Electronics Study Guide

Electronics can be very rewarding, both as a career choice or as a hobby.  Whether you want to fix devices or build new ones from scratch, there are a number of basic skills you need to minimize the risk of both frustration and mistakes. Consider this information an add-on to your electronics study guide.

Electronics Study Guide on Soldering

You will need soldering skills if you are going to delve into any level of electronics.  Before you even attempt soldering you need to familiarize yourself with the basics:  Soldering irons, solder, soldering tips and flux.  There is amount of literature available pertaining to these soldering basics.  Once you have picked the correct tools for the job you can start practicing your soldering.

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Take the following tips into consideration:

Practice extreme caution when handling hot soldering irons. They can do extreme damage to human skin

Use vices to secure circuit boards while you are soldering

If smoke is coming from your solder, it’s too hot, turn it down a notch.

Prep the joint by tinning your soldering tip with solder prior to each connection.

Using a multimeter

A variety of reading s can be taken with a multimeter. The most common applications include measuring resistance, voltage and current strength.  Although state-of-the-art models can set you back hundreds of dollars you will be perfectly fine starting out with one that shouldn’t cost more than $25.  When working with a multimeter it is important to remember that they can actually inflict damage or, or be damaged by, the electronics that you are busy working on.  Before you start working on multimeters make sure to read through a couple of tutorials just to familiarize yourself with the basics.

Drilling holes into project boxes

The purpose of a project box is to keep all your wires tidy and confined to one space. Project boxes are extremely handy as they offer effortless assembly and have the ability to house circuit boards. Although many methods can be used to drill holes through plastic it is recommended to use a rotary drill with variable speeds.  Other methods will also get the job done but more labor might be required and less accuracy may be achieved.

Stripping wire

Sadly you are more than like going to find that cheap, adjustable wire strippers like the ones found in electronics kits will cut straight through braided wires. It is generally better to use unbraided, thicker wires when using a wire stripper. Heated automatic wire strippers are the best at stripping wires without damaging them but they are generally expensive. Gauged wire strippers offer the best value-for-money and will allow you to strip wires to your heart’s content without causing extensive damage. There are many wire-stripping strategies out there, you simply need to find the one that works best for you.

Making use of hot glue guns

Although many people still use regular non-conductive adhesives to hold a variety of components in their place hot glue guns simply offer so much in terms of cost-effectiveness and convenience.  Hot glue guns supply you with an adhesive that is ideal to use when operating electronics – it isn’t a glue at all but rather a plastic, making the risk of causing a short virtually non-existent.

Cleaning a solder joint or circuit board

If you want to make sure your electronics function properly you need to know how to clean both a circuit board as well as a solder joint.

Making use of liquid electrical tape

If solder-point and wires are left exposed they can result in short-circuits. Electrical tape and heat shrink tape are both useful but they cannot always be applied in constricted areas. The answer to this problem: Liquid electrical tape. Although more expensive than the other options it is not only simple to use but offer extra benefits such as waterproofing and improving the lifespan of soldered joints.

Using a solder sucker

Anyone with experience in electronics can tell you how useful this device is to remove melted solder from a board.  If you want to remove the melted solder without risking damage to the board a pump-style sucker is the way to go. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, with a bit of practice.

When working with electronics you need to keep many safety precautions in mind. Capacitors have the ability to kill you just like an electrostatic discharge can severely damage electronic devices. Take care when working with electronics and practice your trade as experience is generally known to reduce risk.


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