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Re: gEDA-user: Free Dog meetings at MIT starting this September!

On Aug 23, 2004, at 2:01 AM, Samuel A. Falvo II wrote:
   I must strongly disagree with this statement.  The notion that
through-hole soldering is easier than soldering surface-mount devices
is, and always has been, a myth.  Personally, any more, I *hate*
soldering through-hole parts.  Sure it takes a steadier hand due to
the finer pin spacings and such, but give me an SOIC over a DIP any
You can strongly disagree all you want. The fact is, without that steady
hand, which few will actually have especially if they've never picked up
an iron before in their lives, I'm going to be up all night handling
tech support calls on how they damaged their kits. :-)
There is the notion of "biting off more than you can chew", you know. A beginning mechanical engineering student doesn't choose a helicopter as a first project. If the kit you're speaking of is too complex for a first project, well, surface mount components probably aren't the problem.

   Perhaps a part of the problem is that people want to be able to
solder with a cheap soldering iron they bought at Radio Shack for $12
that has a tip as big as their finger.  To that, I say "use crap
tools, get crap results".
Most of the people who expressed an interest in my idea were people who
never worked on electronics before, and weren't going to spend any more
than $150 tops.  A good quality Weller alone costs that much, let alone
the kit.
Nah. I use a wonderful Metcal iron that cost me less than that on eBay. I hand-solder 0.5mm-pitch components with it regularly. Admittedly that's becoming tedious, and not something that I would recommend to everyone, but it is certainly possible.

With quality tools, good lighting, and a
little bit (maybe a few hours) of practice, I'm convinced that nearly
anyone can solder wide-pitch SMT with no problem.  Don't want to shell
Hmm...does a 208-pin FPGA count as wide-pitch? How about a 128-pin PQFP
(which is what the MIPS CPU comes in)? How about a BGA?
No, I'm talking about something like SOIC. Man, those pins are just *not that small*. Let's be realistic here.

out a few bucks for a quality temperature-controlled iron?  Don't try
to solder. It's as simple as that.
No, it's not.  Sorry.
So you're advocating using crap tools to assemble circuitry? If you're really talking to people who have never picked up a soldering iron before, then I fear for our profession. Most of these people will give up in frustration with fried components and lifted pads.

You know, the philosophy of using the right tool for the job is not obsolete.

Don't fear SMT. SMT is good. :-)


Dave McGuire "...it's a matter of how tightly
Cape Coral, FL you pull the zip-tie." -Nadine Miller