SparkFun Forums 

Where electronics enthusiasts find answers.

Questions relating to designing PCBs
By solardude

I'm about to try my first attempt at soldering using a stencil, paste, and a hotplate/skillet. What solder paste is the best to use? I only want to buy a little and want it to work well. I would prefer something less hazardous but don't know if lead-free works well or is affordable for a hobbyist. In my past experience with lead-free wired solder it took high temps and long periods of time to melt, which worries me (dont want to burn up my board while waiting for the stupid solder to melt!). If I have to go with lead thats OK, but which is the best? Also, should I go with no-clean or water soluble. There are some fine pitch QFN packages so I wont be able to clean underneath the chip, so probably no-clean is best. Any thoughts? Thank you.
By CopperCrimp
I've tried a couple different kinds, and I really like the Kester no clean solder paste. It comes in a convenient tube and is available from Digikey.

Kester Part Number: 7016070520
Digikey Part Number: KE1507-ND

Sparkfun also sells some that's quite a bit cheaper. Seems to be out of stock right now. You can find it here.
By motopic
I've used products. They are in the US, a little more expensive than the stanley link. Its also packed in syringes, and they sell all sorts of tips, needles, and supplies.
By Dillon
Might be a little late but I am old school and have been doing this stuff for 44 years. I use Kester 1544 cut with alcohol with a proportion of 25% flux and 75% alcohol. I use a syringe with a very fine metal tip (like the doctor uses) for surface mount parts and through hole parts alike. It works super!

By propjohn
What kind of needles should I buy for the Zephyrtronics paste? (Gauge, length, straight or tapered?)
By motopic
Short and straight is what I liked best. I forget the color and sizing, but not too small (green maybe)... something between .5 and 1mm IIRC. I'd have to check when I get home.