Soldering tips

Soldering is an easy process and usually not discussed in forums or books. Still, if you take your time with the following lines, you might improve the quality of your work :-)

As aways – safety first.
It may be obvious, but still – the soldering iron gets quite hot! Make sure that you do not touch the tip and the parts near it, until they cool down. Also take care that high temperature parts do not contact objects that can be melted. A good example is the power cord of the soldering iron. If this happens, change the cable at once, because it may lead to electric shock or fire.

You probably do not solder all day round and you do work in a ventilated space, but be advised, that parts that you are going to solder and the solder itself contain toxic elements like lead, that should not be inhaled. Buying a professional smoke extractor/absorber may be out of your budget. Here is a simple and very effective DIY alternative.

You need a fan from an old PC power supply and a piece of kitchen absorber filter (activated charcoal). Though that simple, this homemade smoke absorber is powerful enough to extract fumes from at least 40cm from the soldering point, keeping toxic elements away from your lungs and eyes.

Using the right equipment will take you half of the way. For most electronic parts the appropriate power of the soldering iron is 60W. Make sure that the solder you buy is for electronics - it has lower melting temperature. If you wonder what the yellow sponge like thing is - well it is a sponge. Modern soldering irons have a special tip. If you use a rasper or a sand paper, you will spoil the tip cover. So to clean the tip of the soldering iron, use a cellulose sponge, soaked with some water.

If the tip of the soldering iron looks like that, you need to clean it. Turn the soldering iron on and wait till it gets hot. This moment is critical - if it is not hot enough, you will not be able to clean it, and if it is too hot - it will oxidize quickly and you could not apply solder on it.

As aways, do not discourage if you do not get it right the first time. If EDI can do it, so you can. When the tip looks like this - you are ready.

Usually for best results, it is better to have both parts you want to solder, with some initial coverage of the solder. In practice you do it at once - put the tip of the soldering iron touching firmly both parts. wait till they get hot enough and apply solder. The the whole process should take you 1-2 seconds. The worst results are because the temperature of the parts is not high enough - hence the name - "cold soldering". If you are to solder very delicate parts, you can use tweezers or other metal instrument as a heatsink, in order not to overheat the element.
The quality soldering has a specific shining, it wraps parts smoothly and is mechanically strong.