Introduction: Learning to Solder 101
Figure A: Sample Materials
Soldering is the process of liquidating lead solder in order to create a mechanical and conductive fixture between the board and an electrical component. This allows for the component to be secured to what it needs to be connected to and be able to conduct electricity.
- Soldering Iron
- Face Mask with Filter
- Heat Resistant Gloves
- Lead Solder
- Component (Resistor for Example)
- Solder Board or Circuit Board or Prototype Board or PCB
- Wire Strippers
- Solder Braid (Optional)
The soldering iron can be temperatures over 600F (or 315 C). This means the soldering iron, electrical component, and circuit board can burn you while soldering. Lead solder when melted also releases toxic fumes.
- Wear goggles, heat resistant gloves, and a face mask at all times
- Don’t touch the tip of the soldering iron, the electrical component, nor the solder board while soldering
Step 1: Setup
Figure B: Soldering Iron Setup
- Place the soldering iron on the the same side as your dominant hand
- Plug in the soldering iron
- WARNING: Do not touch the iron tip anymore
- Dampen the sponge so that it is moist to the touch
- Take the roll of solder and cut off a 6 inch strip with the wire strippers
- Place the strip of solder, electrical component (resistor), and circuit board in front of you
Step 2: Preparing the Component
Figure C: Bending the Component
- Pick up the component and hold it where you want it to go on the circuit board
- Bend the legs of the component at 90 degrees in the same direction
- The location of the bend is where the holes overlap the metal leads of the component
- Place the legs of the component in the holes on the board and splay out the legs as shown in Figure C
- Turn over the circuit board
- The resistor should be facing towards the table/ground and the legs are facing up into the air
Step 3: Soldering the Component
Figure D: Example of Soldering
WARNING: Soldering with lead solder produces toxic fumes that are harmful to the lungs. Make sure to wear face mask at all times.
- Place the soldering iron in your dominant hand and the lead solder in your non dominant hand
- Test if the soldering iron is hot enough by lightly wetting the tip of the iron with some of the lead solder
- If the solder instantly melts, you are ready to continue
- Otherwise, clean the iron on the damp sponge and wait
- Various soldering irons require different times to warm up so be patient
- Warm the component and conductive part of the circuit board with the tip of the soldering iron
- This is done by gently resting the tip of the iron on the metal for 2 or 3 seconds
- WARNING: Warming components too much can result in component failure
- Place the lead solder on the tip of the iron, component leg, and conductive part of the circuit board
- Allow for about an inch of the lead solder to flow onto the metal parts of the component and circuit board
- Wait 90 seconds for the component to cool
- WARNING: The component, lead solder, and circuit board may still be hot
- Repeat 4-6 to the other leg of the component
Step 4: Patience and Practice
Figure E: Good vs Bad Solder
Soldering is a skill that requires lots of practice, so many of your first solders will come out looking like the "Bad Joint" in Figure E. "Good Joints" are formed when the perfect amount of solder is added for the perfect amount of time. Solder can be viewed as an art form; it is easy to teach the basics, but impossible to inspire greatness.
Soldering can be applied to not only components like resistors, but also capacitors, inductors, integrated circuits, and transistors. With patience and practice, you can develop your soldering skills to allow you to make clean, permanent circuits.
Step 5: References
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