Soldering is defined as “the joining of metals by a fusion of alloys which have relatively low melting points”. You use a low melting-point metal to join the surfaces to be soldered together. A soldering iron is used to apply heat, and solder is the metal with the low melting-point.
It’s important to note that solder does not work like some type of hot metal glue. It actually fuses to each metal surface – kind of dissolving into each of them.
Soldering is an extremely important skill that every electronics hobbyist should have, which is only developed with practice. If you don’t know how to solder correctly, you can end up with bad joints which can cause all sorts of problems with your projects.
One common problem is called a “Cold Joint”. This is where the solder didn’t melt completely during the soldering of the joint. You can usually spot a cold joint by its rough or lumpy surface. The bond between the metal surfaces will be poor and the connection unreliable.
Learn how to Solder
For a brief overview of soldering and an excellent tutorial to learn how to solder, here is probably the best video available on the subject:
There are other methods to assemble circuits without soldering components onto circuit boards. These include Breadboarding, Wire Wrapping, and Perfboarding. I will be expanding on these more on this site soon.
These techniques are great for prototyping your own projects to see if they work – the way you were expecting them to work, or at all. When you are happy with the way your project functions, you can then design a printed circuit board to permanently solder the components onto. This is called Etching and I will be covering this more on this site soon as well.
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