Most of the components on a computer motherboard require precision and advanced soldering techniques for replacement. But you can learn these skills with practice. Don't try it on your new computer. Use a motherboard from an obsolete computer or an old cell phone. Find a clean, well-lit work area and get a good, precision soldering iron with small tips and controlled heat. Soon you will be able to replace surface mounted devices (SMDs) on a computer motherboard.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Precision soldering iron
- Sponge, dampened
- Small gauge 60/40 solder wire, rosin core
- Rosin soldering flux
- Solder wick
- Precision tweezers
Plug your soldering iron in to allow it to heat up and stabilise.
Clean the tip of your soldering iron by touching solder to it and then wiping it clean on your dampened sponge. The tip should be shiny. Do this every time you use the iron before you touch it to the connection.
Apply flux to the end of the solder wick then hold it against the connection from which you need to remove solder. Heat the solder wick with your iron. The solder will seep onto the solder wick. Do this for every pin of the connection you want to remove.
Use the tweezers to gently break loose each pin connection on the component. If necessary, straighten the pins to allow the component to slip easily out of its mounting holes. Lift the component out of the circuit board with your fingers or the tweezers, depending on its size.
Straighten all the pins of the component so that they align with all the holes on their connection points. Some connections have through-holes and other have cups. For through-holes, push all pins through and bend them over to hold the component in place. For cups, heat one corner cup and fill it with solder. Heat the matching pin and melt a tiny amount of solder onto it. Heat the cup and insert the pin. Do the same with the opposite corner then insert all pins into their respective cups.
Solder each pin connection individually, cleaning the tip of your iron each time. Work slowly and carefully. On through-hole connections, touch the tip of your iron to the connection and hold the solder to the connection but never to the iron. Allow the solder to flow onto the joint. For cups, heat the cup and hold the solder in it along with the pin until the solder melts.
Wait for the connections to cool then clean off any flux residue with solvent and the brush, then wipe the solvent off with the rag.
Tips and warnings
- Use a brush with non-metallic bristles for cleanup.
- Use a soldering tip on your iron no larger than the connection you solder.
- Use the smallest diameter solder wire you can to get the connection you need. Tiny amounts of solder do the job.
- The tip should be hot enough that solder melts instantly when touched to it.
- Turn the power off of your computer before trying to solder the motherboard.
- Be careful not to overheat components. Always remove the iron as soon as the solder melts.
- Be careful not to burn component surfaces or wiring with your soldering iron. Use as small an iron as possible.
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