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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Despairing at through hole component obsolescence
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Despairing at through hole component obsolescence
johnstilton
I suppose that this is a bit of a GTKY post. I went to technical school in the 90s and worked at an electronics repair shop, fixing industrial hardware until 2001 before moving away from board level work and into field service.

Recently, I have been returning to my “roots” to fulfill a long deferred pursuit of assembling audio circuits. After a lot of consideration, I have purchased and have begun to assemble some of the MFOS line of products and have been enjoying populating and soldering boards again.

I have been dispairing, however, at the number of products which have been obsoleted (JFETs in TO-92 packages) and by others which have had discontinuation dates published like the LF442ACN and the NJM3700.

This is not to say that I am in the least bit surprised. Dealing with obsolescence is routine in the realm of industrial automation. But, I find myself like wanting to BUY ALL THE COOL DESIGNS before the parts can’t be had anymore.

One of the reasons I moved on from board level repair was that too many jobs were coming in that had smaller and smaller surface mount components. They were a PITA to work with and easy to fuck up in a fatal manner.

I cannot really see DIYing SMT designs by hand to be all that much more fun than it was back when.

I miss the thousands of component bins that were at my finger tips at the shop. I really wish I had returned to start these projects like ten years or five years ago.

I wonder how many years there are left where thru hole component designs are feasible due to obsolescence.

Not really looking for answers. Just venting.
Bartimaeus
You make some fair points, and I totally get what a PITA it can be to try to repair something with 0603 components.

I think part of what's driving the push for more smd in eurorack is the push to fit everything in as little hp as possible. It's hard not to go smd when you want to with a 4hp module in a skiff...

But luckily, there are still a ton of diy designs in through-hole, in part because the rush for hp isn't as bad when you can just build another rack. You could spend years building the wealth of through-hole designs from Barton, Bastl, Befaco, Erica Synths, Frequency Central, Manhattan Analog, etc. They mostly use parts so common that they'll be readily available even if they get discontinued. Heck, some of the diy projects use older parts that have been discontinued for decades, like the Erica Polivoks VCF, but that hasn't stopped them.

Another thing that's given me hope is that for a lot of normal chips, you can study the datasheets and find an smd equivalent. So if there's one chip holding you back from finishing a project, you can always stick an smd one on a little perfboard and socket it so it gets the job done. A bit of a pita to be fair but at least you can still finish that module
windspirit
I honestly feel like repairing an smd design is so much easier, especially since I am pretty comfortable soldering smd. You just stick your iron next to the part that you want to remove and wick it away, or with chips you use a hot air gun. easy as pie.
slow_riot
I personally feel like the opposite. The move towards SMT has made the through hole market even more available in some cases.

If you know how to use Ebay there are all sorts of amazing components to be found in good enough quantities for production runs, and sometimes affordably. You can also make a good living on the side on the bridge between bulk sellers who want to get rid of things and buyers who will pay premium and only want small quantities.

We're also seeing lower budget companies start running their own fabs, that Latvian company who are offering a strong line up of previously obsolete ICs.
Grumble
Though I use perfboard and TH is the most logical choise, I LOVE using the new designs and luckely there are conversion boards for SMD to TH.


And if they are not available I make them myself like this one:

I use it (plan to use it Mr. Green ) for an Analog Devices AD9102
Jarno
I must say that rather than despair, it appears semiconductor fab technology is now viable for smaller scale production.
Earlier, we were at the mercy of monolith companies, and it seems with Alfa, and other firms, it is possible to recreate IC's that have long been obsolete. There is a host of IC's available once more which make our life easier, VCO's filters amplifiers.
I just hope this trend continues.
At the same time, lots of interesting new parts are released.
Interesting times, if you ask me, and as others have mentioned SMT really isn't that hard to solder, just different. One might need help and use a microscope but even those aren't THAT expensive anymore.
devinw1
Well, you have to figure, the mainstream technologies drive the market. Everything is getting smaller and smaller and more integrated. Even something simple like a dishwasher will have some tiny controller boards with SMD stuff all over it. We, as synth/audio hobbiests are a tiny niche market. There are others, but no way we will come close to the volumes of the big boys.

