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I'll soon need to test and work with SMD components, but these components are very small, about 2.5 mm x 2.5 mm (DFN package for example).

I had a simple question that I can't answer despite my searches. Do bases for placing SMD components on exist?

What I mean by that, is a component (SMD or Through-Hole) easier to solder on a PCB where I could place and remove a SMD component.

If yes, what is the name of such a component?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No. There is not. This has been asked before. Hot tweezers is the closest thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 31, 2020 at 13:07

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The answer is, for some SMD packages, yes.

The component you are looking for is called a socket.

Digikey, for instance has an enormous number of sockets available, including those for BGA, PLCC and QFN packages. Many of these are designed to allow through-hole soldering to the board.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's exactly what I was looking for. Seems easy to install and I'll do research arount it to find the right one. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Adrien G.
    Apr 1, 2020 at 7:08
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There are breakout boards that allow you to solder the SMD part and then use it in something like a solderless breadboard or a lash-up by soldering to the large holes or adding headers to plug it in. You still have to solder the SMD part to the board once. The Chinese ones work fine. Photo from Aliexpress. You can probably find ones through the normal distribution channels as well.

enter image description here

This is a great way to play with new parts, test tiny things like 0402 LEDs and so on.

If you want to completely avoid soldering to the SMT part, there are sockets however they are huge and expensive and generally designed for applications such as programming SOT-23 MCUs. Not really a viable option.


Another option is to buy an evaluation board, if one is available from the chip manufacturer, or a 3rd party module such as those from Adafruit. This may be the most practical approach to deal with a BGA package in the early prototype stage. And sometimes the part you want to use is available in a more "friendly" package as an option, so you can use that and change to the unfriendly type for production.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OP could also design and order his own custom PCB and order them if the SMD parts are not very common \$\endgroup\$
    – QuickishFM
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ This technique is fairly common in my experience. If a significant design change is needed due to a part swap-out (bigger part for a smaller one, for example)), we'll actually design a mini-pwb, usually 2-4 layers, that we'll mount the new part and supporting components on, then mount and wire it to the existing circuit card. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something like this can be useful but we still need to sold the component. I would have like to clip it or something like that. But thanks for the answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – Adrien G.
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd add that "Surfboard" is a common non-Chinese product along the lines of your breakout boards. Doubtlessly more expensive though. \$\endgroup\$
    – IceGlasses
    Apr 1, 2020 at 0:33
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Even if you may find compatible boards as shown in Spehro Pefhany's answer, it's very difficult to solder DFN or QFN packages manually. Even on an assembly line it's not easy. You need to apply solder paste in very tiny but exact amounts with very high precision. Then heat with a hot air solder gun. Succeeding or not is a question of luck.

The biggest problem is that you can't check the connections as the pins are hidden beneath the ic and not accessible to your multimeter probe. So debugging your circuit will be painfull as you will never know whether your schematic is wrong or the ic is not properly connected.

If possible use a package with visible pins (with the largest spread between pins available). If not possible, try to find a demo board (Development Board or Kit) for this ic. Sometimes they are expensive but will save you a lot of time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be a tremendous pain to solder DFN and QFN parts with solder paste and hot air. It is far less painful to hand solder them with a regular soldering iron with a small tip and 0.5mm diameter solder. I've done it. You obviously can't do thermal pads under the part that way, but you can't do those with hot air, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRE
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ JRE Doing this with an iron is ok if the pads are visible on the side of the package, It's not always the case. And the risk of bridging two pins is high. I imagine you are experienced in soldering. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fredled
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah the issue is that I really don't want to solder it, if possible. We could ask for a manufacturer to do it for us, but we'd prefer to do things on our own. Thanks for the answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – Adrien G.
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that for common enough chips, you can buy them pre-soldered onto breakout boards like the ones Spehro mentioned. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @A.Gerber The advantage of asking a manufacturer is that you can add other components you are sure will figure in the final BOM (like bypass capacitors). These components can be easily replaced if you need. And it costs practically the same to assemble one ic and one ic + half a dozen of other components. The disadvantage is that you have to wait several weeks to be delivered. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fredled
    Mar 31, 2020 at 20:36
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In Canada there's a company that'll blow your socks off. Proto Advantage (proto-advantage.com/store/index.php) They will even order and mount an ic from digikey on the adapter of your choice. Mind you it is costly but if you absolutely need to breadboard they are THE source!

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Search for surfboards at digikey.com

Part number MK-9000CA-ND

Also Aries makes adapters where you solder the smt device and it becomes a dip package. Search for Aries Adapters on digikey.com

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