Author Topic: hand soldering Simblee module?  (Read 2284 times)

Tim

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hand soldering Simblee module?
« on: March 24, 2016, 10:48:23 AM »
Hi ..

I've been hand soldering our product boards, including an RFD22301 with no problems. We're considering switching to Simblee which has much smaller pins.

We will eventually move to automated assembly, but will want to hand solder initially. Any experiences hand soldering the Simblee module? I've been soldering surface mount resistors, caps, etc. using a hot air gun. Works well. Then I'd use a soldering iron with solder paste and flux to solder the RFD22301. See tolson's post here:

http://forum.rfduino.com/index.php?topic=1045.msg3819#msg3819

Is the Simblee module heat resistant? Can I use hot air or hot plate?

We would consider using the RFD77201 DIP version but it's an extra $20 and occupies more space.

Thanks for any thoughts.

Tim

tolson

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2016, 12:17:39 PM »
Hi Tim,

It is well worth a couple dollars getting a stencil from OshStencils.
I use hot air from below method. A hot air pencil from above at the right time may be helpful if necessary.



Tim

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 07:45:06 AM »
Thanks tolson. We use OSH Park for our PCBs, so I'm glad to know the same group offers a stencil service.

Would be great to see another video from you showing your method for the RFD77101. :)  I've always used hot air from above. Interested in your method. No risk of heat damaging the RFD77101?

Many thanks.

Tim

tolson

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 08:51:59 AM »
First, yes, there is always a risk of overheating components, the RFD77101 included.

I have not had much luck with hot plates. The boards never layed flat enough on mine. I tried laying in a flat aluminum plate, but got frustrated. Some suggested a oil layer between the hot plate and flat plate to conduct heat evenly, but that seemed messy. I had better luck clamping a flat aluminum plate to my work bench and heating it from below; you need a high temperature heat gun to counter the dissipation.

I have used a high temperature heating gun directly under the board, but that is hard to regulate the temperatures. You are basically winging it at regulating the heatup profile by gradually bringing the gun closer and closer while moving it in a circular motion.

There are regulated air flow units for rework that work great for assembling boards. You can see the unit I have in the 'removing RFduino' video..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVwSxxAjvQk#t=0m20s

The problem with these approaches is getting creative at holding the part so it can be air flow heated from below. It works best when small boards are panelized as you can move from board to board.


VLorz

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 09:35:43 AM »
My best results have been using an standard home oven. I created an over controller using a spare Arduino and a few things more, including one K-type thermocouple. It is possible to solder your PCBs without the controller if you have a multi-meter with a temperature probe and playing with the on/off switch.

I also use one JVC hot air gun at work http://www.jbctools.com/jt-hot-air-station-product-13-category-3-menu-2.html. It has an output air temperature and air flow controller and works pretty well, but for home use it is perhaps too expensive.

Tim

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2016, 07:20:00 AM »
Thanks Tolson and Vlorz.

Is there great risk of damaging Simblee if soldering with hot air from the top? This is how I've been soldering all surface mount components on our board except the RFD22301. It would be easiest if I could just include the Simblee when hot air soldering everything else.

Or am I better off to customise an oven? Safer?

Thanks,

Tim

VLorz

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2016, 08:21:08 AM »
It would be safer using one controlled oven with ventilator so it could be possible to generate the correct soldering profile and a more or less homogenous temperature distribution around the board. There are several problems that could arise from heating/cooling SMD components too fast or evenly.

From my experience, something that helps improving SMD hand soldering quality is applying heat from both sides. First you apply some pre-heat from bottom side to your PCB so temperature reaches to about 40ºC~50ºC, then apply heat from the top side. If you can manage to have two hot air guns, one for the bottom side and one for the top side you could expect near 100% success on all boards at first attemp. The bottom heater mostly provides a means to reduce the temperature differential between both PCB sides and between exterior and interior pads in the module.

Anyway, practice is all when it comes to hand soldering, other collegues may use other methods with identically good results.

Tim

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2016, 06:51:48 AM »
Thanks Vlorz and Tolson. I will experiment with your suggestions.

Best,

Tim

Anthony.phan

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2017, 08:25:29 AM »
I know this is an old topic however I just wanted to share my own experience with other users. I intended to use the simblee in my own wearable due to its tiny form factor. The cost of getting this soldered onto my own custom PCB was very high as my PCB manufacturor has a minimum quantity of 5 units for PCB assembly. I figured I would try soldering it myself with a heat gun and IR soldering station as I am quite experienced in these techniques. Using both methods I managed to destroy a total of 5 simblees.. So i would not suggest hand solder these modules.

Its is a real shame that these  are soo difficult to solder as I believe it is deterring many hobbyist from using this in their own custom PCB's.

tolson

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2017, 11:43:02 AM »
I know this is an old topic however I just wanted to share my own experience with other users.

Actually, I for one appreciate when new info is added to old topics as long as it is related to the topic at hand.

Tim

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2017, 08:16:00 AM »
Hi Anthony,

You might find this thread helpful:

http://forum.rfduino.com/index.php?topic=1735.0

Cheers,

Tim

jetty

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 07:23:59 AM »
Another data point.....
First, soldermask and thin (3mil) stencil, solder paste and hot air or oven would be the correct way to do it in any type of small quantity prototyping.

However, for prototyping, the following works for me, with an Othermill made board (FR1) and no soldermask, and with adjacent pads populated.

1. Limit traces internal to the IC area, or at least give good spacing to prevent bridging.

2. Inspect, remove any burrs from traces/pads.

3. Tin the pads on the pcb with a ball of solder on the iron by dragging from the outside to the inside of the IC area, the idea being to create
a "roll" of solder on each pad, visually inspect to confirm.  Do not tin the 4 large GND pads.

3. Tin the pads on the Simblee with a ball of solder on the iron by dragging from inside the IC to the outside edge, same deal, you want a "roll" of
solder on each pad, visually inspect to confirm.  Also tin the 4 large GND pads, these should only have a small amount of solder on, similar to the
amount you'd use for a 0603, you don't want a huge ball of solder preventing the chip laying flat.  I find solder on these pads helps with
surface tension / centering and attracting the chip to the board.  If you put too much on, use solder wick to remove some.

4. Apply a flux pen to the pads on the pcb only

5. Place chip (I eyeball it for centering).

6. Use hot air to heat the chip, when solder melted, push down on the chip in multiple places with tweezers, making sure it remains centered.

Then finally, I normally test chip operation for short on the power pins, programming ability and I/O pins (alternating HiGH/LOW).  If that failed, I'd pull it with hot air,
clean everything with solder wick, IPA and retest.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 07:51:38 AM by jetty »

Johnny1010

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2017, 01:56:29 PM »
Guys a quick question, what temperature are you using for the hot air gun. When soldering from the top, for any other IC, I use 350 Celsius and a medium air flow. Is this fine for Simblee as well?

jetty

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Re: hand soldering Simblee module?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2017, 08:54:50 AM »
Guys a quick question, what temperature are you using for the hot air gun. When soldering from the top, for any other IC, I use 350 Celsius and a medium air flow. Is this fine for Simblee as well?

Had mine set to 370 and low air flow (to not move the chip around).  It seemed to be fairly indestructable, I soldered it and desoldered, dewicked it a number of times before I figured a method that worked, and the device worked fine.  (I'm using leaded FYI).

 

anything