Saturday, July 01, 2006

Soldering: A few tips

This time some practical advise on soldering;

Half the job is done if you have some good tools. Yes, you can easily solder with a relatively cheap soldering iron of around $50,- or so, but if you can stretch your budget, get a solderstation with a temperature regulator on it.(preferably one with a display that shows you how hot the iron is.
This enables you to set the temperature of the soldering iron to a constant and very efficient temperature. The temperature used by the military, and other proffesionals is 360 degrees celcius (680 F).
This temperature is a ideal balance between the melting of the solder, and the evaporating flux, or better to avoid too much of it evaporating before the solder has melted and distributed evenly.
But that's not all. Also technique is important. Firstly, make sure that you place the tip of your soldering iron so that both parts (i.e. the circuitboard track, and the component leg) are heated. Heat the components for about 1-2 seconds and add the solder to the tip of the iron while holding it in place. The spot to add the solder is as close as you can get to the track on the PCB. Don't add too much, but you'll soon learn how much is needed at this temperature.
Once it flows out, and is to your satisfaction, remove the solder and the iron. Let it cool off gently, and avoid bumping the table or PCB while it cools down. If this does happen, the solder will ripple, and causes a dull finish , 'shocking the solder'. What's more, the structure and strength of the solder joint is compromised. This is easily solved by reheating it, but with some of the parts used being sensitive and expensive, this is not the greatest situation to be in, so take a little care, and remember that it is not a race.
OH , one more thing, using the organic solder in the kits provided by synth tech, make sure you WASH the board when instructed to do so by the manual, with luke warm water. Failing to do so, will leave a mess (not always directly visible) that is much harder to clean up the next day..
The TIP of your iron: get a tip that is approx 1.5mm for the realy small components and IC's, and you can get away with using a 3mm tip for wiring and jack connectors etc...

Clean it after use with a wet sponge while it is still warm.


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