Saturday, 27 December 2014

Beginners guide to soldering

Hi there!

This is just a quick blog to introduce my beginners guide to soldering video tutorial:

On the off chance that blogspot screws up the video link, this is the permanent YouTube link:

If you're starting out with electronics and finding soldering frustrating, take a look. It's full of the important tips and techniques that make soldering a breeze.

In case you don't get a chance to view the full 40 minutes, here's some top tips from the video (plus a few extra!):

  • The most essential piece of kit for soldering (other than a soldering iron) is the third hand - a simple device that will hold your wires in place while you solder. Spark Fun do a good one, but there's loads to choose from (just search for electronics, third hand on google).
  • Wait for the iron to get properly hot before starting
  • Cover the tip of the iron in solder, then wipe off the excess before using it. This coats it in fresh solder and makes it better at transferring heat.
  • Use the heat proof sponge that (probably) comes with the iron to wipe off excess solder when it builds up. If you haven't got a sponge, any heat proof cloth will do.
  • Always 'tin' your wires/components before trying to join them. This is basically coating the parts you want to join in a thin layer of solder, before actually trying to solder them together.
  • If you accidentally melt the plastic at the end of the wire and it starts to cover the bits you're joining, trim them off and start again. Solder won't stick to plastic - there's no point trying!
  • Make sure you've got a bit of ventilation, but there's no need to go nuts over it. I make sure I have the door to my study open so smoke doesn't build up in one room, and if it's warm outside I'll open a window.

And the number 1 rule! Heat the components you're joining, not the solder! You might find you have to touch the solder a bit with the iron to get things going, but the key is making sure that the components are hot. If you don't, the solder won't liquidize onto your components, and instead it'll just form annoying big blobs on the iron itself, which is immensely annoying!

Good luck!

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