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Need help getting started microsoldering

You I am a sophomore in high school and I have always been interested in electronics and am the guy in the family to go to for tech problems. I've been replacing screens for people and want to get deeper into things like board level repair. I have made enough money to buy all the tools I need and now I need some help getting started. How should I start practicing? I have an old IC locked 4S that I think I should start trying to take components off and put them back on. I think I should start with small things like resistors and caps then move onto connectors and eventually removing, reballing, and replacing ICs. Should I try buying a no power iPhone 6 on eBay and trying to diagnose then repair it? I really just need help getting started. Spring break is soon and I'll have about 4 days with nothing planned so I really want to try to get into it during that. I'm hoping by summer I could start offering a repair service to people in my community (obviously once I am VERY confident in my abilities). Hopefully I can really get this to take off and be able to buy myself a car eventually. Thanks for any help and critique!

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Soldering is an art to be gained by time, dedication and experience. Getting good in soldering is essential to progress further with microsoldering, which asks for even more precision. Start from bigger parts or even buy scrap computer boards to start practicing with and when confident move over to smaller and more complicated stuff. It’s very likely that 4 days won’t lead you to very much, we talk about months at least to get an initial touch and feel for what you’re doing. Buy and practice on boards of all kinds of phones, they all differ from each other one way or the other and will require different approaches and techniques. Microsoldering per se is just the ending part of the repair project and surely not the most troublesome. Diagnostics is where you shall be clashing your neurons, sometimes just to be getting into a rabbit hole. I see out there lots of people who waste most of their time replacing ICs mindlessly, one after the other adding trouble to trouble, often times populating forums looking for a magic Plz Bro solution. If you don’t want to be one of them, you’ll have to understand how things work, what parts and components do on a board and why they’re there and that can be done only through studies of electronics and board schematics. Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.

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Well said!!! The only thing I would suggest is to skip computer motherboards for practice if your goal is to fix phones and iPads. The large MOBO are very thick and have huge ground/thermal plains, especially Windows/PC MOBO's, which make them very different from the thin, high density boards found in mobile devices. Buy dead mobile devices to devices are a nice way to start because they tend to have much less component density. iPhone boards are horrendously dense and it can be frustrating practicing on them first.

As arbaman suggests, micro-soldering is more an art form and the only way to become an "artisan" is to practice, practice, practice.

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Butter on the toast.

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Thanks for the advice. I’ve been soldering for awhile and definitely am pretty good at normal soldering. I have tons of old boards I can practice on so I’ll probably start there. I definitely really want to learn how to diagnose and repair. I have a pretty good understanding of resistors, caps, and other parts. I’ll definitely just practice a ton before moving on to actually try to diagnose and repair.

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@refectio The idea of starting with computer boards, not knowing the OP's skill level was just there as they're much more forgiving as it takes plenty of time and effort to start a components gathering in a unique solder blob. On smartphone boards, especially as you said in highly densely populated iPhone boards, unless you're the tenacious kind, after a couple of hand slips one wonders how it's ever even possible to do anything on such boards..remember the first ones ;) ?

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That's a great point!

That's also why I suggested Android logic boards as they have lesser product density. The other good option is to order "soldering kits" that go down to 0201. There's plenty of room to maneuver and mistakes don't really cost you anything.

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I will add to @arbaman’s great answer that if you are going to be doing board level repairs as a business (or serious hobby/sideline), I think you should be investing some time and effort to understand at least the basics of electronics. Once you understand what a resistor, capacitor or inductor (coil, choke, ferrite bead) does and how they behave, you will know how to test them and whether or not it can be shorted or removed. As I always say, electronics engineers put those specific components there for a reason so ideally you should always be replacing them with similarly spec'd components.

This is a good tutorial on how engineers deliver clean power to IC's. This is very relevant as the majority of the passives on an iDevice logic board are there for this specific reason. There are several articles in the series and they touch on capacitors and ferrite beads (filters). Another good source of materials is ElectronicTutorials. There are also some good youtube channels such as Afrotechmods, AddOhms and of course the EEVBlog.

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As I said in my other comment I have a basic understanding of what most components do but I’ll try and get deeper into all of that. I’ll definitely just start practicing on some old boards I have lying around like routers. Thanks!

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Yes, you should absolutely buy a dead iPhone 6 and see what you can do. The best way to learn, IMO, is problem by problem. Not all boards are repairable, but it is really fun to work on dead boards (that YOU own) and follow the real life challenges that the board presents. It’s more fun when you *might* fix it in the end.

Invest in good tools—a microscope is a must, and a quick 861dw. Good luck!

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