Ever since Introspect Technology’s inception in 2012 , we have been driven by making life easier for hardware, test, and product engineers. Beyond the test and measurement challenges you may be facing, and for which we continuously develop solutions for, we also know how tricky soldering probe tips can be. By the end of this Probe Tip Soldering Guide, you will know the exact steps to take to solder probe tips, and you can easily come back to this guide in the future.
First, make sure you have easy access to the items below, as these are required:
- Soldering station: A soldering station with a fine tip and tip cleaning supplies are needed
- Hot air station: Hot air is required to melt the hot glue
- Solder: Thin diameter solder wire is required
- Flux: No clean tacky flux in a syringe is recommended
- Solder wick: Solder wick absorbs excess solder that has been applied
- Tweezers: Fine tweezers are required to manipulate the tip leads
- Exacto knife: A knife may be required to scrape solder mask to expose ground plane
- Microscope: Soldering tips is extremely difficult without a microscope
- Hot glue gun: Hot glue is used to secure the tips to the PCB/FPC
- Isopropyl alcohol, brush and wipes: It is recommended to use alcohol (99.9%) and a small brush to clean flux residue after soldering is complete
- Compressed air: Compressed air is used after brushing with alcohol
At a Glance
- Decide where the ground lead will be attached and scrape off solder mask if necessary
- Clean the PCB/FPC with alcohol and microfiber wipe
- Find something that can prop up the tip at an angle
- Apply hot glue to where the tip will touch the surface
- Use hot air to further melt the glue so the tip is properly attached
- Use tweezers to manipulate the leads onto the pads/traces
- Apply flux to the area and solder the leads onto the pads/traces
- Manipulate the excess lead back and forth to break it off
- Clean area carefully with alcohol and brush
- Use compressed air to blow the alcohol off
- Use alcohol and wipes to clean any residual residue
Step-by-Step Guide with Accompanying Visuals
1. Scrape solder mask to expose ground if necessary and tin with flux and solder. For example, see the red circle in the following illustration. This is a ground pad that is covered with solder mask. After carefully scraping the mask off the same pad looks shiny as in the illustration on the right hand side.
2. Clean with alcohol.
3. Find something to angle the tip toward the PCB/FPC. This reduces the length of the leads. (This is not necessary for the Introspect single-ended PV1 tips or single ended PV2 tips that can lay flat.)
In the above illustration, we have used the end of a small zip tie and inserted underneath the heat shrink of the probe tip.
4. Apply hot glue to the tip where it will contact the PCB/FPC.
5. Use hot air to melt the glue so it adheres to the surface.
Hold the tip down in the intended position until the glue cools. Excessive heat is not required to melt the hot glue.
6. Use tweezers to bend the leads onto the pads. The leads should be as short as possible.
7. Apply flux to the area in preparation of soldering.
Do not over manipulate the leads as they are easily damaged.
And now solder the leads to the pads.
Do not leave the iron tip on the pad/lead for long. Excessive heat may desolder the lead and/or damage the PCB/FPC.
8. Bend the excess lead back and forth until it breaks off.
9. Clean area with alcohol and brush.
10. Use compressed air to blow off alcohol.
11. Use alcohol and wipes to clean surrounding area.
With planning and careful manipulation of the probe tips, you can properly install them into the most tight of spaces. If you have found this guide helpful, make sure to share it with your network and with your colleagues! Looking for another type of guide useful to hardware engineers? Let us know by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org