Basic Tips for Ensuring Good Solder Results
Before beginning a PCB project, it’s important to have the right tools and a basic understanding of the soldering process. The following tips are helpful for ensuring the best solder results:
1. Make Sure You Pick the Right Soldering Iron
The right soldering iron will play an essential role in ensuring you can get the job done properly. Consider the following when choosing an iron:
- Be sure that the iron is capable of producing a high enough temperature to melt the solder.
- Read plenty of reviews before purchasing to ensure the iron is safe and easy to use.
- Make sure that the soldering iron is designed to be compatible with PCB systems.
2. Know Your Secret Weapon: Flux
The whole point of soldering is to create an electrically conductive connection. Flux simplifies this process by cleaning the metal surfaces before they’re joined together. Essentially, flux chemically cleans away oxides and other impurities on the metal, and it promotes the wetting of the solder while preventing corrosion. Without flux, you will not be able to get an effective connection.
The most effective type of flux for PCB projects is made from rosin that is extracted from pine tree sap. Here are the types of rosin flux to know:
- R (rosin): As the weakest type of rosin flux, it should only be used on clean metal surfaces. Since it has a lower level of activators, this rosin flux won’t create any dangerous residue during soldering.
- RMA (rosin mildly activated): This type has a higher level of activators that’s effective for cleaning PCB pads and holes in addition to component pins. While this flux can leave some residue, it shouldn’t be enough to cause concern.
- RA (rosin activated): Having the highest levels of activators for cleaning, RA flux will also leave the most residue after soldering.
3. Research Proper Soldering Techniques Before You Start
To properly solder, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics techniques of the process. Here’s what you should know:
- Ensure that all of the surfaces you’re soldering have been properly cleaned with a sponge before you add the flux.
- The soldering iron must be set to a high enough temperature.
- Bring the two surfaces you’ll be joining up to temperature at the same time. Do this with the tip of the soldering iron.
- Add enough solder to the heated joints so that it completely covers the joints you’re connecting.
- Clean off the excess flux when you’re done soldering.