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 Soldering station certification class 
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Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA
I'll be working on a class to certify members for the soldering/desoldering area at OlyMEGA.

1. Prevent damage to the user
2. Prevent damage to the equipment
3. Proper soldering and desoldering practices

I'll be using a number of sources.

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:43 pm

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA
For the purposes of brevity, "soldering" will include any activity involving hot solder, whether it be adding, reflowing, or removing solder. A soldering iron or station, hot air, soldering oven, desoldering, etc.

Eye protection must be worn. This includes anyone closely observing. Solder bits can fly, rosin and flux will bubble and spit, small bits of wire can fly at high speed when cut. Wear glasses, safety glasses, goggles, or face shield while soldering or observing. While a set of goggles may be provided, it is up to each individual to be responsible for their own safety.

Long pants and long sleeve clothing of natural fibers are highly recommended. Synthetic fibers may melt if hot solder hits them, or if a soldering iron is dropped. In addition, synthetic fibers tend to generate more static electricity than natural fibers.

Rosin and flux fumes are irritants to your eyes and mucus membranes. A fan is provided to keep the smoke from soldering away from your face, but for it to work, you must use it. It won't fit under the stereo microscope when using it to solder, so a smaller fan that blows the fumes away must be used. The flux in lead-free solder is more powerful than rosin flux in lead-tin solder and so much more irritating.

Ensure there is adequate lighting. Small, portable lights may be aimed to light dark areas where necessary. The fume fan also has lighting built into it.

Make sure that the item or equipment being soldered is de-energized. Turn off, remove batteries, unplug.

For the digital temperature controlled iron, the temperature should be set at 320C for lead-tin soldering. You may find it necessary to turn it up a bit for larger connectors or soldering to ground planes. For lead-free solder, refer to the information that came with the solder. At no time should the temperature ever be set higher than 420C.

Lead-tin 63/37 rosin core solder is the easiest solder to use and usually does not require extra flux. Lead-free solders often require extra flux, but only use flux designed for that particular solder. No plumbing solder or acid flux should EVER be used with any of the soldering equipment.

The soldering tip is NOT a pry bar. Do not use it to bend or unbend wires, do not use it to force things, do not press hard while soldering. The heating element inside is a ceramic element and will crack if bent.

Always place the soldering iron back in the holder when not soldering. Be aware of where the soldering iron is in relation to all wires to prevent melting or burning of insulation or equipment. Make sure no wires or objects are sitting on or in the soldering iron holder.

Do not handle food or touch your face while soldering. While lead cannot be absorbed through your skin and it is not vaporized in soldering, it can get on your hands and transfer to food or drink. Wash your hands after soldering, or wear gloves and remove them after you are done handling solder.

Never use the soldering iron to melt plastic or burn wood. It can create a very hard, difficult to clean black coating on the tip that resists wetting with solder. There are tools specifically to melt plastic and do woodburning, use them. The only exception is that enameled wire often has an insulation that is made to be melted off by the solder when you tin the end of the wire.

Before soldering, wipe the tip quickly on the damp cellulose sponge provided and then add a small amount of solder back to the tip. When you are done soldering, before placing the iron back in the holder, you should again wipe the tip and add some solder to it. A brass wool is provided for more aggressive cleaning when necessary, the iron should be stabbed into it and immediately pulled back out. Do not linger on the sponge or in the brass wool! The only type of sponge that may be used is cellulose, other types will melt and burn.

Before putting the soldering iron back in the holder, add just a little fresh solder to the tip. When you are done soldering or will be taking a break, make sure you wipe the tip and apply fresh solder before turning the soldering iron controller off. This protects the tip against oxidization. Then turn the outlet strip to the soldering area off.

Never, NEVER file or sand the soldering iron tip. It is a copper core that is plated with iron and nickel. If you grind away the plating, the copper will dissolve into the solder and become hollowed out.

1. What type of sponge should be used for wiping the soldering iron tip?

a) Any damp sponge
b) Damp cellulose sponge
c) Dry cellulose sponge
d) Scotchbrite pad

2. Before soldering, the equipment being soldered should be:

a) Turned off.
b) Batteries removed.
c) Unplugged.
d) All of the above.

