Prototyping with Surface Mount Adapter Boards

This quick article shows how to use surface mount adapter boards such as the Adafruit “13-pack” 1230 as pictured in Figure 1. It serves as a sidebar for a larger piece concerned with driving MOSFETs using an Arduino microcontroller – link to be added soon.

Figure 1: Picture showing the Adafruit 1230 “13-pack” SMT adapter PCB, header, and SOT23 MOSFETs ready for assembly.

Required components

Adapter boards such as the Adafruit 1230 are easily found in DigiKey’s Adapter, Breakout Boards section. The Würth Elektronik 61304011121 may be found in the Headers, Male Pins section. The surface mount components such as the pictured Diodes Incorporated DMN67D8L-7 MOSFET are found in their respective semiconductor sections.

Procedure

The featured MOSFET has a SOT23 package. This is among the smallest components that can be hand soldered. You can follow a similar procedure as shown in Video 1. Notice that the breadboard may be used to hold the larger components in place. You may need to get creative with a clamp or adhesives for the smaller SOT23 components as they are small and like to float away. I used wooden toothpicks to position and clamp the parts because there was no magnetic attraction. Perhaps it’s time to add a new pair of tweezers to my toolkit.

The results are shown in Figure 2. Here, the solder job is far from ideal. It would have been better to use solder paste and a hot air station. The centering of the parts would be better. Also, the solder would not be so blobby. However, I leave the picture here to show that it can be done with my trusty 30-year-old Weller soldering iron.

Tech Tip: Unmelted solder paste acts as a sticky binder. SMT component such as the SOT23 are held in place. This adhesive property is strong enough to hold the part in place with carefully directed hot air.

Video 1: Video showing how to solder surface mount components to an adapter board.

Figure 2: Two SOT23 packaged MOSFETs are mounted on the Adafruit adapter board. The hand soldering is poor but adequate for prototyping.

Parting thoughts

Surface mount devices such as the SOT23 packaged MOSFET can be soldered into place using conventional hand solder tools. The results may not be pretty, but it will function well enough for most prototype projects.

I hope you found this article useful with its DigiKey links to related materials such as headers, tweezers, and solder paste. Also, be sure to visit this link for more examples of SMT boards.

Kindly share pictures if you have successfully used an adapter board in your project.

Best Wishes,

APDahlen

Return to the breadboard guide for additional construction tips.

About the Author

Aaron Dahlen, LCDR USCG (Ret.), serves as an application engineer at DigiKey. He has a unique electronics and automation foundation built over a 27-year military career as a technician and engineer which was further enhanced by 12 years of teaching (interwoven). With an MSEE degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, Dahlen has taught in an ABET-accredited EE program, served as the program coordinator for an EET program, and taught component-level repair to military electronics technicians. Dahlen has returned to his Northern Minnesota home and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing articles such as this. LinkedIn | Aaron Dahlen - Application Engineer - DigiKey