Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chapter 3 - Exercise 12

Finally... soldering! Something that can be dangerous - yeah! (Just kidding - I was wearing my eyeshields like a pro and all about safety.)

So, we get to solder some wires. I've actually done soldering in the past, but it's been a while, so this was a nice way to ease back into it. As you can see from my photos, I dutifully soldered two wires cross-wise... then two more parallel to one another. My joints were perfect if I might add...

I broke down and went and purchased a 15/30 switchable pencil iron... works very well. It's not super heavy but doesn't feel like I'm at risk of shock or burning myself from mishandling. It's also not that fancy, but at this poing I'm not wanting to drop loads of cash on a fancy soldering machine until I get a little more training... then I'll likely donate one or both of my used ones to a high school.

My final task for this exercise was to solder some solid core wire onto the frayed ends of my AC adapter... as you can see from one of the photos, screwing the braided ends into my breaboard really tore them up... so I snipped a red wire and black wire, stripped the ends, and soldered them to the frayed ends of the adapter. I don't have a heat gun (yet) so I went the cheapy route and used my gas grille lighter. I know... I know... not a good way to do it, but I kept the flame away from the wire, away from the tubing, and did quick little waves over the flame. I plugged in the adapter and checked all the voltages I was receiving to make sure I had a good solder joint on both wires. As you can see from my photo, the multimeter probe clips really came in handy here... allowing me to take the photo without juggling one or two probes and trying to hold them to the wires. A good purchase there...

I didn't have a spare power cord available to do the last exercise (shortening a cord)... and I'm hesitant to actually do it... if anyone does do it and takes a few photos, please email me and let me see if I can grab a few of my readers' photos as examples.

Tomorrow... ruining more LEDs. Glad I bought more than 3 or 4...


  1. Cool deal, glad to see you got a small pencil iron! :D

    Don't worry about the heatgun, yes they are nice (I had a fancy Master Appliance Corporation model HG-751B back in the day) but you REALLY don't need them. Just hold the barrel of your soldering iron under the heat-shrink and rotate it slowly, rotisserie style!

    Quick tip, at my first (real) job my employer came up with an ingenious solution for production soldering of non-esd sensitive stuff without destroying the workbench, corrugated cardboard (like what shipping boxes are made of)! Try cutting a section about the same size as your board there. Its wonderful and you can scribble notes on it, poke wires or component leads into it (to hold them in place) and make little jigs with it,etc. When you are done toss it, or file it away for the next time you need to work on that particular project!

  2. I just threw a piece of plywood under my work area, but I could see how corrugated cardboard would work for note taking, holding pieces, etc... thanks.

    Yes, the new 15/30 pencil gun is fairly easy and nice to use... only cost $8.00. I'm sure it's one of those "get what you paid for" but for now it'll work.

  3. awesome blog!!

    I'm glad you started it, now I have somebody to do the projects with :)

    as for the soldering I use a record sleeve it's good for keeping the nicks down when your using an exacto blade and it's pretty convenient if you need to do a quick clean-up or transportation. I like the cardboard/jig idea though.

  4. Thanks, Randall... glad you like it. It's like a virtual classroom!

  5. Did you try a hair dryer with the heat shrink? would that work?

  6. Oh, meant to ask, how hard was it to get the clips on the probes? I bought some at RS recently but they don't fit either of my DMMs.

  7. I didn't try a hair dryer but I've been told it's not hot enough...

    The probes were a tight fit... I had to twist them on and press hard but they did go on my cheapy multimeter which has smaller diameter probes than my autoranging one.

  8. Ha. I just started going through the book, and I had thought of soldering some solid core wire to the ends of the A/C adapter.

    I'm still back in chapter 2, but I did a Google search against this site to see if I was going to need a soldering iron and found this page. It is kind of like being able to digitally skim ahead in the book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences while going through the exercises.

  9. Hi, Robert.

    Great minds, huh?

    Glad you like the site... the book's been fun and I'm not even done with it yet. Have fun with chapter 2.