Do It Yourself Electronics: How To Solder

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In order to assemble or repair any type of electronics, you must know how to properly solder. "Soldering" can be defined as "a common method of joining electrical parts in order to form a solid connection." The electrical components inside a stereo system, computer, cell phone, and television, for example, are all soldered together to form a linked, working unit.

To begin your learning, you will need a soldering iron - not a soldering gun - a holding stand, a roll of electronics solder, and a tin of tip cleaner. A soldering iron is a stick - like device that is plugged into a household outlet. It has a heat proof handle on one end, and a long, thin barrel with an iron - coated, heated tip. A soldering gun, on the other hand, resembles a pistol in that it has a grip and a barrel. It is usually rather heavy and cumbersome, and it is not very practical for use on electronics. A holding stand is a heat proof fixture that safely holds a hot soldering iron. A roll of electronics solder looks like a rope of silver metal. The metal is lead and tin mixed together. And, the tip cleaner is to keep the heated tip of the soldering iron free from contamination.

The first step is to obtain some electronic components and a printed circuit board so you have something to practice soldering on. You will need a clean, flat work space, and you will need a small vise to hold the board securely.

The next step is to place the soldering iron in its holding stand, then plug it into an outlet. While it is heating up, you will need to lay out the components and the circuit board out on your work space. Be sure that you hold them by their sides so you don't get fingerprints and skin oil on them. Because, any time that you attempt to solder parts, it is imperative that the components, circuit boards, et cetera, are completely clean and free from all types of contamination. If they aren't, then the solder will not hold at all.

So, if you are going to practice on new parts, make sure to wipe off any fingerprints with a soft, clean cloth. If the parts you are going to practice on are used, you may need to use a small file or knife to clean the oxidation off. After the parts are clean, place two of them together in the vise.

The third step is to "clean" the tip of the soldering iron before you begin. To do this, you simply dip the tip into the tin of cleaner. You will need to do this throughout the soldering process. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the tin for the best results.

Now you are ready to actually begin soldering. First, put on your protective eyewear. Then, place the heated tip of the soldering iron on the first component that is going to be fused. Heat the part for several seconds. Then, do the same with the second part. After it is heated, unroll a few inches of the electronic solder, and touch it to the heated parts. The solder should melt into a silvery liquid. If it doesn't, then the components are not hot enough, and you will have to reheat them. Also, be careful not to apply too much solder. Pull the roll away from the component after a small puddle has formed on the parts. After you have joined the two parts, allow the soldered joint to cool.

When you are finished using the soldering iron, make sure that you unplug it. Also, carefully place it back into its holding stand. Allow it to cool completely before you put it away.

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