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Sockets allow easy replacement of a device and eliminates the risk of damage from overheating during soldering. [Wikipedia]

I personally never (ever) replace these ICs. For programming microcontrollers (as a hobbyist) I use a dedicated pin header. So the only reason for me to use DIP sockets is to prevent overheating.

Now I'm a cheapskate (student) so I would not want to buy any of these sockets if they are not absolutely necessary. However, I find it hard to decide whether I need them.

Given that my DIP-packages cost around €2.50 each, should I protect them with DIP-sockets?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered that you might want to save money by reusing an IC on another board? Desoldering DIPs can be a pita, especially on boards with much copper and tiny holes. \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Oct 25 '17 at 10:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ You get tens of socket for a dollar on the fleabay. There are many reasons to not use sockets, but cost ain't one of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Dampmaskin Oct 25 '17 at 10:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Sockets" brings back memories, not all pleasant. I think the last time I used a IC socket was so I could plug in the ICE instead of the real microcontroller. That was probably around 15 years ago. The last time I used a socket for a non-microcontroller IC was probably in the 1980s due to the prototypes being wire wrapped. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Oct 25 '17 at 10:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you use sockets, you always have to bear in mind that an additional failure mode, when you're debugging, could be poor contact between the socket and the IC pin. I've only had one or two per decade through my engineering career, few enough to lull you into a false sense of security, enough to be a major hiccup when you forget the possibility. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil_UK Oct 25 '17 at 10:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop to each his own; On the contrary - I actually used sockets for virtually all of my projects from the last 5 years. AFAIK, you're a professional (I'm speaking in the literal sense, i.e. somebody who does something for a living), so obviously yeah, in "serious" designs IC sockets went mostly obsolete a long time ago (for the obvious reasons, DIP going mostly obsolete for most of the applications being the first of them); still, in small scale prototyping and hobby design, they can be real lifesavers (e.g. having a programmer and needing to program 50 ATtinies out of circuit etc.). \$\endgroup\$ – vaxquis Oct 25 '17 at 23:35

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If you are not going to swap / change / reprogram your ICs just solder them. I have never overheated any DIP IC during the soldering. It is not easy to overheat them. Maybe 40 years ago ICs were more sensitive but nowadays it is not the issue,

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    \$\begingroup\$ But if you ever have to remove a component, sockets are a great blessing. \$\endgroup\$ – Hot Licks Oct 28 '17 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Specific circumstances may require a socket. I did not write to do not use it, just shared my opinion about overheating. But even on the development stage sockets may cause a lots of troubles \$\endgroup\$ – P__J__ Oct 28 '17 at 14:44
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If you're in a design stage, a socket can turn a real pain in the neck into a momentary problem, allowing you to swap out that microcontroller with, say, a burned out DIO, with a brand new one, in seconds. Otherwise, break out the iron.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nowadays modern micros are not manufactured as DIPs. IMO you write about the obsolete technology \$\endgroup\$ – P__J__ Oct 28 '17 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that would be because the question isabout that technology, @PeterJ_01 \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Oct 28 '17 at 22:35
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If you are skilled in soldering, overheating the DIP package while soldering shouldn't be a problem. Also, the sockets can introduce problems themselves due to bad contact. Just keep the soldering short, below 3 seconds per pin as a rule of thumb.

Sockets are great when you are working on a prototype and there is a real chance of blowing up the IC during testing, e.g. a stepper motor driver or similar.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I did not yet know this 3-second rule. :D \$\endgroup\$ – dsprenkels Oct 25 '17 at 18:09
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Breaking the chip due to overheating during soldering should be very rare. However, if you have the chip soldered down and end up breaking it during testing, it is very helpful to know this trick:

Instead of trying to desolder all the pins of the broken IC, just cut them off with pliers and then clean up the holes with the iron.

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Good answers here already...

I'll add my two cents worth. ( Though I guess that's a nickel now we ditched the penny in Canada. )

When prototyping the first go around of a board and your confidence level is not that great in the design or PCB, sockets often make debug and rework a lot easier.

With a socket, you have the ability to quickly "lift" a pin. That is, remove the IC from the socket, bend out one or more pins, and put the device back in the socket. That way you can easily isolate sections of the circuit and or feed in test signals without frying something.

It also makes rework to change the design a lot easier. e.g. change logic, add series parts etc. Use the same lifted pin method and fly-wire as need be.

As others have mentioned, you do risk having poorer connections, so it is prudent to buy better than junk-store sockets, but for early design work, they can save you a lot of time.

