Creating PCBs With Surface Mount Components

I have been creating circuits for mumble years, using wirewrap, IDC and standard PCB technology with plate-thru hole (PTH) components. I’ve recently been “forced” to use surface mount devices (SMD), and was concerned that it would be too difficult for an amateur using only equipment available at home.

I was wrong; it was easy.

On the off-chance it inspires others, here’s what I’ve used, what worked and what didn’t. The tl;dr version is DesignSparkPCB, DirtyPCBs, OSH Stencils, 179C SnPb paste, magnifying visor, *8 lenses, reflow sand in skillet, soldering iron.

Design Layout View

Design Layout View

Also see my techniques for designing, making and assembling homebrew PCBs, and reference material.

My first design’s principal parameters were:

  • 0805 and 0603 resistors and capacitors
  • 8 pin SOIC integrated circuits, 1.3mm pitch with 0.6mm pads and 0.7mm gap
  • fine pitch 8 pin integrated circuits, 0.65mm pitch with 0.3mm pads and 0.35mm gap
  • fine pitch 100-way mezzanine connector, two rows of 50 pads 0.8mm pitch with 0.5mm pads an 0.3mm gap
  • a 2cm *2cm PCB
  • Pleasingly, the techniques I used for my first design worked sufficiently well that I haven’t felt the need to change them for subsequent designs.

Thanks are due to all those that have helped me, including but not limited to Ian, Arthur, Russ, Nathan, and Simon at Bristol HackSpace.



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