Junk box

Removing the parts from PCBs

Yesterday I had a less busy day. Partly due to Halloween and All Saints’ Day, not much to do at work than to go over older emails, looking over missed tasks etc. I would rule for one such day each second week at last. It is incredible how well keeps you organized and how efficient you can get in your daily work if you have time to review things you did, will do or need to prioritize. The mind is a beautiful thing. But it needs to take some break from time to time, to engulf all those pieces and bits you put into. And you need time for that. To put thoughts and stuff to do in another perspective, rule out things that are obsolete, re-check to-do’s and review your weekly agenda, set priorities… I am talking about my office work now, not my hobbies. But this is valid for in any situation.

Anyway. I started today to remove all electronic parts from those boards I’ve scavenged the day before. I have two soldering irons, both Weller. One, my gem, is the Weller WD 1000M. I use that for fine work and, honestly, you cannot find a better tool for such work:

The tips have temperature sensors and you can preset the station with up to three set temperatures:

WMRP "pencil" and RT3 soldering tip: the RT3 soldering tip is hot-swappable

WMRP „pencil” and RT3 soldering tip: the RT3 soldering tip is hot-swappable

I started a series reviewing the WD 1000M but I did it immediately after I purchased it from Germany (and still have to complete the review). This station is much more cheaper there. But at the time of the review I had almost no experience working with it and it was purely descriptive.

Almost two years after and several hundred hours of projects, I can say that it is definitely worth the money.

My second soldering station is also a Weller, a smaller entry-level named WHS 40 D. This looks like a toy, but be not fooled. It is a very sturdy tool. And it is also electronically–controlled:


Although smaller and not so polished as its luxury sister, the WD 1000M, the entry–level WHS 40D is excellent too. It has a larger pen (wider) which makes it perfect for soldering bigger parts and applying heat over larger components.

I am using this when I do not need precision or I have to care for thermal stress, and is excellent for soldering larger parts because the tip is considerably wider and chunkier than the WMRP removable tips provided with the 1000M. See here a side–by–side comparison between these pens:

WMRP vs WHS 40 D

WMRP soldering „pencil” and WHS 40D soldering pen.
Note the difference in size considering that WHS 40D pen has a 3 mm tip.

I used the WHS 40D today to desolder all usable parts from the boards I salvaged the day before. At the end of the day I ended up with quite a bit of components and four broken PCBs that I will probably not use (or will I). I want to scan them. I need some picture of these and I thought of using my camera. Then it came to my mind that I could probably get better (and flatter) results if I scan them. Some component pinout (most importantly the RF amplifier) is marked on the board — the silkscreen — and it might prove useful in the future, when I use it in a project, to have a picture of there, for reference.

These are the parts I saved and the remnants of the PCB:


A pile of capacitors, transistors, RF chokes, inductors and resistors.
And an RF amplifier (the one on the left) quite handy for some 400 Mhz projects I have in mind. All will prove useful.

PCB parts

One of the PCB parts after removal of the electronics.

I haven’t decided yet if I will throw away the PCBs. I was thinking of cutting them in rectangles and remove the jagged margins. Some areas might be useful for prototypes considering that it seem they are of very good quality (the copper did not go away even with repeated thermal stress). Will have to see. Next step is to identify all values of the electronic parts and take a closer look at the transistors. I am sure will have some pleasant surprises.

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