How to solder electronic components

How to solder electronic components

Learning how to weld correctly is essential for anyone who wants to be a maker. Welding is not an easy skill to master, it requires all the effort and passion, typical of a true maker. Certainly, some tips and tricks can help you improve the quality of your weld. In this tutorial we will cover the necessary materials and some techniques that will help you make a perfect weld and safely .

Table of Contents

What does welding mean?

The soldering technique is widely used in electronics, if you check any circuit board you can see that the components of that board are fixed using this technique. Welding is the process of joining two or more electronic components by melting tin in the connection . Tin is a metal alloy and when it cools it creates a strong electrical connection between the components .

Necessary materials

To carry out the welding and desoldering procedures we need a series of tools:

component of soldering

(1)  Soldering iron  – It is a fundamental tool in the process. They are normally plugged directly into the mains, either 110 V or 220 V, and heat up to temperatures above 400ºC to melt the tin around the electrical connections. For novice makers, it is recommended that soldering irons with modest powers, from 15 W to 30 W.

(2) Soldering station – It is a more improved version of the classic soldering iron. For those who need to perform large amounts of welding, a soldering station is a luxury that allows greater control and flexibility in the task. The main feature of this equipment is the possibility of precisely adjusting the temperature of the soldering iron. The stations increase the degree of professionalism of your activity and create a safer working environment as many have temperature sensors and alerts.

(3)  Soldering iron tips  – Most soldering irons have tip changing functionality. There is a wide variety of these soldering iron tips, which vary in size and shape. Each tip is used for one purpose and has an advantage over the other. The most common in maker designs are cone shaped tips and chisel shaped tips. Tapered tips are used in precision welding due to their fine tip. As its tip is thin, it is able to heat small areas without affecting neighboring areas. Chisel tips are recommended when welding wires and large components.

(4)  Metal  sponge or conventional sponge – The sponge helps to keep the soldering iron clean and away from oxidation. It is common to see makers using the conventional wet sponge (I myself have used this type in the absence of the metallic sponge). However, the wet sponge tends to shorten the life of the soldering iron due to the expansion and contraction of the tip metal. In addition, the wet sponge lowers the temperature of the soldering iron for a time when it is cleaned. The best alternative to using the conventional sponge is the metal sponge.

(5)  Soldering iron holder  – When working with the soldering iron, you will feel the need to keep it in a safe place under safe operating conditions while you work. What I mean is, to prevent your soldering iron from coming into contact with flammable materials or even the contact of hot parts with your hands. Most soldering stations already come with this built-in support, the simplest soldering irons have a very fragile and light support (I personally prefer not to use it, only in atypical situations).

(6)  Tin  – As I said above, tin is a conductive metal alloy that is capable of creating an electrical connection between components. Tin may or may not have lead in its composition. Inside the tin wire there is a material called flux which helps to improve the electrical connection and increases the mechanical strength. The stream is also sold separately in jars as a paste.

When soldering electronic components, the use of lead-free tin is common. The lead-free alloy is made of tin and copper, while the lead alloy is 60% tin and 40% lead. The latter has fallen into disuse due to health concerns and, if you have access to this type of tin, it is necessary to use adequate ventilation for your use and hand hygiene in case of direct contact with the material.

Tip: Be careful where you buy your tin. Building material stores often sell a type of weld that has an acid core. This type of solder destroys circuit boards as they are manufactured to serve plumbers.

(7)  Magnifier with holder and clip  – The holder with clip and magnifier has two or more “alligators” that help to fix objects while you use the soldering iron and tin. You will always need a third hand under your control in the welding activity, especially when you are a beginner maker, so having this item in your lab is very useful.

(8) solder sucker – unsolder the pump, also called solder sucker, sucks the molten solder to separate the circuit board of the welded components. The solder sucker works best on components fixed in holes but can also be used on SMD components, devices mounted on the surface, but it is less effective, and it is suggested to use the soldering mesh. That said, the solder sucker is one of the cheapest options.

Personal protective equipment ( PPE ‘s) –  Remember, soldering irons heat up to temperatures above 400ºC. Using a decent soldering iron holder is essential to avoid accidents and burn injuries. In addition, it is necessary to make sure that the environment is well ventilated, even metal alloys that do not use lead are not beneficial for the animals’ respiratory system, therefore, we recommend using a smoke extractor. Another important piece of equipment is goggles, the welding activity can sometimes project hot material, thus representing a great risk to the eyes when exposed.

