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How NOT to Solder Headers on a Board

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How NOT to Solder Headers on a Board

· IoT Zone ·
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There are two basic strategies in teaching:

  1. Teach and show how things should be done.
  2. Teach and show how things should NOT be done.

I usually do the first method. But there is a lot of value in the second method too!

When I asked all student groups to solder the headers on the Freescale FRDM-KL25Z board, I received one report that the board does not work any more. A quick inspection of the board showed this:

Soldering the FRDM Board Headers

How NOT to Solder the FRDM Board Headers

Wow! Well, I did not plan to use didactic method number two for that teaching material, and I did not plan to teach how to use the soldering iron with solder. But this was enough for me to reconsider my strategy:

Soldering detail

Soldering detail

Not everyone is mastering the soldering iron, and there is first time for everyone. But this piece actually was fascinating. Some details are a special piece of amazing art:

Solder and Header Details

Solder and Header Details

Solder formed balls around the pins, and in some cases even not touching the pads, creating nice connections with other balls: I think if I would want to create something like this, I would not be able to do so:

Solder Balls

Solder Balls

Outcome: That team received a new board :-). In return I asked that I can keep their original masterpiece for my didactics collection under number 2.

They received a big smile, and introduction and hands-on about how to solder the pins correctly:

  1. Heat up the pin/pad for about one second with the soldering iron.
  2. Quickly apply solder.
  3. Keep heating while removing the solder wire.
  4. And then remove the iron.

Now that board looked technically correct and functional, but somewhat boring ;-).

I have learned something too: do not assume that every engineer knows how to solder pins. And that the number of engineers who *know* how to solder just has increased the other day :-).

Happy Soldering :-)

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