickly, and you should be able to see it flow and stick down just a little. For me, I dont have the iron any longer than 2 seconds. Any longer and the heat could damage the chip, as the copper wires inside the IS or the silicon itself can melt and cause it to isfunction. Here is the part I hate. The wire is likely to heat up and get hot under your finger. I tough it out, for the connection's sake. When you lift the iron the wire should be stuck on the pin, and now you can glue it in place so it dont get ripped off. I try to get just a dab of super glue around the wire's insulation, as close to the connection as I can get it, to hold it long enough for me to get my finger off. After the little dab of glue is dried, you can FINALLY lift your finger, and glue the wire in place a little better without worrying about glueing your finger in place.

If you messd up the conenction, like you bridged the wire with another pin, heat up the wire and pull it off. Be sure to let the chip have some time to cool off before putting the iron to it again. Everything should feel cool to the touch, if not wait a little longer. This way you dont build up heat in the IC and kill it. If there is solder between the pins on the chip PS2-2%20036_zpsgpj3lg2s.jpg (like this)[/URL] , lay the desoldering braid over it PS2-2%20039_zpsvuoymzlu.jpg and stick the iron on tip. Get it hot and solder should flow into the braid. You may have to use the iron to slightly bend the braid so it makes a better contact with the pins. I move the braid and the iron back and forth to be sure it gets it all. then I swipe the iron's tip up each pin in the area from the PCB up, and then inspect with magnifier. after I'm satisfied that they're clean, I try the connetion again. Sometimes you'll have to redo the wire, others you can use it again and save that little bit of time.

Once you have it in place and glued down nice and firmly so you dont yank the wire off, you're pretty much done. ps2%20036_zpsgr37cg1w.jpg

I hope i didnt forget anything, if so lemme know and ill add it.
I hope this helps someone get the Vmod done to their components, any questions on my method ill be glad to answer.

Thanks to 3Dflyer and SolidxSnake for their additions, eobard for stickin it, and everyone for the props :D
 
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jcw122

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2004
wow that's incredible stuff, I've always wondered how people solder stuff SOOOO tiny. Very useful guide!

I vote sticky here!!!!


I KNOW I'll be coming back to use this someday
 

Superjed

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
I vote sticky too. This is very interesting. Ive always wanted to see something like this. Thanks for the info four4875.
 

jcw122

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2004
wizard james said:
i vote for grammer fixing , then sticky...

very nice very nice


LOL mabe some titles, color, dividers, and slight organization

It's already sticky material to me, but ^^ would make it GREAT and easy to read
 
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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
WOOT! my first stickie. I said at the beginning that my grammer would suck :p I'll try to find any mistakes and fix them. anyone wanna hit me up on aim with suggestions on what kind of titles and organization would help? unfortunately english and cmmunication is one of my weak points. to me a big unindented block of text looks fine :D I can get the caps and punctuation stuff pretty good, after that my creativity sucks.

edit: i almost forgot.. thanks for all of the positive comments guys!

and solidxsnake: to me it looks like you're using wire with kindof big fluffy insulation... i mean its somewhat thick and soft. in my experience this stuff seems like it LOVES to melt with the slightest heat. You might wanna hunt around for small wires, it took me a few different ones to find something that worked good. the round IDE cables are good, and parallel printer cables, if you have a bunch layin around like i do. they're a great source for 6 foot long ones that seem about the same as the ones from the IDE cables, just 25 of them instead of 80, and they're a pin to get out of the insulation. Or i guess one could go buy wire, ive never done that tho.
 
