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Soldering the Hotswap Sockets

The Kailh MX/Choc V1 hotswap sockets are SMD (surface mount) components. They are not particularly difficult to solder, but care must be taken to ensure good solder joints, both electrically and mechanically.

Required Tools

  • Decent temperature-controlled soldering iron
  • Decent solder, preferably lead-free. Quite a bit of solder is used so I find 0.7-1 mm diameter solder to work best
  • A pair of angled tweezers
  • Silicone soldering pad (not really required, but highly recommended)

Soldering Process

The sockets have fairly large pads on the PCB. These need to be heated up well (together with the socket pins) for the solder to flow nicely into the joint. For this reason, I personally use a higher temperature of 350-360 °C on my iron (TS80P) to deliver more heat more quickly. However, make sure to not spend too much time heating up each pad not to overheat it, which could damage the PCB and/or the socket. 5 seconds should be more than enough.

  1. Add a good amount of solder to the right pad (assuming you hold the soldering iron in your right hand) of each socket footprint on the PCB
  2. Flatten the strip of hotswap sockets by running them through your fingers so that the strip sits on your desk nicely
  3. Arrange the strip of hotswap sockets in the correct orientation
  4. Carefully open the strip taking care not to tip the sockets out
  5. Reheat the solder on a hotswap socket pad, put a hotswap socket in place with tweezers while still heating the pad to heat up the socket pin
  6. Gently push the socket down into the melted solder and keep heating for a couple more seconds to make sure the solder flows nicely into the joint
  7. (Repeat for all sockets)
  8. Turn the PCB around so that the unsoldered pins the sockets are facing down and towards your “soldering hand” to get good access
  9. Heat up the unsoldered socket pin and the PCB well at the same time. Add solder, making sure it flows into the joint between the pin and the PCB. There’s some risk it could only flow inside the socket pin if the PCB is not heated up enough, which would prevent a good electrical (and mechanical) connection. To help the solder flow between the pin and the PCB, I usually move the solder wire after it starts melting and continue adding it from the side of the socket pin instead of its end
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