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Hand Soldering Tips That Make Sense

Whether you're a hobbyist playing with electronics projects for fun or a professional who does repairs every day, you know that hand soldering is a skill that takes time, effort and consistency to master. From the simplest repair such as fixing the lead on a nine-volt battery connector to replacing chips in a circuit board, there is a technique and style that makes life a lot easier. Here are some tips that work consistently and will make sure your connections are solid so your project or repair will be perfect.

1. Use the right tool for the job. You don't use a cannon to kill a mosquito so having an iron with the right tip makes a huge difference.

2. Using a temperature controlled iron such as one from Hakko means you'll have consistent beads every time.

3. Keep It Clean! Before you start, use a cleaning spray on the board to remove dirt and gunk with TechSpray or an equivilant. After every bead (or every couple of beads), wipe the tip on a wet sponge or solder tip cleaning wire sponge.

4. Don't "cook" your connection. Overheating can damage the circuit board or your components and sensitive chips can be expensive to replace.

5. If you aren't comfortable soldering chips, use a socket and always work with electrostatic discharging mats or straps like those from Desco in place.

6. Use quality solder such as Kester lead free solders for solid connections and safe soldering.

7. "Tin" your wires. Not only does this make soldering a much faster process but it provides a much more consistent connection.

If you don't solder every day, when you sit down to do some, work with a junk board and components to revive your skills. Much like riding a bicycle, after a few efforts, you'll be as sharp as you ever were. Also make sure you have good ventilation so the fumes from the soldering process disperse. These are just a few tips that anyone who hand solders can use and even the pros need to be reminded of on occasion!

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