How to Get into Soldering

It’s interesting to note that even electric soldering irons have not escaped the impact of inflation, with the average price of this item soaring by $5.5 per unit in the UK in May 2023. However, soldering remains central to industries such as welding, while it’s also a highly useful practical skill.

In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to design your own circuits, or repair existing ones, then soldering is an indispensable skill. With its help, you’ll be able to form permanent connections on a circuit board, connecting one component with the next in the process. Let’s take a look at the practice, and see what you need to get started.

What is soldering?

So, how do we actually make these connections? By melting a special type of metal called solder. This alloy is very pliable, and has a low melting point. Consequently, we can melt it using a special heated rod known as a soldering iron. As the solder cools, it creates a semi-permanent connection between any metal components to which it’s attached. This might mean the leg of an integrated circuit, or it might mean the copper strip on a circuit board.

Essentials you need

To get started with soldering, you’ll need a few indispensable pieces of equipment.

The first is the soldering iron. Get one that can reach a high temperature quickly, and which comes with a temperature control. Irons are typically sold alongside a soldering station, which does the job of housing the iron, and providing control of the temperature.

We should also look for a sponge, which can be wet in order to clean the solder. Alternatively, you might clean your iron with a brass sponge, which will do the same job without lowering the temperature of the iron. 

We’ll also need a good supply of the solder itself. Look for a lead-free solder made from a tin-copper alloy. Avoid acid-core solder, as this is made for plumbers and metalworkers. Whichever solder you’re using, make sure that you work in a well-ventilated space.

RS Americas and other reputable retailers provide a solid range of soldering supplies, which will allow you to get started.

Starting with soldering

If you’re interested in soldering, the it might be that you already have some circuitry in mind. Perhaps the simplest way to get started is with the help of a 9v battery, a resistor, and an LED. Use Ohm’s law to determine what value your resistor should be before you get started. You might also use a potentiometer, which will provide you with control over brightness.

There are a few things to bear in mind. Keep the soldering iron fixed on the base of the joint. Don’t hold it there for too long, or else the heat will travel up to the component and damage it. Don’t apply too much solder, either. If you do, then it won’t relax into a neat little concave pyramid – which is what you want to happen if you’re going to make a solid joint.

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