Best Way to Solder/Desolder Surface Mount Components

I recently got my hands on some old motherboards/PCB's, and even though I know reusing parts from old PCB's is not as good as using new parts, I was wondering what the best way is to solder/Desolder small surface mount components such as this:

• Blob of solder covering whole row of pins and hot tweezer (which is expensive but very useful). Somewhat less suitable is covering with solder blob and then heating with hot air. – venny Nov 8 '15 at 23:36
• @venny Hot tweezers? – Enthurzan Nov 8 '15 at 23:37
• For example the JBC PA120. Tweezer or tweezers, both spelling seem to be correct. – venny Nov 8 '15 at 23:44
• If the bottom of the board is completely flat, you can use a hot plate. Either use a purpose-built unit or put a thick (1") piece of aluminum on an electric griddle or fry pan. This works - I just removed some parts from a dead board using this method today. Note this is not a a great method if there are through-hole parts that stop the PCB substrate from sitting right on top of the hot surface. Even a small air gap reduces the heat transfer significantly. – Dwayne Reid Nov 9 '15 at 1:08
• If you're absolutely set on desoldering SMD components (which isn't really recommended, generally), I would use a heat gun and some tweezers. I would expect that is the most reliable way to heat up the pins evenly. – DerStrom8 Nov 9 '15 at 2:53

Redneck SMD removal: As you can see from the comments above, it depends what kind of equipment you have and what you are willing to buy. If you are trying to rescue random components from old circuit boards, I'm guessing you might not interested in spending hundreds on new equipment. I can give you a few tips when it comes to removing things with a simple soldering iron, solder, and some tweezers.

Two terminal devices are not too difficult, especially if they are small. The trick is to keep both sides hot at the same time so you can lift it off the board. Adding more solder to each pad provides some extra "thermal mass" so that the blobs of solder stay molten for longer after you move the iron away. Apply very slight upward pressure on the component with your tweezers while moving the soldering iron back and forth to the solder blobs on each side. Sometimes you have to move back and forth fairly quickly, pausing briefly at each side long enough to make a thermal connection. If you are having trouble with this add a bit more solder. This method also works for small chips, such as ones with a set of 4 pins on two sides.

Chips are more difficult, especially largish ones. If they are too big they are pretty much impossible with this method. As stated above, put a blob of solder over each set of pins. This adds thermal mass and makes it so you can heat up one set of pins all at the same time. Unfortunately, for larger chips you probably can't provide enough heat to such a large mass of solder to keep it molten using the "back and forth" method above. I also find it difficult to use tweezers in this case. Instead, I slip a thin, sharp object under a corner of the chip (such as an Xacto knife or very small flat head screwdriver) and apply slight upward leverage while slowly alternating between heating up each set of pins. The chip will slowly migrate upward off the board. The most important moment to be apply leverage is obviously as a set of pins goes from molten to non-molten; that is when it becomes cemented in its new position. Sometimes each little move upward is imperceptible, it can take a bit of effort.

The last step is to get the excess solder off the parts using something like soder-wick.

Obviously this process is very difficult and has a good change of damaging things! For better results, see more expensive equipment options noted above. If you don't care about the circuit board and nothing is working, you can always pry the component off with force -- if the pads rip off the board before the chip breaks, success! Then you can just unsolder the copper pads from the pins. This works well for sturdy components like potentiometers and large surface mount inductors and capacitors.

• Ps all of this is much easier if you secure the board in a vice first. If you don't have one, try setting something heavy on the edge of the board. – Magic Smoke Nov 10 '15 at 0:58

For some unknown reason, I felt compelled to perfect my skill at this very thing. I suppose it was a sense it would come in handy for rework or for recovering interesting components from electronic scrap boards.

The main thing I found is that pre-heating the board is critical. I suppose there are various improvised ways to do this, perhaps a blow dryer duct-taped to blow across the bottom of the board; but I use a Hakko FR-830:

Once the board is nice and toasty (say 100-120°C, maybe 3-5 minutes pre-heating), I use a hot air rework tool like this to heat the component I want from the top with maybe 270°C hot air:

Most components will come off very cleanly with a second or two of hot air applied from the top. Applying a paste flux helps keep too much solder from clinging to the leads of the removed component.

When I started, I just used the hot air from the top and that took a long time (20-30 seconds) and seemed to stress the components with heat. The capacitors in particular would start to smell. With the pre-heating, it's so quick it seems most components barely feel a thing :)

I know it's a bit of an investment, but if you're serious about it, I think a few hundred bucks for hot air will make you a lot better at it.

I found these videos helpful when I was exploring the process:

I use a $2 butane torch and a small screw driver. aim the torch, fire, and use the screw driver to push any parts that I need. It told only few seconds. of course, you can use$2000 pro de-soldering station, but why bother. these parts cost cents to a dollar.

• Sounds like a good way to fry random bond wires inside the part, so that you don't immediately notice that it is broken, but get to trouble-shoot it further down the line... very inexpensive, right? – Lundin Aug 13 '18 at 13:03