Monthly Archives: July 2013

  • Weller WLC100 Soldering Iron - Why it's the best hobbyist soldering iron.

    Weller WLC100 Solder Iron

    Just because you may not work in electronics repair or a related field for a living doesn't mean you don't enjoy electronics. Whether you're building projects for yourself, friends and family, like doing little repairs yourself or even mess with designing your own projects, you take your hobby seriously. And, as with any serious hobbyist, having the right tools for the job means a lot. You don't necessarily need professional grade tools but you still want to have high quality ones so you can get the most enjoyment out of your hobby as possible.

    When it comes to a good hobbyist soldering iron you want one you can trust to give you quality connections every time, one that will last and one that is easy to use. If you've ever owned or used a Weller solder iron, you know they make great professional products and their home hobby products are every bit as good as their pro models. For instance, the Weller WLC100 is a great soldering station that gives you plenty of professional features without the professional price tag.

    As an example, you get fine control over your heat. This is essential when working with different electronic components, especially if you're working with components that are sensitive to heat. Since you can have as little as five watts of heat coming through the tip, you can still make solid connections without worrying about cooking components or wires and making a repair situation worse. With the ability to go up to forty watts of heat, you'll also have the power you need to work with the largest and most cumbersome of connections with ease.

    Another great feature of the Weller WLC100 is the fact that tips are easy to change. Although it comes with the most flexible of tips, the ST3, other tips such as a fine point tip or a blade tip can give you the ability to work with different electronics (or other hobby) needs easily. Since tips are easy to change, switching from one project or even tip needs within the same project can be managed quickly, eliminating the need to have multiple soldering irons on hand. And, the custom foam grip means you'll be able to work with the soldering iron for hours with complete comfort.

    While you may not need truly professional tools to get the most out of your hobby, you still want good, solidly performing tools. If electronics is your favored hobby, you'll want a Weller WLC100 soldering station. You'll appreciate it every time you use it.

  • 10 Myths of Electro Static Discharge ( ESD ) in Electronic Manufacturing

    ESD_Static

    Although most people may have heard about electrostatic discharge (ESD), they may nevertheless entertain perceptions that are not accurate. In fact, even people who work in manufacturing sometimes succumb to misinformation (or a lack of knowledge) about ESD.

     

    Because electrostatic discharge is such an important and prevalent phenomenon, everyone needs to know about these myths.

     

    What Are Ten Such Myths?

    1) Electrostatic discharge is a relatively-modern problem.

    Actually, going back into the 1400s, care had to be taken to protect against black-powder mishaps at munitions facilities. Forts in the Caribbean and in Europe, therefore, instituted early forms of ESD control.

     

    2) ESD is only an issue with PCB, explosives and sawdust facilities.

    In reality, most manufacturing facilities have to keep an eye on ESD, especially in regards to electronic products/equipment.

     

    3) ESD problems are a rare phenomenon.

    Many times items are damaged or disrupted by ESD and, because no outward signs are present, people remain unaware of the damage. These disruptions are very common.

     

    4) Discharging fingers/tools before using them obviates any potential ESD mishaps.

    Unless the user are perfectly still, the human body (and tools) can rebuild a charge. This is not a suitable (per se) control option.

     

    5) Once products are mounted on circuit boards, ESD mishaps cannot occur.

    Just because components are mounted on circuit boards does not remove ESD dangers. In fact, charges may be more easily channeled to sensitive parts once circuit boards are involved.

     

    6) Only circuit boards with complementary metal oxide semi-conductor (CMOS) are subject to ESD issues.

    While most circuit boards contain CMOS-components, all circuit boards are susceptible (in one way or another) to ESD damage

     

    7) One has to touch an item to transmit an ESD to it.

    Actually, all that is needed is bringing the item near an electrostatic field to create potential ESD problems.

     

    8) An item that passes a peremptory test after a potential ESD incident is probably okay.

    Actually, damage as a result of ESD can manifest itself later or in ways that may be difficult to detect with any measuring device.

     

    9) A printed wiring board (PWB) permanently protects a circuit board.

    Actually, while the withstand-voltage may be increased with a PWB, it is no guarantee that ESD will not be a problem.

     

    10) Grounded metal can provide a safe haven from ESD.

    Static discharge can still reach or build on items mounted on or sitting on grounded metal.

     

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    Conclusion:

    Yet another myth is that there isn’t much you can do against ESD. Actually, a number of effective products can be used to protect against ESD, including anti-ESD wrist straps, mats, chairs, casters, sealed barrier bags, non-conducting materials, etc.

    While it may be impossible to completely protect against ESD, precautions can be taken which greatly reduce chances for mishaps. By knowing what to do and not succumbing to popular myths, you can help reduce the chances for ESD damage to sensitive, expensive equipment and components.

  • ESD Chairs - What is an ESD Chair and why would you need it?

