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tips and tricks to keep your soldering fun and frustration free!

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Step 1: Soldering iron tip

Picture of soldering iron tip
One day you decide to do some soldering. But to your horror, the soldering iron just wont melt any solder, no matter how long you wait. Chances are you have a dirty soldering iron tip. Lets go offer some solutions

1 get a new tip. depending on what type of soldering iron you have, you can get new tips. There are many different kinds you can get.

2 clean the tip. if you don't already have one, it's a good idea to invest in a tip cleaning sponge. after each soldered connection, clean the tip on the sponge (after getting the sponge damp). You can also buy soldering iron tip cleaners. you put your hot soldering iron tip in them and it will clean the tip, but there will be a lot of smoke.
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handson7 years ago
Thanks for your tips and tricks on soldering! My Toshiba Satellite A20/A25 Loptop's back light is out, I'll try to fix it myself(first time hands on it, yeah, a little shaky). I wonder what type of solder and solder wire should I purchase? Thanks!
Mr. M (author)  handson7 years ago
Sorry for lack of reply, been really busy lately. Depends what type of soldering iron you have. I'd go with lead/tin just to be safe. Make sure you get some practice soldering first.
handson Mr. M 7 years ago
I tried(solde) to replace my laptop backlight, but after I solded lightbulb onto the White and Pink wires, I tried the light bulb, it lit up, but soon I smelled a burning odor and saw a little spark at the connection where the pink wire was soldered to the lightbulb, then the light went out. So I soldered again, then turned the lightbulb on, it was fine. I put the light bulb back into the lightbulb holder and retaped it on the bottem. Next, I turned on the computer again, everything seemed fine and the screen was working, but then I smelled the little burning odor again, and the screen turned dark. So I untaped, and saw the pink wire was burned out again, (this time, the whole tip of the wire). When I tried to take out the backlight bulb I broke it :(. Before I order another one, I need some help! Do you have any idea why the pink wire would cause this burnout? Also, after soldering, do I need to tape the soldered point, or just leave it like it? The small silicon rubber cap at the connection point of both the pink and white wires and the lamp broke when I first disconnected it...could this be the problem? You're a specialist, can you please tell me why this happened...thanks so much for your help, I'm pulling my hair out!! Sophia
brt1 handson1 year ago


I know this is really late but the problem, most likely, originates from the fact that solder is a great conductor. When you soldered the pink wire, there might have been either a direct connection from the black wire to the pink wire (through the solder) or there might have been a small gap in the solder applied to each wire causing the wires to spark. The burning smell probably came from the fact that the sparks were creating short circuits so short in length that the light would just operate until a larger "strand" of electricity jumps between the wires/solder resulting in a more permanent short circuit. If the tip of the wire was burnt, check to make sure that you didn't somehow knock a resistor out of the loop... I, as well, don't have Ny experience concerning these matters...

Mr. M (author)  handson7 years ago
I'm very sorry about the long wait! Personally, I've never had this happen to me, so I don't know what the exact problem may be. Are the wires you are using rated for the voltage you are using? If you've already figured it out, I would love to know the problem!
handson Mr. M 7 years ago
Hi Mr. M, Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness. Ohhhh, I have had the longest fixing my laptop backlight process ever, I guess, because I'm still working ON IT. In fact, I almost did it - but because I was a first time solder-hands-on person, so I didn't know I need to use the electric tape to tape the soldered spot(I lost the silicon), therefore, it went short-circuit-maybe twice(at the time I didn't why it happened)... then... I broken the lightbulb :( :(. I tried to order another one but was glad told that the company also have the mail-in order which is everything all made for you that I just need to plug it in to the inverter(no solder needed). Wow, I was helped by a wonderful sales person online. After a week, I got the mail-in order backlight, but found out the plug wasn't fit in to my inverter(different size), so I had to mail it back and wait... Yesterday, I got my mail-in order again, I tried to place it back into the screen, but it seemed didn't work - I wondered the bulb holder maybe should be in a left to right position - which the screw hole on the bulb holder is in an opposite position of the screen frame screw hole(I think need to have pictures to show my wondering, you must confused, so sorry). I'm still try to contact the company - glad I have a very helpful person online and help me. I'm still waiting... I'm so sorry for letting you wait for so long, I'm so anxiously waiting for my this painful "work" to be completed. I'm so frustrated about this longggg fixing. Well, I will finish it after all, I don't have a choice.
C:\Documents and Settings\SOPHIA\My Documents\Toshiba backlight\11-13-'07 006.jpgC:\Documents and Settings\SOPHIA\My Documents\Toshiba backlight\11-13-'07 009.jpgC:\Documents and Settings\SOPHIA\My Documents\Toshiba backlight\11-13-'07 013.jpgC:\Documents and Settings\SOPHIA\My Documents\Toshiba backlight\11-13-'07 015.jpg
yoni007 handson6 years ago
hi the best thing you can do is shrink tubing the wires it will create a brier between the wires so you don't going to have any with each other so no shortage problem solved I hope you can do it your self good lack to you
Mr. M (author)  handson7 years ago
Well, if at first you don't succeed, try again! When I started soldering I had some trouble, but once you get the hang of it it really pays off! Hopefully you will be able to fix the problem soon!
handson Mr. M 7 years ago
Hi Mr. M, Happy holidays! Taa Daa... Hooray for my lighted screen! I finally did it, I replaced my laptop screen backlightbulb! After this long journey, I'm grateful for all your support and encouragement... helped me be able to go through some difficult times. I've learned a lot of backlightbulb, it's hard to do but it's still "fun" to do(after finished it, I can say that). Thanks, Mr. M!!!
handson Mr. M 7 years ago
Thanks for your encouragement. I will try to finish the job... when complete a project, I'm sure feels great that it may forget the struggle even happened :( :).
handson Mr. M 7 years ago
Thanks Mr.M!!! I got a "RadioShack 30-Watt All-Purpose Soldering Gun yesterday", maybe too big? I'll try to practice first. I guess I'll check the lea/tin also today in the store, thanks again!
nprince3 years ago
There are so many mistakes here its not funny.

