Basic Soldering Tips and Recommendations

There are lots of great consoles hack out there that can bring your old machines to their fullest potential (Modded Saturn, anyone?), however many of them require some basic soldering.

Here is some information I have collected to help newbies get started in the fine art of soldering.

Basics from Wikipedia

Solder Iron

  • I recommend a 25 or 30 watt iron with a reasonably fine tip for most PCB’s.
  • There are also cold soldering irons, but I haven’t heard very good reviews of them

Solder

  • I recommend a “Kester Solder” of .75 mm to 1.0 mm diameter. I prefer a Water Soluble Flux type solder (Kester 331) as you can wash the boards in Plain Warm Water to remove all Flux Residues afterwards.
  • Contrary to Manufactures claims that their flux is Non-Conductive, I have had many problems with this in High Gain Circuits and High Voltage Circuits!
  • Alternately a Kester #44 Rosin core solder is also good, but you need a flux remover to clean afterwards. (Acetone will usually work, but its Expensive and Flammable)

Cleaning Parts

  • Unless all parts are Clean, Bright and Shiny, And Grease Free, You will not get a good solder connection! I suggest washing your Hands first, then the board with an “SOS” Pad, But make sure you rinse it good with warm or hot water. Than dry it immediately with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Additionally clean any parts that are oxidized. You may want to use avery fine 400 grit Emery paper.

Applying Solder

  • The Soldering Tip must be clean and well tinned with a thin coating of fresh solder. It should appear Bright and Shiny. Not Black and Pitted!
  • It is also important to wipe it regularly to keep it that way! Either use a Damp Sponge specifically designed for that purpose or a piece of Damp Paper towel will work.
  • DO NOT APPLY SOLDER TO THE TIP, For Soldering Purposes. I suggest placing the tip against one side of the wire to be soldered and pressing firmly against both the wire and the board to Induce Equil heat into both. Than Apply the solder to the opposite side.
  • The heated wire and copper on the board will melt the solder and it Should flow very uniformly around this solder joint, quite quickly! Do not heat parts for extended periods or you will damage them!

Soldering Bridges

  • Be careful when soldering pads, especially those that are close together. Sometimes a solder Bridge will occur, joining two pads together
  • This is Particularly common to happen on soldering IC Pads.When this happens it is often hard to tell if it is not supposed to be there or not. And will short that part of the circuit! Not Likely, but if you have a Desoldering Iron you can suck up the excess solder. If not, Solder wick, or a damp cloth, or a small damp brush all will work to clean it.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Additional Links:
NASA Soldering Guide Videos

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3 Comments

  1. alan says:

    sorry to bother you but is there any way i can download sagasaturn games from the internet is so can you tell me whare i can get them from as i am not sure on how to modchip my saturn and i cam do the swap trick
    it would be very helpfull if you can help me out
    thank you
    alan