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Soldering Guide - Howto

Date: May 2, 2004
Author: Malves



I've been getting requests and questions about a soldering guide. I am not an expert in soldering and I think anyone can do it, if you have the right tools and information to do it. I have no intention in being technical here. Plain words are better for our understanding.

Solder is just a piece of metal that melts to connect another two pieces of metal. A good solder connection is a thin layer of solder that connects these two pieces.

When soldering you have to keep in mind one thing: You need heat. Keeping the tip of the iron clean all the time, is the key for easy heat transfer from the iron to the parts that will be connected. Heat transfer is very important, since you don't actually melt the solder itself with the iron. You heat up the parts and then you use that heat to melt the solder. So, let's get down to business.


Tools & Accessories:

Here's the list of basic tools I can't live without when soldering:

  1. Soldering Iron - 25W is good enough. Mine is a dual heat 15W & 30W.
  2. Soldering Iron Holder - use that sponge wet.
  3. Helping hands - couldn't have done the pics without it. Thanx a lot!
  4. Rosin core solder - small diameter are better to work with. I use .032 dia. Rosin helps cleaning the surface when soldering.
  5. Tip tinner - you can tin the tip with solder, but this is easier and better.
  6. Desoldering Braid - to remove solder.
  7. Instant bond adhesive - i use this from Radio Shack to glue the trimmer to the board. It's safe to use on PCB.
  8. Magnifying lens - gotta look at your job after you are done. Bare eyes won't cut it.
  9. Assorted tools - can't live without them.
  10. IDE cable - I like them for this kind of job.
  11. Electrical Liquid Tape - nothing can beat this. I really don't like heat-shrink and hot glue. I use it on the trimmer legs and on the board to hold the wires. Easy to remove, too. I just love this stuff.


Soldering Is As Easy As 1-2-3:

Let's start heating up the iron, cutting some wires, and getting ready to prep the trimmer. I like to use the helping hands to hold the trimmer while I handle the iron and solder. Before soldering you have to tin the tip, and you do that by dipping the iron tip in the tip tinner. It's important to tin the iron before soldering because it will help the heat transfer. On the pic you can see I am using the helping hands to hold the solder, too. Someone's got to take the pics. Note that i touch the leg with the iron's tip on the bottom side. As it heats up, it melts the solder on top of the leg. Let the solder flow until you think you got enough to solder the wire. It doesn't have to be much. After you are done, clean the tip on the wet sponge.

Tin the wire lead using the same process described above. Heat one side, melt on the other. Now we are ready to connect the wire to the trimmer. Touch the leg with the wire lead, tin the iron tip and heat the top side of the wire with it. The solder will melt and tape the two parts together with a clean and nice looking job. Dip the tip in the tip tinner and then clean it on the wet sponge.

Now, tip the other end of the wire. Again, heat one side, melt the solder on the other side. I'm using a dead board for this guide, and we going to solder on an IC leg, but the process is the same for everything else (i.e. SMD resistors).  Put the wire lead where you wanna solder it, tin the iron tip, and heat up the wire. Let the solder melt and flow, take the iron's tip off of it and give it a second for curing. There you go, you are done! You could tin the IC leg before soldering, but I don't like doing that. It also will depend on the spacing between the legs. But our new joint is very strong the way it is. Also, you can use flux on the IC legs, but a non-acid flux. Flux will work as if the IC leg was tinned and will make the solder flow easy.

As for last tip, a solder joint is an electrical connection, not a mechanical support. Don't forget this.

Be sure to check out the EXTREME Overclocking Forums for more information on motherboard, video card, and power supply Voltage Modifications.

Thanx for reading.


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