Introduction: How to Solder: Tips and Tricks
This tutorial will outline how to properly solder and use all of the tools necessary to solder. Soldering is the process of joining metals by melting solder into a joint using an Soldering Iron. Once the melted solder cools in the joint, it hardens, joining the metals. This guide focuses on the basics of Soldering. It outlines both the materials needed, and the basics steps to successfully solder.
Step 1: Materials
- Coil of Solder
- Soldering Iron
- Wet Sponge
- Helping Hands
- Desoldering Wick
- Desolder Pump
Step 2: Preparing the WorkSpace
It is important to have a clear workspace for soldering. The first step is to plug in the Soldering Iron and turn it on. The Soldering Iron must heat up before it can effectively solder. Only touch the handle of the Soldering Iron, as the rest gets very hot, up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, a wet sponge is necessary to clean off the Soldering Iron if excess solder sticks to it. Simply wipe the tip of the iron onto the wet sponge, until the solder is removed. This will allow for cleaner soldering, and reduce the chance of short-circuits.
Next, a fan should be set up to collect the fumes from the soldering, especially if the soldering coil is leaded. These fumes are not healthy to inhale in large quantities.
Finally, Helping Hands or clamps are needed to hold the circuit board steady while soldering. If the circuit board moves around, you may solder or burn something you shouldn't, thus damaging the project.
Step 3: BE CAREFUL: USE THE FAN
It can be easy to forget about the fan. Sometimes the fan can even get in the way. However, it is necessary to use the fan to combat the fumes coming from the burning metal, especially if using leaded solder. Be sure to set up the fan close to the helping hands, so it can effectively collect the fumes.
Step 4: TIP: PICKING THE RIGHT TIP
Soldering Iron's come with a variety of tips, that range in width and length. It is important to pick the right tip for your project.
If you are working on a project in which the components are extremely close together, be sure to use a narrower tip. If your project has larger components that need to be soldered, a larger tip is recommended.
To change the tip, unscrew the existing tip, and screw in the desire tip.
BE CAREFUL: Apply the desired tip before turning on the Iron to avoid burning yourself.
Step 5: TIP: PICKING THE SOLDERING COIL
There are two types of soldering coils, leaded and unleaded. It is important to pick the right coil for your project.
Leaded coils have a much lower melting point. However, it is imperative that you have a fan to collect the fumes, because lead fumes are unhealthy to inhale, and can cause serious medical injuries in large quantities.
Unleaded coils do not contain lead. However, they have a much higher melting point than the leaded coils.
Step 6: Placing Components in Circuit Board
Speaking from experience, it is easiest to place as many objects into the circuit board as possible and then solder them all at once, instead of soldering each one individually. This method saves time.
To place components in the circuit board, feed the leads of the components through the circuit board, and then bend the leads from the other side, so that the components stay in place. This will make the soldering much easier. Once the components are in place, solder the leads, and then clip the excess leads. Be careful when placing the objects into the circuit board so that the components do not break.
Finally, be sure to feed the components through from the correct side of the circuit board. Follow the directions of the project carefully.
Step 7: BE CAREFUL: PLACING COMPONENTS IN CIRCUIT BOARD
Be sure to double check that the components are placed in the correct positions, because often times components will have positive and negative sides that must match the circuit board. Sometimes the longer lead indicates the positive side, other times it is indicated by a stripe on the component.
If the components are not placed in the correct orientation, the project will not work. If this is the case, use the Solder Pump to remove the solder and component. Then, replace the component in the correct orientation and solder.
Step 8: Soldering Method One
This first method is best when the components on the circuit board are not super close together. To solder, take the hot Soldering Iron and place this on one side of the component, or lead, and place the solder on the other side. After a second, the solder coil should heat up and melt. Once enough solder is melted, remove both the solder and the Soldering Iron. This should create a solder in the shape of a Hershey Kiss, fully encompassing the wire.
If necessary, remelt the solder using the Soldering Iron, and spread it around until the optimal shape is formed. The solder will harden immediately after the contact from the Iron is lost.
TIP: Do not make the solder too big, because it can get in the way of other components or lead to a short circuit.
Step 9: Soldering Method Two
This method is most useful when the components are very close together on the circuit board. To perform this method, press the solder to the tip of the hot Iron until a little of the solder is melted onto the Iron. Then press the iron against the desired component, and spread the solder. When enough solder is applied, remove the iron. Again, a Hershey Kiss shape is optimal.
TIP: This method is optimal for tight soldering, because it is easier to control the amount of solder melted, and only the Soldering Iron has to be used, unlike the other method where both the iron and coil were necessary.
Step 10: TIP: USING THE SPONGE
It is important to use the wet sponge throughout the soldering process. If there is excess solder on the iron, wipe the tip across the sponge until the solder comes off. It is important to clean off the tip of the iron, in order to control the amount of solder used on a particular joint. This way, you won't end up with massive solders.
Step 11: Clipping the Leads
Upon finishing a solder, it is important to clipping the excess leads using pliers. The leads are the excess wires that are sticking out from the circuit board. Cut the leads as close to the solder as possible.
BE CAREFUL: Be sure to wear protective goggles when clipping the leads. They often spray. To combat this, you can hold the lead as you clip it.
Step 12: If the Circuit Board Does Not Work
There are several reasons a circuit board may not work once soldering is complete.
1. If objects are not placed in the correct orientation. It is important to be mindful of the positive and negative sides of the components. Also, many components look very similar, so be mindful of putting them in the corresponding areas on the circuit board.
2. If the soldering of two components are connected. This will lead to a short-circuit, and the circuit board will not function. Use either a Desolder Pump or Desoldering Wick to remove the solder, then redo it.
3. If a solder is incomplete. This is called a cold joint. If a solder is incomplete, the solder does not fully attach the component to the board, and the hole through which the component was place is not covered by solder. Re-solder these components.
TIP: It can be very tricky to find a mistake among all the components when a circuit board is complete. So, if possible, test the circuit board throughout the project.
Step 13: How to Use the DeSoldering Wick
A Desoldering Wick is a coiled band of finely braided copper. To use the Desoldering Wick, simply remelt the solder using the Soldering Iron, and run the end wick over the melted solder. The wick will collect the melted solder.
TIP: Only pull out a small piece of the wick at a time. This allows for greater control of the wick without touching it.
The wick is best used to disconnect attaching solders or clean up solders. Once a wick has collected solder, use pliers to cut off the end. Once it has cooled sufficiently, discard it.
BE CAREFUL: Do not to hold onto the wick, as it does get very hot.
Step 14: How to Use the Desolder Pump
The Desolder Pump functions similarly to the Desoldering Wick. The pump is best used to clear larger chucks of solder from the circuit board.
To use the pump, remelt the solder on the circuit board using the iron. At the same time, hold the pump up to the melted solder, and press the button. This should suck of the melted solder.
The sucked up solder will then harden into a small pellet, which will be released when the pump is reset.
Repeat this process until the solder is clear.
BE CAREFUL: Make sure that the circuit board is fastened into the helping hands while using the pump. When the pump is activated, it creates a jolt. Just to be safe, lock the circuit board into place to avoid damaging it.
Step 15: Clean Up
Once done soldering, it is important to safely clean up.
Turn the Soldering Iron off first. Do not touch the tip of the iron even after turning it off, because it takes a while for it to cool down. Once the iron is cool, it can be put away.
Second, turn off the fan and put it away.
Then, remove the circuit board from the Helping Hands and put the circuit board in a safe place.
Finally, put away the solder coil, helping hands, pliers, and any other materials needed for the project.