Friday, 12 July 2013

How to solder QFN chips like the MSP430FR5739

The new MSP430FR chip line has interesting features like embedded non volatile fram and ultra low power consumption. The chip is available in TSSOP38 or QFN40 package.I simply had to try them out.

Usually hobbyists  are repelled by the very small case and the missing pins.
But once you get used to work with the QFN package you start to prefer it over any other packaging.
Since they have no visible pins, they cannot suck the solder up via capillary suction and create ugly shorts.

To solder a qfn chip you buy a breakout board and put a small amount of solder paste at the pcb.
Beside the solder paste you add some solder flux (very important).
Then you place the chip on the board and roughly align it.
With an heat gun you slowly heat the chip and board until the flux starts to melt.
This is a very important phase because the chip will swim on the fluid and align itself correctly.
Now heat it up until the solder past melts and you are done.

The next problem you will face is how to check the correct alignment and if all pins are correctly connected to the board.I use a multimeter for that purpose. Usually the pins have a certain resistance around 5k to 1mega ohm. Measure all pins and if there are shorts suck them away using some solder wick.

Once you get used to Qfn packages and are able to solder the chip  correctly it will only require about two minutes of your precious spare time. Soon you will start to enjoy working with Qfn packages.

MSP430 in QFN package compared to a Dil20 chip

Demo video

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