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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Scrimshaw, Syringes, and Easy-Bake Ovens: The World of Surface Mount

I'm struggling with the whole surface mount thing. I am trying to maintain a good attitude and not turn into a grumbling techno-Neanderthal here... But it is really different.
Very apropos of my current struggles, some work done by our friend Mike, KL7R, came across my screen this week. It was about his effort to deal with the REALLY TINY SMT ICs. Surely his Alaskan roots had some influence in his decision to go with the scrimshaw technique.
For more details see : http://kl7r.ham-radio.ch/scrimshaw/
BTW: Todd, VE7BPO, has put together a memorial page for Mike:

Another SMT technique is outlined by Mike, N5 JKY. I couldn't help think about the old Easy-Bake oven that my sisters played with:

Hi Bill,

I've been doing some surface mount projects over the last couple of years and found one method of soldering that I really like: my toaster oven. I use Kester Easy Profile solder paste which I get in a syringe from KD5SSJ for $5:


The syringe allows you to put a little dab of solder on the board where each SMT component goes. I use my forceps to place the components, and the paste holds them in place. You can even invert the board and they won't fall off. After the board is populated, you just carefully bake it in a toaster oven. The guys over at Seattle Robotics have a nice description of the baking process:


The first SMT project I did was an ATS3a transceiver, soldering each part in one at a time. It was a real pain. I used the solder paste and baking to put together a Juma1 receiver kit from the Finnish QRP club, and it went like a breeze. I am getting one of these cute digital storage oscilloscope kits ($35, can you believe it?) and will use that method for soldering it. In case you haven't seen these kits yet, here is the link:


I hope you and your family have a great holiday season and happy new year from another Drake 2B owner.

Very best 73, Mike McShan N5JKY


  1. I actually like soldering SM parts one by one under a stereo microscope. Here is a blog post that describes some of the techniques we used to build a BlackfinOne custom Linux CPU board (the SM tips are about half way through the post). I taught my wife to load SM boards in an afternoon.

  2. This site has instructions and videos. Haven't tried them, but they make it look easy.



  3. As much as I like snorting rosin fumes, I much prefer the 'hot air' or 'toaster oven' method of SMT construction using syringe-applied SMT solder paste. The results are hard to tell from 'factory'. The only thing I've found difficult is the finger pressure required to dispense the paste but that can be relieved with a larger bore needle on the syringe.

    Mike Schettler WA6MER and I gave a presentation on the subject at Pacificon a couple of years ago.

    73 from the balmy left coast :-)

    Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"


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