3. If the tip is hard to clean, you should:

a) Scrub it with a Scotchbrite pad.
b) Quickly stab into and remove from the brass wool pad.
c) Scrape it with a knife.
d) Sand the coating off.

4. True or False: The soldering iron tip may be used to melt plastic and burn wood.

a) True
b) False

5. True or False: Lead vaporizes when soldering.

a) True
b) False

6. Protection of your eyes, face, hands, and clothing is ultimately the responsibility of:

a) The OlyMEGA Overmind.
b) Each individual and observer is responsible for their own protection.
c) The person soldering.

7. Eating and drinking while soldering is:

a) No big deal, just don't put the solder in your food.
b) Never to be done.

8. Proper soldering temperature range with lead-tin solder is:

a) The temperature range of the iron's controller.
b) 320 to 420 Celsius.
c) 600 to 800 Celsius.
d) Start at 320 Celsius and only turn up if the connection has a lot of thermal mass, but never higher than 420C.

9. Proper clothing for soldering is:

a) Any clothes you don't mind getting dirty.
b) 100% natural fibers that you don't mind getting dirty.
c) Long sleeves and long pants.
d) b and c.

10. A solder smoke removal fan should be used:

a) When the fumes are bothering me.
b) Only if I'm overheating.
c) Whenever soldering, because the flux fumes cause irritation of eyes and mucus membranes.

11. When not actively soldering a connection, the iron should:

a) Be placed carefully on the table so it doesn't touch anything.
b) Be held so as not to burn anything.
c) Be placed back into the iron holder, ensuring that nothing is touching the iron or holder.
d) Be handed to a bystander to hold for you.

12. The iron tip may be used to remove insulation when:

a) A wire stripper is not handy.
b) Only for enameled wire that is made to melt back the insulation when soldering and in no other case.

13. It is the responsibility of __________ to ensure the sponge is damp and to refill the water bottle when it is low.

a) The mysterious cabal that runs OlyMEGA and needs no sleep or free time
b) The individual that is using the soldering bench

14. If something malfunctions or is damaged, you should:

a) Quietly slink away, telling no one.
b) Tell someone official looking, preferably a keyholder.

15. The flux in lead-free solder is _______ than the rosin flux in lead-tin solder.

a) safer
b) stronger and more irritating

16. When done soldering or taking a break, you should:

a) Just walk away.
b) Turn the iron off.
c) Wipe the tip clean and turn it off.
d) Wipe the tip clean, add some fresh solder, put it back in the holder, switch the station off, and turn the power strip to the soldering area off.

17. You can pry with the soldering iron:

a) If the wire you are desoldering is bent over.
b) If you need to bend a wire while soldering it.
c) Only when you are prying it from my cold, dead hands.

18. Wiping the tip on the sponge or brass wool should be:

a) Dragged slowly across/through.
b) Wiped briskly and quickly.
c) Stabbed and held until smoke rises.

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:14 pm

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA ... ing-safety

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:16 pm

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA
This is a printable PDF of the Soldering Safety Certification text and test. If there are any changes/additions/corrections, I will replace this file. So please come back here when you need it rather than saving a copy.

Please note: I will upload a correction shortly, but in the meantime:

Only use damp cellulose sponges. Any other kind of sponge will burn or melt.

File comment: Soldering Safety Certification, you must read, take the test, and sign to be allowed to use the soldering/desoldering equipment at OlyMEGA.
SolderingSafetyCertification.pdf [399.88 KiB]
Downloaded 23 times

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Thu May 18, 2017 5:21 pm

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA
Soldering class coming up July 13, at the Thursday Open House at OlyMEGA.

I have some kits that will be $5 each.

8x8 LED Matrix driven with a MAX7219 SPI driver. I have 10 of the kits, and they can be cascaded to make a longer display.

555 timer PWM motor driver speed control.

Green LED Bar/Graph battery level display for Li Ion.

2000W SCR AC power controller.

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:56 pm

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:08 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Lacey, WA USA
I still have through-hole kits for soldering practice available.

I also now have some surface mount kits, too.

Steve Greenfield AE7HD

Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:17 pm
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