Have you ever soldered before? If your answer is “yes”, you’ll probably know what you’re doing and you can just skim through this intro paragraph.
In case you’ve never soldered before, please take 10 minutes of your time and look at one of the following how-to-solder guides:
- Adafruit’s video tutorial featuring Collin Cunningham – a tutorial featuring Collin Cunningham, a super charismatic electronics guru.
- Adafruit’s standard soldering tutorial – A great and thorough video tutorial. An absolute must-read, even if you know how to solder. Make sure to check the “common soldering mistakes” section at the end.
- Sparkfun’s video soldering tutorial – Another well made a how-to-solder video tutorial.
- Sparkfun’s standard soldering tutorial – Well written tutorial made by Sparkfun
There are several rules of soldering that everybody, regardless of their skill level, should follow at all times.
Soldering iron + a little bit of solder = connection!
These rules are the following:
- Never inhale the dust and the fumes that can be produced by the soldering iron! These can be hazardous so please don't inhale them.
- Never touch the tip of the soldering iron! Even if the soldering iron is turned off or completely disconnected from the power source, there is still a possibility that it’s very hot and therefore can cause very uncomfortable pain if touched.
- Clean the soldering iron! The sponge is your best friend while soldering. Make sure to use it often to clean your soldering iron if you wish to have an easy and simple soldering experience!
- Check your solder joints twice (at least)! Most of the malfunctions in the world of electronics are due to bad solder joints, so regardless if this is your first or 100th soldering project, always make sure to inspect your joints multiple times before proceeding to the next step.
- Know how much solder is needed! Make sure to put just enough solder, not too much, and not too little, since both can cause the device to malfunction.
- Don’t leave any residual solder on the board! The solder should only be on the parts of the console where the pins connect to the board and everything else should be clean. Little pieces of solder all over the board are a big no-no.
Now read through these rules a couple of more times to make sure you don’t forget them.
Once they are engraved in your memory, your soldering experience will be like a stroll in the park - nice and easy!
Using the soldering iron
The Soldering iron is very easy to use but only when used properly. You will have one of the two soldering iron models in your box:
- White soldering iron with a temperature regulator
- Blue soldering iron with a small metal button
Remember the rules mentioned previously? Good! Let's go over the instructions on how to use the white soldering iron first. In case you have the model with a small metal button, scroll down to see the right instructions.
If you're using your soldering iron for the first time or need help with cleaning its tip, check our video tutorial.
White soldering iron with temperature regulator
Set up your soldering iron so it stands on the stand, as shown in the below photo. After you do that, plug it into a power outlet to let it heat up!
Set the temperature to 350° by turning the regulator. There is a small black arrow next to the regulator wheel, so make sure that it points to the right temperature, like in the photo.
Your soldering iron is now ready to use, but give it a minute or two, so it can heat up. The safest way to do that is to leave it on the stand while you wait for it to be ready for use.
Set the temperature at 350°
Once you're done with soldering (don't worry, we'll let you know when that time comes), you'll unplug the iron from the power outlet to turn it off.
Please use the soldering iron stand each time you are not using it so you don't burn the surface or the circuit board.
Make sure not to touch the soldering iron tip for at least five minutes after you have turned it off.
Soldering iron with a small metal button
Firmly pull the cap off, do not unscrew it!
The correct way of taking the plastic cap off
The metal ring is necessary for the soldering iron to function.
If you accidentally remove the metal ring along with the cap, screw it all back on and remove the cap so the ring stays in its place.
Plug the soldering iron's power cable.
Plug the power cable into the provided power adapter and then into a power outlet.
Plug the power brick into a power outlet
In case you have this type of soldering iron, all you need to do is turn it on by pressing the small metal button at the top of the iron.
Once you press the button, you should see a blue light signaling that it's turned on.
As long as the blue light is on, your soldering iron is turned on as well.
Once you're done with soldering, turn off the iron by pressing the same metal button.
The light will be switched off immediately. However, this does not mean that the iron is cold. Make sure not to touch the soldering iron tip for at least five minutes after you have turned it off.
In case you have a soldering iron with a small metal button and a grey ring, make sure to do this before the first use:
- Tighten the metal ring with needle-nose pliers from your Tools pack.
- Secondly, melt some solder so that the tip of the iron gets covered with the solder. You should then see a shiny metal layer on the tip that will prevent overheating and burning.
Click on this link to see the video that shows two necessary steps!
Keep the soldering iron on the stand when you’re not using it!
Always keep it facing away from your hands.
If you’re finished with soldering, unplug it from the power source and leave it to cool off for at least five minutes before putting it back in the box.
Use the sponge for cleaning the soldering iron after a few solder joints!
Carefully hold one part of the sponge with one hand and wipe off the soldering iron on the other part of the sponge, so that the extra solder gets removed. Repeat the process until the tip of the iron is nice and clean from the old solder.
Cleaning the soldering iron
Now that you know how to use the soldering iron, it’s time to learn how to solder.
The first important step is to make your little soldering space.
Remove everything from the table beside the soldering iron, sponge, stand, solder, and the components that you will use for soldering. Have at least 1 meter (3 feet) of space in all directions cleared.
The most important three things when soldering all in one place
Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to protect the table with some heat resistant material (wooden sheet, aluminum, or soldering pad).
Do not use any type of fabric since it can easily catch fire! You can also use an old desk that you don’t care about damaging or a nice clean piece of stone if you have a yard!
Now make sure to connect your soldering iron to the power source and prepare it for use by following the instructions provided.
You must be eager to start soldering by now! Go to the next chapter to see what you should be soldering, and we can start assembling!