Introduction: How To: Soldering
Learning the basics of soldering is easier than you may think. Follows is a crash course on how to solder two wires together. This is an essential skill to know when just getting started with electronics, and is a skill that is used often when making Simple Bots. This instructable is the entryway into the whole wild world of soldering.
This is an excerpt from my book Simple Bots. For a more thorough overview of soldering techniques, check out my other Intro to Soldering instructable.
Step 1: Solder
For Simple Bots, the ideal solder is .032" diameter 60/40 rosin core solder.
Feel free to try slightly thinner or thicker diameter solder, but it is highly recommended that you stick with 60/40 rosin core solder.
It is fair to assume the solder contains lead, unless stated otherwise on the packaging.
Working with lead requires precautionary measures such as:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling solder to wash the lead off.
- Take common-sense precautions like not wiping your eyes, nose or mouth, to avoid absorbing lead.
(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)
Step 2: Turn It On
Before any soldering can be done, the soldering iron needs to be turned on and heated to the desired temperature.
If you have an adjustable temperature soldering iron, set the temperature to around 300 - 350 degrees to start. This should be more than suitable for most soldering jobs.
If your soldering iron is not adjustable-temperature type, just let it heat up for about five minutes before trying to use it.
Step 3: Picking It Up
Always pick up the soldering iron by the insulated handle! This cannot be stressed enough... Always pick up the soldering iron by the insulated handle!
The metal part of the soldering iron is extremely hot and accidentally gripping it will result in terrible burns.
It is generally thought that you should hold the soldering iron as though you were gripping a spoon. Personally, I find it is easier to grip it more like you might hold a pen. Go with whatever technique makes you the most comfortable.
Step 4: Putting It Down
Always put the soldering iron back onto the soldering iron stand when you are done using it.
An unattended soldering iron that has not been properly put away can be disastrous, so it is extremely important that you always do this.
We want to create, not destroy anything. So, it is extremely important that you stay very alert while working with a soldering iron, right up to it's cooling time, and not let distractions take you away from the task at hand. This prevents you or your surroundings from coming to harm.
Step 5: Tin the Tip
For a new soldering iron, you will want to melt a thin coat of solder onto the tip. This is considered "tinning the tip." This thin coat will help to provide a base of solder which will help the solder to flow when you actually try to solder things later.
Step 6: Strip Wires
All of the soldering for Simple Bots involves soldering wires together.
The first step of doing this is to strip an inch of insulation away from each of the wires you are trying to connect together.
Step 7: Twist
Twist the exposed metal of the two wires together.
Step 8: Solder
Place the soldering iron to the wire joint, as to heat it up.
Push the solder into the wire until it melts and they fuse together.
As soon as they appear to be fused, remove the solder and iron.
Step 9: Trim
Trim away any excess exposed wire.
You only need the base of the solder joint where the two wires are fused.
Step 10: Clean
After soldering anything, the tip of the soldering iron needs to be cleaned off.
To do this, simply wipe the tip over a special soldering iron cleaning pad. Should you not have one, a mildly damp sponge works miracles.
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