Hans: Behold! The almighty soldering iron! 

Ruby: It fuses metal!

Hans: Combines conductors!

Mho: So powerful!

Ruby: Oooh!

Ladyada: Umm - excuse me, guys…

Ruby: She picked it up - !

Hans: … Like the sword from the stone!

Mho: She is the chosen one!

Ladyada: Ha - you guys - a soldering iron isn’t magic. But it is pretty powerful - it uses the power of heat to bond components together with a material called “solder.”

Ruby: Well … – it must use a lot of heating power then!

Ladyada: It definitely does … in fact, This iron uses 65 Watts of power. And of course, with great power comes great responsibility.

Mho: Hmm … what, exactly, does that mean?

Ladyada: It means you have to be careful when using a soldering iron and follow some basic rules. 

Ruby: What sort of rules?

Ladyada: For starters, soldering irons are not toys. They’re special tools that get very hot very fast and you can’t tell how hot they are just by looking at them.

Ruby: Oh - like an electric stove. They can be dangerous!

Ladyada: Exactly - it’s easy to burn yourself if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. Young people and beginners shouldn’t use a soldering iron without an experienced adult around.

Mho: So - how dost thou wield such a dangerous tool?!

Ladyada: Well for starters, you need to use the right safety gear.

Hans: Such as?

Ladyada: When solder is heated up quickly, it can sometimes “spit” little drops of liquid called “flux”. 

Ladyada: So it’s important to protect your eyes with a good pair of safety glasses.

Ruby: Gross - no spitting!

Ladyada: When solder melts, it releases smoke that you definitely don’t want to breathe.  A fume extractor, like this one, uses a fan to capture that smoke inside a filter – leaving you with fresh, clean air to breathe.

Mho: (breathes deeply) Aaaahhh … that’s *much* better

Ladyada: You should only hold a soldering iron by the handle – and never touch the heating element. 

Ruby: Yikes - no way! Total burnsville!

Ladyada: And of course – you can’t just put a hot iron down just anywhere. You need a good stand that can resist a lot of heat

Hans: Like this one?

Ladyada: Exactly - this metal stand can safely hold a hot iron and it has a wide flat base the helps to keep it from tipping  over or falling.

Hans: So a stand holds the iron, what holds the thing you’re soldering?

Ladyada: That’s where a vise comes in. This panavise is designed to hold small circuit boards during soldering. 

Ladyada: You just slide the board into the slotted jaws, tighten the vise securely, and you’re ready to work.

Ruby: What if you’re soldering really big circuit boards?

Ladyada: Oh - there are vises for big boards too …

Mho: Woah - it’s a super vise!

Ruby: So, once you have all the important safety gear taken care of – how do you start soldering?!

Ladyada: The actual soldering part is pretty simple:

Ladyada: First - turn on the iron and wait for it to heat up.

Ladyada: Place the components you want to solder on the PCB.

Ladyada: Place the PCB in vise.

Ladyada: Place iron tip between component lead and solder pad. Feed solder into joint – and voila!

Ruby: It’s a miracle!

Mho: Amazing!

Hans: Wunderbar!

Ladyada: Then clean the iron’s tip using some brass wool or a damp sponge 

Ladyada: … and place it back on the stand. 

Ladyada: When you’re done soldering – and this is very important – be sure to turn off your iron.

Ruby: You make it look easy!

Ladyada: Thanks - It’s not hard, but it does take some practice to get it right. Just remember - nooboody uses the soldering iron unless I’m around to help, ok?

Mho: Ya - no sweat.

Hans: Well, since you’re here .... maybe you can help us with this project

Ruby: It’s not too complicated

Mho: Should only take a few hours.

Ladyada: Oh no – what have I done?!

This guide was first published on Dec 09, 2019. It was last updated on Dec 09, 2019. This page (Transcript) was last updated on Jan 11, 2020.