1: Power does not equal temperature. A 30W iron is not inherantly cooler than a 40W. In the same way as a ferrari and a mini are capable of 30mph and 90mph, the ferari just gets there faster.

2: Lead free solder does NOT require a higher temperature. What is needs is more POWER in order for the iron tip to remain ata stable temp. 80W is the min for good high speed lead free solder (And the right size tip)

3: @Vspec. You are right Lead fumes are not good. However lead can not be vapourised buy any soldering iron, Unless it reaches 1000's of Centigrade because its faulty. Its the Rosin flux that creates the fumes and yes its not good for you.

Thanks for the clarification. Very well explained about the iron power and temperature.

Rather than a wet sponge, I like to use brass wool cleaner. Like this:


It cleans the tip without lowering its temperature.

yes. you are right at that point. but web sponge has its own advantages as well.

mr fat3 years ago
A well done guide!
Vspec4 years ago
luckily i use solder with a 92% lead content so i never have to worry about it not melting. you just have to use a fume hood, lead fumes are no good.
Tim Temple4 years ago
If you don't have a rheostat for your soldering iron, you can control the temperature with a shot glass of water. When the resin burns off, just tap the water with the tip and re-solder it.
fini27 years ago
cool dude, i made a pnumatic cannon with copper pipes, this helped alot to "seal the deal". ...ok bad pun...
grk2meet fini25 years ago
lol seal the deal
rivetgeek fini26 years ago
I sure hope you dont have much pressure in that. copper isn't rated very high for air, but it sure does make great shrapnel
dragus5 years ago
HEy this is really halpful but i was wondering if you could do some tips on "lead-free" solder because it requires a bit more heat. i am desoldering the front usb ports and the plug for the ring of light from my 360 mobo and am having trouble with some of the pins. the solder just isnt melting. help
 Dragus, you may have done this already, but check out llamma.com. I've had four 360's with RROD, and fixed two of them myself. I couldn't have done it without the tutorials on that site.

Also, I've had the same problem you're experiencing de-soldering analog sticks from controller motherboards. I've tried the vacuum tool and the de-soldering braids, and even made some of my own which worked occasionally. 

The best thing I did was buy a better variable temp soldering iron. That helped a lot. Good luck with the 360 mother board.
 The wick happens to overheat most components. Plus, it does a terrible job of removing solder. 

BTW, did you take any pictures at all? Why the googled images?
shams6 years ago
are ceramic tips good??
sharlston shams5 years ago
no brass are best but are rare
Id rather use copper ! higher heat conductivity
Derin6 years ago
i use those cleaners,it makes the tip shine like it never did
flashcactus6 years ago
there is also a type of tips that does not oxidize, and never has to be cleaned(u just have to clean the oxidized solder off it.)
but i thought u just said it never has to be cleaned
the one thing i have to say about this is; "lead free solder requires more heat to melt, so your soldering iron might not be strong enough. 40 watts is enough to melt it, so you can get a 40 watt soldering iron, or higher" I have just recently bought a 25w iron and it easily heats to 850 in 30 seconds which is not in the lease bit problematic for using lead-free solder. Other than that, I like the concept
I have a 25w iron and it heats to 750 and it has no trouble melting .62 lead free solder.
thnxs that shold help i found a old curcit made by a mashain and i pulled out all the componets so when i look ed at it i found the machainmade them all the wrong way
llama lord6 years ago
what soldering iron is best? I've been using the generic radio shack pencil irons, but I'm looking for something with a bit more... quality. I've heard Weller is good... what do you think?
Weller is a decent company for soldering irons and stations; however they aren't the only ones out there that offer good quality soldering equipment. It just depends on what you will be using it for and what type of money you want to spend. I've said it before but I really am a big fan of the edsyn stations. I've been using them for a long time now and I don't think that I’ll ever go back to any other company. I have used weller before as well as pace and metcal, but I really like the quality that the edsyn irons offer. I keep one with all my repair tools and it hasn't failed me yet. I'd suggest you look at them.
I got a Weller soldering iron for Christmas!! I have not tried it out yet through.
I got a butane soldering iron for christmas
Mr. M (author)  llama lord6 years ago
It really depends on what your willing to spend
is that dwight from the office as your pic? i love that show!
moya.edge6 years ago
Great tips, thanks!
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