How to Remove Header Pins on Flight Controllers

by Oscar
Published: Last Updated on

Removing header pins on a flight controller or circuit board in general could cause damage to the hardware if it’s not done properly. Here I will show you a couple of examples how I do it safely and easily.

The wrong way: many people would try to remove the solder first using solder sucker or solder wick, then pull all the header pins out at once. First of all it’s not easy to remove the solder completely, and you might have to repeat the process many times. By applying too much heat on the solder pads and connection, you could rip out the conductive copper surface and destroy the board.

So here is what i think the right way, how I remove headers pins on a circuit board more safely. Be aware this is going to break the existing header pins, if you want to put in new header pins you will need some new ones.

  • Remove the plastic part that holds the pins together, and straighten all the angle pins
  • Remove the pins one by one by heating up the solder,  and pull it out very gently with a pair of pliers. Do not force it!
  • Clean up the pad and remove extra solder with a solder sucker or solder wick. Again, do not leave soldering iron on the pads for too long to avoid damage

Example 1 – Removing Header Pins from Flight controller

naze32-board-remove-header-pins-plastic

naze32-board-remove-header-pins-un-solder

Example 2 – Removing header pins from MinimOSD

remove-minimosd-header-pins-steps

remove-minimosd-header-pins

Edit History

  • Jul 2015 – Article created
  • May 2017 – Article revised

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13 comments

Vincent Tassone 21st May 2020 - 6:56 pm

HI OSCAR. I am looking at this from the opposite direction. Do you know of anyone who sells pre solderd FC BOARDS? I had a stroke a year ago and no longer have the fine motor skills in my hand to solder a FC. To have the header pins put on a board would be a big help.
Thank you sir

Reply
Oscar 3rd June 2020 - 12:47 am

No one sells pre-soldered boards

Reply
Chase 6th July 2017 - 3:16 am

One issue I ran into when trying to remove pin headers is that the existing solder is sometimes difficult to melt. Has anyone else had this problem?

If so, I figured out a solution that doesn’t require increasing the temperature of the soldering iron or drastically increasing the time the soldering iron is in contact with the FC. All you do is add a little more solder. The new solder appears to transfer the heat better between the iron and the existing solder and melts the existing solder very quickly. The excess solder can then be easily removed.

Reply
Ermanno Luciani 21st May 2017 - 4:07 pm

Sorry but why should i remove header pins from the board ?

Reply
Oscar 28th May 2017 - 4:21 pm

maybe you want a different angle? or maybe you want to direct solder?

Reply
AfR0 18th November 2015 - 4:41 pm

I heat the flux with my soldering iron, and I “claps” down empty space, so that the pin leave the hole very easily

Reply
Rob 7th August 2015 - 2:07 pm

Hi Oscar
I was just about to do this and make a mess when I read your post… Hopefully I’ll make a better job of it now. Cheers!!

Reply
Dave 6th August 2015 - 4:19 am

Hi Oscar,

I recently buggered up a naze32 board, which I was trying to fix one of the pins on. I lifted one of the pads.

Any recommendations on how to fix (I’m a novice) and whether its worth it?

Reply
Oscar 10th August 2015 - 12:43 pm

I don’t think there is a easy fix… you might need to get a new board.
But if it’s just a motor pin, you can use a spare motor pin by changing CMiX.
thanks
Oscar

Reply
EasyFlare 28th July 2015 - 6:13 am

Hi Oscar,

Insulate the contact point of pliers with plywood or similar material. This will prevent the heat loss through the pliers and can make the process go even faster.

Reply
Oscar 28th July 2015 - 5:46 pm

Yes very good point! Or use Chopsticks if you are from Asia :D

Reply
fl0PPsy 28th July 2015 - 5:32 am

Hi Oscar,

One thing I’m curious about when it comes to header pins is what is the best way to remove a component that has been soldered directly onto header pins. Take the Nucleus (and others now) PDB as an example. The MinimOSD can be soldered directly to the header pins on the PDB so it sits under the flight controller. I was thinking just recently that one day I’ll need to take the MinimOSD off the PDB again and it looks like it will be a painful job.

Does anyone have any tips on the best way to handle this?

Reply
Oscar 28th July 2015 - 5:44 pm

yes good question.
It’s not easy to remove header pins without destrying the header pins…
I will look into this and update the post… if I can…

Reply