Mounting a BGA on a PCB Quickly and Cheaply.

Posted by: Dave Vandenbout 7 years, 10 months ago


Well, the XuLA2 PCBs arrived last week and now they are moving through assembly. But before I could start that, I had to build up one of the boards to make sure it worked. (I wouldn't want to assemble a batch of boards at $60 a pop and then find out the PCB was wacked.)

The XuLA2 board has a 256-ball BGA on it. In the past, I've sent a single board and BGA to my assembler and had it mounted. Then I would assemble the rest of the board and test it. The problem with doing this is the delay:

Monday: I mail a PCB and BGA to the assembler. (They are forty miles away.)

Tuesday: The assembler receives the package and - if they jump right on it - mounts the BGA on the PCB.

Wednesday: The assembler mails the mounted BGA and PCB back to me.

Thursday: I receive it along with a bill for $50.

To avoid a three-day delay and $50 out-of-pocket, I wondered if I could mount the BGA myself. The total cost of the BGA and PCB was less than $35, so the potential loss was minimal if I screwed up. And I could always fall back on my assembler if I failed.

While I didn't have the temperature-controlled convection heater or the X-ray inspection machine like my assembler, I did have a $40 paint stripper that should heat the BGA enough to make it reflow. Surprisingly enough, I was able to successfully mount the BGA to the PCB using very simple tools and procedures. Here's a video that shows how I did it:

The first BGA I mounted was a failure, but every one since then has worked. I wouldn't employ this technique on a board I'd send to a customer or one with a large, expensive BGA, but I would use it for short-term prototypes with mid-size BGAs.

Current rating: 5


  • Jerry L 4 years, 11 months ago

    Nice video! I tried but failed to mount a BGA chip properly, probably due to the GND layers which dissipate heat fast. Which assembler did you use? I quoted around but the prices are always several hundred $$$ for a single chip...

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    • Dave Vandenbout 4 years, 11 months ago

      I use a local assembler called C-TRON in Franklinton NC. Since I have a relationship with them, they may be giving me a better price than if you walk in off the street.

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  • Chris 4 years, 1 month ago

    Awesome Video !!

    Have you mounted all the components completely with the Liquid Solder Flux?

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    • Dave Vandenbout 4 years, 1 month ago

      Hi, Chris. I use liquid solder flux for all the components except the thru-hole stuff. It makes the solder join much easier because you just put a bit of solder on the iron tip and touch it to the pad + component pin.

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      • Chris 4 years, 1 month ago

        Oh ok.

        And out of curiosity, which fab house do you use? OSH park?

        Link / Reply
        • Dave Vandenbout 3 years, 12 months ago

          I've used OSHPark a couple of times, but mainly I use, PCBWay and PCBCart.

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  • Katy Radcliff 2 years, 2 months ago

    Thanks for the video, Dave!!!
    This is really a nice alternative to save money and time as well. Looking for more blogs related to BGA Inspection.

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