How to sold electronic components?

The best way to learn how to weld is in practice, so let’s use a practical example with a step-by-step guide to help you better understand how to do it. In this example, we are going to solder some resistors and two capacitors on a printed circuit board.

Step 0: Clean the tip of the soldering iron!

Step 1: Planning

When we are going to weld many components on a board, we need to make groups of components that, when mounted on the board, will have the same height. This is important because it allows us to press the plate against a flat surface, as if making a sandwich where the components are the filling. This keeps the components fixed for welding and prevents possible accidents with hot tools.

Welding: how is it done?

A tactic, also widely used, is to assemble the components and then fix using masking tape, this is also valid. The truth is that there are countless solutions to this problem and, with practice, you will end up using your hands because your technique will be so refined that you will not have time to feel the heat transmitted by the soldering iron to the component.

Step 2: Assemble the component

We start by inserting the component in the holes of the respective islands of the printed circuit board. We bend the connections up to a maximum angle of 45º. This helps in connection with the copper pad (island) and prevents the component from falling while you weld.

Step 3: Warm up the connection

Turn on your soldering iron, if it is adjustable, set the temperature to 400ºC. Now, touch the tip of the soldering iron at the junction point of the pad with the component terminal at the same time. You need to hold the soldering iron in this position for about 1 ~ 3 seconds at most.

Step 4:  Apply the solder

Continue doing as you said in the previous step and touch the weld at the junction point. Do not touch the solder directly on the tip of the soldering iron, we want the joint to be hot enough to melt the solder when it touches the joint. If the joint is cold, we will create a bad connection.

Step 5 : Cut the component connections

We remove the soldering iron and allow the welded region to cool naturally. It is important not to blow, almost all of us fall into this error one day in life. By blowing, we can create a bad connection. Once cooled, you can cut the component connections.

A well made weld is smooth, shiny and resembles the shape of a cone. Put the amount of solder needed just to cover the connection and the island. Too much solder will create a ball or cause leakage of solder to neighboring islands.

Perforated plate solder

Perforated plate soldering is an interesting case. Components are welded to the perforated plate in the same way as illustrated in the previous welding procedure. However, the perforated plates have islands isolated from each other and it is necessary to create the circuit tracks and one way to do this is by using solder.

Step 1: Determine the path

We must have clearly defined in our mind, or preferably noted, where we want to pass the trails. Check the best path that requires the least amount of jumpers.

Step 2: Welding the islands in the way

Now, place a drop of solder in the previously defined path. Once this is done, create short circuits between the islands with another drop of solder, so we will make our solder track.

How to solder wires

Here we will explain how we do to weld wires together. In this part, it is recommended, for those starting out, that they use a kit with claws. The magnifying glass with support and tweezers  will help a lot in this procedure (when I was a beginner I used this tool a lot).

Remove the insulation from the wire, and if the wire is multifilament, twist using your fingers. Make sure your soldering iron is hot and place the tip on the wire we are going to weld for 1 ~ 3 seconds. Keep the soldering iron in contact with the wire and then approach and touch the solder until the entire bare part is covered with solder. Repeat the process on the other wire.

Now, position the two wires against each other, you will do this better with the help of the claws, and touch the soldering iron at the junction, this will melt the solder and join the wires together.

It is also possible, before welding, to twist the wires by twisting and then subsequently apply the tin to the joint, as seen in the gif procedure below.

Learning how to weld correctly is essential for anyone who wants to be a maker. Welding is not an easy skill to master, it requires all the effort and passion, typical of a true maker. Certainly, some tips and tricks can help you improve the quality of your weld. In this tutorial we will cover the necessary materials and some techniques that will help you make a perfect weld and safely .

What does welding mean?

The soldering technique is widely used in electronics, if you check any circuit board you can see that the components of that board are fixed using this technique. Welding is the process of joining two or more electronic components by melting tin in the connection . Tin is a metal alloy and when it cools it creates a strong electrical connection between the components .

