A breadboard is essential to prototype circuits without having to solder them together and when you have verified that the circuits works you can solder it onto a perfboard. These are very essential skills in the world of electronics. So, I am going to show you 10 tips on soldering and using a breadboard.
Step 1: Wires
Don't use stranded wires with a breadboard, they wouldn't insert properly. Instead use solid core wires or jumper wires.
Step 2: Join Breadboards
If you have got a big project that wouldn't fit on a single breadboard then you can join 2 or more breadboards to make a bigger one. Just align the notches and join them together.
Step 3: High Current Projects
Breadboards are not designed to carry high currents. If you are building a circuit that requires high current (Above 2 Amps) then you are better off soldering it, as it would melt your breadboard.
Step 4: Jumpers
When you are cutting led, resistor and capacitor leads, save them as they can be used as jumpers and it even looks neat.
Step 5: Tinning Your Tip
Whenever you get a new soldering iron be sure to tin it before using it. To tin a soldering iron follow these steps -
1. Cut a small length of solder
2. Wrap it around the tip of your soldering iron
3. Turn on the power and let the solder melt
If you have a already used your soldering then -
1. Apply solder and then clean the tip
2. Insert the tip into solder flux
3. Keep repeating the above steps till you have a properly tinned tip
Step 6: Maintenance
To ensure your tip doesn't oxidize you have to keep cleaning it while using with damp sponge pad or a wire mesh cleaner. I prefer the mesh cleaner because it doesn't have to be dampened before use.
To clean it with a sponge, simply dampen it with some water and rub the tip against it.
To clean it with a mesh cleaner, pull and push the tip into the mesh.
If your tip does get oxidized then you will have to re-tin it.
Step 7: Types of Solder
There are two types of solder -
1. Tin and Lead solder
2. Lead free solder (Tin and silver)
You can use anyone of them. A thing to keep in mind is that lead free solder requires a higher temperature to be melted so you will need a higher wattage soldering iron.
Step 8: How to Solder
When soldering onto a perfboard or pcb -
1. Insert the component into it's respective holes
2. Apply a little solder to the tip (To ensure good heat transfer)
3. Touch both the lead of part and the pad with the soldering iron
4. Let it heat for 3 to 4 seconds
5. Apply solder to the lead and the pad at the same time
6. Remove the soldering iron.
Now you should have a proper solder joint. If the joint doesn't look shiny chances are that it is cold joint, meaning not a good joint.
Step 9: Different Type of Tips
Different types of tips are made for different type of jobs.
Through hole parts - Use a middle sized tip as it will allow for both fine control and sufficient heat transfer
SMD - If you are soldering pin by pin then use a very fine tip. If you are drag soldering then use a middle sized or chisel tip.
Thick wires - Use a chisel tip as it allows maximum heat transfer to the object.
Step 10: Silicone Mat
If you don't want to ruin you work surface with solder drips and burns then I would advice you get a silicone mat. Either you can get a normal silicone mat (which is used in kitchens) or silicone mats which just made for this purpose. Both will work just fine but the latter will have extra features but will be more expensive.