Monday, November 06, 2006


Instead of jumping on the bands this weekend and getting involved in the fury of the November Sweepstakes, I chose to "re-start" a building project.

I spent Saturday night with a strong light, a good magnifier; and a hot soldering iron working once again on my ATS-3 Sprint QRP radio kit.

This one is a toughie, perhaps the most difficult build I have ever undertaken. This kit is 99% surface mount technology. Just about everything I have put together up to this point has been conventional "through hole" construction.

What makes the job so difficult is the size of the components. Talk about super tiny! Some of these devices are not all that much bigger than the head of a pin; and that's no exaggeration.
Making sure you have the right device; then placing it on the board and then soldering it in place is a time consuming task. It takes a bit of getting used to; but if you have a REALLY, REALLY fine tipped soldering iron, you should do okay. It is very important to handle the devices very, very carefully though. Drop it on the floor; or accidentally sneeze or something; and you are in deep doo-doo. The item in question will be gone forever!

In this case, it is critical to take your time; double check your work and use a lot of Solder Wick to sop up excess solder. Inadvertant short circuits via solder bridges are easy to create if you are not careful!

73 de Larry W2LJ

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