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soldering

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Using a Metcal GT120, we look at three ways to improve your soldering skills. Using flux, setting a correct temperature, and selecting the proper tip all result in better solder joints. See how well the GT120 works while learning (or reviewing) some basics to improve your soldering skills. This episode was sponsored by Metcal.

Low-temperature solder paste makes it easier to reflow-solder and re-work surface mount circuit boards. MG Chemicals offers a Bismuth-based paste that works great from larger passive components to fine pitched packages, like QFN. In this video, learn what solder paste is, what it means for a paste to be “low temperature,” and some things to watch out for when using it. This episode was sponsored by MG Chemicals.

Desoldering braid removes surface solder from a circuit board. It makes reworking PCBs easy and quick. With a few tips and tricks, products like MG Chemical’s Superwick can work like magic. You can remove solder from surface mount parts, wick away excess solder blobs, and repair boards using it. In this video, James shares tips and tricks from the element14 community for using desoldering braid. (Please note: the makers of Superwick, MG Chemicals, sponsored this…

[guestpost]My friend Pablo recently upgraded his firestarter iron to a Hakko FX-888D. Because of its popularity and his relative newness to the iron, I asked if he’d like to write up a review for it. You can follow him on twitter.[/guestpost]

01-Hakko Iron and StandJust based on the color, the Hakko FX-888D seemed, at first, like it was a toy compared to other electronic tools and equipment. The color does make it easy to spot even if you are buried in a project. You can quickly find it because it stands out. The outside seems like plastic, but it is made from or encased in metal. Knowing that it was only a plastic enclosure made me feel like this will be with me for a long time.

I love how the iron holder is separate from the base. It easily can be placed anywhere in the work area. Also, keeping the base unit in one spot makes life so much easier. It gives the iron itself enough room so nothing nearby can accidentally be melted or burned by the iron.

The iron holder also has a convenient area for a cleaning wire and a cleaning sponge. I only wish that the opening for the cleaning wire was a bit bigger. As is, I regularly clean the tip using the same spot. Having the removable bottom makes it so easy to clean all the solder junk that collects at the bottom from the cleaning wire. If only the rubber legs were a bit wider, they would help keep the iron holder from sliding around my desk. (This could be just because of the type of tabletop I have it sitting on.)

An overlooked danger of electronics soldering is the fumes. While the smell and smoke may not be pleasant, the chemicals in the fumes can be harmful. Is solder made with lead(Pb) your only concern? Learn about where lead-free solder came from, what different flux types mean, and two ways to keep your air (and your lungs clean.) In the video, I show a cheap “smoke eater” and a professional fume extractor. There is a cost…