Activity: Learn how to Solder!

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Soldering is the process in which you join together two items by melting a conductive metal filler in between. In this case, the metal used is solder and - when cooled - creates a sturdy union between materials. In the Intro to Electronics workshop, you learn the fundamentals of electronics as well as how to safely solder electronic components onto a printed circuit board (PCB). This acts as a subset of that workshop by just giving the tutorial on on to solder.

The Materials

In order to solder, you need a few materials!

  1. Soldering Equipment
  2. Solder (Leaded or Lead-Free)
  3. Electronic Components (PCB, resistors, LEDs, other battery holder, battery)
 
Electronic components.

The soldering iron and related equipment can be found in DaBL's soldering kits which are located within plastic containers found at the back of the lab under the tool wall. In DaBL, there are two types of solder: leaded and non-leaded. For the purposes of this activity either will do but keep in mind if you use leaded solder, lead is toxic and you should wash your hands after it is used. The electronic components can be found in the left most consumables chest nearest the sink. Ask a Creative and Technical Specialist (CaTS) if you need any help locating materials.

Preparation

While soldering, your mantra is:

  1. Clean the tip: vigorously rub the tip of the iron it in the brass shavings.
  2. Tin the tip: add a small amount of solder to the tip of the iron.
  3. Heat the leg and the pad: make sure you touch both things you are soldering together so that they both heat up.

Soldering

In this workshop/tutorial you will be learning the basics on how to solder. Once you gotten your solder iron, solder (leaded or non-leaded), the practice PCB, and components (battery, battery holder, resistor, and LED) you can begin soldering. Soldering itself is a relatively simple task, you place the end solder iron onto the tip of the solder, wait a moment for it to heat up then place the semi-solid solder onto the the PCB where the pin of your component is. Soldering is easy to explain in written form but in reality it is something difficult to master, it takes a lot of time and experience to solder perfectly. But, before getting onto the solder portion of the workshop there are some key factors to soldering that allow for it to go smoothly, one (listed above) is the heat the pad, meaning, place the iron onto the area around the pin where you will be placing the solder, the heated area will allow for easier transfer of the solder to that area. Another simple but key factor to making sure your soldering goes smoothly and your device works is making sure that the pins of your components are orientated correctly. The PCB you have been given was created so that specific components have specific placements which will allow for the flow current through each component and allow for them to work properly. The battery holder, LED, and resistors all need to be place in there correct spots, and LED specifically needs to placed in the correct spot and in the correct orientation, if you are unsure of where things should go please do not hesitate to ask a CaTS for assistance. Other than those two key factors soldering is straightforward, don't be afraid to make a mistake or ask for help, this tutorial was created to help people learn how to solder which can be a difficult thing at first, mistakes are an easy way to learn and improve.