Basic Stuff 3 – Hot Stuff Coming Through! (Soldering)

There’s not a great deal I can add to this I reckon. My soldering is fine, it’s not world class. It’ll certainly do for stompboxes, but NASA won’t be hiring me any time soon. I reckon there’s already a bunch of good stuff on soldering out there, so this one is up to you and your fantastic researching skills, but here is a great comic to get you started.

I have my iron set to 5 million degrees (around 600°F/ 315°C), because I like to get in and get out quickly. If you’re going to do any amount of soldering I’d recommend a proper soldering station like the Hakko FX-888D or the Weller WES51, they’re roughly the same price, no-one has anything bad to say about either product, so flip a coin. I went with the Weller. It heats up super quick and is just absolutely spot on.

I recommend using a heat sink for diodes and transistors as they can die fairly easily when they get hot. More than 2 or 3 seconds and you’re getting into very dangerous territory. I use these very neat little crocodile clips.

heat-sink

A paper clip or what have you will do. There’s probably some fancy devices out there too.

Socket things! These things are sockets.

sockets

They will hold your transistors and ICs in place very nicely. Always use them for ICs! The first set (used for transistors, diodes, caps, etc.) usually come in a long strip and you trim them accordingly.

I have had Germanium transistors fall out of sockets because their legs were a little thinner than standard. If you’re worried about that, use a tiny bit of blu tack, or wrap the whole board in tape. No-one is going to be looking inside right? Ha.

Last thing, you should probably wear goggles when soldering, especially if you’re doing a lot in one sitting, or if you’re tired, or frustrated or hungry. If you’re distracted by how much you hate the people at work, or the bagel bites that you still have in the freezer, you might just do something daft. If you get some solder on you, aye, it’s going to knack. But, if you get some in your eye, then aaaaaaargh, man I can’t even bare to think about it. I’m going to curl up in a ball with goggles on now. For some reason I can’t stop thinking about getting solder in my eye. I once got a big splash of chilli sauce in my eye, and had I not been in agony I would have torn my whole kitchen out. Man, I remember seeing that red blob heading right for my eye and for some reason I didn’t blink. The rage subsided after about half an hour and some spasmodic foetal positions when I could open my eye again. Imagine that but with molten metal.

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