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Is there a tutorial that shows different techniques and the dos/don't of soldering?

I was doing a kit last night that just said heat up both components for 5 seconds then put the solder close and let it oose into the join -> they all worked nicely....but as instructions go they are a bit basic, and from past experience there are certain components that you shouldn't heat up too much.

  • I was doing Through-hole soldering but Surface Mount would also be great to learn about.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, pull the solder away from the joint before removing the iron. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark B Jan 24 '10 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Best is to practice for a few hours using junk PCB's and parts. \$\endgroup\$ – Diosces Mar 9 '10 at 19:38
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I use a Metcal system. Provided that the correct cartridge is used, I get a perfect joint every time, with minimal risk of damaging parts. Metcal uses RF heating with very accurate temperature control built into the cartridges. They have excellent tutorials on soldering techniques, like this one:

Metcal tips

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you get a nickel every time you mention Metcal or something? \$\endgroup\$ – davr Jan 7 '10 at 0:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Metcal is an excellent iron. I use an SP-200 with a 20mil bent tip for SMD soldering. The quality of the tips and the heating response time works extremely well. There are a wide variety of tips and tools. \$\endgroup\$ – jluciani Jan 7 '10 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ ditto here. Metcals are great! \$\endgroup\$ – Jason S Jan 7 '10 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I use a second-hand STSS power unit with an MX-500 handpiece and cartridges, costing about the same as a new Weller. It's much better than the Weller, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Jan 8 '10 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @davr - No, I think metcal irons are just that nice. \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Feb 1 '11 at 3:30
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I'm going to second and expand on Jason S's answer.

  1. Clean and tin the iron
  2. (rosin) flux the joint to be soldered
  3. with your third hand, touch the iron to the part to be soldered, and simultaneously, touch the solder to the part - not to the iron.
  4. Hold until you see the solder "flow" and fill the joint/through hole/twisted wire/etc
  5. pull the iron away quickly

You'll know when it's good if you can still see the parts of the joint, and it's shiny. As in, if you still can see the two wire twisting together. You don't want to make a super-full 'ball' of solder, since then no one else can, by inspection, see that it's a good solder joint.

Worst case is if you get a ball of solder where the joint is with a dull sheen. That's a cold solder joint and needs to be redone.

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Are you doing SMD or TH soldering? This is an excellent SMD instructional video --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQXhny3R7lk

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I learned to solder components to circuit boards by touching the iron to the component pin, and then touching the solder to the pin, until the solder flows into the pad or hole. You don't need to preheat components except in special situations where there's lots of metal. If you do it this way rather than touching the solder directly to the iron, it will make sure you don't get a cold solder joint (where the solder melts and then freezes but doesn't bond to the tinned component/board.)

If you are soldering two components together, twist the leads together, then touch iron to the leads and touch solder to the leads until the solder flows.

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If your looking at SMD, you could look at using a solder reflow technique using solder paste. Here's a video of a simple version using a kitchen hot plate -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqYjPJJBiZo

A hot gun can also be useful for concentrating heat on a particular part of your PCB

Solder paste ROCKS!

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More tips,

Use a damp sponge to keep the tip clean. When soldering normal components (not SMD) use a powerful hot iron (I use an Antex 25w for general work). When wiring up a big job I'll often use a 40w iron with a fine tip. It stays hot and I can get a good rhythm going. The quicker you get the joint done the less chance of damage/excess heat transfer to other parts etc.

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