Soldering legs of components and hook wire and header pins

Lately ive been moving some projects to a perf board. Jumpering cables on a breadboard has ruined me and since I long drawn issue I had with failed connectivity with a SIM900...anyway...

I recently made this small circuit with a lm7805 so I can have it handy. I have yet to snap the board off the rest, which Im sure I can use for something else. I am the frugal kind and I like to dig up old stuff and use an LM7805 or R or Cap off of something else rather than buy even a dirt cheap one. I will rustle through old circuit boards and rip off long ends off resistors or caps in order to use as hook wire. I recently bought myself some proper hook wire from Remington.

The issue Im having has to do with welding and my obsession to save up on stuff. Ihave 2 specific issues:

  1. Holding the breadboard and soldering iron and tweezers. I have a small clamp station which was cheap and Im paying the price. Its not heavy enough so it moves or the tightening-screws are not good enough so the alligator-clip-holder swings around the shaft. Lately I found the use of binder clips that I got from my office. My table (thats another issue) is a glass office table I had laying around. So Ill clip the binder clip on the edge of the glass and have it hold the perf board in place. This works find except for when I have to get to the middle of the board for a larger circuit. It worked fine for the lm7805 circuit because its a few straight lines, but it wont work well for my battery-charge-indicator-opamp circuit because its got more components and connections. So I guess my best bet here is to get a larger station? Any other suggestions for holding perf boards while I solder on them?

  2. Technique. I noticed that I used to solder by lodging the solder wire between the two components to join and place the iron tip over the solder, wait for it to melt and then play around with the blob until I got it where i wanted. This has the serious issue of not heating the pads or component wires properly and so the blob would go all over the place. Now that I have perf boards and hook wire which was vital in replacing my use of old rescued wires from circuit boards, I did this 7805 circuit with the hook wire but I still had some issues. But for the last few solders I made on the board, I was able to convince my stubborn head to place the iron tip FIRST and touch the solder wire to the tip and let it melt onto the heated components and so the blob stuck easier. No question here. Technique made a difference. You should see my previous solders.

  3. How to hook things on a breadboard and make them stay while I work on them. I still ran into trouble when I placed the 7805, caps, headers and hook wire onto the perf board and they would move around while I worked. I discovered I could bend the hook wire tips to make them stay in place. My obsession with not-wasting makes me do things like bend the ends of caps and resistors to use them as connecting wires which makes it hard to connect because they are so long that they overshoot the lead on a header pin and I end up soldering the connecting cap-wire to the header pin tip at an angle, because I make the long connecting cap-wire connect to the header pin tip on either side, instead of in a straight line. A few questions. So I have a run from headers - hook wire - cap - lm7805 - cap - wire - headers:

A- Headers to Hook Wire. How should I make the connection underneath? What I tried was making the end of the hook wire run past the hole where the header was going to go. But this made the header pin go in very little so it moved a lot while I was trying to solder it. Also, I think the best thing was to remove the black plastic stops from the header pins and solder from the top, letting the solder run down into the hole and connect to the hook wire tip. But maybe not because the hook wire would be heated and the junction might not be good enough between hot solder, hot header pin but cold hook wire?

B- Hook Wire to caps. Here what I did solder it from the bottom as well. I made the long cap wire touch the hook wire and made dropped some solder over both of them. But I placed the cap-wire and hook-wire side by side because otherwise its harder to get the solder to run in between both of them it they are one on top of the other. What is the proper way to connect these?

C- Caps to 7805. Here my cheapskate-dont waste self convinced me to only stick in part of the 7805 legs, but not bend them because I might use it later in something else. Although even if I would have stuck in the legs completely and bended them to either side, I would have run into the same issue as with the hook wire and cap legs. So this is basically the same issue as B, how do I solder together legs of components (R, C or LM7805) with hook wire or with each other? Over each other, side by side?

1 and 3: Blue tack or Play Dough ;) I use cheap "Play Dough" from the Euro/Dollar/dump store (was 60 cents for a pack of 12 sticks).

