Options to Mount XBee/XBee-PRO SX RF Module

The XBee/XBee-PRO SX RF Module has an additional ground pad on the underside of the module used for heat dissipation which can only be accesssed by reflow soldering. The PCB design and manufacturing gives the recommended footprint and keepout, and other design advice.

For simple radio communication using UART the only connections required are VCC, GND and TX or RX. The module is the same width as the XBee headers and I’m aware that some users solder headers directly to the header. Obviously, this does not support heat dissipation as described in the User Guide. Maybe this is not a concern when the module is used indoors, in air-conditioned vehicles or with low power settings.

It is intended to use the modules with U.FL antenna outdoors on maximum power in Australia where summer temperatures can be extremely hot. The module is not available in through-hole form and reflow soldering is not readily available.

Suggestions are sought for practical cost-effective ways of mounting the modules. I’m receptive to just hand soldering the required 3.3v, Ground, TX or RX pins and another pin on the other side of the XBee header to mechanically hold the module in place. Are there reasonable alternative ways of heat dissipation given the module wouldn’t be sitting on a board? Maybe thermal paste on pad to an aluminum strip.

The module could easily be mounted on 2mm pitch prototype board.

Flywire, Sure thermal paste to an aluminum strip would be a good way of going about it. You could also add an external heat sink on the back (hole in mating PCB) or use an external fan to circulate air.

I used a thermal transfer silicone glue to put a large heatsink on the rf shield and a small one that didn’t interfere with the mating pcb on the bottom side where that extra thermal pad is.