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SolidxSnake

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2004
four4875 said:
WOOT! my first stickie. I said at the beginning that my grammer would suck :p I'll try to find any mistakes and fix them. anyone wanna hit me up on aim with suggestions on what kind of titles and organization would help? unfortunately english and cmmunication is one of my weak points. to me a big unindented block of text looks fine :D I can get the caps and punctuation stuff pretty good, after that my creativity sucks.

edit: i almost forgot.. thanks for all of the positive comments guys!

and solidxsnake: to me it looks like you're using wire with kindof big fluffy insulation... i mean its somewhat thick and soft. in my experience this stuff seems like it LOVES to melt with the slightest heat. You might wanna hunt around for small wires, it took me a few different ones to find something that worked good. the round IDE cables are good, and parallel printer cables, if you have a bunch layin around like i do. they're a great source for 6 foot long ones that seem about the same as the ones from the IDE cables, just 25 of them instead of 80, and they're a pin to get out of the insulation. Or i guess one could go buy wire, ive never done that tho.


lol, I'm usin wire from a small stereo-stereo headphone wire. It is small gauge (around 28AWG). I do have many many wires laying around (a few of those CD-Rom/Audio wires). And this is only practice, you do know :D

hehe, btw, its capitalize and grammar hehehe :D

What you could do is make a header (in big letters and a different color), center it, and then write something like "Guide to small soldering" or something of the likes. Then, split it up into sections, like materials, preparation, soldering/tips, finishing up etc. For each section, make a medium sized and different colored header, centered as well.
 

johan851

Insatiably Malcontent, Senior Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2002
Location
Seattle, WA
I'd be happy to go over this whole thing and edit it for grammar/spelling/punctuation later tonight. PM me your email or something and I'll attach it and send it to you.
 

3DFlyer

Banned
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Location
The Cockpit
I've done alot of soldering myself because I've built small electronic speed controls for mnay years.

This is good material for people who are not used to soldering small parts. It shows how to get a good mechanical bond and proper techniques of heating and getting a good joint.

One thing that people may also want to be cautious of is the thermal specs of some of these components. Do not heat small IC's for long periods of time. Most of these chips like the ones shown have thermal specs of like 300-500 degrees only for a matter of a few (3) seconds. It's not the pins that will fail,but the IC they are connected to.

You have to be neat, precise, get good heat, but be quick at the same time. High wattage irons should be avoided. I have an adjustable iron that can go up to 80 watts, but I don't go anywhere near that with small IC's. More like 25-30 watts at the most.

Practice makes perfect, and the best bet is to use the lowest wattage setting that will allow a good joint. If the solder is shiny and you have good penetration the joint is good. Higher heat will not help, and in some cases will actually hurt the joint and the solder can be overheated.
 
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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
jason, 20 guage is pretty huge for this kind of soldering. in a Vmod (aside from the 3.3V ddr one) there is almost no current running over the wire, just enough to change what the Vsense is seeing on the PWM IC. 20 or 22 guage would be much more difficult to work on than this smaller wire.

Johan: thanks, YGPM :D

I will be adding some more pics later tonight, gonna be doing another chip install, actually partially through it right now.
 

d94

$30 a phone
Joined
Sep 26, 2004
Location
48302
very nice guide :D
now all i gotta do is get the balls to mess w/my hardware lol
 
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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
get ahold of like a GF3 ti200 or an old radeon, not much to lose, only ton ofconfidence to gain when you sicessfully Vmod it and put a big ole CPU heatsink on it and get its clock speeds waaayy up over stock, and its good real world practice. or just molest an old mobo like solidxsnake. i did it to my asus after it died, just to see if i could.
 

3DFlyer

Banned
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Location
The Cockpit
Oh yes. Practice indeed. Those little pins are harder to solder than you might think. It's tedious. Those pictures make it look real easy cause he did such a good job. Also remember that the solder joint can be perfect, but the mod has to work aftwerwards. You have to be careful not to overheat the chips. Only use just enough heat to do the job over a very breif period. Don't hold the solder iron on the pins or pads too long. :)
 
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four4875

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Location
I can see walmart, 44906
the pics also make it look easy caus they dont shw me redoing it 4 times haha. im going to add pics of me goofin one up and how to fix a bridge between 2 pins, as soon as i get them upoaded. but breakfast calls my name right now haha. i forgot to add the heat / damage thing up there, just mentioned that i work quickly, thaks 3dflyer ill add that.
 

SolidxSnake

Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2004
One other note I must add.

If you solder something on an IC Leg the wrong way at first, like its in the wrong position, DON'T TAKE THE IRON TO THE JOINT RIGHT AFTER. Wait at least 5-15 seconds before going back to the joint.