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Should a good RF engineer have a soldering capability?

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Anton89

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Hello,
I have an evaluation board of RF amplifiers. The board works with 5V supply, but it can work with 3V by changing a resistor.
This resistor is a very small SMT component.
Same board has two kind of mathing network, that can be changed by substituting the inductors and capacitors. This components are also very very small.

My question is this: for prototyping purpose, should a good RF enginner have also soldering capability for very little components? I know the soldering may also impact to RF system performance.

Many thanks.
Bye.

Antonio
 

Romansh

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Hi,
Definitely, a good RF&MW engineer should be very good at soldering. Of coarse, for the small components (0201, 0402, 0603) you should use microscope.

R.
 

Warpspeed

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RF engineering covers the heavy stuff you need a really large spanner to install, to really small surface mount components.

These days for board level work, that means a good illuminated stereo microscope, temperature controlled soldering station, and tweezers.

I am old enough to remember when people were complaining that through hole DIP packages were so small they were impossible to work with.
And over the years the miniaturisation problem has become steadily worse.

The way its going, in another twenty years you might need an electron microscope to even see the circuit board.
 

vfone

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This resistor is a very small SMT component.

Somebody who is complaining about replacing an SMT resistor, I am afraid he/she is not a "good RF engineer".

Perhaps in other Electronics domains you can live with this lack of knowledge, but not in RF/Microwave engineering, when sometimes just flipping an SMD component on the PCB, the performances of the circuit change dramatically.

Unfortunately I met some MIT and Stanford RF engineering graduates who have zero skills in soldering. And not even intend to learn. They work only on CAD simulators and open the lab door only to check if is somebody there...
 

DigitalDeath

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Antonio,

If you don't have proficiency in soldering it will severely limit your ability to understand the consequences of solder in RF circuits which happens to be very important. Experimenting by seeing the changes that different soldering techniques do in the same circuit is quite revealing and gives you insight for your designs for things like solder masks shapes, solder and flux selection and all kind of variables that affect RF performance that would not affect DC or low frequency designs.
 

sophiante

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I have been an RF engineer all my life. It all started 53 years ago with soldering proficiency along with teaching Ohms law. Everything else comes after that.

Danish engineer, 70 years old.
 

biff44

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if you are going to build stuff...YES!

Get two temperature controlled soldering irons with a very small pointed tip, and a microscope. you put one iron handle in left hand, other iron handle in right hand, and heat up both sides of the resistor chip until it floats off the board effortlessly. Then clean up one of the pads with some solder wick. Solder the replacement resistor one side first, then solder the 2nd side where you cleanned the solder off with the solder wick. Use some no-clean flux core solder. You will need a tiny pair of tweezers too.

Don't breath the solder flux smoke. A small fan blowing sideways will help
 

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