This section contains information about the most important skills used in the build.
Whether you’re new to soldering or not, we recommend reading through this page to review the basic techniques used in the build.
Stripping is the process of removing a portion of an insulator from a wire in order to expose its strands. It is done by using a wire stripper. The exposed wire is then able to be tinned and soldered.
Tinning is the process of applying solder to exposed wire or metal pad. It is done by using a soldering iron to heat up the metal, and then solder melts into the wire or onto the pad. The purpose of Tinning is to make the soldering process easier.
Tinning a Wire#
Watch the following tutorial to learn how to tin and join two wires.
Sometimes parts will have wires already tinned out-of-the-box by the manufacturer (i.e. pre-tinned). You can identify this by:
The “shininess” of the tip of a wire
The inability to fray the wire strands of the tip of a wire.
However, such tinning is often ineffective. Cut off any pre-tinned tips, then strip and tin the part yourself.
Soldering is the process of joining two metal components by melting an alloy; namely, solder. Since solder is conductive, the resulting joint acts as a bridge for electricity traveling between the two metal components.
Below, there are brief resources on soldering, please review them before starting the build.
Be careful holding wires and components with your bare hands while soldering, as they will get very hot very quickly. We recommend using long-nose pliers or helping hands whenever possible.
Don’t touch the soldering iron tip (or any other metal piece) while the soldering iron is on, since doing so can cause burns. If you get burned, rinse the affected area with cold water immediately.
Likewise, don’t use the soldering iron on anything you don’t intend to solder. The high heat will cause things to melt/burn.
Don’t breathe soldering fumes; use a soldering fan whenever possible.
For a quick overview of soldering, watch this beginner soldering tutorial YouTube video. For a more in-depth introduction, review this article.
I accidentally cut off too much wire while stripping.
Grab another wire of the same color, then strip and tin it on one end. Solder this new wire to your original wire. Cover the solder joint with either a heat shrink or electrical tape.
I cut off several strands of wire while stripping.
If you cut off just a couple of strands, then the wire is probably still safe to use. If you cut off a large percentage of strands, then you will need to get a new wire.
I put too much solder on my wire while tinning.
The easiest way to remove excess solder is to use a solder sucker or copper wick. Alternatively, excess solder can be removed by carefully picking up the excess with a soldering iron, then cleaning the soldering iron with soldering wool. Repeat as needed
My wire is picking up random particles while tinning
Clean the tip of your soldering iron with soldering wool. For future prevention, do this cleaning more frequently while soldering
The alligator clips of my helping hands are loose.
Remove the offending alligator clip from the helping hands, then use pliers to carefully pinch the end tighter. Re-insert once fit is tight
I burned some insulator onto my wire while tinning.
A little bit of insulator burn is probably fine. If a lot has been burned, use a wire cutter to carefully cut off the burned parts. If that fails, you will need another wire
I can’t tell if I tinned my wire properly.
Use a wire cutter to cut off the tip of the tinned wire. Visually inspect the core. If solder is not in the core or if the wire strands can be spread with your fingers, then the wire is not tinned properly
My solder keeps melting into a sphere shape instead of melting onto a wire.
This happens because the solder is not getting hot enough to fully melt. This could be a consequence of:
the soldering iron tip has reached the end of its life
the solder has expired
the soldering iron station no longer works properly.
you are not using rosin core solder, try painting some soldering flux on the wires or try different solder.