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The construction of simple electronic circuits is well within the ability of most people providing that the basic soldering skills are mastered and the correct tools are used. The basic toolkit for the beginner will consist of small and large pairs of pliers, wire cutters, an assortment of screwdrivers, an antistatic wristband and a good quality soldering iron.

Soldering  Nearly all electronics projects for the home constructor will require the use of a soldering iron, and the ability to produce reliable solder joints is a skill which will require some practice. It is often a very confusing task for the novice to choose a suitable soldering iron as there is such a wide selection to choose from. A good starting point is to choose a soldering iron with a power rating of about 45W which should be powerful enough to heat up most small solder joints. Many soldering irons use a low voltage element and are often supplied with a spring stand attached to the mains transformer. The element of the iron contains a thermostat which regulates the temperature of the iron. The tip of the iron is usually interchangeable which allows it to be replaced when it wears out and also allows different profiles of tip to be used for different tasks. Usually a chisel point tip is supplied with the iron but this may be replaced by a pointed tip for very detailed work, or a broader tip for attaching wires to terminals. Some soldering irons also have the facility for controlling the exact temperature of the iron but this is usually an unnecessary expense.

Solder Until recently the usual type of solder would be a 60 / 40 alloy of tin and lead but due to the recent introduction of the ROHS directive, it has been necessary to come up with alternative types of solder which are lead free. The newer types of solder are almost 100% tin with a small amount of copper and sometimes a small amount of silver. The disadvantage of the new solder is that it has a higher melting point which is why a 45W soldering iron is recommended. The other main drawback is that the solder produces a very dull joint. When using the old lead-tin solder, a dull joint usually meant that it was contaminated and was a good visual indicator of dry joints and bad soldering. However, with a bit of practice, the new solder becomes just as easy to use as the old solder.




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