# Lighted Magnifying lamp diopter power for SMT circuit board soldering

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#### gcanroc

##### Custom title
I'm trying to assemble a altimeter flight computer to put in my rocket. http://eggtimerrocketry.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Eggtimer_Quantum_Assembly_A18.pdf This is the first time soldering such small SMT parts. I just bought a Harbor Freight magnifying lamp 1.5X that just doesn't seem strong enough. Can anyone suggest a how much magnification is needed to make soldering these small parts easier. There are three, five and eight power magnifying lamps available https://www.globalindustrial.com/p/...dFP9xawLk_I0O_VD9qKXI9ninUtewZcxoCbvcQAvD_BwE

Geoffrey

#### Voyager1

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
For standard component soldering I use a mag light, but for any SMD soldering I go for the big gun ... a stereo microscope with LED illuminator! You can really see what you're doing!

#### BEC

##### Well-Known Member
Oh - I like what Kevin linked to. Also just found a version that is rechargeable rather than running on 3 AAAs. That looks like a great solution for this sort of problem.

#### OverTheTop

##### Well-Known Member
I find something like a 4x works well for soldering, then going for something 10x or over for inspection is great. Picks up on any mis-soldered joints easily.

FYI the soldering standard (IPC610) has mandatory inspection at 10x or better for all joints.

Staff member
Global Mod

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
I picked up one of these a few years ago and found it absolutely perfect for those sorts of things. The clamp is nice since it allows steady yet easy movement to differing locations. I have some crap arsed eye disease (as of 2 years ago my left eye was 20/200 and my right was 20/45, and as an added bonus it's apparently in/un correctible AND progressive) so need all the help I can get. I've actually blown off my last 4 eye doc appointments since all they do is depress me and cost money for absoltuley no gain. What i normally do is use the lamp/magnifier to "tack" stuff, then add/stack either a small 4x or a 10x loupe to inspect. Magnifier stacking works a charm..https://www.menards.com/main/lighti...31402259058.htm?tid=-37346857799609027&ipos=1

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
Put it this way; If my blindass can assemble Eggtimer stuff, anyone can.

#### llickteig1

##### KLOUDBusters Chief Logistician
Put it this way; If my blindass can assemble Eggtimer stuff, anyone can.
Not true.

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
No, it is true. I've discovered the secret. Turns out...You have to try

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
It can be frustrating at times, but luckily it will allow you to walk away and come back to it later. Unlike epoxy related stuff

#### gcanroc

##### Custom title
It seems like the consensus is that a 3X magnification should allow me to see the Eggtimer ciruit board close enough to do decent soldering of the SMT parts among other things and then to use a 10X jeweler's loupe to do the final inspection. I'm also considering use "hot" air to do some of the small soldering, does anyone have any advice on that type of soldering.

Thx,

Geoff

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
Never tried it personally, but the Youtuber's have me intrigued. Safe bet Y'd be better off just "hand" soldering unless you plan on production type stuff..

#### Wallace

TRF Supporter
If I can do it, you can...

##### Catching up and tripping all over myself.
It seems like the consensus is that a 3X magnification should allow me to see the Eggtimer ciruit board close enough to do decent soldering of the SMT parts among other things and then to use a 10X jeweler's loupe to do the final inspection. I'm also considering use "hot" air to do some of the small soldering, does anyone have any advice on that type of soldering.

Thx,

Geoff
A hundred years ago when I was a tech in the Navy, we used stuff like this:

Check this out at Amazon.com
PACE MBT350 (MBT 350) Multi-Channel Soldering Desoldering & Rework Station (120 VAC) with SX-100 Desoldering Iron TD-100A Soldering Iron MT-100 MiniTweez Thermal Tweezer AND TIPS https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SJBNDJB/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_-ZV9DbYS150KT

I really don't know if I could do that kind of stuff now with a Weller Soldering Gun.

#### g.pitts

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
It seems like the consensus is that a 3X magnification should allow me to see the Eggtimer ciruit board close enough to do decent soldering of the SMT parts among other things and then to use a 10X jeweler's loupe to do the final inspection. I'm also considering use "hot" air to do some of the small soldering, does anyone have any advice on that type of soldering.

Thx,

Geoff
Hot air can be tricky. You generally use solder paste with hot air for assembly. Getting enough thermal energy to the area is a balance between too much air (blowing parts off the board) and too little air (while unlikely, it is possible to damage semiconductor devices).

