Project 4: Soldering Tutorial

About: Hobbyist with bachelor in ECE department

Dear Fellow hobbyist,

Most of us know that soldering can be daunting sometimes, this tutorial will help you to get started and have the right tools to master this useful skill.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Soldering necessities:

+ A good Soldering station that allows you to control the temperature of the soldering tip. This being said there are other cheaper options too.

+ Soldering wire that has small diameter but not lead free, be careful !

+ Soldering iron Tip cleaner that would clean the iron tip from solder residues.

+ Soldering tip tinner that prevents oxidation and removes all residues. This would allow for an extended usability of your tip.

+ Desoldering braid for rework purposes when mistakes are made.

+ Flux that facilitate the flow of solder into the pad/hole or into the desoldering braid.

+ A Set of anti-static tweezers to handle all SMD components.

+ Multimeter needed for continuity testing and general testing of the final soldered board.

+ Solder smoke absorber to air the nasty smoke away from your face.

+ A magnifying glass station with hand clamps which is needed for smd work as we will solder all smd manually in this tutorial.

Step 2: Getting Ready to Solder

Before we begin this 4 hour soldering practice, it is good to know that you will need to take good measures to guarantee your safety. I found this article that summarizes the right procedures to take extensively.

This being said, the TL;DR version of that is to make sure your working environment is well aerated and that you have a fan blowing the nasty soldering smoke away from your face while doing the job. You can go ahead and buy the solder smoke absorber mentioned above or you can make your own by gluing the following two elements together:

+ Carbon Air filter.

+ PC fan.

In doing so, please note the direction of the fan. You want to suck all the smoke into the carbon filter. This DIY setup is powered by any a 12V- 1A DC power supply.

Step 3: Soldering Through Hole Components (PHS)

For the warm up I have chosen this relatively simple board,XR2206 function generator, that contains different sorts of PTH components.

But before you get in into it, I recommend watching this video from SparkFun Electronics that summarizes the techniques needed quite nicely. Another good warmup-set it the oscilloscope kit, DSO 138.

Step 4: Soldering Miscellaneous PTH Components

In this step you want to expose yourself to less common components. I have chosen the LM317 adjustable power supply that has components such as heat sink, transformer and crocodile connectors that are a bit tricky to solder. The end product is also useful when powering Arduino/ RaspberryPi projects.

Step 5: Soldering Surface Mount (SMD) Components

Now that you have soldered enough through hole components (PTH). It is time to do some tedious soldering. This will allow you to build stamina against having your back bend for a while looking at a magnifying glass. Before you start, make sure that your work place is well lit not to get tired quickly. After that, you want to check out Sparkfun tutorial about both soldering and desoldering Surface Mount Devices (SMD).

Here I have picked up the following Dot Matrix Kit which has a lot of different SMD components. Finally when placing the Dot matrices onto the main board, pay close attention to the polarity of those devices as indicated in the third picture in red.

Step 6: Soldering Miscellaneous SMD Components

Like we did with the Through hole components, here, you want to expose yourself to more miscellaneous SMD components. I have chosen the GSM-GPRS module for this purpose which will be used in later projects. Another good practice is to desolder a whole Arduino Nano and solder it back into another pcb socket. In doing so, you will be able to learn how to be patient with electronics. This skill is very important especially if you do mistakes while soldering delicate small components in the future.

Step 7: Conclusion Wrapping It Up

Soldering can be daunting sometimes, but with the right tools and the right working set-up you can turn it into a fun experience to look for. If you came across other soldering kits good for a well-rounded soldering practice, let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, cheers!

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