How to Solder


   Although there are some prototyping boards that allow prototypebasic soldering tools circuits to be built without soldering, at some stage you will need to commit to a more permanent construction. When you do there is no better alternative than soldering. It is a necessary skill whose subtleties are not always fully understood, resulting in joints that don't work or will fail after a short time.  Put basically, soldering is the joining of metals by a fusion of alloys, which have relatively low melting points with the purpose of making an electrical and mechanical connection. The following gives a brief overview of the basic technique.
    You'll need a soldering iron, solder, and a wet sponge. Irons of the 15W to 30W range are good for most electronics/printed circuit board work. Using anything higher in wattage will risk damage to the component or the pc board. Using the correct type of solder is also important. Use a thin resin core solder.
   preperation for soldering a component leg For solder to properly adhere to a connection, the metals must be clean and free of all non-metallic matter. You can clean a dirty lug or component with a small steel-bristle brush designed for the purpose, you can also use a solvent such as alcohol. For new components and fresh circuit board it is not usually necessary.soldering a component leg to a pcb
    When soldering, the idea is to apply the tip to the connection and almost simultaneously apply the solder to the junction between the tip and the connection. You want a small amount of solder to flow between the iron tip and the wire or component, which aids in transferring heat to the connections. The connection becomes hot enough for the solder to flow onto it, forming a solder fillet between all the parts. A good solder joint of a component leg to a pcb
    Keep the soldering iron against the connection long enough to "cook out" any flux residue, but not so long that the solder "burns up." The time for the entire operation should be very short, just a matter of seconds. Don't let the solder run down the tip, or try to heat up the whole area first. Apply just enough solder to fill the gaps, and no more, otherwise excess solder will flow into places where it is not needed, or where it can cause a short. To complete the process, remove the solder first, then the tip, being careful not to allow the connection to move while the solder is solidifying.
    A good connection is one where the solder has uniformly flowed over all the surfaces to be connected, following their contours. The connection appears bright, shiny, and smooth, with all wires in it appearing well soldered. However, if the connection is rough, grainy, or flaky looking, or if the solder formed into little round blobs, or has ridges or sharp points, redo it. Take the time to visually check the connection with those points in mind.
If the joint is a "cold" connection, caused either by insufficient heat, a wire moving, or foreign matter (such as oxides) getting into the connection, the cure is simple and direct: re-heat the joint and apply a little more solder. If that would place too much solder in the joint, you will have to remove the solder before trying again.


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Copyright 2008