Introduction: How to Solder: Tips and Tricks
In this guide you will learn how to properly use a soldering iron, solder, grabbing arms and other related items. Soldering is very useful to attach to metal objects together. In this guide you will specifically learn how to solder resistors and other objects on to a circuit board. Similar devices to soldering irons such as welding torches use a very high and melt the metal of the object. Soldering involves melting solder, which is usually comprised of tin and lead, at a low temperature around 400 degrees with a soldering Iron. This will melt the solder and once it cools off, join the two pieces of metal together.
- Wire cutters
- Soldering Iron
- Grabbing arms
- 2 pieces of wire or something to solder
- Circuit board
- Solder sucker
- Solder wick
- Carbon filter fan
WIHKE = wish I had known earlier
Step 1: Choosing the Right Solder
There are different types of solder. There is lead based solder and lead-free solder. The lead solder has a lower melting point but contains lead which is a known carcinogen and can have negative effects on your health. Lead-free solder has a higher melting point but may also not be as easily to move around and free flowing. There are different diameters of solder and one should use the diameter that fits the project you are doing. If you are soldering 12 gauge wire together, you will probably need solder with a big diameter.
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
It is important to gather everything you need before you start because we will be soldering objects onto a circuit board which require all the tools labeled necessary .
Step 3: Setup
After you gather all of your objects, you should select the soldering iron size tip needed for your project and turn on your soldering iron to heat it up. Wet your sponge. Set out the helping hands and clamp the circuit board or other object you are soldering down so it does not move around. If you have a carbon filter fan, now would be the best time to turn it on and set it up.
Best Practice tip: Always use the helping hands! They will make you life much easier and some come with a magnifying glass
Step 4: Best Practice Tip: Fan
Set your helping hand close to the carbon-filter fan if you are using one. A lot of the smoke dissipates up into the air. It will help if you set your fan very close to your soldering setup so that the smoke can be drawn in.
Step 5: Put Objects Into Circuit Board
Now one should begin to insert objects into their circuit board to make sure that everything fits into the correct slots in the circuit board. Follow directions carefully and be sure to use examples.
WIHKE: There are two sides to the circuit board board, that means that not everything goes on one side so pay close attention!
WIHKE: There are usually outlines on the circuit board or the actual object you are soldering if you need to position it a certain way. Be mindful of this as somethings have a specific orientation.
(WIHKE = Wish I Had known Earlier)
Step 6: Soldering Option #1
There are two techniques used to apply the solder. Grab the solder in your non-dominant hand and give it about an inch and a half. Touch the solder to the metal prong. Take the soldering iron in your dominant hand and quickly touch it to the metal prong and the solder. You must do this relatively quickly or else a big glob of solder will form which you do not want. The cooled solder should look like a hershys kiss.
Best Practice: Make sure to put the soldering iron back in its holding station when not in use so you do not mistakenly burn anything.
Best Practice: Before soldering, make sure all components are in the right place. Double check!
Step 7: WIHKE: Amount of Solder
There is also such thing as too little solder. Make sure you apply the perfect amount so it looks like a hershys kiss. If you don't have enough solder then the connection between the pad and the metal prong will not be made and your device will not work.
(WIHKE = Wish I Had known Earlier)
Step 8: Soldering Option #2
The second technique is to apply solder onto the soldering iron first. Take the solder in your non-dominant hand and the soldering iron in your dominant hand once again. Quickly touch the solder and the soldering iron together. This will leave a small glob of melted solder on the soldering iron. Now all you have to do is touch the soldering iron to the prong and it should come off!
WIHKE: Do this over a surface that you do not care about getting solder on as occasionally it will fall off the soldering iron.
Step 9: Best Practice Tip: the Sponge
If you have excess solder on the soldering iron then you should use the damp sponge to remove it by dragging the tip along the sponge. This will help your soldering as you can better control how much solder you use so you can get a perfect solder.
Step 10: Cleaning Up Messy Solder and Prongs
There are many ways to clean up messy solder, wether it was formed by a glob of solder that was too big or you missed placing the solder. If there are two pins close to each other with solder connecting them you can try dragging the soldering iron through the middle of them to split the connection. If this fails you can try the solder sucker or solder wick which will be mentioned in the next two steps.
After you are happy with the solder, you should clip the prongs extending out of the circuit board as they are not necessary and get in the way. Make sure you clip them as short as possible!
Step 11: Using the Solder Sucker
If you want to remove excess solder or messed up by putting an object in to the circuit board the wrong way, you can use a solder sucker to remove it. To use it, heat up the solder that you wish to remove with your soldering iron by laying it across the solder. Next push the black syringe down on your solder sucker. Place the solder sucker as close as you can to the solder you want to remove and push the button to activate the vacuum. This will suck the dry solder up into the syringe and later deposite it back out in a cooled state.
Step 12: WIHKE: Solder Sucker
Using the solder sucker will cause your hand to jolt, usually hitting the thing you are working on. Make sure that it is secured by the helping hands! If not then there is a chance that your work could come off the helping hands and break.
(WIHKE = Wish I Had known Earlier)
Step 13: Using Solder Wick
The solder wick is another method you can use to remove solder. This can be done by heating up the solder and dragging it through the solder. The melted solder will then attach itself to the wick. I recommend pressing the wick down with the soldering iron as it is much easier to do it this way as shown in the picture.
Pictures courtesy of: https://www.sparkfun.com & girr.org
Step 14: What If It Doesn't Work?
If your project doesn't work and you think it may be your soldering, check to make sure that no solder is touching. This would cause a short circuit. You must also make sure that there is enough solder on every prong or else it may not be attached to the circuit board.
Step 15: Clean Up
Make sure you clean up and put everything away after a day of hard work. Especially don't leave your soldering iron on!
If you want to learn more check out these other guides and websites!