Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fixing the Protoshield

Soldering Success

Recall from a posting or two ago - the protoshield would not clear the metal enclosure of the ethernet jack. Since then, I've been able to address and remedy the problem. This allowed me to not only salvage the SparkFun protoshield, but to improve on the initial component flaw - too-short connector tails - that kept it from being installed over top of an ethernet shield.

I was able to desolder the shorter connectors, clear the solder from the holes and install the new ones. It appears to have worked. I say "appears", because you never know how it went until you test it electrically, which is yet to come. But physically, even under a magnifying glass, it looks good. Solder flowed fine, no solder bridges, new connectors are solid. Here's how I did it - you should be able to use this process for removing and replacing any small through-hole component.

Break Off the Socket

I started by simply wiggling the black socket part of the connector back and forth until it broke off. You don't have to move it far - the metal is brittle and will break off with about 12 times of wiggling it back and forth. The little black monolith breaks off with no damage to the protoboard or the soldering holes. You can easily melt the solder enough to remove the pins.


Once the black socket is broken off, you can simply heat up the metal tail and remove it from the hole. The holes will still have the solder inside. Take the solder wick and lay it over the hole, then use the soldering iron to heat the wick. Hold the soldering iron like you are trying to poke it into the hole through the solder wick. you will see the hot solder "wicking" up into the copper braid. It doesn't take long and when you lift off the braid, the hole will be mostly empty of solder.

Finished Product

So now, the protoshield will sit properly on top of the ethernet shield without touching the ethernet jack. It's not as sexy as the new stuff I talked about previously, but it's plenty good for continuing on with the project.