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Idiot’s guide” to Soldering

Soldering is a joining process used to join different types of metals together by melting solder. Solder is a metal alloy usually made of tin and lead which is melted using a hot iron. The iron is heated to temperatures above 600 degrees Fahrenheit which then cools to create a strong electrical bond. Usually we use this technique to bond together electric wires, cables, connectors and this is how components are electrically and physically connected and mounted onto Printed Circuit Boards.

To solder you first need a soldering iron (around 25-40W for fine work and about 50-100W for connectors and coaxial cable), solder of appropriate thickness and a soldering iron holder. It pays to invest a bit more into a reliable good quality soldering iron with suitably fine tip for fine work. Adjustable temperature is a plus here as you can use the same iron for fine work and more robust cabling etc. Be careful so you don’t damage the components or printed circuit board. Practice. Find some old or unneeded experimenter circuit boards or boards from discarded devices, try to solder new components in, remove old ones, solder wires etc. The soldering iron is extremely hot so DO NOT touch the metal parts of the soldering iron! Also, try not to breath the fumes from the solder. Work in a well ventilated area. Before you solder you must tin the tip. Simply wait for the soldering iron to heat up, apply a coat of solder on the tip, and wipe it with a wet sponge. Now, to solder the components onto the board, cut the leads at the proper length. Stick the component’s leads through the proper holes and bend it so that It’ll stay still. Put the soldering iron tip so that it’s touching the lead and the copper at the same time. Then apply the solder on the lead (not on the tip of the soldering iron). Let the joint cool by itself. PRACTICE A LOT!

A small tip: Whenever you remove insulation from a wire, apply a coat of solder to the exposed end. It will be much easier to handle after that.

This is what a good soldered joint should look like:

 

 

 

Correct amount of Solder to be used:
a) Minimum amount of solder
b) Optimal
c) Excessive solder

 

A more extensive guide to soldering can be found here:

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