What Every Geek Needs to Know About Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Assembling a printed circuit board (PCB) at home has turned into a hobby for a lot of technology geeks who love to tinker with different stuff on their free time. This hobby has been made easier by the availability of PCB components that can be bought at very affordable prices. This affordability is thanks in part to the steep competition between many manufacturers in building the best PCB that would further modernize their products.

Why the competition? Well, manufacturers have to stay ahead of the technological race by introducing better multi-function gadgets that promise to give consumers great value for their money, especially if the gadgets are small enough to fit into pockets.

But before trying to assemble your own printed circuit board, the following tools would first have to be readily available :

• Wire cutter
• Pliers
• Soldering iron

Pcb assemblyThese three tools are the primary necessities for assembling a printed circuit board. The wire cutter and pliers have to be the small-sized ones to make it easier to maneuver around the often-tiny spaces of the PCB base board. There should also be a mat that prevents too much static from building so that the individual can ensure his own safety while assembling the PCB.
The following tools are optional though it would help to have them handy just in case they’re needed :

• Magnifiers
• Dental probe
• Work light
• Ohm or volt multimeter tester

During the actual assembly, it would also be best if there is a damp sponge that can be used for cleaning the tip of the soldering iron in-between the process of soldering the different connections. This way, the individual would ensure that errors are minimized because there wouldn’t be any excess connections on the tip of the iron that would get in the way.

Before starting with the actual assembly of the printed circuit board, it is necessary to first choose the type of technology for placing the different components onto the board.

There are 3 main PCB technologies, namely :

1. Surface Mount Technology or SMT

This can be taken quite literally because this process entails mounting each component right on top of the PCB’s surface. The mounting is usually done by soldering each component by its metal cap onto the surface that is allotted for it on the PCB.

2. Plated Through Hole or PTH technology

This process makes use of the holes that are already pre-drilled onto each component. Tiny pins are inserted onto the holes. These are then soldered onto pads on the opposite side of the PCB.

3. Mixed technology

This process makes use of both SMT and PTH for attaching the components onto the PCB. A lot of tech geeks feel that it is best to do the SMT process first and then follow this up with the PTH technology. This way, the components are attached more securely to the PCB.

Once the technology has been chosen, it is now time to attach the components onto the printed circuit board. Beginners wouldn’t have a problem in doing this part because all they would have to do is follow the schematic drawing when soldering each component onto the board. Once all the components are attached, the individual should then use the volt meter for testing the resistance level of each of the PCB’s components.

Of course, he has to make sure that no component shows an infinite or high resistance level because this means that the PCB would not work and he would have to do the process all over again using entirely different components.