Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Soldering

My last two posts have talked about the Arduino Pro Mini and some background about headers and mounting. To put these together you are probably going to need to do some soldering. 

So what do you need to do soldering?
  • Soldering Iron - tool used to melt the solder. 
  • Solder - material which is melted by the iron and used for soldering. 
  • Solder Wick - material which is used to remove excess solder
  • Flux - material which is used to prime a surface for soldering
The second two of these are technically optional but they are both cheap and having them available will make your life easier. 

The general process for soldering is as follows.
  • Prepare the joint to be soldered - make sure it is held steady and won't move as you attempt to solder it. You may find this tricky - I always wish I had a 3rd or 4th hand!
  • (Optional) Apply a little flux to the joint. This is a mild acid which will clean the joint and allow a better solder connection to form. Solder won't bond with an oxidized or dirty surface.
  • Preheat the iron. Soldering is all about heat so don't try to start until your iron is nice and hot. 
  • Touch a small amount of solder to the tip of the iron. This is called "tinning" the iron and ensures good heat conductivity. 
  • Press the iron onto the joint to be soldered. 
  • After a second or two, press the solder onto the other side of the joint. The solder should be melted by the joint being hot enough rather than directly by the iron. If you touch the solder to the iron it will likely just vaporise/stick to the iron.
  • Remove the solder from the joint first. 
  • Then remove the iron.
There are a lot of good soldering videos on YouTube. Here are a few which I have found useful.




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