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Simple steps for soldering both flight and test hardware.

  1. Work station
    1. Work space must be well ventilated
    2. Work space surface must be grounded
    3. An antistatic wrist band must be worn at ALL times when handling the project and the associated components
    4. Be sure to only have the necessary tools and components on hand
  2. Set up
    1. Preheat soldering iron at 600oF for most projects, any hotter will damage components
      • For tinning preheat soldering iron at 400oF, then raise temp to 600oF for joining
    2. Clean all components with isopropyl alcohol
    3. Set up all joining component so that they remain in the same position without human intervention
  3. Soldering
    1. For small components
      1. Chose proper solder for the task at hand
        • For all flight hardware 63%/37% Sn/Pb solder most be used to avoid tin whiskers
        • Use solder with a rosin flux core
        • If the above is not available you must use a rosin core flux or a RMA (rosin mildly activated) flux or flux 186
      2. Preheat both joining areas equally
      3. Apply iron and solder simultaneously to the joint for a 3 second count and remove both
      4. Inspect joint thoroughly (refer soldering inspection)
    2. For large components
      1. Chose proper solder for task as stated in 3.1.1.
      2. Specifically when soldering large components to a PCB reheat a large section of the board evenly and thoroughly
        • Preheating the board can be done using several methods
          • Small oven
          • Hot plate
          • Rework station by using circular motion evenly heating the area
      3. Once the board is preheated, place the part and solder it to the corresponding pads using a rework station of a soldering iron
      4. Inspect joint thoroughly (refer soldering inspection)
  4. Soldering inspection
    1. Using isopropyl alcohol clean left over flux from area around the soldered components
    2. Inspect the solder by looking for the following qualities
      1. Pros
        • “Shine” on the surface of the solder joint
        • “Flow” from the pad on the PCB to the tab on the component
      2. Cons
        • A dull look on the joint, this is a quality given to the joint if the solder is re-flown or cold soldering. This can make the joint brittle.
        • Ledges and sudden changes in the flow of the solder

If questions or considerations contact Devin Pelletier.

If unavailable review NASA flight hardware soldering standards, nasa-std-8739.3.

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