November 20, 2011

Desoldering 101

Soldering is a very good skill to have as a ham.  But what do you do when you need to remove a solder part?  You "de-solder" it of course.  Learning the correct way to desolder can save a lot of frustration and time.  You will need this skill if you ever engage in activities such as:
  • Kit building - e.g. soldered a part in the wrong orientation or wrong position.
  • Electronic repair - e.g. replacing leaky old capacitors in a radio.
  • Part salvage - e.g. removing parts from a device for reuse in some other project.
Take a few minutes and learn the proper way to desolder.

We learned desoldering the hard way in our youth tearing apart old gear and salvaging parts.  It turns out that desoldering is a common pattern among hams as a way to successful learning of soldering technique.  In other words, desoldering an old piece of equipment and salvaging the good parts is a great way to learn how to handle a solder iron.  This is likely because the risk of doing damage is ZERO (the circuit is already broken) which gives the freedom to make mistakes and learn. 

Before you open the cabinet of an old piece of equipment, make sure the power is off and unplugged.  Additionally, do educate yourself on how to safely deal with capacitors and other components which can store dangerous voltages even after the power is disconnected.

As a youth, would have loved to have some soldering wick and the fancy solder sucker.  We have been using solder wick for many years.  We recently picked up a nice solder sucker tool at Fry's Electronics while working in San Jose (Silicon Valley), CA.  Now we just need an old radio to work on....

Be sure to check out related articles:
Soldering 101
Soldering PL-259 Connectors
KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit - New Arrival