Bob Dorner
Objective: Soldering is bringing the two parts being joined up to the melting point of solder in the presents of a wetting agent
(“flux”), then introducing a bit of solder.
EQUIPMENT & SUPLIES: An ordinary cheap soldering pencil of 25 Watts or less is fine. A temperature-controlled solder
station is better yet! I like fine gauge Kester 60/40 (tin/lead) or Multicore solder. (Tree huggers have induced the common
usage of lead-free solder. That stinks. It is hard to work with.) Any small can of rosin flux is important to have and lasts a long
time. Inexpensive needle nose pliers, diagonal flush cutting pliers and wire strippers are also needed in printed circuit board
assembly. It is occasionally necessary to unsolder a component, hence solder wicking (copper braid) and a solder sucker are
good additions to the list.
SAFETY SAM SAYS: Hot irons and hot solder burns… so don’t wave the iron around, lean on it or leave it unattended! Also
note that the cord of the soldering iron can easily be melted and destroyed. The fumes released while soldering should not be
inhaled. Although they contain little lead (not hot enough to vaporize much) the rosin vapors are harmful. When clipping leads
use caution as they can fly a surprising distance, so wear glasses or safety goggles.
QUICK P.C. ASSEMBLY: Identify every component value and polarity very carefully. If necessary, clean the p.c. board. Insert
the components in the board on the proper side of the board, flush with the board surface. Hold the component in place by
bending the excess leads outward at about a 45 degree angle away from the component on the solder side of the board.
I put many (or all) of the components in place first and then solder them all at the same time. (I do not place and solder them
one at a time as suggested in many instruction manuals). However, before you solder double check that everything is in its
proper place, IC chips are especially difficult to unsolder!!! Solder each connection as shown on the next page. The idea is get
in, solder, and get out quickly. This requires a clean board, well tinned iron and high quality solder.
I never use a “heat sink” as experience has taught me they are ordinarily not necessary. I do avoid soldering semiconductor
and IC chip leads in rapid succession so as to avoid heat build up. When repairing old equipment or with low quality boards it is
often helpful to dip the solder into the flux to assist the cleaning and wetting of the joint. You can solder copper, brass, tin cans,
semiconductor slabs (thermisters & photocells) and if you are careful it is possible to solder batteries to repair or make
rechargeable battery packs.
Unfortunately lead-tin solder will not
adhere to NiChrome heating or
resistive element wire.
(Left) Printed circuit board copper tracks must be clean
to begin with, especially if they're not previously "tinned"
with solder. Clean any raw p.c.b. copper tracks gently
with an abrasive rubber block, fine sand paper, scrubby.
(Right) Clean the soldering iron tip using a damp
sponge or paper towel. The iron shown is an Ungar
temperature-controlled soldering station. Other popular
brands of soldering equipment include Weller and
(Left) A useful product is rosin paste for tinning the iron.
Troublesome joints can be prompted to solder with a
tiny bit of added rosin flux. Electronic solder has a flux
core and ordinarily does not require additional flux. New
tips must be tinned immediately when used for the first
(Right) Insert components and splay the leads so that
the part is held in place.
(Left) It's usually best to snip the electronic component
wires to short length after soldering. Use caution since
the wire scrap can fly and hit your eye.
(Right) Apply a clean soldering iron tip to the copper
solder pad and the component lead, in order to heat
both items at the same time. A bit of melted solder on
the iron helps to heat the joint rapidly.
(Left) Continue heating and apply a few millimeters of
solder. Remove the iron and allow the solder joint to
cool naturally.
(Right) It only takes a second or two, to make the
perfect joint, which should be nice and shiny. A good
solder joint resembles a “Hershey Kiss.”
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