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Learn How to Solder


Soldering is the practice of using solder as a filler to join two pieces of metal together. When the solder heats to a liquid state it creates a bond between the two metal pieces and creates an electrically conductive joint.

There are a lot of great informative soldering videos online. Here are some main points to get you started soldering. We want to hear your suggestions, tips and tricks, and of course your most memorable stories.

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Soldering



Soldering Iron


Soldering irons that are low in wattage are great for soldering temperature-sensitive components onto circuit boards. When it comes to the components, there is a much lower risk of applying too much heat and damaging a component. But, make a note that other materials and components (like wire) may need a higher wattage iron. For quality across the board we recommend a soldering station that is temperature controlled.

Weller Soldering Iron
25W High-Quality Soldering Iron WP25


A Variety of Solder


Solder comes in a variety of lead and tin compositions and multiple thicknesses. One of the most popular compositions of solder is made up of a combination of 40% lead and 60% tin. Due to health codes around lead, you will see more lead-free alternatives available for use.

Using thinner solder is ideal for detailed work, like placing SMD components. Wire will require thicker solder, and you'll see plumbers using really thick stuff when doing copper piping work.

Silver-content solder requires more heat but flows more smoothly and provides higher conductivity.

Solder that has a rosin core acts as a flux when soldering to help the flow and wettability of the solder.

Solder Roll
1-lb. 0.015"Dia. Solder Roll GSR-123


Tips Come in Many Different Shapes and Sizes


The solder tip is very important to soldering. Depending on the size of the solder pad you are working with, the width of the tip makes a big difference.

There are different tips for different projects. Here are the most used types of tips: conical, pointed, screwdriver and chisel.

You must maintain a clean and well tinned tip with a coat of solder at all times. If not, it will lead to a soldering nightmare. By simply tinning your tip you will improve the conductivity and add longevity by reducing oxidation.


Solder Tip
Weller ST Series Conical Tip ST7
Keep a damp sponge and/or metal wool cleaner nearby to ensure you are always working with a clean tip. If you do use a damp sponge, wipe the tip quickly so as not to cool off the tip too much. Using a metal wool cleaner doesn't require water, so no heat will be lost. You can also revive oxidized tips by using special tip tinners and a polishing bar.

You will also need good sharp flush cutters to trim your leads, and we'd like to point out a third hand will always come in handy.


Soldering


Solder Diagram1
Solder Diagram2
Solder Diagram3

Electronics components should be flush to the surface of the board. Install the components in the same direction to be easily identifiable and to keep the board looking neat.

The tip must come into contact with the component lead and the pad on the board. Make sure that your tip is positioned correctly.

As the iron heats the component lead and the pad, the two will easily melt the solder creating a good joint. Make sure the solder creates a shiny little volcano around the lead.


You should not see any lead hole or any part of the pad. You should also watch that your solder is not flat on the board. This may result in an improper connection. To fix, simply add more solder.

On the other hand, too much solder may cause two pads to accidently connect together creating a connection that shouldn't be there, called a short circuit. Fix this by simply using a desolder wick to remove the solder causing the misconnection.

Desolder Wick

Soldering with Jameco

Check out Jameco Sales and Marketing Vice President Greg Harris' trial and errors from the first time he soldered in the video below.



Here are some great Club Jameco Kits to get you soldering!

BrighT LED Kit
DIY LED Matrix
Game of Shouting Match
Magic Color
Programmable Temperature Logger Kit


Photo credit to Sciencebuddies.org.

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