In The Air – Week 17

All parts needed to populate the PCB I designed in week 13 have arrived! So this evening, I cleaned my desk and installed the preheater and SMD rework station. This is my first time doing actual surface mount soldering and working with a hot air station. I enjoyed it a lot.


To prepare for the soldering, I first cleaned my desk and installed the preheater and rework station. Read the manual on how to use them and briefly turned them on for testing. After that, I picked the components needed to populate the board and put them on the workspace, together with a pair of tweezers. Took the solder paste out of the fridge and was ready to give it a try.


I’ve recorded the different steps taken to get the board populated and soldered. You can view the video montage below. Otherwise, you can just keep on reading for the written version.


The first step was to clean the PCB. i used some rubbing alcohol to get rid of greasy finger prints on the pads.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 00.50.45


Next, I applied the solder paster to the pads. I had some difficulty getting the syringe to dispense solder at first, as I wasn’t sure how hard I needed to push. Once I figured that out, I started to apply a little bit of solder onto every pad. The solder wouldn’t stick on the first one, but after some fiddling, I managed to get it on there. Applying solder to the other pads went a lot easier.

I used Chip Quick SMD291AX10 solder paste.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 00.52.02 Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 00.55.07


With the solder applied to the pads, I started putting the components I had prepared where they belonged. I almost made a mistake with one of the capacitors, but realised it in time. Using a pair of tweezers I was able to easily put all components in place.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 00.58.40


I mounted the PCB using some magnetic brackets on the pre-heater (Tenma 21-10135), which I purchased from the budget, just above the hot air outlet.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 01.03.43


Finally, using hot air (Tenma 21-10130), I reflowed the solder and the components were soldered on. At first, the flow rate was too high and the components were being pushed away. After lowering the flow rate, things went better, but I still managed to get a resistor off the pads. I successfully managed to “push” it back on though I’m thinking that I should have used a bigger nozzle.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 01.05.11 Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 01.05.38

Once all components were soldered in place, I powered off the rework station and pre-heater and let the board cool down.


This was fun! And I didn’t burn down the house!

Next step is to test the board and then hook it up to the Launchpad for final testing.

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