Electronics Elements

This tutorial will give you an introduction to basic electronics for beginners. Learn about electronic elements and electrical study


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Soldering Tips

The following soldering tips will prove useful for any projects that requires soldering. Here we are assuming that you know what soldering is all about as well as how to go about it. For basic on soldering, check out the following links.

                                  Soldering techniques 

 What is soldering technique needed to ensure good connection between conductors on the PCB?  Soldering, in layman terms, is merely gluing things together with melted metal. It is the process of amalgamating metals to provide a good electrical connection. It is not difficult, though it does take a little practice to get the hang of it. Having the right tool for the job is also very important.

Tools needed 

The basic technique is using a soldering iron and a solder. The soldering iron, is simply a tool that supplies enough heat to melt the solder. Soldering iron comes either with variable temperature or no temperature control.

Solder is an alloy of two metals, with a relatively low melting point, that will flow onto the surface of other metals creating a low-resistance electrical connection. It is generally tin and lead and is usually identified by its tin/lead composition.

If you look at a solder roll, you will usually find numbers like 40/60, 50/50, or 60/40. These are ratios of tin/lead, as percentages. Solder with a higher tin content melts at a lower temperature.

Soldering Technique 

Start off by ensuring that all parts you are connecting are clean from dirt and grease. Also ensure that the mechanical connection are secure before you apply solder, and the parts should not be able to move in relation to each other.

Another important point to note is that both parts of the joint to be made must be at the same temperature.
To actually solder a joint, first apply heat by applying the top of the soldering iron against the things you are joining, immediately apply solder to the point where the iron is contacting. Remember, you should be heating the joints, not the solder!

Feed solder only until there is enough to fill the gap and leave a slight swell. Don't apply too much solder, as it can flow over into other places and cause a short circuit. Remove the solder and the iron smoothly. The whole process should only take two or three seconds at most. Avoid touching the join until it is cooled.

A good solder joint will look shiny and smooth while a bad solder joint will look dull and crinkly.
Should you need to redo a solder joint, always start from scratch. Remove the solder you just put on, and clean the surface before you start the process again.

Soldering Tools

Essential soldering tools  

Soldering Iron 

A device for applying a point source of heat to melt solder for soldering two materials together. Soldering irons are typically electrically powered. Soldering irons may have interchangeable tips for different types of work. Pyramid tips with a triangular flat face are useful for soldering sheet metal. Fine round tips are useful for electronics work. You also have a choice of either a soldering iron with variable temperature or one with no temperature control.


This is an alloy of tin and lead that melts at a fairly low temperature and is used for making permanent electrical connections between parts and wires. The most commonly used type of solder is rosin core.
The rosin is flux, which cleans as you solder. The other type of solder is acid core and unless you are experienced at soldering, you should stick to rosin core solder. Acid core solder can be tricky, and better avoided for the beginner.

Other useful tools 

- soldering iron tips - comes in different sizes and shapes (pointed or flat tips)

- solder wick or solder sucker for cleaning up solder

- small hand tools eg clamps for clipping component leads, bending and shaping etc

- soldering iron stand - a heat resistant cradle for your iron to sit in, so you don't have to lie it down on the bench while it is hot. This will prevent it from burning things in your work area

- magnifying glass to inspect the connection

- a wet sponge to clean soldering iron tips

- fume extractors to suck out the poisonous solder fumes and filter it
Soldering Tips - Preparation 

1. The selection of the soldering iron is important. Irons of the 15W to 30W range are good for most electronics/printed circuit board work. Higher wattage than this might damage either the component or the board. It is best to select an iron specifically intended for electronics. Use also the correct tip size.

2. All parts (including the iron tip itself) must be clean and free from dirt and grease. Dirt is the enemy of a good quality soldered joint.

3. A good mechanical connection is necessary before you solder. Make sure the parts are not able to move in relation to each other.

Soldering Tips - Soldering 

1. When using your soldering iron for the first time, you need to "tin" the tip. This is also true after you replace the tip. Just heat up the iron and apply a thin coat of solder to the tip. This helps to achieve good heat transfer to the item you are soldering.

2. Avoid scratching and scraping the tip. You need to keep the tip clean always. When soldering, keep a wet sponge beside you and use it to clean the tip periodically while soldering. When you have finished soldering, put a blob of solder on the tip as it cools, this seals it, helping to prevent oxidation.

3. Both parts of the joint to be made must be at the same temperature before applying solder. The solder will flow evenly and make a good electrical and mechanical joint only if both parts of the joint are at an equal high temperature.

4. Apply an appropriate amount of solder. Too much solder is an unnecessary waste and may cause short circuits with adjacent joints. If it is too little, it may not support the component properly, or may not fully form a working joint. You will know how much to apply through practice.

5. Should you need to redo a solder joint, always start from scratch. Remove the solder you just put on, and clean the surface before you start the process again.

6. If you need to clean solder off a circuit board, use a solder wick. Place the wick on the joint or track you want to clean up, and apply your soldering iron on top. The solder will melt and gets drawn into the wick. If there is a lot of solder the wick will fill up, so gently pull the wick through the joint and your iron, and the solder will flow into it as it passes.

7. Don't move the joints until the solder has cooled.

Soldering Tips - Safety 

1. You should always work in a well ventilated area as the fumes from the soldering could be harmful to your eyes and lungs.

2. Always wear eye protection to protect you from possible solder splashes as well as the solder fumes.
3. Solder on a fire resistant surface.

4. Never leave your iron plugged in and unattended.

5. Never set your hot iron down on anything other than an iron stand. This is to prevent it from burning things in your work area.

6. Replace the cord of your iron if it becomes worn or gets burnt.

7. To prevent burning your fingers, use needle nose pliers or heat resistant gloves to hold small pieces.

Soldering Tips - Common mistakes 

1. Most beginners tend to use too much solder and heat the joint for too long.

2. The parts being soldered is dirty or greasy, as such the solder won't take (or 'stick') to it.

3. The joints were not mechanically secured and moved during soldering.

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