Basic PCB Repair Tool Kit

by Andy on February 23, 2009

We found this video on Youtube from The Science Channel show How It’s Made. You’ll get to see how PCB boards, specifically video cards, are made. If you’ve never had a chance to see how a circuit board is made, and you’re a little bit of a “tech geek” like us, we think you’ll like this video. It’s a pretty cool process to watch. Thought it was appropriate for today’s post.

Before you get started repairing a circuit board there are a few things you should have on hand. These are some of the most used tools and materials for any PCB repair job however your particular job may require more or less. For instance, sometimes it is advised to gently heat the circuit board to prevent any component from going through thermal shock because of heating just one area of the board. A PCB heater didn’t make it on the list because we didn’t feel it was as heavily utilized as the other tools.

Consult a professional and/or your spec sheets before attempting to repair any circuit board.

1. ESD Workstation – Of course, you want to make sure you’re working on a safe workspace. Take care to make sure your workstation is ESD safe. You don’t want all your hard work to be in vain when you repair your PCB just to have it zapped by static.2. Magnifying Equipment – Like the doctor ready to perform an intricate operation, the circuit board tech needs to be able to see every fine detail. You can accomplish this with a headband style magnifier with light or with an illuminated magnifier on an arm that you can clamp down onto your workstation. The pro may be using a binocular stereo-zoom microscope for repairs.

3. Soldering – A good soldering iron or station is obviously necessary when repairing your circuit board. Depending on your needs, you can find soldering irons from professional stations and industrial irons to lightweight and cordless irons.

4. Desoldering Equipment – Removing old solder can get messy if you don’t have the right tools. Typically you’ll have a desoldering pump that, when the old solder is melted using a soldering iron, heat gun or butane torch, is easily sucked up into the pump. You can find desoldering guns with pump combos that make things a little easier. Another method is using a desoldering braid. These come in spools of braided specially treated fine copper threads that act as a wick and soak up the molten solder then solidify in the wick.

5. Drilling and Grinding Tools – In case you need to re-drill the connecting holes on your board, a micro drill or precision drill system will be very handy. Plus, dragging out the old bulky hand drill can be too much for the board to handle and completely destroy your circuit board. A good micro grinding tool is very helpful when removing dried epoxy or solder.

6. Eyelets with Eyelet Press – Eyelets are needed to repair through holes to connect wires to the board. They are crimped down onto the board using the eyelet press. They are used frequently when repairing boards and come in various sizes so make sure you have several different sizes on hand. The inside diameter should be 0.003” – 0.035” larger than the diameter of the component lead.

We’ll finish out with a video that shows how a circuit board was repaired for a Hoshizaki Machine. You’ll notice he uses several of the tools mentioned above.

Want to make your life a little easier? Check out our 415 piece PCB repair starter kit!

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