Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflow soldering for SDR kits

Here is a nice rundown with copious links that Phil wrote for our appreciation of this SDR build option. Thanks, Phil!
All right, SDR and SMD (topics of discussion on 3740 kHz lately) fans, let’s burn some daylight…

Sharing what I thought was an interesting video that I stumbled upon… featuring a Softrock SDR kit and an interesting variation of the ‘reflow’ technique for installing surface mounted components. The video makes it look easy… although Jack says forget-about-it and just use a narrow (conical?) tip soldering iron.  

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Amateur Logic series of videos produced sporadically (lately, about every 2 or 3 months) by a couple of good ‘ole boy hams from Mississippi.  I’ve followed ‘em for several years.

Episode 15 is an older video made in August 2007, so, given the speed at which things change nowadays, some of the references are outdated . The SDR board featured is the ‘Softrock 6’ which must have been an earlier version of the Softrock ‘Lite II’ kit available today.  In the video, George/W5JDX installs SMD components using a beverage mug warmer (to warm-up the board), some soldering paste and a hot air embossing gun. The SDR/SMD segment starts about 9 minutes into this video . (If your DSL’s too slow to play the streaming video, you can download it here.) Hard for me to believe that the SMD components don’t blow off before the solder paste melts… maybe because the “hot air embossing gun” he’s using is a lot smaller/lower CFM than my heat gun (perhaps something like this?)

The soldering paste is available in small quantities and reasonable prices from Cash Olsen/KD5SSJ); he has a tutorial on the ‘reflow’ technique on his website.

In the video, George promises a follow-up report on how it worked when completed. The closest thing I could find to that (but not with the Softrock) was in the October 2007 (episode 16) video… starting about +47 minutes. 

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