Electronics Tutorial Two-fer: Soldering Skills And Wires


There is a plethora of electronics tutorials scattered about online. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the good ones from the bad, and the enlightening from the misinformed. We recently came across a pair that we found helpful, and thought they would appeal to anyone starting off in electronics.

In this video tutorial, [Dave Jones] at the EEVblog covers soldering, detailing good practices and common mistakes to avoid when working with through-hole components. As the second video in a series he picks up where part one left off, excitedly demonstrating the ins and outs of good soldering skills.

Hackaday reader [grenadier] is working on a series of beginner’s electronics tutorials, and this week’s entry covers wiring. He discusses wire types, gauges, and even provides a nifty self-computing chart that calculates power loss based on the length and gauge of the selected wire. Before wrapping things up, he briefly touches on fuses and the pitfalls of choosing wire that’s not up to the task at hand. While you’re over there looking over his tutorial, be sure to check out the Junkbox, there’s plenty of awesome stuff to be had!

27 thoughts on “Electronics Tutorial Two-fer: Soldering Skills And Wires

  1. I am sorry, but he needs to stop doing speed if he wants me to watch his videos. While the subject matter is interesting, it is just too painful to listen to him speak.

    1. Americans like their English friends have been conspiring for hundreds of years to confuse the everyone. The everyone then cannot wrangle the language into something sensible like an API. It is like an inoculation against settling on something regular prematurely; similarly, against people who think the present must make sense to itself without reference to a deep and tangled past (see etymology from “black soap” above, e.g.). Irregularity is the Clue. Irregularity tells you there is more there, so start poking around and finding it. It’s got its weak byproducts (resistance to scientific theories that effectively organize the world in the mind), but it’s the way language works. Prescriptivists and King’s English nativists may regret that they cannot colonize it. So putting a well-formed sentence on a superior footing to a senior engineer’s scrawl will always be a headache. I still scratch my head when I hear “Skeinforge” pronounced the Germanic way here in the USA, rather than the English/American way — but I have yet to take a pill for it. It is not so much of a headache. How’s that monetary union doing these days, by the way?

  2. From someone who knows how to solder quite well, Dave’s tutorial has a wealth of information, I picked up a few good tips myself.

    For the US I like tech-wick and chemtronics wick, preferably not the no-clean version, it works better, I just clean it with some ethyl alcohol.

    EEVblog will have a part 3 on SMT I believe. For SMT passives there isn’t much else to speak on, but I’m looking forward to hearing about smt IC’s to get a bit better with those 0.5mm pitch TQFP’s.

  3. Lesson 1:

    It’s not “SODDER”, it’s “SOL-DER”.


    PS: – Dave’s not on speed, it’s helium. Either that, or he’s a caffeine addicted chipmunk disguised as a human.


  4. He’s got the theory spot on, but his technique seems a bit terrible.

    I work in a factory, hand soldering through-hole components and repairing the boards if there’s some smds missing or short circuits etc. and here’s the things I spotted.

    1) Never put the tip on the green coating. You’ll make the board look nasty, and also have a chance of delaminating the board and burning holes to it. Just don’t.

    2) Hold the tip vertically. Approach the pad from above and hold the side of the tip along the component’s leg and press the tip, or corner of the tip against the pad.

    3) Dab a little solder between the tip and the leg, which helps conduct heat much better to the leg. Press the leg of the component against the side of its hole and dab more solder at that point, and you should see the solder getting sucked into the hole because it follows the heat, and the leg of the component is hot.

    4) Lift the tip up by dragging it along the leg of the component quickly. The surface tension of the solder will make it stick to the tip and take the excess away.

    But if there’s still too much solder left: put the tip back to melt the joint, dab the joint lightly with solder to get new flux on it, and the excess solder climbs up the tip. Lift the tip off, clean it on the sponge, repeat if necessary.

    No need to fumble for the wick. Using the wick is a bit problematic anyways, because it conducts heat very well and you can easily burn the coating off the board with the end splaying around the pad.

  5. Of course, in a factory you would use a much hotter tip to work fast, and to get the solder through to the other side on boards that can be 2-3 millimeters thick with 8 layers.

    If you have a very thick board, or large areas of copper around the pad that draw the heat off, there’s a 10 second rule where you pre-heat the pad for 2-3 seconds, add solder, and hold the tip there a maximum of 10 seconds.

