How to Remove Header Pins on Flight Controllers

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

11 thoughts on “How to Remove Header Pins on Flight Controllers

  1. Chase

    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
  2. Rob

    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
  3. Dave

    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
    1. Oscar Post author

      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
  4. EasyFlare

    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
  5. fl0PPsy

    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
    1. Oscar Post author

      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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you Robot? *

I only check blog comments once or twice a week, if you want a quick reply you can post your question on this forum IntoFPV.com... You might get a faster response from me there (multirotor related only).