Tutorial Soldering tips everyone needs to know

iVirtualPlays

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I thought i share some tips on soldering from my Reddit page. This can be very useful if your repairing electronics or getting into it.

Here is what you need to get started with

Avoid: Ali Express, eBay or any other supplier site when shopping for equipment. It’s filled with nothing but crap. Go to sites like Amazon and Specialised tool sites. I prefer Amazon it has less garbage and you can read the reviews.

You need a clean safe work area

A Soldering iron brands like Hakko, XTronic, Weller or even a generic soldering stations can last a long time though an expensive great branded one with an adjustable temperature and interchangeable tips can last you for decades i suggest checking out these pages.

Soldering Basics: Solder and Flux




Soldering Tools for Beginners




How to Solder

Fixing traces



Soldering Iron Buying Guide https://www.thearchitectsguide.com/articles/best-soldering-iron




Buying a Soldering Station




For practice, i recommend buying a bare PCB and get all your practice done there.

As for the equipment

Silicon Solder Mat you can organize your screws, tool, and components with this as well as it protecting your table/workbench

Soldering Mats https://makeradvisor.com/soldering-mats-review/




Solder you can’t solder without this. There is lead free solder and leaded solder. I recommend a good low melting point 63 37 Rosin/Resin Core Lead Solder from a reputable brand over lead free solder. Lead solder tends to be more reliable and has a lower melting point though lead free solder from a good brand like Weller isn’t bad either. Just be sure to stay away from generic/fake/ non reputable brands. Pay attention to the reviews. Going the cheap generic route is going to cause nothing but frustration and it will leave you with solder that is dull, unreliable, dry, cold and overall, doesn’t melt properly. It can also damage your tools due to the high melting point of generic brands. Save yourself the money and hassle and spend the extra money if you have to. More info is here i highly recommend Kester, Alpha Fry, C2G, EiioX, Weller, Electroloy, SRA https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-disadvantages-of-lead-free-solder-vs-lead-solder




Avoid Lead Free/Poor Quality Solder https://oscarliang.com/avoid-lead-free-solder/




Best Solder For Electronics https://solderingironguide.com/reviews/best-solder-for-electronics/amp/




Low Quality Solder VS High Quality solder




Flux is super important it makes solder flow and stick more easily to make sure your solder joints aren’t dry. Put some Flux on the PCB before soldering. I recommend Termopasty Flux.

Isopropyl Alcohol used to clean the PCB. Any excess Flux, dust, residue. Clean it off with a brush and a Qtip damped it with isopropyl alcohol. I recommend buying a brush set.

Solder Pump you have powered ones and manual ones, manual ones are cheaper and get the job done but the powered ones can clean solder up quicker and are more accurate then the typical ones. I recommend the Engineer SS-02 pump and a Solder Gun like the Hakko/ Duratool Desoldering station. The cheap ones clog up and break too easily.


Soldering/Desoldering Tips. These are used to replace any damaged/Oxidised tips, and each tip serves a different purpose. A pointed tip is for small joints, a larger tip is for big joints and Chisel tips are used for drag soldering, to remove excess solder as well as unbridging excess solder on ic chips. Make sure to buy a high-quality tip like the Hakko tips they will last much longer than generic ones. I use a small Chisel Tip most of the time. As for your desoldering your going to have also replace the tips more. But always try to clean the tip with steel wool and add fresh solder to it. Too see if it can still work. If not then that tip is done with and will need to be replaced.

A HeatGun/Rework Station is used to removed/reflow mounted components like chips. I suggest a precision heat gun where you can interchange it’s parts depending how much surface area you need to heat up.

Kapton Tape is high heat resistant tape used to cover up and prevent shorts, and it is used when doing rework over a PCB. If you need to run a heat gun through a specific component use Kapton tape to protect the other components from overheating.

Electronic Tape wants to prevent shorts to use this or Kapton Tape.

Soldering Braid is used to get solder off a PCB, but rather then using a pump your heating up the copper braid to get the excess solder off the board.

Multimeter is used to check for continuity, resistance, and voltage. Whatever component you need to test. This is what you need to test that specific component with. I recommend multimeters like Astro AI, CraftsMan, Fluke more info here

Best Multimeters https://bestofmachinery.com/best-multimeter/


Multi Meter Basics https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Use-a-Multimeter-Basics/


Tip Tinner/ copper is used to deoxidize and clean your soldering iron tip so that the solder can stick to the iron again.

ChipQuik is a solder that stays molten for a longer period of time to allow for the removal of components. A nice alternative to using a heat gun.

How to remove Oxidisation from your iron https://www.google.co.uk/amp/blog.okinternational.com/metcal/how-to-remove-oxidation-from-your-solder-tips?hs_amp=true


Copper wool this is used to clean up your soldering tip such as left over flux and solder on your iron.

Kynar Wire is wire you need to fix a broken trace or to wire one point to another they come in many different sizes buy which ever one is suitable for your needs. I usually go with a 30 awg roll.

