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Electronics for dummies - McComb G.

McComb G., Boes E. Electronics for dummies - Wiley publishing, 2005. - 433 p.
ISBN: 0-7645-7660-7
Download (direct link): electronicsfordummies2005.pdf
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Here are two common solder gauges, along with their actual dimensions.
Common Solder Gauges
0.031” 22 gauge
0.062” 16 gauge
Soldering releases toxic fumes. You can buy lead-free solder to avoid the effects of lead poisoning. These solders contain other mixtures of metal, such as 95 percent tin and 5 percent antimony. But almost any soft metal that you can find in solder — such as lead, bismuth, indium, or antimony — is toxic to one degree or another. Always solder in a well-ventilated area, regardless of the composition of the solder! As of this writing, no one has come up with a completely non-toxic solder. Don’t use silver solder or any other solder not specifically intended for electronics, especially solder designed for copper plumbing pipes. These solders may not provide the same conductivity as standard 60/40 rosin core, and they may cause corrosion or leave contaminants that could make the circuit completely inoperable.
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Chapter 8: Everything You Need to Know about Soldering 165
Additional items useful for soldering that you can get in most hardware stores include
^ Wetted sponge: For wiping off excess solder and flux from the hot tip of the soldering pencil. Just a basic (but clean!) kitchen sponge does the trick. In a pinch, you can fold up a paper napkin, dampen it, squeeze out any excess water, and use it like a sponge.
^ 4X to 6X magnifying glass: For inspecting your work. After soldering, always check your solder joints to make sure they’re clean and well-formed and that no solder touches adjacent wires or circuit board pads.
^ Solder sucker: For removing excess solder. The sucker is a spring-loaded vacuum. To use it, melt the solder that you want to remove and then quickly position the sucker over the molten glob. Activate the sucker, and it removes the extra solder.
^ Rosin flux remover: Available in a bottle or spray can, use this after soldering to clean any remaining flux to prevent it from oxidizing your circuit.
^ “Third hand” clamp: Soldering would be a lot easier if everyone had three hands. Alas, most people are born with only two, so the next best thing is a small, weighted clamp that holds the parts while you solder. You may hear these clamps referred to as “helping hands” or simply a “third hand.” Figure 8-2 shows one of these clamps. You can purchase them with or without an integrated magnifying glass.
Figure 8-2:
A so-called "third hand" clamp helps you hold components while soldering. Get the kind with a built-in magnifier.
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166 Part IV: Getting Your Hands Dirty_
Choosing just the right soldering pencil
The basic soldering pencil you use for electronics work (shown in Figure 8-3) is composed of a removable tip, and a 25- to 35-watt heating element. The basic soldering pencil gets you soldering your circuits together, but not in style. Although it costs a little more, a soldering pencil with an adjustable temperature control gives you a better result. With these controls, you dial in the best temperature for the job.
If your soldering pencil doesn’t come with one, you need to get a separate stand for it. Soldering stands are inexpensive, so don’t cheap out and just lay the soldering pencil on your desk while you’re working. You’re bound to burn your project, your desk, or yourself!
Figure 8-3:
The basic soldering pencil, in all its glory.
Although some of the higher-end variable-temperature soldering pencils come with a digital readout, showing you the actual temperature at the tip, you don’t really need this feature for basic electronics work, though it’s nice to have as you build bigger and more complex circuits. With some practice and experience, by watching how quickly the pencil melts the solder you can figure out how to gauge the proper temperature setting.
Select a soldering pencil that comes with a grounded cord and plug. Many people consider a grounded electrical plug to be safer, in the event that the soldering pencil comes into contact with a live electrical circuit.
Selecting a soldering tip
The soldering tip attaches (it usually screws on) to the end of the heating element. The tip does the actual soldering. You can choose from literally hundreds of soldering tips, but don’t let that confuse you. For most electronics work, you want a small conical or chiseled tip. These kinds of tips come in various sizes: Æ-t-inch through Æ-t-inch tips do the job for most electronics work.
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Chapter 8: Everything You Need to Know about Soldering 167
You often can’t swap soldering tips among different brands of soldering pencil or even different models by the same manufacturer. Be sure to purchase the correct tip for your make and model of soldering pencil.
Replace soldering tips as they show signs of wear. Look for corrosion, pitting, or plating that is peeling off. Replace tips that no longer provide adequate heat or else your solder joints won’t be as strong as they should be because, when soldering tips get old, they don’t pass as much heat. That can also slow down your work. Eventually, if the tip gets really worn, it won’t ever make enough heat to melt the solder.
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