300 Tip: Working on Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards. We love them because they can make amplifier production faster, easier and consistent. We hate them because if you are not careful you can burn up a circuit trace making a simple component tweak a repair job…yay.

I have found over the years that if you are going to repair or tweak and amp with a printed circuit board (pcb) you should follow a couple guidelines. First make sure you set the heat of the soldering iron only as hot as you need. This almost goes without saying but important to know. Using excessive heat can destroy the thin, flimsy modern circuit traces. Some of the older amps have much heavier traces which can withstand more heat. So set your iron accordingly.

Second is you want to heat the solder joint, solder your component and get the iron off the part as fast as possible. You have to make sure you have a good, solid solder joint in the end but you do not want to linger there with the iron.

Third thing you can do is use what are called heat sinks. Basically the type of heat sink I’m talking about is a little clip type of gizmo that clips to a component that you are soldering. The heat sink keeps the component from overheating. You can use these on nearby components to help dissipate the heat a bit faster after you have made your solder connection on the pcb.

The trick is to be careful of the amount of heat to get the job done and the duration of the heat applied to the solder joint. If you follow these simple guidelines they will help you from ruining a circuit trace. I suggest that if you are going to attempt a repair or component swap on a pcb you should find a non-working board to practice on…especially if you have little or no experience. These are delicate little things and if you burn one you will have to repair it. There are repair techniques that I will get into in a future post. So…watch your heat and don’t linger on that pcb! Hit me up if you have any questions..!!!

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