Wire Strippers this is used to cut the wire and strip off the rubber to expose the wire. I recommend Stanley, Irwin, Klein. Any precision cutter will do the job.

Best Wire Strippers https://www.thearchitectsguide.com/articles/best-wire-strippers


Tweezer set i recommend this for aligning wires and small components.

Epoxy is glue used for repairing broken traces.

Copper tape this is copper film used for for fixing traces

Craft knife i use this to scrape off some paint to expose copper from a trace if you need to reconnect a trace, buy a sharp quality craft knife set and gently scrape off the paint.

Any more tips and corrections share below.

Ideal Solder Joints
 
Last edited by iVirtualPlays,

brickmii82

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Fantastic write-up, although I’d argue eBay is fine if the seller is a reputable one like BestBuy or another big box retailer. I don’t know what retailers have stores overseas but in the US, eBay has many that are the same ones listed on the retailers sites and Amazon stores.
 

fvig2001

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Reminds me that we had work education in school but they never really taught us how to solder boards at all. They just told us here's the iron and solder now etch the circuit board and assemble that transformer. College didn't teach it either for my engineering course and I never really learned the proper techniques. I might watch this video now since I might as well learn and maybe fix my Switch's usb port.

I still don't know wtf flux is.
 

iVirtualPlays

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I've bought all my equipment on AliExpress and none of it is garbage.

Having a high-end equipment as a beginner is a total waste of money.
Guess it’s a mixed experience when it comes to shopping on those sites. But there are a lot good quality mid range irons out their. Aslong as you can change the tips and adjust temps you should be fine. Just make sure to use good quality branded solder that shines and melts easily. But be warmed that your generic soldering station may fail some day.

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Reminds me that we had work education in school but they never really taught us how to solder boards at all. They just told us here's the iron and solder now etch the circuit board and assemble that transformer. College didn't teach it either for my engineering course and I never really learned the proper techniques. I might watch this video now since I might as well learn and maybe fix my Switch's usb port.

I still don't know wtf flux is.
Flux is like what butter is to eggs. Just makes the soldering process smoother. For the most part the classes are useless and are not worth the money at all. I remember using crappy irons and crappy equipment. In my high school. I barely learned much. But it did got me started.
 

CMDreamer

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Guess it’s a mixed experience when it comes to shopping on those sites. But there are a lot good quality mid range irons out their. Aslong as you can change the tips and adjust temps you should be fine. Just make sure to use good quality branded solder that shines and melts easily. But be warmed that your generic soldering station may fail some day.
[...]

Thanks for the advice, afaik all electronic components will fail at some point even if they're not being used, even those high-end tools will fail some day.

Buying tools must be seen as an investment, and when we're starting into electronics repair, buying high-end tools that we will not use at their max of capabilities is a very bad investment. If I spend let's say $1,000 USD on tools to do jobs that represent an income of $20 each and I do 3 each day, that would mean that I'd need 17 days to get the money I've invested on those tools back. On the other hand If I buy $200 USD on such tools and do the very same jobs, I'd need only 4 days to recover the money I've paid for my tools and the money I earn on the extra days the tool worked would only only be profits, which can be used to buy more tools in less time.

It's all about perspective, and each one of use have a diferent one.
 

iVirtualPlays

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Thanks for the advice, afaik all electronic components will fail at some point even if they're not being used, even those high-end tools will fail some day.

Buying tools must be seen as an investment, and when we're starting into electronics repair, buying high-end tools that we will not use at their max of capabilities is a very bad investment. If I spend let's say $1,000 USD on tools to do jobs that represent an income of $20 each and I do 3 each day, that would mean that I'd need 17 days to get the money I've invested on those tools back. On the other hand If I buy $200 USD on such tools and do the very same jobs, I'd need only 4 days to recover the money I've paid for my tools and the money I earn on the extra days the tool worked would only only be profits, which can be used to buy more tools in less time.

It's all about perspective, and each one of use have a diferent one.
I never suggested for anyone to go all out high end and spend a grand on tools even though you can pick up high end tools for good prices like i have. Most if not all of these can be purchased for half. My Hakko iron costed me £150 and £32 on tips. The iron is the most improtant since your going to be using it a lot on repairing electronics but can get away with an 872D for around £65. And then i purchased a Duratool desoldering station for £100. Very useful for replacing capacitors and then, I purchased a generic 8586 rework station useful for replacing smd parts. And say roughly estimate £100 at most on tools. That’s leaves me with a total of £412 ($531 spent on tools. If you want to spend a grand you can but that’s overkill. What i have here is also high end besides the rework station which i don’t use much. Back in the day i blew £200 ($258) on cheap irons and solder that didn’t do the job properly. I definitely made more then enough money back. With these tools and the skill set you can repair your games console, phone, laptop, tablet, computer. Any electronic really and can save a lot of money for the long term. As long as you don’t buy too many Amiibos like i have for some reason.
 
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Armadillo

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I prefer a fibreglass pencil over a knife for removing the soldermask. Takes it off fine most of the time and no chance of damaging the copper, can always switch to a knife after if need be/can't get the fibreglass pencil into the space.
 
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