Branson

  • Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Printed Circuit Boards are delicate pieces of electronics and it is important that they be cleaned and maintained properly. Though many may feel that dusting a PCB is sufficient for removing potentially harmful build up, there are a few different methods for removing sediment that can help extend the life and improve performance of a PCB.

    canned-airThe first and most common item used for cleaning PCBs is canned air. This highly compressed air is great for pinpointing dust and particulates without damaging or disturbing the rest of the circuit board in the process. Using a dust rag or other, harsher cleaning agent can dislodge connections and can cause major issues down the road. Rough or abrasive cleaning can break connections and damage the circuit board to the point of replacement.

    ACL StaticideThe next cleaning agents to consider are solvents. Sometimes dusting is simply not enough to remove particulates and other dust that is on a PCB. Solvents can help to remove large deposits like corrosion, rust, solids that have formed on the surface, and other issues that can damage and even stall the function of a PCB. When choosing a solvent it is always important to choose a product that has vapor rinse. This will help to remove all residue that is left after soldering.

    There are a few different ways that residues can be removed, the first is submersion of the PCB in the proper solvent. For soldering residue, water based submersions work best. It may also be sufficient to use air based cleaning to remove these harmful build up. For tougher residues using a solvent can help.

    Branson Ultrasonic CleanerUltrasonic cleaning can help to dislodge residue without much contact. The less users have to touch the PCB to remove residue the better. Extensive handling can cause damage without truly cleaning the PCB. Because these circuit boards are so small and delicate, it is important that precision is used to remove any dirt or other sediment. Taking the time to find the proper solvent for the issue at hand can save time and money in the long run and can insure a clean and well functioning PCB.

  • Safely Cleaning PCBs -- Most Important Considerations

    Cleaning printed circuit boards is always fraught with some risk; consequently, you need to weigh the need for such cleaning with the possibility of damaging the board. Naturally, if you suspect that the messiness of the PCB may be the reason behind or may lead to malfunction, then, by all means, clean away.

    If you must clean a PCB, then you need to follow certain precautions. Other considerations that should apply include:

    • What type of debris are you dealing with?

    The easiest PCB debris to get rid of is, of course, free-flowing dust—especially if you remove socketed components from the board before proceeding. Dust and particles can easily be removed with pressured air (preferably from a low-power vacuum cleaner) and a gentle brush. Grime, on the other hand, presents a more serious, albeit manageable problem. Removal thereof (especially if wax or oil is involved) may require some scrubbing and, possibly, the use of water and liquid cleaners.

    • Does the board have components that may be especially vulnerable to liquids?

    Things like cardboard-contained components, carbon film/open-frame potentiometers and older-version, water-vulnerable crystals may be especially vulnerable to liquids (including water); that goes for paper stickers. Some such items might be de-soldered/removed to make the cleaning process more feasible/easier. By all means, properly dry out the board after such cleanings—possibly with the use of the oven set at a low temperature (i.e., 170 degrees).

    • Should you consider using professional cleaning supplies, equipment and techniques?

    In addition to special cleaning agents (i.e., “Brasso”), there are special techniques/services that you can employ, including media blasting, ultrasonic cleaning, and media tumbling. You can also hire people who specialize in such services or avail yourself of the literature on PCB cleaning fundamentals.

    Conclusion:

    Dealing with unclean PCBs is not just a matter of aesthetics. Debris and gunk in PCBs can hamper performance and, in the long run, lead to malfunction. By following strict protocols and cleaning PCBs only when absolutely necessary, though, you can avoid unnecessary, possibly expensive trouble.

    If the board is tainted with left-over solder flux, then you may use either flux remover or rubbing or anhydrous alcohol, making sure to dry the surface with lint-free towels/tissueThinkingEngineer

  • More Holiday Gift Ideas at Kimco!

    Last week, we presented several gift ideas for the hobbyist on your list. This week we follow up with some more suggestions, again in three price ranges. Get your holiday shopping done now, don't wait any longer!

    Under $50:

    Weller WLC100
    Weller WLC100 40 watt Hobbyist Solder Station
    - Kimco Price: $44.99

    The WLC100 is a nice, affordable, entry level soldering station perfect for casual hobbyists or students. It features adjustable power from 5 to 40 watts, a built in iron stand, and tip cleaning pad. A soldering station is a great addition to anyone's tool bench.

    Suggested add-on:
    Extra ST3 Tip

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    X-Acto 13pc. Knife Kit
    Xacto X5082 13pc. Knife Set in Wood Case
    -Kimco Price: $19.97

    Every self respecting hobbyist and crafter needs a good set of Xactos! This kit features many different blades and handles to tackle nearly any project, all packed in a handsome wooden case.

