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SparkFun Simon Says SMD Soldering Kit – Great intro to SMD

SparkFun has multiple Simon Says kits for sale: there is a Through-Hole Soldering Kit ($24.95) for learning to solder thru-hole components, and the Surface Mount Soldering Kit ($27.95) for learning to solder surface-mount device (SMD) components. Today I’ll be reviewing the latter.

The Pros

As this is a beginner board, SparkFun is very generous with the spacing of components so that you have plenty of room to solder, without accidentally creating a solder bridge. The one
exception to this is the ATmega chip which I will discuss below. The kit includes 1-2 spare SMD resistors / capacitors, which is helpful because the components are very small and it’s very easy to lose track of them. If you want to be extra creative, SparkFun designed the board so that you can program a new game using an in-system programmer (ISP), and you can also incorporate functions using the ATmega’s analog IN and RX/TX peripherals. These all require soldering extra header pins but that is an easy task. Once you have finished assembling the board, you can flip a switch to turn sound on/off while playing a game.

The Cons

SparkFun could improve the kit’s assembly instructions – I would change the assembly order so that the first component you solder to the board is the ATmega chip. This would eliminate the possibility of boxing yourself in after soldering other components. The kit does not come with a roll of solder wick or a flux pen/paste; if you order this board I recommend having them in case you need to fix a bad joint or a solder bridge.

Overall a solid kit for those wanting to get started with SMD soldering.

Benjamin Daniels
CIRC Member since 2013

February 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Reviews | No comment

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