    If you have an iron with a power gauge, you can observe how the thermostat increases power to the tip as the pad draws the heat away from it. The power gauge is an indirect way to measure the temperature of the pad, since heat loss is proportional to the temperature difference between the heating element and the thing that it’s trying to heat. The power goes up, and once it starts to go down you know the pad is getting closer to the temperature of the tip and the solder should be climbing down to the other side.

  6. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

    \ˈsä-dər, ˈsȯ-, British also ˈsäl-dər, ˈsōl-\

    So the preferred pronunciation is without the L sound. Smartasses.

  7. SMT components are not too bad but if there’s anything I can recommend – invest some money in a DECENT soldering iron. If you are spending less than 200 for an iron it probably isn’t ideal for SMT work. You need an iron that can get hot really fast and not lose all of its heat the second you touch a larger SMT pad. Especially if your board has a ground plane, the heat will get wicked away by the pad and your iron needs to be able to keep up. You can compensate by heating your board on a hot plate before soldering.

    Also, the actual solder pencil is extremely important. It needs to fit well in your hand and feel natural to use, and the cord has to be light enough to stay out of your way. For reference, this is the absolute best solder pencil I have used: http://www.amazon.com/Weller-WMRP-Soldering-Pencil-Stations/dp/B001D0GYPQ/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1309959376&sr=8-16

  8. G – no, the preferred pronunciation is solder. Merriam-Webster is an American English dictionary, so of course it mentions the American one first.

    Solder is used as a loan word in a lot of languages and it is always pronounced solder.

  9. Can anyone post a link to the code for the soldering iron ADK? My iron turns on but I can’t get it to recognize the solder. Also I keep frying out serial cables trying to get them to handshake. Problems with my pwm perhaps?

    /To all who read this and are sweating- you simply need a bigger Arduino and to ground pins 4 and 6 together.

    //Also great tutorial and keep em coming HaD! Maybe we’ll have a blinking LED project that uses capacitors again instead of code if this real info keeps up :)

  10. Listen up.

    This is an American hacking blog that likely has a readership mostly made up of Americans.

    The American English pronunciation of solder is “sodder”. It is pronounced as such in multiple dictionaries and even specifically cited as the “American” pronunciation in the Cambridge dictionary.

    Different countries can have different pronunciations. Around here we call it “sodder”. Deal with it or go read hackaday.co.uk.

    Americaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…fuck yeah!

  11. It’s the preferred way to pronounce it HERE. By the fact that that’s how it’s stated in the dictionary (albeit an American dictionary) that’s the way we’re TAUGHT to pronounce it. It’s not a colloquialism, it’s not slang, it’s not due to some regional accent or lack of education or intelligence. It’s the accepted American pronunciation and that’s why Americans pronounce it that way.

    There are plenty of stupid people (in all countries) that mangle their respective languages but in this case (as with the whole aluminum/aluminium thing) we are pronouncing it the way it’s most commonly accepted here. So it’s different than yours, big deal. Not my fault, and I’m not gonna look like an idiot by pronouncing it “sol-der” in a room full of American engineers.

    And to the earlier point, I’ve never once heard an American refer to a soldier as a “sodjer”. We *do* pronounce the L there, sorry if it’s a bit softer than you may like.

  12. I agree that anyone should be able to use their countries respective way of saying something. especially if they are taking their time to help you out by providing helpful guides.

    To me sodder sounds strange, but that’s the way I’ve been taught…

    The only thing that made you look like a complete arse. (that’s arse as in buttocks, or fanny as you septics like to call it [and that has a different meaning in English too] not ass as in donkey) was this:

    >Deal with it or go read hackaday.co.uk.

    .com originally specifies commercial, and whilst it has long been opened up to not just commercial entities, what it definitely does not signify is that it’s an American site… Perhaps if it were hackaday.us your point might have been valid. but it’s not.

    (for everyone too young or stupid to understand a joke, ass arse fanny fanny is clearly meant as a joke.)

  13. For anyone interested in looking it up, the word comes from a middle english word (“soudur”) without an “L” – unless you care to accuse the Middle English of getting the translation wrong, you have the choice of pronouncing the “L” and accepting you are saying an imported word, or leaving the “L” silent as it is pronounced in English.

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