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Old 12-10-2008, 04:10 AM   #1
WKderF
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Soldering for Noobs: Step by step with photos...

So this is a quick how-to on soldering.
The idea behind soldering is to create a connection between 2 pieces of wire that is strong, conductive, and resistant to breakage. Crimp caps & butt connectors are a way to connect wires, however they can take up a lot of space if you are using many together, they can come apart quite easily, and in some cases, voltages can drop across the connector, and resistance can increase. Soldering is a STRONG but non permanent solution to splicing wire and is hands down the most preferable.

Step 1: Identify the wires you want to splice together - and make sure there is enough room on each end to perform your work. I always try to leave as much room as I can when i cut wires so I have enough room to splice an extension if necessary.



Step 2: Remove insulation on wire. as simple as this sounds, many people make some simple mistakes here. when removing the insulation, be careful not to cut any strands of the actual wire. I use a side-stripping tool which lets you remove the insulation of the wire without having to put the entire tool around it or thread the wire into the tool. it also makes by far the cleanest break of insulation and when used properly, will not cut any strands of the actual wire. when you remove the insulation, be sure you have enough bare wire to work with. also make sure that whenever possible, both wires that you are splicing together have the same amount of bare wire exposed.


Step 3: Twisting the wires together. this is what makes or breaks a splicing job. the best way to twist the wires together is in a fashion which is as small & tight as possible. the next pictures will show how this is best accomplished:



To do it the correct way, first make an X with the bare ends of the wires:



Then bend half of each bare portion of wire into a hook, so both sides are hooked to each other:



Now, twist the ends of the hooks you created, around the bare portion of the wire. the more you do this, the better you will become at gauging just how much insulation to remove, and where to cross the wires to begin wrapping.



Once you have twisted the wires, they should look something like this:

(notice that there are no points of the end of the wire sticking out, and all parts of the wire are neatly wrapped around eachother. THIS IS IMPORTANT!

now your wires are ready to SOLDER!


WARNING: Before we move on, I need to go over a common mistake... wrapping the wires like pictured below is incorrect. It puts unnecessary strain on the wires, and can leave sharp points after soldering which can pierce the insulation & short out the wire. After you wrap the wire in electrical tape, simply pulling the wire taught can knock the tape right off the wire. DONT DO IT.

Last edited by TROLL; 12-10-2008 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:22 AM
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:26 AM
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Old 12-10-2008, 04:37 AM   #2
WKderF
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Preparing your soldering iron:

there are many types of soldering irons on the market. electric powered, and butane powered. the biggest misconception with soldering irons is the hotter the better. nothing could be further from the truth. having too hot of an iron will literally melt the insulation right off of the wire and in some cases, will actually make soldering more difficult. a good rule of thumb with soldering is that when you touch your iron to the wire & prepare to solder, it should take about 5 seconds to get the wire hot enough. sooner than that - and its too hot. longer than that, and its too cold.

as for the choice of solder. solder by itself does not stick to wires or metal. to get solder to stick to a wire, a material called flux is needed. the most popular solder to use is rosin core, which means that in the center of the solder there is rosin, so the rosin gets applied the same time as the solder. this is available at radio shack or even home depot / lowes. get a wire that is thick enough to give you a decent amount to work with, but not so thick that it takes alot of heat to melt.


first you need to do whats called "tinning" the tip of the iron. make sure the tip is clean. I use a file every so often to clear the tip of residues etc, that develop. what you will do is once the iron is hot - apply a small amount of solder directly to the iron. THIS IS THE ONLY TIME YOU WILL APPLY SOLDER DIRECTLY TO THE IRON!!!!!!! read further & you will understand.


once you have done this, now its time to actually solder! use the iron to apply heat directly to the wire to be soldered. once it is hot enough, APPLY THE SOLDER TO THE WIRES!!! NOT THE IRON!!! many people melt the solder onto the iron & then let it "soak" into the wires. this can cause whats called a "cold solder joint" where the wires look & feel soldered together, but there is no electrical conductivity between them. applying the solder directly to the wire assures that the flux goes onto the bare wire, and a good solder joint will occur. things to keep in mind are to use as little solder as possible, and to only keep the iron on the wires as long as necessary. pnce the solder has evenly coated the wire wrap - remove the iron and let the solder dry itself. DO NOT BLOW ON IT OR TRY TO SPEED UP THE COOLING PROCESS!!!


once youre done your joint should look something like this:


and now its time to insulate your connection: while using heat shrink tubring is the cleanest looking way to insulate a newly soldered connection, electrical tape if used properly can work just as well - and in some cases better.

SUPER 33: THIS IS THE ONLY TAPE I USE. its not cheap - but 3M super 33 is designed SPECIFICALLY for automotive use. it is flexible in any temperature, adheres to insulation but not to the wire itself, is very strong, and conforms to the tightest wraps. other brands & types of tape may work, but more often than not I have seen them fall off over time, and come undone. cheap tape is just that - CHEAP. when it comes to protecting your car from shorting out, would you want to take a chance? trust me on this one: 3M Super 33 is the shiznit.



to properly wrap the tape around the wire: tear a piece of tape off that is twice the length of the bare section of the wire. pay close attention to the starting position of the tape in the pic below. notice that the top corner of the tape is where the wire comes into contact with it. and notice that no part of the tape is on the bare part of the wire itself.


now, wrap the tape around the wire with your fingers. be sure to make the wrap as tight as possible. if you aligned the tape like the pic above, you should be able to do this without creating a fold in the tape. continue wraping until you get to the end of the tape. if you used the correct amount, you should run out of tape just after covering the bare part of the wire.



your finished result should be something like this:



the more you do this, the better at it you will become. simply file this info away and use it as a some helpful hints when soldering wires for your next 12 volt installation. whatever it may be!

Last edited by WKderF; 12-10-2008 at 04:58 AM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:11 AM   #3
TROLL
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sweetness glad its finally up... looks good and I'm sure it will be helpful...
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:25 AM   #4
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great info
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