Basic Soldering

Hackerspace LA Meetup – April 06, 2016

 Basic Soldering

Electronic soldering is one of the basic skills that any hacker or maker should learn right away!  Even if you are not a hobbyist, many of our everyday life is run by devices that at one point or another will fail!  Knowing how to solder is a great skill needed in getting our devices up and running again.  If you are a hacker/maker you will see that soldering is an indispensably skill.

There are many technics to solder and they are dependent on what are you trying to join.  Soldering cables together is quite different than trying to solder a component to a PCB.  From heat used to what type of tip on your iron is used all differ according to your project.

Adafruit prepared a great page with lots of useful information on choosing your soldering iron and other peripherals that you may need to create your own personal soldering kit.

Adafruit’s Soldering Kit:  https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-guide-excellent-soldering/tools

 The basic items you will need for a decent soldering kit are as follow:

  •  Soldering iron (preferably with swappable tips)
  • Soldering iron holder
  • Tweezers
  • Diagonal Cutters
  • Solder standard 60/40 with rosin core
  • Eye protection

 Handy Tools/Materials:

  •  Vise or Third hand
  • Solder sucker
  • Solder wick
  • Micro needle nose pliers
  • Solid core wire (various gages)
  • Wire stripper

 Choosing a Soldering Iron

There are many types of soldering irons.  For most projects, you will want a pencil-style soldering iron with 25 watts or more.

An under-powered iron is a poor investment.  It will end up costing you more in ruined kits and damaged components. It will take longer to heat the joint, allowing heat to spread to the component being soldered – potentially overheating and damaging the component. Longer heating times will also give more time for oxides to form on the surfaces being soldered.  This will prevent the solder from flowing and result in a poor joint. Longer recovery times between joints can result in frustration, ‘cold joints’ or both.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good iron.  Advanced features such as temperature control and interchangeable tips are nice to have, but not essential for hobbyist-level work.

Basic Irons

There are many basic pencil style irons that are suitable for hobbyist use.  But you will need one that is capable of heating the joints quickly enough.  Choose an iron with 25 watts at a minimum.

Better Irons

An adjustable temperature iron with a little more power will give you a bit more control and allow you to work faster.  The Adjustable 30W 110v Soldering Iron in the store is an excellent choice.

Best Irons

A professional-style temperature-controlled iron with interchangeable tips and 50 watts or more of power is a joy to work with.  Feedback control keeps the tip temperature at precisely the level you set.  The extra watts speed recovery time so that you can work faster. Interchangeable tips let you select the ideal tip shape for specialized work.

The 65 watt Hakko FX-888 is an excellent professional quality soldering iron.  The Weller WES51 or WESD51 are also excellent choices for serious electronics work.

 Resources:

Adafruit’s Soldering Kit:  https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-guide-excellent-soldering/tools

These Simple Tips and Projects:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/learn-solder-simple-tips-projects/

Solder Butt Splice Trick: https://youtu.be/UoFK5RM027w

Basic Soldering Lessons 1 – 9:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL926EC0F1F93C1837

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