Why remove parts this way?
For electronics hobby projects, to recycle, and to learn about how products are made. You can scrounge very useful parts including surface mount and through hole components, microcontrollers, LCDs, connectors, digital and analog ICs, transistors, LEDs etc… Just about any part you would ever need for that robot project you have always wanted to build.
Is this a safe way to remove parts?
No!. It’s fast and easy but not safe. The hot air gun is dangerous, the fumes can be toxic, hot solder could end up in your eyes. Use eye protection, do this is an a ventilated area, be very careful.
What tools do I need and where do I get them?
You can get all the tools at Home Depot. Here is a rough list.
- Heat gun, The Wagner HT3500 is available at Amazon for about $40. A Milwaukee 3300 is available at Home Depot. I believe these are the exact same heat guns.
- Cheap gloves.
- Pliers, regular and long nose
- Safety glasses
Do the parts still work?
Yes. Surface mount parts are designed to survive IR or hot air soldering. Though-hole parts should be removed from the bottom to protect the device. Do not use more heat then necessary.
Is the PCB damaged?
Not necessarily. You can easily destroy the PCB so be careful. Too much heat can delaminate the PCB, burn it, and/or cause toxic fumes. Do not use too much heat. Have some patience.
Can high pin count parts be removed?
Yes. Any size surface mount part can be removed with patience. Use lower heat to pre-heat the board area, then move in with higher heat to free up the pins. For though-hole parts work from the bottom. Plastic parts such as connectors can be hard to remove without melting them.
Can you sell parts removed this way?
I do not plan to sell any parts and I’m not sure I would buy any removed this way either. These parts are fine for home projects. If you do sell scrounged parts, please let the buyer know how the parts were removed.
How do you control the temperature?
The recommended heat gun has a temperature control. Try the default setting of low/850F. If your gun does not have temperature control, you can lower the effective temperature by keeping the gun further away from the PCB.
Exactly how do you remove X part?
A more descriptive How-To is in the works. You can help by asking questions, posting your experiences and suggestions. Check back at the site for updates.
How do I ask more questions?
Use the form at the bottom of every page on this site. Include your email address if you want a reply.