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So I'm going to repackage this breakout module for simple SPI with a bus-powered LED light strip. It seems expensive and unnecessary for advanced SMT assembly equipment and since its a small PCB with only a few SMDs. What techniques should I employ for this simple SMT assembly?

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Don't be afraid of SMT work, it's easy once you get the hang of it - just as easy as through hole with the right equipment.

A few tips - in the same spirit as the useful Sparkfun tutorial Vicatcu mentions, just from my personal view:

  • Grab yourself a half decent temperature controlled soldering iron and hot air tool - these can be separate or in one "rework station". The YH899D is a very cheap rework station which performs very well for the price - I have one here and have used it plenty for a year or so with no problems (for TQFP, QFN, SOIC, 0603 R&C, etc) The tips are compatible with Hakko irons so easy to find.

Rework Station

Tweezers

  • Design a PCB and get it made cheaply. ITead or SeedStudio both have very cheap prototyping services (from only $9.90 for 10 boards! - hard to beat even if you make your own). ITead has a 4-layer option, which is the only cheap one I know about (used it a few times with no issues)
    The wait can be up to 3-4 weeks (generally quicker)

  • Whilst waiting for the board you may want to practice soldering/desoldering on some old boards. There are loads of tutorials around for SMT soldering, some good answers on here too, so I won't go into detail apart from a few small points: flux is your friend, make sure you have plenty of it and use it liberally. Learn to drag solder for the fine pitch ICs - TQFP, SOIC, etc; get a hoof tip for this. Get some good quality wick to clean up bridges.

  • Get more than one of each component so if you make a mess you can try again - you'll have 10 boards to get it right with if you use one of the services above.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition to all the above I really like to have a good pick for clearing shorts while drag soldering: stanleysupplyservices.com/product-detail.aspx?pn=475-991 I can do it faster and without wick that way. With a little practice you should be able to do something simple like that in no time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ For prototyping PCB services, BatchPCB can't be beat if you only need one board($2.50/sq inch+$10 for setup fee (setup fee only applied once per run of boards)) and OSHPark can't be beat if you want to have more than 1 board($5/sq inch for 3 boards no setup fee) \$\endgroup\$
    – Earlz
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 2:50

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