I bought a $60 toaster oven from Target, and two temperatures of solder paste from DigiKey to create my “poor man’s SMT line”. I applied the higher temperature solder paste (390 degrees F, going from memory) on one side, and placed the components on the board. Then inserted the board into the toaster and turned it on for 5 mins at 400 degrees F. You can watch and observe the phase change from paste to molten metal. The first side of my board was done in about 4.5 minutes. Repeat the process with the lower temperature solder paste on the other side of the PCB, and lower the oven temperature to something just over your lower temperature solder paste used on the second side. Again, going from memory I believe my second solder paste was 320 degrees F. With relatively consistent placement of solder paste on pads, passive components will usually self-center due to surface tension. Every now and again, one will need to be reworked by hand. Solder-bridging is a possibility (also true with hand soldering) with smaller SOIC devices, so solder wick is a handy thing to have on standby. Through-hole components are installed last and hand-soldered. I had a lot of fun going through this process. If you feel it’s too much trouble to take the plunge into any of these assembly methods, there’s a guy who will assemble the kits and send them back to you for less money than the required investment for one of these soldering setups. I can dig his name up if you are interested. So it really depends on why you want to build your own electronic solution. #### OverTheTop ##### Well-Known Member My personal choice is hand soldering for just about anything, even fine-pitch. I only use hot air for desoldering. #### Greg Furtman ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter It seems like the consensus is that a 3X magnification should allow me to see the Eggtimer ciruit board close enough to do decent soldering of the SMT parts among other things and then to use a 10X jeweler's loupe to do the final inspection. I'm also considering use "hot" air to do some of the small soldering, does anyone have any advice on that type of soldering. Thx, Geoff I picked up one of these, some soldering paste, and some good tweezers. Hot air soldering is amazing as the paste "holds" the component in place and when heating up the soldering paste nothing touches the board, and when the paste turns into solder the components self alines to the pads through surface tension/capillary action. I've discovered that the paste goes on the pads easier if I heat them up a little with the hot air gun first. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H4RHZ21/ref=dp_cerb_1 #### Greg Furtman ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter Last edited: #### Wallace ##### Sponsor TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter I picked up one of these, some soldering paste, and some good tweezers. Hot air soldering is amazing as the paste "holds" the component in place and when heating up the soldering paste nothing touches the board, and when the paste turns into solder the components self alines to the pads through surface tension/capillary action. I've discovered that the paste goes on the pads easier if I heat them up a little with the hot air gun first. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H4RHZ21/ref=dp_cerb_1 I've looked into that more than once.I personally decided against it because you still need to have steady enough hands to apply everything w/out making a mess of it. Way I see it is if I tin a pad and get something a bit askew with my old/shaky arthritic hands, I can just apply a bit of heat and move or remove the part. I just can't imagine applying all that paste and all those parts at one time in any way that'd work out cleanly, not to mention having to the move it into an oven without scrambling everything in the process. I have never tried it though so it's entirely possible that I'm completely wrong. #### neil_w ##### Hunkered down and slowly going crazy TRF Supporter For standard component soldering I use a mag light, but for any SMD soldering I go for the big gun ... a stereo microscope with LED illuminator! You can really see what you're doing! Those things are the best, although you can still go a long way with a plain old magnifier lamp. #### Greg Furtman ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter I've looked into that more than once.I personally decided against it because you still need to have steady enough hands to apply everything w/out making a mess of it. Way I see it is if I tin a pad and get something a bit askew with my old/shaky arthritic hands, I can just apply a bit of heat and move or remove the part. I just can't imagine applying all that paste and all those parts at one time in any way that'd work out cleanly, not to mention having to the move it into an oven without scrambling everything in the process. I have never tried it though so it's entirely possible that I'm completely wrong. Wallace, I find it easier than traditional soldering. Sure, getting the right amount of paste on a pad is a little bit difficult but not too bad. And I use an old Olympus stereo microscope & a good pair of angled tweezers to position the components. After that it's just a matter of using the hot air gun to solder them. And thanks for the tip on the magnetic PCB holder. I'm going to make one. #### Wallace ##### Sponsor TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter A hundred years ago when I was a tech in the Navy, we used stuff like this: Check this out at Amazon.com PACE MBT350 (MBT 350) Multi-Channel Soldering Desoldering & Rework Station (120 VAC) with SX-100 Desoldering Iron TD-100A Soldering Iron MT-100 MiniTweez Thermal Tweezer AND TIPS https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SJBNDJB/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_-ZV9DbYS150KT I really don't know if I could do that kind of stuff now with a Weller Soldering Gun. So...You rigged sails when not soldering then right? Last edited: #### Wallace ##### Sponsor TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter Wallace, I find it easier than traditional soldering. Sure, getting the right amount of paste on a pad is a little bit difficult but not too bad. And I use an old Olympus stereo microscope & a good pair of angled tweezers to position the components. After that it's just a matter of using the hot air gun to solder them. And thanks for the tip on the magnetic PCB holder. I'm going to make one. Ok, now I sort of "get it". You weren't using the toaster oven method. Is it possible to do individual parts or does the hot air gun affect surrounding? #### gcanroc ##### Custom title Since we're on the subject, there's seems to be so many choices of soldering irons, I'm looking to replace my$30 Hobby King soldering iron with something a little more professional. Is the Hakko FX888D-23BY the "go to" soldering iron of choice?? My budget would be <$100. Thanks again for all the great advice. Geoffrey #### Wallace ##### Sponsor TRF Sponsor TRF Supporter My E.E. buddy swears by 'em if that helps. #### Greg Furtman ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter Ok, now I sort of "get it". You weren't using the toaster oven method. Is it possible to do individual parts or does the hot air gun affect surrounding? I have done individual parts like ICs. If I'm only doing one part I put the fine nozzle on and turn the air flow down. If I'm doing a number of parts I put the mid-size nozzle on. I haven't used the big nozzle yet. #### Greg Furtman ##### Well-Known Member TRF Supporter Since we're on the subject, there's seems to be so many choices of soldering irons, I'm looking to replace my$30 Hobby King soldering iron with something a little more professional. Is the Hakko FX888D-23BY the "go to" soldering iron of choice?? My budget would be <\$100. Thanks again for all the great advice.

Geoffrey
It's got very good reviews on Amazon. Just make sure you also get the different size tips.