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    Aven 20 Piece Precision Screwdriver Set
    Aven 13714 20-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set w/ Interchangeable Blades
    -Kimco Price: $22.79

    This precision screwdriver set from Aven is great for working on electronics, servicing computers, and repairing small items like eye glasses. Many interchangeable blades are included in slotted, Philips, Hex, and Nutdriver configurations.

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    Under $100:

    Hakko Omnivise
    Hakko C1390 PCB Omnivise
    Kimco Price: Price: $59.57

    This unique product from Hakko holds a printed circuit board firmly in place and level so heat and solder may be applied. However, it can be used to hold many other items. It features height adjustment for maximum versatility.

     

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    Eclipse Pro Drill Driver
    Eclipse Pro's Kit PT-1441A Cordless Drill Driver
    Kimco Price: $51.51

    The Eclipse Pro's Kit 14.4V Drill Driver is a powerful cordless drill for a great price. It features many different torque settings, forward and reverse control, and a 3/8in keyless chuck. Every household needs a good cordless drill!

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    Steinel Heat Gun
    Steinel SV803K Variable Temperature Heat Gun Kit
    Kimco Price: $69.42

    A heat gun is a handy thing to own, and has many uses: shrink wrapping, thawing frozen pipes, desoldering, plastic welding, dent removal, even roasting coffee! This Steinel heat gun features 3 airflow settings, a soft grip handle, and includes two add-on nozzles for various applications. Surprise the tool geek in your life (that thinks they have everything)  with a tool that is likely missing from their quiver!

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    Under $200:

    Luxo LFM Magnifier
    Luxo 18345LG LFM LED 3 Diopter Edge Clamp 45" Arm Magnifier
    Kimco Price: $145.70

    This Luxo magnifier is perfect for hobbyists who work on small projects. It clamps to nearly any work space and has a 9.5W LED light source. Luxo is known for quality magnifiers, and this unit is no exception, featuring a die-cast aluminum housing and crystal clear glass lens.

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    Branson Ultrasonic Cleaner
    Branson B200 Compact Ultrasonic Cleaner
    Kimco Price: $119.95

    Ultrasonic cleaners are used to clean a multitude of small parts, optical pieces and even jewelry. The Branson B200 is a small 15 oz. utrasonic unit suitable for home use. Just add the correct cleaning solution for your application (listed below) and you are ready to clean.

    Suggested add-on:
    Branson General Purpose Solution
    Or
    Branson Jewelry Cleaner Solution

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    Visit our gift page for more great holiday gift ideas.

  • Using Branson ultrasonic cleaners for electronic circuit board repair and assembly.

    Ultrasonic Cleaner from Branson Ultrasonic Cleaner from Branson

    Imagine a gunky part with all kinds of crevices and grit embedded in those crevices. How are you going to get it clean? Toothbrush? Toothpick? Environmentally incorrect cleaner that gets you in trouble with the proper-disposal crowd? Ultrasonic cleaning to the rescue!

    In layman terms, an ultrasonic cleaner is a tank for a cleaning solution (usually water and an additive) that has a basket to lower the dirty part into the solution and let it hit all sides. The solution then is zapped with ultrasonic super-bubbles that are safely invasive, hitting all those crevices and holes with a force that loosens the gunk. Any hard surface can be ultrasonically cleaned, provided it is compatible with the solution you are using,for example: a sooty piece of fine china that's been in through a fire. Comes out like new!

    Any industry that needs to clean itty bitty crannies benefits from using some type of ultrasonic cleaning device. There are two workbench sized options that come in handy in just about any shop or workspace that needs to be able to clean smaller, delicate or intricate hard-surface items; the Branson CPX1800 and the Branson CPX1800H.

    Both units are designed to be easy to use. They have digital controls that can be adjusted to the specific thing you are cleaning and you can set the timer so you can go do something besides stand there monitoring the process. The control circuit keeps the tank's frequency at the point you set it to and adapts to changing load conditions, which means that those ultrasonic superbubbles will be working the whole time. The 40 kHz industrial strength transducers will last for years, just sitting on your bench taking care of cleaning your stuff. Both units have a tank that is 6" long, 5.5" wide and 4" deep and the solution has to move around the part so they aren't for really big things (but there are bigger units that can handle it). The CPX1800H adds heat to the solution and you need to do your homework to see if you'll need it. Some stuff just needs that added oomph, like using hot water to wash dishes.

    Branson has been careful to listen to customers and put features they've asked for in these units.

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