Soldering is easy! I helped put on a build-your-own-FM-transmitter class ten years ago, and I found that the women were generally able to solder very well with hardly any practice. The guys, not so much.
I really do miss Heathkit…
I always thought my soldering skills were barely passable until I got a job as an A/V installer. Turns out not only did I know what I was doing, but they soon had me training the other techs. You know why? Because it really is easy! (unless you’re in an actively cooled server room)
You are in luck then, they claim to be back.
Follow the FAQ link (and copy/paste it into something so you can read it if need be).
I took they survey they mention and it clearly was written by someone with a good understanding of electronics and Heathkit.
In the meantime there is Adafruit and Sparkfun, both of which I enjoy greatly.
Hmm, this comic seems to show me what I was doing wrong (soldered for the first time just this week, on an Adafruit project). I had read that one should heat up the wire until it will melt the solder, but not use the tip to melt it - which this comic seems to disagree with.
Also, my soldering iron tip was most certainly getting oxidized (they only had lead-free solder at the store), and just wiping on the sponge didn’t seem to be doing the job.
Hopefully, I get to try again soon!
No, no, no! Argghh!!!
These instructions have just oxidized your connections prior to applying the solder. And by failing to wet your soldering iron (tinning), you have oxidized your iron surface before even starting. These joints will be brittle as fuck!
Here is the secret to soldering: oxidation. You need to apply solder (which has resin flux) in such a way that oxidation is burned up while keeping a metal-metal connection. These instructions will only maximize the probability of creating oxides.
There is disagreement on the subject of what should be heated with what.
You’re right that the wire should melt the solder, but you have to put a thin coating of solder on the tip before it can conduct enough heat to the wire to melt solder at all. We call that tinning the tip. That step is glossed over in this instruction.
The important thing is that the wire and pad be heated enough that the solder flows over and into them, rather than globbing up in a ball over the pad. The solder joint should be concave or conical, not spherical.
Interesting. I was unable to get the wire (solid but small gauge copper speaker wire) hot enough to melt the solder. Also, while I was aware I should “tin the tip”, anytime I tried to melt the solder onto the tip, it - in appearance at least - would just run right off and the only effect was the tip now looked dirty, in a way I am unable to discern yet from oxidation.
There’s a big difference between the hundred dollar soldering iron that I use and the five dollar one that many beginners use. A good soldering tip is steel-clad, so that it won’t rot away as a pure copper tip does. Also, the more expensive units have temperature control, which keeps the tip from oxidizing due to overheating. And you have to clean the tip, as the instruction comic says, before every use. That means dragging it over a wet sponge or a steel wool pad so that it’s shiny and will accept solder. If you can’t tin the tip, you can’t solder.
Here is a guide on how to solder correctly. If you followed this guide exactly you would get almost perfect grades on a soldering test:
make sure you’ve got some Wonderbread handy ;^)
Is this a repeat of the 2011 story ? If so, the mightyohm site, linked to from that story, contains the document in various formats, including a Kindle-friendly format - one panel per page, that I created because the basic four-panel format could not be read easily on a Kindle.
Imagining how many of the commenters are pronouncing solder as sodder, I feel so odd-school.
Wipe the iron tip on a damp sponge and dip the tip into some flux immediately prior to soldering. Just make sure it’s a tin of resin flux and not the acid flux used by plumbers. The same goes for solder, of course; never use acid-core.
I picked up soldering a year and a half ago. I learned from a ten year old on YouTube. I watched some other people, and they had picked up bad habits. The youngster’s method hove closer to the advice on the box, and the little bit I read online.
I was damn proud of myself. Still am. Getting ready to arm my kids’ new “Welcome to your Robot” boxes with LED illuminated milk-bottle tops (red, green, blue).
Next, I’m working on an alternative network for the internet. Baby steps.
As commented somewhere above - this vid seems to be for a skill called soddering - using a substance called sodder -
Thanks bzishi, that’s a very good video. I’ve been soldering, for my job, for about 35 years now, and pretty much all of what I’ve learned is covered in the video.
I’d like to add:
- Multi-core solder. Don’t buy single-resin-core solder. It spits and explodes. Get multi-core solder.
- Eutectic solder. If you use lead/tin solder, try to find the 63/37 mix solder (called ‘eutectic’), rather than the 60/40 that is standard everywhere. It freezes at a lower temperature, and it has a very satisfying ‘snap’ where the entire joint freezes all at once. Very recommended for delicate electronics.
- If you’re doing a lot of bench work, invest in a good temperature controlled bench model with a de-soldering tool.
- Look for soldering guides on-line. There are a few out there written by NASA and other organizations. They have a lot of good tips.
- Practice, practice, practice. Soldering is a manual skill. If you do it a lot, you should get better at it.