Tips on how to solder
This article explains how to solder on veroboard, electrical and electronic connections, predominantly for circuit boards and panel wiring. It’s not difficult when you know how to do it properly and once you have mastered the techniques and had a little practice you will soon be soldering like an expert.
Soldering has not changed much since I was first taught however there are more things to be aware of safety wise these days that we didn’t bother with but perhaps should have. This is what you should do. First off you should where safety glasses. There were lot s of occasions that I didn’t and one occasion when I somehow managed to get a little bit of hot solder in my eye. Luckily it didn’t cause any serious damage but you really should be wearing them. You might not be so lucky.
Something else we also didn’t bother with was washing our hands. We soldered and ate our sandwiches as we worked (not at the missile place by the way!) As you are probably aware solder contains lead and handling it means some will get where it shouldn’t so wash your hands afterwards. We are still not aware of all the long term effects of lead poisoning but you can bet it’s not good.
Same with the fumes that solder produces, again not proven that there’s anything too bad but you can bet your better off not breathing it so anything that helps is good. Certainly if I were just starting out again I would buy an extractor and get into the habit of using it every time I soldered. For the price and the running cost there’s not really a reason not to.
That’s the health and safety out of the way now on to actually how to solder a circuit board. Soldering is a way of joining metals in a mechanical and electrical conductive way. It is a relatively low temperature method when compared to brazing or welding (about 200 degrees C) and you can only solder certain metals, mainly copper and for this article I’ll be talking about something electrical that you will be soldering. Firstly make sure that the area you are using is clutter free. You’re using something with the potential to cause a lot of damage so you don’t want anything that you’ll catch the lead on or any substances to knock over, especially flammable ones.
Tin your tip
The first thing to learn about how to solder a circuit board is to make sure the tip is clean and tinned. You should get into the habit of regularly wiping the tip on the damp sponge to get any residue of flux or solder off it and before you start, after the iron has warmed up you should tin the tip which just means melting some solder on to it and wiping it off. This should leave it bright and silver coloured and ready to conduct heat properly.
Your ready, is your iron?
Make sure that the iron has become hot enough; it’s no use trying to force the iron onto a joint if there’s not enough heat.
Cleanliness is the key
The art of how to solder on veroboard is cleanliness make sure that the veroboard board and the component leads are clean. If they are old they will have oxidised so you’ll need to use a very fine abrasive on them. You can get a fine abrasive block that you can clean the copper on a circuit board with and clean component leads by wiping them on it. Brand new component and boards should be ok but you won’t do any harm by giving them a quick clean. If the components and board aren’t clean you won’t get a very good solder joint and you will probably end up overheating the board and components.
Finally doing it
So everything’s clean and ready to go what do you do next, simply apply the clean iron tip to the joint and allow it to heat up for two seconds, then while keeping the iron in the same place feed in the solder, not too much, it will melt and flow almost immediately over the component lead and pad on the circuit board and when this happens you just take away the iron and the solder and keep the board and component still for another few seconds and its job done. You should be left with a bright silver joint that looks like the one in the picture. That is how to solder on veroboard.