January 24, 2012 AT 8:00 am

Eagle QuickTip: Thermal relief for those GND pins!

Have you ever had a pin on a 0.1″ header that you just couldn’t get to reflow properly, especially with lead free solder (which requires a higher temperature to work with)?  If so, it was almost certainly a GND pin connected to a large GND plane.  The problem is that the GND plane dissipates a lot of the heat from the soldering iron.  You can try using a much larger tip (larger tips do a better job of conducting heat that small ones), and/or you may need to jack the heat up quite a bit, but sometimes it just won’t reflow well to form a solid joint.  The solution is easy, but you need to keep the problem in mind when designing the PCB.

What you need to add on any GND pin connected to a GND plane (a large area of copper connected to GND) is to restrict the connection to GND to a single bridge, limiting the other areas with layers 41 (tRestrict) or 42 (bRestrict).  Just select the rectangle tool and draw a small rectangle beside the pad over 3 of the four bridges, and you should have a MUCH easier time soldering those pins on after the fact.  This can also be a good idea with certain large surface-mount parts.


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