Solder trick to make your own surface mount breakout boards


We think you’re really going to enjoy this trick for making surface mount breakout boards. It’s common to use magnet wire to connect individual pins of a surface mount part to breadboard friendly protoboard with pin headers. What’s new here (at least to us) is that [Raul] solders one wire to both pins directly across from one another.

The image at the left shows an eight pin part with four wires soldered in place. To get to this point he first taped the wires down to a work surface being careful to space them to match the pitch on the chip’s leads. He then tapes the chip in place and solders all of the legs to the wires. This seems to kill two birds with one stone as aligning one wire to one leg is tough. From there he flips the chip over and cuts the wire spanning under it. This leaves an easy job of soldering the trailing side of the wire to a hunk of protoboard.

It’s perfect for chips with a small number of pins. Of course you may still want an etched breakout board for something with a ton of leads.


  1. Allan Stirling says:

    Like many people, I’m quite sure I thought “now why didn’t I think of that”. Nice, thanks!

  2. Pieter-Jan says:

    Awesome! Thanks!

  3. Muttitude says:

    Clever !

  4. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Thanks Raul!

  5. Chris says:

    I´m with Allan on this one

  6. Coolmod says:

    Very clever! :-)

  7. Caleb says:

    Awesome! I have some QFP chips coming in and I will try this method on them.

  8. AlanMcR says:

    This method also makes it easy to add a decoupling cap in the closest possible proximity to the power pins.

  9. Adam Avramov says:

    I haven’t touched an IC in a year, and now I desperately want to do this to some SMT ATMegas I have laying around.

  10. xxx says:

    Ribbon cable has equaly pitched wines. Any idea how to solder SMT to a ribbon cable?

  11. roboman2444 says:

    This is cool, but in some cases one might want to add beefier wire.

  12. Xevel says:

    Very nice idea!
    For such component size, I usually cut the copper strips in 4, works nicely but might requires a little more practice…

  13. bjorn says:

    Flat/ribbon cable with the correct pitch is something I just started with.

  14. Gary says:

  15. Josh says:

    The only problem I can see with this is that once you have the leads on the IC, if they’re too short or your iron too hot, the solder will melt and you’ll have to start over. I’d also recommend Kapton tape to hold the leads in place while you’re soldering them to your IC. Invisible tape stinks when it melts.

    • Sven says:

      As long as we are complaining about the method :P

      You need to be careful when cutting the leads so you don’t impart a lot of stress or shock to the IC leads, you could easily damage the lead or the connections inside the plastic package if the stress is too large.

      • George Johnson says:

        That’s what I was going to say. You need very sharp cutters for this. If you don’t have them, and have a grainy solder joint, you can break the joint.

      • Josh says:

        Now, now! I wasn’t complaining, just offering my caveat.

        I wonder how a Dremel tool would work to cut the leads? Of course, with my eyes and shaky hands, I’m sure I’d go through quiet a few of these (literally) before being able to do it right.

  16. Ping Ouin says:

    Been doing something similar for ages, except instead of bothering with the breadboard mess, I just use IC sockets. Much quicker, and certainly cleaner.

  17. Zagroseckt says:

    oh my god!! thank you for this
    used it in a slightly diffrent way but it SOOOOOOOOOOOO saved me a ton of time

    Flat ribbon cable connector and a direckt to flat ribbon conection

    Tape down wiere in grid then flood solder as norm.



    As sed above
    Why the hell didn’t i think of this.

  18. SavanahLion says:

    I confess I was doing something along these lines with enameled wire as well as with some spare sockets I had lying around for about a year for some of my projects. I got the idea looking at the deadbug posts here on HaD. I’ve got a few thousand surface mount LED I’m prepping to do just this.

    The idea of doing it to SMD parts seemed such an obvious progression for deadbugging that I actually never realized that not everyone knows this.

    My point is, I’m not an expert and it’s nice to see “obvious” posts on HaD. I like to learn the “tricks” all the experts take for granted.

  19. Bob T says:

    I saw this very same trick in QST magazine in 2006

  20. djneo says:

    nice i have a bluetooth chip that i want to experiment with, but no break out board

  21. Huh? says:

    OVER 9000!!!

  22. Whatnot says:

    How about hitting the wire with a hammer first to flatten it? That way it should move less and make better contact, assuming the wire doesn’t break in the flattening process of course.
    Just an idea.

  23. Olivier says:

    Very cool, I’ll have to try this soon.

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