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Here are some useful hints for soldering your modchip.


General Tips

  • Tweezers are useful for picking up dropped screws.
  • Download all the diagrams you'll need and print them or arrange them on your screen.
  • Never work over the board. In fact, it is a good idea to cover the area you are not working on with a cardboard.
  • Too much solder is often the cause of botched installs.
  • Rosin flux is the secret when you have a spot where the solder refuses to fuse. You only need to apply a toothpick tip's worth to most locations.
  • Lay out the wires before beginning. Start with the right side if you are left-handed, the left side if you are right-handed.
  • Always heat the wire, not the chip or the board. One half-second is necessary for most connections.
  • Test each connection by tugging on the wire gently using your fingertips.
  • Route the wires carefully so they do not pass over any chips and tape them to the board before reassembling.
  • If you need solder, add it to the iron, transfer it to the wire, then clean the iron. Don't add it directly to the board.
  • Point the wire down on the contact or against the side, then heat the wire.

Equipment Needed

  • 15 watt (at most; 11 watt is better) soldering iron with fine tip
  • 0.10 mm solder tip (this is very thin, but 0.5 mm is okay too)
  • 30 or 35 awg kynar or similar wire
  • Thicker stranded wire for 3.3v, 5v and GROUND: 22 awg or similar
  • flux paste to help soldering
  • De-solder braid
  • A safety razor blade & Blue Tack to hold the blade in place
  • toothbrush
  • Thin double-sided tape to stick the wires on the motherboard and chips, or use hot glue (it can be removed with rubbing alcohol on a cotton bud)

Preparation Steps

Before soldering, it is useful to follow these preperatory instructions.

  • Clean all of the solder points with alcohol and an old toothbrush.

The soldering process is easier if you pre-solder the strip portion of the wire, as follows:

  • Melt some solder on the tip of the soldering iron
  • Dab some flux paste onto the end of the wire
  • Put the end of the wire over the tip of the iron, you'll see the end of the wire shine, and the wire will be coated (won't work with all the various kind of wires though)

It is also useful to pre-solder the copper pads on the board chip on the board, as follows:

  • Dab some flux paste on the copper pads on the motherboard using a toothpick (or something thin); do not use a metal point.
  • Touch the solder core and the iron to the pad to deposit some solder on the pad
  • Don't leave the iron over the pad for more than 1 or 2 seconds; the excesive heat could damage your board.
  • When you finish the installation, clean the points again with the toothbrush and solvent, it will remove the excess flux paste, and any extra solder.

During soldering

  • Solder using a two-hands method: put a small drop of lead on the wire, so you don't have to bring any more lead when soldering the wire onto the pins.
  • When soldering onto any find-pitched chip, put a thin razor blade between the pins so that you:
 * mark and recognize the pin you are soldering to (it is often difficult to count the pins, so using that, you don't solder to the wrong pin)
 * safen the previous solder, and you won't bridge the pins.
  • If you are soldering on the pins of a chip, put double-sided tape on the chip, solder the wire vertically, and when the solder is done, gently bend and stick the wire on the tape so it won't move afterward. Put another tape on all the wires when all the solders of the chip are done.

If you feel you are ready to become a "Fearless Soldering God", then go check:

Numbnut's guide to soldering Surface Mount devices (mirror 2005-03-13)

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