Soldering surface mount components can seem daunting when you’re used to through-hole soldering, but if you talk to people who solder SMD parts on the regular, they’ll often tell you they find it faster and easier to solder SMD than through-hole! Not having to flip the board for each component, and being able to solder an entire side of a chip in a single swipe means with practice you can really assemble boards quickly. This DIY Micro SD Card reader is not only a useful item to have, but it’s also a great way to get some practice soldering surface-mount components. The capacitors and resistors are 0603, so maybe you wouldn’t want to take this on as your first surface mount soldering project, but I’ve surprised myself by being able to solder 0402 resistors fairly reliably.
The design is nice and simple, just a MicroSD slot, a custom IC designed for this purpose, a few resistors and capacitors, an LED and the USB-A plug. This could be done with paste and hot air, or by hand using the proper soldering iron tip, lots of flux, and a good pair of tweezers. Magnification can make a big difference too — practicing soldering under a digital microscope is a good way to learn how these small components move and react to solder and different types of flux. I personally prefer a thick, paste flux so I can sort of stick the components to the board. Solder one lead to hold it in place, and then for chips I do the swipe technique, using solder braid if needed to get rid of solder bridges. And when you’re done, you’ll have a useful item to have around the lab! I seem to misplace SD card readers all the time, so it never hurts to have another one floating around.
There are a lot of excellent resources online to show you how to solder surface mount components; many YouTube videos show the view under the microscope so you get a clear view of what the soldering iron is doing. Challenge yourself and give it a shot! You’ll be an SMD pro in no time at all!