    Bevco_ESDChair_7201e

    If you have ever shuffled your feet across carpeting and touched a metal object, or even another person, you have probably felt the effects of static electricity. That little zap can be an attention-getter and an annoyance.

    For those who spend time in the electronics repair or assembly industry, these static electricity discharges can be much more than an annoyance. They can cause costly delays, repairs, and result in hundreds of dollars in damage and lost productivity. Today’s electronic parts in medical, automotive and other industries are so precise, and so sensitive, these discharges can cause significant problems. That is why clean room chairs and those used in electronic repair and digital assembly environments should be Electro-Static Dissipative (ESD).

    • What is an ESD chair?

    ESD Chairs are a prudent line of defense against static electric discharges. They are designed to minimize static electricity build up and provide a ground for the discharge of any build-ups that occur. These grounds are generally provided through specially designed casters or in some cases, a drag-chain.

    • Who should use ESD chairs?

    ESD chairs should be used in manufacturing, assembly, and the repairs of electronic parts and devices. Cellphones, computers, tablets and hundreds of other electronic devices can be damaged by unintended electrical discharges. They are likely to occur in repair circumstances and where multiple people may be present.

    • Why choose a Bevco ESD chair?

    Bevco ESD chairs are not only designed to be efficient in dissipating static electricity, they are attractive and comfortable. The attention paid to ergonomic comfort from Bevco makes these chairs easier to work from and provide a greater level of productivity. Bevco ESD chairs are available in bench height and desk height models. With Bevco ESD chairs, you get more for your money!

    If you need to address static electricity in your work environment, consider the line of versatile, comfortable and ESD chairs from Bevco. Visit GoKimco.com for a look at our complete selection of Bevco ESD chairs and parts.

    bevco_ESD_Ergonomic_Chair

  • Lead free solders versus traditional solders

    Lead Free

    Traditional solders made from a mixture of tin and lead were once a common staple in working with electronics. Lead free solders have arisen in recent years as alternative to the lead and tin compound.

    A gradual shift to lead free solders has meant a change in design and manufacturing of some electronic components. New designs compensate for the differences in soldering and help lead free solders last longer.

    One appeal of lead based solders is their low melting temperature. A lead and tin alloy has a melting point of 183 degrees Celsius. Lead free alloys are typically a mix of tin and copper or silver. Many of these alloys must reach 220 degrees Celsius or higher to hit their melting point.

    Soldering is important because it is used in designing and constructing internal electronic circuit boards in radios, TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. It is required to be durable so that electronic equipment lasts longer.

    This is an area where lead free solders offer a major advantage over traditional ones. A traditional solder has a tensile strength of 6,140 psi (pounds per square inch). Lead free solders, on the other hand, can boast a tensile strength of more than 9,000 psi.

    The biggest advantage for a lead free solder is that it presents less of a health risk. Lead can be toxic if enough of it builds up inside the human body. It can enter a person's body through skin contact or inhalation. That's one reason why lead was removed from gasoline and paint years ago.

    Lead exposure poses the greatest risk to young children because their immune systems are not as equipped to deal with it. Anyone who works regularly with solders should be aware of the health risks lead can pose.

    ThinkingEngineer

  • Enhancing ESD protection in LCD electronics

    esd_symbol_l

    Modern electronics are more prone to suffering damage through electrostatic discharge (ESD) than their technological predecessors.

    One reason for this is LCD TVs, mobile phones and other high-tech gadgets feature chip-sets below the 130 nanometer value. Electronic components in these devices are best suited for DC voltages less than 3.3 volts. Even worse, ESD protection requirements for these devices are 500 volts instead of the standard 8 kilo-volts.

    How can you combat these ESD deficiencies? It starts with modifying internal components so ESD damage can be kept to a minimum.

    A circuit board designer can employ four diffferent strategies for boosting ESD protection in an LCD circuit board:

    1. Reduce the length of the LESD.
    2. Reduce the length of the LGND
    3. Minimize the LIC and LPORT to their smallest possible ratios.
    4. Place buffering resistors between the ESD device and the IC if the other steps do not offer enough ESD protection.

    Where an ESD device is located and how it is laid out is key to enhancing ESD protection. Both the LESD and LGND can increase the clamping voltage with a minor length increase. Taking each trace length from 0.5 centimeters to 1 centimeter, for example, can boost the overall clamping voltage by as much as 75 percent.

    Putting the ESD device as close to the ESD point of entry as possible is an essential step. This makes the ratio of LPORT to LIC smaller. The LIC is non-linear, so it will create a buffer to the ESD pulse by making the voltage drop as it nears the IC.

    Buffer resistors are needed if on-chip ESD structures are exposed to too much current. Adding 10Ω worth of buffering resistance can reduce peak current flow by as much as 50 percent.

    ThinkingEngineer

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