Articles/Electronics/Other/Soldering 101

This tutorial will teach you the basics of how to solder. Soldering is a useful skill if you ever want to make permanent circuits. Learning how to solder is not rocket science, it is a relatively simple skill to acquire. After this tutorial you will know everything you need to solder a basic circuit board.

Soldering uses a material called solder in order to attach components to a circuit board and make an electric connection. Solder is usually 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead; you should also try to look for solder with a rosin flux. You can buy solder online or at any Radio Shack/electronics store. Lead is toxic so when you are soldering work in a well ventilated environment and try not to smell the fumes. The fumes you see when you are soldering are from the flux and not from the solder.

In order to solder you need a few materials first.

Here are the materials you NEED:

* Soldering iron (try to get one around 30 watts, the higher the wattage of the iron the faster the solder will melt.)

* Solder that is 60 percent tin 40 percent lead.

* Tweezers for putting the components onto the board.

* Pliers for bending the leads of components into the board

* A desoldering pump or braid to take away solder and "erase" your mistakes. There are many types available. The desoldering pump sucks up the solder.

* The braid attracts solder better then the copper in the board so you just heat up the solder, put the braid on it and pull.

* Lead cutters to cut off the ends of component leads.

* Wire Strippers to cut off wire insulation.

You do not need many tools in order to get started soldering as you can see from the mandatory materials.

Here are some tools that will make soldering easier:

* 3rd hand tool (pair of alligator clips attached to a base and that sometimes have a loupe attached.) They will help you keep your board steady while you are soldering components.

* Soldering stand to put your soldering iron on.

* A damp sponge.

* Anti static mat to prevent static sensitive parts such as IC's from being damaged.

* Enclosures for your project.

How To Solder

1. Step 1 of soldering is to get all your tools together and have everything ready; you can do this while your soldering iron is heating up.

2. First tin the tip of the soldering iron. Tinning the tip is when you heat up solder on the iron tip.

3. After you have tinned the tip wipe off the excess solder on a damp (not soaking) sponge.

4. Now stick in a resistor or any other component you are soldering into the board.

5. Bend both leads of the resistor flush against the board so it stays in place.

6. Take some solid solder and lay it against where the component lead is.

7. Melt the solder that is on the lead with your soldering iron's tips side. Do NOT apply the solder to the pointy part of the tip but to the sides. If you apply it to the tip the solder will not melt, since the sides have more surface area more heat will be applied to the solder and it will melt.

8. Now wait for the solder to cool, it should not take long. Do NOT blow on it to try to make it cool down faster, you make bad joints (bad connection and/or not reliable) that way. Make sure you do not move the board or component while it is cooling.

9. Cut off the leads of the components that are sticking out.

10. Survey your work; the joint should look like a volcano with the lead of the component in the middle. It should also be smooth and glossy looking.

11. If it looks like a good joint and it stays in place you have succeeded in soldering, congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back like a lunatic.

12. Email for help or project suggestions.