Laptop PCBs...and career advice

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by SolderingNoob, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. SolderingNoob

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 21, 2013
    Hi guys, I own a small business doing computer and mobile device repair. I've always done the simple stuff, such as LCD screen replacement, hard drive replacement, etc, but I've never been able to do PCB component-level repair. And I really want to. I've been interested in PCB repairs/rework for many years now and just never done anything substantial about it. Mostly because I wasn't sure how to go about it. It's not like they have a class down at the local college called "how to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair motherboard problems."

    I have never been formally trained in soldering. I know how to do basic surface mount and very basic through-hole, but I'm sure I'm doing some things wrong. I really feel that I could benefit substantially from a beginner soldering class. But where can I go to get properly trained in basic soldering without paying through the nose?

    I have looked up classes and training materials at the IPC website Sorry but $2,200 for just one beginning class is not acceptable.

    I also looked up some local soldering training centers that are approved by IPC and they will certify you, but each class costs over $1,000. Again, that is extremely expensive.

    Are there any other options I can explore? Here's what I'm specifically looking for:

    1. Proper SMD, TH, and BGA soldering techniques for less than $1,000.

    2. IPC-610E and IPC 7711B/7721B soldering training (to these standards, but I don't necessarily need the certificate), preferably without having to pay $1,000 for each class.

    3. This is likely to be the impossible one. Training in how to diagnose and troubleshoot PCB problems without the use of a schematic or any outside help. Just me, the PCB, and my soldering tools. Where would I begin? How do I know what the problem is? If a chip is bad, how do I know which one is the bad one? Once I find out which one is bad, how do I know where to get the replacement chip? What if the chip is not available? Can I replace it with another one? How do I know which ones will work?

    4. Are there educational grants, scholarships, worker training grants, etc available for taking IPC certification training classes?

    5. Should I consider getting an Associate in Applied Science degree in Electronic Engineering Technology? Will this help me with all 4 items above? It would end up costing me about $6,000. I'd be applying for a lot of financial aid if I did that. By the way, I already have an Associate of Science degree in Engineering, Transfer degree. Graduated with that years ago, so I'd have to do some refreshing. Still got a lot of my old books on the shelf.

    6. If I did get an EET degree, what types of jobs could I get besides working for myself doing PCB repairs? Is that degree in demand anymore?

    Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. Shagas

    Active Member

    May 13, 2013

    Soldering has a varierty of techniques for different types of components and takes some time to master , but it's no rocket science.

    As for PCB - level repair . You have to be familiar with electronics and how circuits are built and work. No 'degree' or anything like that is required , you can learn by yourself by using the internet . On the contrary , the last thing they will teach you in university is component level stuff ....
  3. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Have you thought about getting a job as a electronics technician in the corporate world? I know my company has a whole building full of ET's at work. When they initially hire on, they must pass a IPC approved soldering class to remain employed. That's free training, and you could keep your side gig.

    Note however, that many of the ET's where I work are unionized - and depending on your point of view that is probably a good or bad thing.
  4. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    There are three major parameters to effective soldering :

    Cleanliness of materials to be joined.

    Flux to clean the connection chemically, enabling solder to flow onto the connection freely.

    Adequate heat from a clean and tinned tool to complete the connection in less than 1 second dwell time - so that the component does not suffer heat damage.

    You will need several soldering tools, for a range of heat, or a Temp-controlled setup - depending...

    It doesn't take long to develop good judgment for what tools / tips will do the job at hand. The old saw - Practice makes perfect applies here...
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013