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Basic Soldering & Desoldering Guide

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An extremely important part of building electronic circuits is soldering (and desoldering). This article will explain how to do it.

1. Soldering irons

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2. How to solder

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3. Desoldering

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4. Troubleshooting

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i was trying to solder one of my circuits and suddenly there was some flame and the solder rod broke off.what might have been the probable mistake that i have done


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Your solder rod broke off? You mean your iron's tip? Maybe you weren't tinning it enough and it got corroded and weakened so it broke. That's pretty unusual for a tip to just break.
That sounds like the heating element broke!

Did you hit it with a hammer or something?
One tip for others who might have experienced this like me: When you have your little reel of desoldering wick, it might seem natural to just pull a little out and hold the whole little reel at your work, but as I quickly figured out, although it's nice to have the dispenser to hold your piece of wick in place, the heat of course shunts into the reel and your solder won't melt as quickly as it should. So cut off your piece of wick, and although it's probably common sense I'll mention it anyways, don't hold that piece of wick with your fingers! Get some tweezers or something.
hello pmichner,

you mean to say that "heat from the Iron tip won't get transfered to tweezers" ?

my personal experience is that some amount of Flux paste has to be applied to the copper braid(wik), by doing so the copper wik sucks the molten lead quickly.

Hello nura100,
You're right, no matter what some heat will be lost to the holding device. I guess the optimal solution would be to cut small squares from a material with a high R value like a ceramic and superglue them to the tips of a dedicated pair of tweezers. Thanks for the tip about adding flux to the braid, I'll use that in the future.
Great guide, but I do see one important piece of info missing, about soldering areas. IMHO glass is the only surface one should ever perform soldering over. Solder simply cannot stick to it or burn it. I use a vanity mirror tray with glass rails, but a thick sheet of plate glass over your workbench works nicely, and has the additional advantage of holding down and protecting notes and schematics. Glass cutting boards work as well (but not as cutting boards, they dull your knives)

The weller tips came out with say number '8' stamped on the bottom of it (meaning it heated up to 800°F) for there magnetically controlled soldering irons I think the tip series were 7, 8, 9 (or was 6,7,8)

By not sure if I missed the part were "lead free" solder needs a higher temperature soldering iron.

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How to replace surface mount parts.
The best way I was taught to replace surface mount parts.
(1) Take off the old part,
(2) Simultaneously heating and rubbing tined copper braid known as solder braid or solder wick and a standard hot iron to soak up any old solder,
(3) Clean up tracks with isopropyl alcohol and tooth brush,
(4) Then apply a trace of solder paste over the copper tracks from a small syringe of paste,
(5) Then put the surface mount IC on top and blow hot air over it until the paste melts and solders the part in place.
Good call on the glass cutting board. I finally have a use for mine, since I won't let my Henkels near the godawful thing. :) Dunno why the wife ever thought that glass was a good idea, but now I'm glad she did.
I actually prefer laminate counter top material (Formica and WilsonArt brands in the US). I built my workstation out of a solid core door with a sheet of laminate material bonded to the top side, and then set it on two 29" tall filing cabinets to form a large work desk with the filing cabinets for storage.

The laminates are non-thermally conductive, which is why I chose them over glass or an old piece of granite tile left over from our kitchen remodel. The laminates stand up fine to soldering iron temps. I tested several samples from my local home center, and you really had to press on them with the soldering iron to leave any sort of damage. Solder blobs come off of them easily. And you don't risk thermal shock of the tip because they are thermally insulative instead of a thermal sink like glass or the granite tile I had been considering.

I can post pics of the work bench if anyone is interested. It's a really cheap way to make a nice work table.
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