On the flip side, as Jarno mentioned we have some cool stuff happening with smaller companies being able to actually build up the equipment to make stuff like DIP ICs (CEM VCOs, etc..) for smaller crowds like us. So, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I am with you though. I just enjoy the tactile, chunky feel of through hole stuff. I can manipulate it with my hands and see it with my eyes and get the job done. I hope that we can enjoy this type of board making for some time.
creativechaoscom
Similar comments regarding SMT vs through hole are heard in the ham radio community.
I make my own boards and am not too fond of drilling them as it seems to be a rule that one must miss at least one which is only to be discovered during assembly.

Also 0805 and some 0603 aren't that bad (and my eyesight ain't nearly where it was 20 years ago) when using either a reflow gun or oven IMHO. YMMV.

Part of the reason for the large move to SMT is of course cost of components and mass producing.
devinw1
creativechaoscom wrote:
\

Part of the reason for the large move to SMT is of course cost of components and mass producing.


Righto. Surface mount = assemble whole boards with pick-and-place robot. No way you're gonna touch those costs with hand stuffing TH!
Grumble

I am lucky to got one of these, an old stereo preparation microscope, has a long focal distance so lots of workspace between lens and object.
Altitude909
it's really a question of magnification, your brain adjusts amazing well and the hand eye coordination adjusts accordingly. Loupes, stereo microscopes, whatever works for you
TOPLEL
I sourced a lot of parts 10 then 5 years ago and then now and the only difference i can see is that THT FETs almost disappeared but i could still found a good switching FET. I think im going to "stock up" (i mean i gonna buy 10 of them instead of just 1 but i do that most of the time anyways) on THT FETs, LM13700s and LM3900s, i don't think the others will disappear soon.
creativechaoscom
Altitude909 wrote:
it's really a question of magnification, your brain adjusts amazing well and the hand eye coordination adjusts accordingly. Loupes, stereo microscopes, whatever works for you


Heck I can't even work on through hole projects without my magnifying goggles on. And I'm only 44. very frustrating
emmaker
If a board is laid out for hand soldering with 805 or 1206 parts I think that they are easier to do than thru hole. But getting into boards that are laid out for machine assembly with 603 parts starts to challenge me. Anything smaller than a 603s are beyond me.

I'm 66 and have good tools, magnifiers of all types and good lighting. That makes a big difference.

Even now the 805 and 1206 parts are starting to go away. A lot of parts are getting long lead times too which is a pain.
ricko
I can handle so-8 and so-14, etc, but the little 603 and smaller components are impossible: too fiddly and no fun. I dont want a stock of smt components.
ixtern
SMD eurorack designs are easy to solder but rather unpleasant when there is something to fix, to change or to add (designs are not perfect). The worst for me is to desolder ICs. I would like to install SMD sockets for SMD ICs. But so far I have seen SMD sockets only for 28-pin SMD ICs.
Grumble
I usually make my modules on dual sided TH perfboard, with conversion boards from SOIC (and the like) to TH DIL because I like to do things my way with the help of samples from various companies.
So I get to use new components on boards that are relatively easy to alter by adding TH components.

ixtern
Grumble wrote:
I usually make my modules on dual sided TH perfboard, with conversion boards from SOIC (and the like) to TH DIL because I like to do things my way with the help of samples from various companies.
So I get to use new components on boards that are relatively easy to alter by adding TH components.

I am doing it also but from cheap&popular conversion PCBs only SOIC8 has 7.62 mm (0.3inch) row spacing. I you want to use DIP and converted SOIC interchangeably or you have PCB from the other source for DIP but you have SOIC-only ICs (they are sometimes much cheaper or the only available option or simply you want to put better than in original design) then there is a problem.
kassu
I bought these SOIC adapters from TME a long time ago. I suspect that whoever designed it never actually tried to use it themselves, basically impossible to solder with the DIP pins under the SOIC IC, but once you get it soldered it does have the correct 0.3 inch width for standard DIP footprints.



I have seen some company selling better thought out versions of this concept but for unreasonable price. One could make one with SMD pin headers on the bottom.
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