General Question

tonedef's avatar

Where can I learn to solder online?

Asked by tonedef (3930points) August 13th, 2008

I am a fledgling electronics hobbyist, and most of my work has been with conductive thread (no solder required!), but I ordered a kit, and I’m going to need to do some soldering. I tried one project in the past, and it was a disaster. Is there a resource online with tips and videos? I’ve checked YouTube… there’s very little.

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8 Answers

trumi's avatar

You may want to find someone to teach you in person. I’ve known people to hurt themselves before….

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Try www.doityourself.com. I’ve used it for all sorts of projects.

jcs007's avatar

youtube perhaps?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

What are you trying to solder? Electronics or plumbing? Home Depot has classes for sweating pipe on Saturday mornings. I can step you through electronic soldering.

bodyhead's avatar

Based on the fact that you got a kit, I’m going to guess that you are trying electronic soldering.

I would get on youtube and watch some howto videos on how to do it, then I would gut the circuit board out of anything (old cd rom, old motherboard, old video game system, old walkman, old anything really) and practice practice practice. There are some good tips dealing with tinning the wire, buying the correct type of solder for the project at hand and how long to make contact with the iron. The fact is that if you learn how to do it online then you’re probably going to be terrible at it for a while so you should spend hours practicing before you tackle a real project.

What I did is just cut off little strips of wire and practice soldering them to all of the contact points on an old xbox motherboard. You will probably want to try to get a few different sources of information and try all of the different peoples ‘tips and tricks’ and see what works for you.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

OK, Duh, you want to solder electronics. It takes a bit of practice to get right, but here are some basic principles:

Solder is not an adhesive. It works by dissolving the surface of the metal it’s in contact with, like water will dissolve a crystal of salt. When it cools, the metals have meshed at a molecular level, with no distinct junction between the solder and the metal.

Most solder used for electronics work is a composition of tin and lead. Because of the lead it contains, you want to exercise precautions – always have adequate ventilation, wash your hands after soldering, don’t eat while working with it.

Some metals cannot be soldered. Aluminum, brass, zinc, and stainless steel won’t take the stuff. Common metals that can be soldered are copper, silver, lead, tin, gold, and iron, although iron is harder to work with and tends to require higher heat and an acid flux.

Solder used for electronics has a rosin flux core. The rosin acts as a cleaning agent to remove oxidation from the metal surfaces. That’s what smokes and stinks when you work with the solder. When purchasing solder, make sure you get the rosin core stuff.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062712&cp=&pg=1&sr=1&retainProdsInSession=1&origkw=soldering&kw=soldering&numProdsPerPage=100&parentPage=search

Some solders used for other kinds of work have an acid core that is unsuitable for electronics work.

You can help the rosin along by making sure the surfaces you’re soldering are clean and free of oxidation. Acetone works well, although it is not pleasant to work with and is very flammable. I sometimes scrape oxidized surfaces with an X-acto knife to expose bare metal.

When you are ready to solder, you want to heat the joint of the two surfaces you’re trying to connect. Apply the solder to the point where the soldering tip and the joint meet, letting the solder melt and flow into the joint. Thin-gauge solders work best. A good solder joint will be smooth and will have no distinctive edges where it joins with the metal. A cold soldered joint – one that did not take the solder – will look like a blob, and can be easily dislodged with a small tool.

http://www.q45.org/soldering.jpg is a picture of a cold soldered joint.

When working with bare metal, it helps to pre-tin the surfaces prior to joining them. For example, if you’re soldering a bare, copper wire, heat it up with the iron and let solder flow onto it. Once again, if it beads up instead of appearing to wet the surface of the metal, it’s not taking.

Finally, any time you work with circuit boards, you need good lighting, and it helps to have magnification. I’ve found that a pair of reading glasses, like you would buy at Walgreens, helps. Get a pair in the higher diopter range, such as 3.0 or 3.25. Always inpect each joint carefully before moving on to the next.

bodyhead's avatar

Well played and well sayed err said. Nice explanation IchtheosaurusRex.

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