Once your design and PCB is verified though, drop the sockets for everything other than programmed parts that may change in the future.

I usually keep the first off socketed board as a gold standard in case I need to add features or debug some weird field issue down the road.

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I've broken many more ICs trying to pry them from DIP sockets than from heat or ESD damage from soldering directly. Even using a chip extractor can be risky.

That said, in the analog world DIP sockets have been useful for trying out different op-amps for audio applications. You can try one US$10 op-amp, stick in a US$0.50 one, realize they sound the same, and then tsk-tsk yourself for not believing they would.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ You're using 80% of the answer screen estate with a superfluous eye-grabbing image that doesn't even show the items you discuss. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Oct 25 '17 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pipe 'Even using a chip extractor can be risky.' Above is a chip extractor. Once I figure out how to reduce an image size I'll update it. \$\endgroup\$ – calcium3000 Oct 25 '17 at 17:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Except the question and your answer is exclusively about DIL/DIP sockets and this is a PLCC extractor. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Oct 25 '17 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pipe Ah, well I've always used them interchangeably. Look, I changed it! And used my MS Paint skills to make it only take up 60% of the answer space! Does that float your boat? \$\endgroup\$ – calcium3000 Oct 25 '17 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @calcium3000: Tip: add 's', 'm' or 'l' before the '.' in the imgur link filename (png or jpg) for small, medium or large. \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor Oct 25 '17 at 19:43
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Using socket packages have some cons and pros. Usually with the cost of integrated circuits rising, it is good general advice to maintain the chip for the next time use. But sockets, most often cheap ones, might find oxidation over time so your electrical connections may be lost. Also the PCB traces would be covered by the socket frame which prevent you from seeing the traces. However, a solution to this is to use DIP terminals, which are available separately without the plastic frame. These not only improve the PCB trace visibility but also thermal management.

So all in all you might find using a DIP socket (or DIP terminals) very useful especially when you're going to make changes to the firmware for many times. Many of integrated circuits are also very sensitive to heat so time for sockets.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I mostly use a separate pin header for firmware changes. Which kinds of ICs are sensitive to heat? (Newbie here. :P) \$\endgroup\$ – dsprenkels Oct 25 '17 at 13:45
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In 10 years of working in the microcontroller world, I've never used a socket and never regretted it. The risk of having a bad contact in a socket is real. Old computers are notoriously unreliable because of sockets. On old computers, many times you have to push on every chip to reseat and "clean up" the contacts to the socket.

I would not worry about heat damage from soldering. Chips are designed for reflow ovens where the whole chip gets hot. If you are soldering individual pins, the shock is much less to the chip.

Hint for removal of chips: use EXTRA solder on all the pins and drown the entire chip in solder and solder flux. Then you can easily remove the chip with just a soldering iron. Or chop all the pins off with a knife and remove each pin separately.

A coworker once remarked how robust certain micros were. He was a fan of PICs. In one case, he said that a particular PIC got so hot because of an external short that the solder on the PIC melted and the chip fell off the board. He cleaned it up and reattached it and the PIC still worked.

(That said, my experience with SiLabs 8051s is that they are not that robust)

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    \$\begingroup\$ "If you are soldering individual pins, the shock is much less to the chip." Not necessarily. This is really a topic for a packaging engineer, but thermal shock can be caused by localized or fast temperature ramp up, both of which you get when you touch molten solder to a single pin while the rest of the chip is room temperature. That's why reflow ovens have ramp-up profiles and why you should be careful about the time you spend on each pin when hand-soldering. \$\endgroup\$ – jalalipop Oct 27 '17 at 14:30
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I Never overheated my ICs and even if I use microcontrollers I just reprogram them with wires just soldered directly to the pins. Also I add pin groups for reprogramming the IC if it is only a home-use PCB. But if you are worried about the overheating just solder one pin and let it for 5 secounds to cool down. So I don't see any reason to use sockets.

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The hobby boards (such as Arduino) are totally unsuitable for DIP's. Best to put the DIP into a good socket, and find a way to connect that to the hobby breadboard.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer is rather confusing. How can you put a DIP on to an Arduino board? There is no where to put it. Or do you mean a prototyping shield for an Uno? Breadboard? Stripboard/veroboard? Or regular protoboard? Breadboards are fine for ICs, that what breadboard were designed for. Besides, there is no soldering involved with breadboards. The OP was asking about preventing damage to an IC during the soldering process. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenonline Nov 3 '18 at 4:25

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