Necessary materials

To carry out the welding and desoldering procedures we need a series of tools:

Kit “How to solder electronic components”

(1)  Soldering iron  – It is a fundamental tool in the process. They are normally plugged directly into the mains, either 110 V or 220 V, and heat up to temperatures above 400ºC to melt the tin around the electrical connections. For novice makers, it is recommended that soldering irons with modest powers, from 15 W to 30 W.

(2) Soldering station – It is a more improved version of the classic soldering iron. For those who need to perform large amounts of welding, a soldering station is a luxury that allows greater control and flexibility in the task. The main feature of this equipment is the possibility of precisely adjusting the temperature of the soldering iron. The stations increase the degree of professionalism of your activity and create a safer working environment as many have temperature sensors and alerts.

(3)  Soldering iron tips  – Most soldering irons have tip changing functionality. There is a wide variety of these soldering iron tips, which vary in size and shape. Each tip is used for one purpose and has an advantage over the other. The most common in maker designs are cone shaped tips and chisel shaped tips. Tapered tips are used in precision welding due to their fine tip. As its tip is thin, it is able to heat small areas without affecting neighboring areas. Chisel tips are recommended when welding wires and large components.

(4)  Metal  sponge or conventional sponge – The sponge helps to keep the soldering iron clean and away from oxidation. It is common to see makers using the conventional wet sponge (I myself have used this type in the absence of the metallic sponge). However, the wet sponge tends to shorten the life of the soldering iron due to the expansion and contraction of the tip metal. In addition, the wet sponge lowers the temperature of the soldering iron for a time when it is cleaned. The best alternative to using the conventional sponge is the metal sponge.

(5)  Soldering iron holder  – When working with the soldering iron, you will feel the need to keep it in a safe place under safe operating conditions while you work. What I mean is, to prevent your soldering iron from coming into contact with flammable materials or even the contact of hot parts with your hands. Most soldering stations already come with this built-in support, the simplest soldering irons have a very fragile and light support (I personally prefer not to use it, only in atypical situations).

(6)  Tin  – As I said above, tin is a conductive metal alloy that is capable of creating an electrical connection between components. Tin may or may not have lead in its composition. Inside the tin wire there is a material called flux which helps to improve the electrical connection and increases the mechanical strength. The stream is also sold separately in jars as a paste.

When soldering electronic components, the use of lead-free tin is common. The lead-free alloy is made of tin and copper, while the lead alloy is 60% tin and 40% lead. The latter has fallen into disuse due to health concerns and, if you have access to this type of tin, it is necessary to use adequate ventilation for your use and hand hygiene in case of direct contact with the material.

Tip: Be careful where you buy your tin. Building material stores often sell a type of weld that has an acid core. This type of solder destroys circuit boards as they are manufactured to serve plumbers.

(7)  Magnifier with holder and clip  – The holder with clip and magnifier has two or more “alligators” that help to fix objects while you use the soldering iron and tin. You will always need a third hand under your control in the welding activity, especially when you are a beginner maker, so having this item in your lab is very useful.

(8) solder sucker – unsolder the pump, also called solder sucker, sucks the molten solder to separate the circuit board of the welded components. The solder sucker works best on components fixed in holes but can also be used on SMD components, devices mounted on the surface, but it is less effective, and it is suggested to use the soldering mesh. That said, the solder sucker is one of the cheapest options.

Personal protective equipment ( PPE ‘s) –  Remember, soldering irons heat up to temperatures above 400ºC. Using a decent soldering iron holder is essential to avoid accidents and burn injuries. In addition, it is necessary to make sure that the environment is well ventilated, even metal alloys that do not use lead are not beneficial for the animals’ respiratory system, therefore, we recommend using a smoke extractor. Another important piece of equipment is goggles, the welding activity can sometimes project hot material, thus representing a great risk to the eyes when exposed.

How to sold electronic components?

The best way to learn how to weld is in practice, so let’s use a practical example with a step-by-step guide to help you better understand how to do it. In this example, we are going to solder some resistors and two capacitors on a printed circuit board.

Step 0: Clean the tip of the soldering iron!

Step 1: Planning

When we are going to weld many components on a board, we need to make groups of components that, when mounted on the board, will have the same height. This is important because it allows us to press the plate against a flat surface, as if making a sandwich where the components are the filling. This keeps the components fixed for welding and prevents possible accidents with hot tools.

