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Solder sockets and header pins on straight every time.  Start by soldering down only two points on a row of header pins or an ic socket, one on each side.  Then check the alignment of the pins/socket before soldering the rest of the pins down.  This way if things are not aligned you can easily reheat one of your soldering points and straighten out part.
&quot;<em> This way if things are not aligned you can easily reheat one of your soldering points and straighten out part.</em>&quot; I've done this a few times and always forget to <strong>not</strong> hold the header by the pin that is getting re-heated. I got burned by that a few times quite literally! What I do now is plug the headers into a standard arduino and fit the shield board over that. The pins should be perfectly aligned and gravity does a nice job holding the shield board down while you solder.

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Bio: I'm a grad student at the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT Media Lab. Before that I worked at Instructables, writing code for ... More »
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