The combination of aging eyes ... and modern electronics is not necessarily a good thing, as I'm discovering. I'm working on a project for our mud room, to turn the lights on and off with a touch of a cabinet handle. Thankfully most of the parts are available in (now) old-fashioned DIP packages. Some of the parts, however, are only available in packages intended for surface-mounting. The part at right is one such; it's the capacitive proximity sensor at the heart of this little project. It's available only in a SOT-6 package, which is tiny! I've glued it to a piece of vector board (the green stuff with holes in it). Those holes are a mere tenth-inch apart, which gives you some idea just how small this part is. The wires that you see there, with black and red insulation, are 30 gauge wires – not much bigger than a fine hair. Somehow I've managed to solder them onto their pins, after much trial-and-error. I could only do this because I have a tip for my soldering iron that ends in a sharp point that you could hurt yourself with. Also, I'm using a 5x magnifying glass and a nice, bright light.
I'm stopping for the day, as my eyes hurt and I can't hold my hands steady enough to do this any more. Four more of those wires and I'm done with this one. But I have another of these surface mount parts to do, too – yikes! I'm beginning to see why so many guides I've read advise people not to do this. I'm not sure it would really be any easier even if I had a circuit board, though. This is the first time I've ever attempted to use a part this small; hopefully it will get easier with some practice.