Buy Boards & Parts:
The Soundwerx Designs DoodleBug

Construction Preparation

Proper preparation in soldering an SMD PCB can't be over-emphasized. Find a good day, a good time of day, and try to relax. This can contribute to steady hands and a clear focus. It can mean the difference between having fun in doing this or creating loads of frustration. At right, you'll see the table I use at home to build projects. There are many methods of organization and this setup makes no particular claim at being ideal. However, it should be able to give you an idea for your own setup. With these ideas you should be able to organize your own workplace and ensure your chances of success in building the DoodleBug.

At left:
From left to right - the DoodleBug BOM, hand tools, a roll of Kester rosin-core eutectic solder (0.025" dia), my building board (1x10 finish-pine) on a non-skid foam mouse pad, the DoodleBug PCB held in a set of helping hands ($1.99 Harbor Freight special) on the building board, a solder flux-pen, de-soldering braid, brass wool for soldering iron cleaning (better than a water sponge), and finally - my Hakko 936 (7 years old and still going strong). In between the solder iron and the brass wool, you'll see the base for a high-intensity LED lamp.

At left:
Hand tools include detail scissors, smooth-jaw pliers, curved-tip detail tweezers (see Overview), and quality flush cutters.
The smooth-jaw needle-nose pliers were purchased from Harbor Freight for $1.99, and the scissors came from a first-aid kit. Don't scrimp on the flush cutters. Those pictured are a quality pair that were purchased at Mouser.
As mentioned in the DoodleBug overview, the tweezers are the single most important item in assembling an SMD board. These shown are ESD-safe and use curved tips. I got them at Frys, but there are many other sources available.

Electrical tape comes in handy for protecting the edges of the board from the Helping Hands alligator clips. The de-soldering braid helps to clean up mistakes. The flux pen may be the second most important tool for assembling SMD - it allows you to put a very sticky, liquid flux right where it's needed. The flux is so sticky that it can actually help to hold the parts in place while soldering. The solder is a 63-37 eutectic, rosin-core solder that's 0.025" in diameter. That's almost too big, but smaller solder will break too easily. A Leatherman knife (not shown this time) is optional, of course, but seems to be a most handy tool. It keeps the table uncluttered with knifes, screwdrivers, files, etc. that might be used only once - if used at all.


Here is a set of helping hands - as mentioned before, not very expensive: about $1.99 when on sale at Harbor Freight. Note the pieces of electrical tape to protect the edges of the board from scratches from the alligator clips.

These helping hands come with a magnifying glass, which comes in handy for inspecting the pins of PCM chips (in this case, the ADuM3160). However, in this instance, the odd position of the magnifying glass is actually functioning as an additional support for the DoodleBug board. You want to make sure that the helping hands is holding the board so that you can apply a reasonable amount of force without tipping over.

file last changed:Friday, October 31, 2014 7:22:06 AM
Please contact the DoodleBug webmaster for questions about these web pages.