Learn to Solder


One of the things we have been wanting to for a while now was create a soldering video for the most novice of novices. We understand it can be a bit daunting to start in this wonderful world of electronics and we realize there are some things we took for granted in some of our instructions.

So here is, at least in our minds, a step in the right direction - our Soldering for Beginners video. This video will show you the basics of using your soldering station - setting it up, powering it to the right temperature, using your soldering iron, and soldering components. And it's all shot in crystal-clear HD video (oooooh, ahhhhh). Lindz, who some of you might recognize from the SparkFun office tours, leads the video. We'd like to produce more of these types of videos in the future, so if you have an idea for one, leave it in the comments! Cheers!


Comments 38 comments

  • Don’t be such wimps! This is elemental lead, not water or fat soluble oxides in old paint. Breathe it, eat it or whatever. Lead water pipes never caused a problem unless there was something added to the lead or the water. Red lead glazes in the Emperor’s wine cups and plates is another story (Spoiler alert - ends with Caligula). But I agree about ventilation. The various other fumes from plastics and fluxes can be irritating to the eyes. If you need a real reason for the ventilation, look up toxics of tantalum caps.

    • I believe breathing in airborne heavy metals is bad for your health as it is hard for your body to eject and it just accumulates over time. Luckily very little metal fumes are generated from typical soldering temperatures.

      • Actually, there’s not much lead in the fumes of soldering. Lead melts 600 deg F, but doesn’t boil (vaporize) till 3180 deg F. So unless your solder iron gets REALLY hot, the lead isn’t getting into the air.
        The whole lead free soldering thing is to reduce the lead in the solder in the circuits that eventually end up in a land fill and get in the water supply.
        And yes, lead is very bad to get in your body.

  • Rosin fumes from the solder are not dangerous or harmful?? Says you. Pretty irresponsible advice. The less crap that goes into your lungs the better.
    And yeah you might want to remake it an not heat the pin so long that it’s free-floating in the plastic like that… you touched the iron to it and held it there while you talked for five seconds about how you’re going to count to one… :S

    • Solder, fun to play with, not to eat.

    • Yeah, I’m inclined to agree. I don’t worry too much about the rosen fumes, but even so, I don’t know exactly what’s in them. I prefer to not breathe them, so I use an air cleaner with a charcoal filter to suck up the worst of it. Erring on the side of caution seems wise to me.

    • Above about 700F the lead in the solder becomes airborne, very toxic (I realize the temp in the video isn’t that high). I encourage all to solder with proper ventilation as indicated on solder dispenser pack warning labels, you will be glad you did when it comes time to enjoying your grandkids.

      Asthma, cancer, birth defects, etc can result from too much exposure.

      • Not true. Many soldering irons regularly exceed 700F.
        Lead boils at around 1,750C.
        Ventilation is important to remove rosin fumes.

        • Sure, the boiling point of lead is much higher than soldering temperatures. But don’t forget, you’re still getting some gaseous lead, even well below the boiling point. Every increase in temperature will increase the rate.
          Regarding the downstream posting mentioning that elemental lead isn’t the hazard it’s cracked up to be, I agree. But: gaseous lead is much more likely to form organic compounds, and there’s already rosen fumes in the mix.
          I think it’s good idea to minimize the amounts of solder fumes going into your lungs. Just don’t freak out about it.

          • By the time there is significant evaporation, the lead is already boiling. Lead is heavy. It won’t form much of a vapor layer.

            • It’s not as simple as zero vapor production until the boiling point is reached, even if the material were at a completely uniform temperature. There will always be at least a small amount of gaseous metal over the molten solder.
              Granted, it won’t be much; as I mentioned elsewhere, I’m not greatly worried about lead vapor in electronics soldering. I’d be more concerned about rosen fumes, and yet I don’t freak out over that, either. I just prefer to keep as much crud out of my lungs as possible.

        • Oops, my numbers are in Celsius. (This was back before the edit feature was introduced. I have edited my comment.)

  • Did you guys really put that used iron back in stock at the end of the video? (maybe it’s listed under the sale page of the website at a discount :-) )

  • Can you make a video about solder paste and reflow, both using reflow ovens or diy home solutions like frying pans, I would like to learn to solder chips with pins on the underside that can only be done with solder paste, but I don’t have the money for a reflow oven, I own a frying pan tho :)

    • Yeah, I think you should start the video by going to a second hand store and buying a cheap used griddle, hot plate, toaster oven, what-have-you and show us how to solder some of those wonderful accelerometers or similar packages. Don’t forget to describe the solder paste and tools needed in detail for a newbie :) Maybe you could even sell a kit with breakout boards, solder paste, cheap test ICs, thermometer, etc (hot plate not included) primarily for practice.

  • Rmg:

    Bit to long exposure on the pin :P its not straight anymore ;D
    350°C is a bit too hot for plastic parts … I usually set mine (Aoyue 6031) at 320°C for fast soldering.
    You can set it as low as 260 / 270°C.
    Reflow profile temp profile generally peaks to 260°C.
    Regards,
    Thomas.
    PS : I got a macro mode on my cam (Kodak Zi8) and USB Microscope for close up shots. Can’t wait ;-)

  • how about good desoldering techniques, i remember i messed up some boards after trying to remove some components i soldered in the wrong spot.

  • Nice! I’m with the others in requesting some ‘intermediate’ soldering videos. Basic is good, but if other customers need to know that the metal part gets hot, they’ve got other things to worry about…
    BTW you can skip the extra syllable in ‘oxid[iz]ation’ ;-)
    You guys rock! Free day, Free day !!!!!

  • Lol at walking through warehouse taking random product of shelf while stock guy goes “WTF”.

  • wow!
    I would like to suggest a good unsoldering video. Maybe using hot air system. On larger multilayer PCB’s with polygon fills on both sides with lots of parts it is very difficult to get the parts to turn loose sometimes with a temperature controlled soldering iron because the PCB dissipates the heat so quickly.
    Regards, Rick

  • A great video, with a good amount of humour injected, but.. the plastic melting and the pin bending out in that pin header made me die a little inside :‘(

  • Not to be off topic but…nice Flash3D hanging on the wall. I have an original Flash3D as well as one I scratch built. It’s one of the best flying planes I have!

  • Don’t try to shoot video free hand…makes video (especially HD)look crappy ….use a dolly(to truck) or a steady cam….other than that… looks great!

  • Nice; Could have used this last night when soldering up the microSD Shield. After an hour+, I figured out the el-cheapo solder that came in my toolbox was old and utterly useless. Also could have used this sf post lol
    http://www.sparkfun.com/news/473

  • Love the videos! A couple ideas to talk about for n00bs:
    lead-free vs. leaded solder (temps, cleaning, color)
    different tip types (chisel, fine, etc)
    proper handling (wash hands before eating, ventilation)
    inexpensive alternatives (salvaging parts, cheap irons)

  • A link to products used in the video would be helpful.

    • why don’t you just search for “solder” on the website.
      that little box can work wonders…

      • Considering this is a video for novice, a link to the products used, like the exact solder iron, small rubberpad, and the solder, would be useful, unlike smart comments.

  • Héhé,
    My christmas gift this year is an HD pocket cam to shoot the same type of videos, but in French !
    Regards,
    Thomas.

  • Bit to long exposure on the pin :P its not straight anymore ;D


This Week

This Month

Heartbleed

Happy Arduino Day!

SXSW Create 2014