Welding: how is it done?

A tactic, also widely used, is to assemble the components and then fix using masking tape, this is also valid. The truth is that there are countless solutions to this problem and, with practice, you will end up using your hands because your technique will be so refined that you will not have time to feel the heat transmitted by the soldering iron to the component.

Step 2: Assemble the component

We start by inserting the component in the holes of the respective islands of the printed circuit board. We bend the connections up to a maximum angle of 45º. This helps in connection with the copper pad (island) and prevents the component from falling while you weld.

Step 3: Warm up the connection

Turn on your soldering iron, if it is adjustable, set the temperature to 400ºC. Now, touch the tip of the soldering iron at the junction point of the pad with the component terminal at the same time. You need to hold the soldering iron in this position for about 1 ~ 3 seconds at most.

Step 4:  Apply the solder

Continue doing as you said in the previous step and touch the weld at the junction point. Do not touch the solder directly on the tip of the soldering iron, we want the joint to be hot enough to melt the solder when it touches the joint. If the joint is cold, we will create a bad connection.

Step 5 : Cut the component connections

We remove the soldering iron and allow the welded region to cool naturally. It is important not to blow, almost all of us fall into this error one day in life. By blowing, we can create a bad connection. Once cooled, you can cut the component connections.

A well made weld is smooth, shiny and resembles the shape of a cone. Put the amount of solder needed just to cover the connection and the island. Too much solder will create a ball or cause leakage of solder to neighboring islands.

Perforated plate solder

Perforated plate soldering is an interesting case. Components are welded to the perforated plate in the same way as illustrated in the previous welding procedure. However, the perforated plates have islands isolated from each other and it is necessary to create the circuit tracks and one way to do this is by using solder.

Step 1: Determine the path

We must have clearly defined in our mind, or preferably noted, where we want to pass the trails. Check the best path that requires the least amount of jumpers.

Step 2: Welding the islands in the way

Now, place a drop of solder in the previously defined path. Once this is done, create short circuits between the islands with another drop of solder, so we will make our solder track.

How to solder wires

Here we will explain how we do to weld wires together. In this part, it is recommended, for those starting out, that they use a kit with claws. The magnifying glass with support and tweezers  will help a lot in this procedure (when I was a beginner I used this tool a lot).

Remove the insulation from the wire, and if the wire is multifilament, twist using your fingers. Make sure your soldering iron is hot and place the tip on the wire we are going to weld for 1 ~ 3 seconds. Keep the soldering iron in contact with the wire and then approach and touch the solder until the entire bare part is covered with solder. Repeat the process on the other wire.

Now, position the two wires against each other, you will do this better with the help of the claws, and touch the soldering iron at the junction, this will melt the solder and join the wires together.

It is also possible, before welding, to twist the wires by twisting and then subsequently apply the tin to the joint, as seen in the gif procedure below.

Desoldering

The good thing about solder is that we can easily remove it using the desoldering technique. This is very useful if you want to change a component or change its circuit. The procedure can be done using solder suction or desoldering mesh.

With the desoldering mesh, just place the mesh over the point we want to unsolder and heat the place with the soldering iron. Do this until you realize that the mesh has absorbed the weld.

With the solder sucker, we heat the desoldering point until the solder is liquid and then press the button of the solder sucker that using vacuum remove the liquid solder from the place.

The importance of cleaning the soldering iron tip

Before you start welding, you need to prepare your soldering iron by tinning the soldered tip. This process will help to improve the heat transfer from the iron to the item you are welding. The tin will also help to protect the tip and reduce wear.

Step 1: Start by checking that the tip is attached to the iron and screwed firmly in place.

Step 2: Turn on the soldering iron and let it warm up. If you have a soldering station with adjustable temperature control, set it to 400ºC.

Step 3: Clean the tip of the soldering iron in a damp sponge. Wait a few seconds to let the tip warm up again before proceeding to step 4.

Step 4: Hold the soldering iron in one hand and the solder in the other. Touch the solder on the tip of the iron and check that the solder flows evenly around the tip.

Conclusion

So that’s it folks! It is as the poet says: Practice makes perfect! Buy perforated plates and start creating your prototypes using this technique, you will soon be mastering the weld.

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