And try to work with the excess of component leads :) Solder in headers and screw terminals before trying to connect them (with little solder) and then just fold the lead (or wire) to the part sticking trough the bottom. Then just solder them (indeed, first apply heat, then solder).

So solder the header pins first. Now part of the pin sticks out at the bottom. Then stick in the hook wire or component wire towards the pin.

Ok and just to be clear, if the component lead is too long, do I cut it at the point where it just meets the tip of the header sticking out?

That's what I do. But sometimes (if I'm not sure if I'm going to use the rest of the lead) I solder it first and cut it afterwards. Just try to get the lead and header-pin close together while soldering. Using just a little bit of solder (just enough to keep it in place) while soldering the header will make that easier. A nice joint is then formed when you add more solder while connecting the lead.

I can make a photo of a prototype I just made last week if you want to. But that's going to be tomorrow. It's already past bed time here... But what I found to be the most important is don't try to solder in mid air. Keep your wrists on the table and the work piece flat and lose to the table as well. That's why I like "tack" more then a helping hand / clamp station.

  1. An old cardboard box can be unfolded and used on top of your glass desk. I was forced to buy an anti-static pad for one house that had extremely cheap carpet. It's sort of a rubbery finish that helps stop stuff sliding. I never use the "helping hands" clamp thingies, even though I've tried a couple.

  2. The correct technique is to wedge the iron between the leg and the pad, to heat both equally. Then the book says that you're supposed to feed the solder into the pad+leg without touching the soldering iron. I find that molten lead is a much better heat transfer medium than the two point contacts, so I will start with the solder touching the iron but then quickly move it to the "approved" spot.

  3. Often it's necessary to wedge the board up on any nearby object, like your diagonal cutters. Then you can use that to tilt the component the right way to get the lead to stay where you're about to solder it. Once one leg of the component is fixed, you can do the others. The come back and re-work the first leg.

Have you seen Ben Heck's series on YouTube? He shows off many of these techniques through every build project he does. I think he may also have some technique videos too.

A. The neatest way is to cut the leg or hookup wire just short of its destination and use solder to bridge the gap. It's hard to do this every time.

For the headers, you do need to keep the plastic thing so that the pins stay in alignment. But you can push or pull the pins through the plastic to get the length set perfectly.

B. Your way looks good - around Row 15 in the photo?

C. Side-by-side works. Whatever you need to do.

For that specific design, I would not have used insulated wire on the top. I would have put uninsulated wire on the bottom, soldering it to every pad in the row, like homemade Vero Board.

Use the pads. Solder your components to the pads. It looks like most of your components are floating free in the holes.

Overall, your solder joints look "cold." Like you haven't put enough heat into them. If you're occasionally unsoldering the other end of the wire because you heated the whole thing, then it's about right. It's hard to tell from just a photo.

Thanks for sticking to constructive criticism. I know my perf board is mediocre at best. Its a process. Thanks again! I also need a good soldering iron, no 2 ways about it. Ive noticed how easily solder melts with those temp controlled ones. I have a hand or wand one or whatever its called.

Your solder did not flow properly.
Try this:
Press the clean tip against the wire AND the pad for 2-3seconds, so both parts are heated.
Then put (flux-cored electronics) solder also between the two parts.
Remove the tip quickly about 2seconds after is has flowed between the parts.

Avoid putting solder on the tip of the iron (when soldering). That will burn off the flux quickly.
Flux is needed to flow. Solder with the flux burned off is useless, so wipe it off the tip.

Wawa: Your solder did not flow properly. Try this: Press the clean tip against the wire AND the pad for 2-3seconds, so both parts are heated. Then put (flux-cored electronics) solder also between the two parts. Remove the tip quickly about 2seconds after is has flowed between the parts.

Avoid putting solder on the tip of the iron (when soldering). That will burn off the flux quickly. Flux is needed to flow. Solder with the flux burned off is useless, so wipe it off the tip. Leo..

Exactly, don't be scared to leave the iron there too long. 2 to 3 seconds feels like an eternity when trying to get a joint up to temp, it isn't and modern components are very tolerant of excessive lead temperature. Tom... :)