Soldering Tips That Aren’t About Soldering

Since my wife was home being productive, it got my productivity running wild as well, so I finally finished the motor driver board for my cat feeder! While doing so, I found myself using some techniques that helped me get things connected correctly and hold things together while I soldered. Here are a couple of tricks you can try to keep your projects straight during assembly.

Label your chips

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I used some flag style sticky notes, but any corner of a sticky not will do. Using the same spacing as my chip leads, I created shorthand labels to remind myself what was what. Use a fine tipped pen or mechanical pencil to write small and neat. This was great for helping me quickly glance at what needs to be connected. When you’re done, remove the sticky notes!

Raise your project up

I used a small red plastic bin to not only hold miscellaneous components related to my project, but also support my board and bring it closer to my face. When inverting the board to solder, the top components can hang down into the bin as the walls support my board which lays flat. Very simple, but quite effective. I hardly touched my helping hands.

Use Silly Putty as a tool

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I don’t know if others have tried this, but I wanted a way to better hold objects to the board for soldering when I inverted the board. Helping hands are sort of clumsy and only hold one object at a time, and only some objects will stay put with their legs bent on the other side.

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When I set my parts precisely where I want them, I slap a gob of Silly Putty on the part and face of the board. Now I can invert the board, and nothing moves! I can’t believe I didn’t they this sooner. It’s extremely easy to use, no mess, reusable, and you can stack more Silly Putty to hold many components. My bendy wire knots are so much easier to suspend underneath when I have them frozen with Silly Putty. If you solder, go get some. Now.

 

Oh, and if you were curious, here’s my complete Cat Feeder motor driver board. (Unfortunately, while looking great, it didn’t work exactly how I wanted =( .)

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