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Old 19th August 2010, 09:18 PM   #1
pjp is offline pjp  India
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Default The end of DIY

I just finished soldering a SMD board by hand. (with a soldering iron.) It wasn't easy and I've probably overheated a few components - and it got me thinking:

SMD components get smaller every year, and ICs get more highly integrated.
Soon there will be no commercial demand for thru-hole components and the manufacturers will stop making them.

SMD parts will be so small most of us will have trouble seeing them without a magnifier. Discrete transistors/diodes will probably be a thing of the past (except for power devices) and semiconductors devices will be complete subcircuits.

We wont be able to take a soldering iron and build anything. And even if we had access to the appropriate equipment, there won't be much to build because any components available will be complete systems-on-a-chip instead of discrete devices.

Where does that leave the hobbyist ?
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Old 19th August 2010, 09:19 PM   #2
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Old 19th August 2010, 09:21 PM   #3
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Old 19th August 2010, 09:30 PM   #4
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Old 19th August 2010, 09:30 PM   #5
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It is likely to leave us programming chips. There are an increasing range of programmable chips with ever-increasing specifications and capabilities.

For those who prefer the smell of solder, I see a market opening for hobbyist level SMD device tools such as microscopes, micromanipulators, and reflow soldering tools.
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Old 20th August 2010, 01:57 PM   #6
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Old 20th August 2010, 03:55 PM   #7
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Nah, we'll always have hole mount components. Power ratings of tiny surface mounts are well... tiny.
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Old 20th August 2010, 04:08 PM   #8
Pano is online now Pano  United States
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It is a challenge, tho. I had to learn to SMD solder, but I still don't enjoy it.
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Old 20th August 2010, 07:18 PM   #9
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I thought the same thing when surface mount started becoming popular, but many of us have kept up. I thought the .05" pitch SOIC's would be the death of me, especially needing glasses to see what I'm doing, but I've done those and pitch half that size, which covers just about everything I've needed to do. The five-inch magnifier with the circular fluorescent bulb helped too. There was someone bragging on sci.electronic.design of having successfully soldered down a 01005 capacitor, but he didn't say how many he lost trying to do it..
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Originally Posted by Don Hills View Post
It is likely to leave us programming chips. There are an increasing range of programmable chips with ever-increasing specifications and capabilities.

For those who prefer the smell of solder, I see a market opening for hobbyist level SMD device tools such as microscopes, micromanipulators, and reflow soldering tools.
I've wondered about that. I've even seen more "inexpensive" tools. Twenty years ago I saw a $1,500 reflow station, and I wondered why I couldn't do the same thing at a tenth of the price with a heat gun and two variacs, one for the fan motor and one for the heating element.

But of course the traditional reflow oven of hobbyists has been the toaster oven.
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Old 20th August 2010, 11:13 PM   #10
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The company I work for sells a motor driver chip that's a couple mm square and has a tiny ball grid on the back that I can barely see. The capabilities of that chip are mind boggling for its size, and it's the wave of the future, but that future doesn't include the diy hobbyist.

IMHO, the audiophiles fascination with reproduction quality is a generational thing, not shared by most people under 30. I apologize to the exceptions. Most of the things we build are more quality oriented than feature oriented and my guess is audiophiles as we recognize them will fade away within a decade or two.
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