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Soldering Iron School : Learn How to Solder the Right Way

Soldering Iron School

Learning how to use a soldering iron is an important skill in building FPV race drones.  I know there are a lot of people who want to build their own quad but are hesitant because they’ve never soldered before.  It’s actually really simple and a lot of fun once you learn the basics.  I’ll show you how!
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What is soldering?

Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and flowing a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal.  (wiki)

There are many ways to solder.  This is the way I was taught in school.  After getting my electronics engineering degree I worked at Nokia repairing and soldering microscopic SMD components on cell phones for two years.

weller wesd51 soldering iron

Weller WESD51

SOLDERING IRON – There are several types of soldering irons but the best are the ones that you can adjust the power.  I use the Weller EC2002m which I got when I was in school 20 years ago.  The newer version is the Weller WESD51.  The main difference is that the WESD51 is 50w vs 40w and it has a auto shutoff feature.  I wish I had this.  I’ve accidentally left mine on for hours before, oops.  Having a digital display that tells you exactly what temp you are using is very useful.

If you don’t solder everyday like me and don’t need a fancy digital one, they make a analog version, Weller WES51.  It’s around $100.  If that’s still too much they make an adjustable 40w soldering iron for under $40, Weller WCL100.

If you are looking for a soldering iron to get the job done, they have a $9 60w soldering iron.  I would not recommend this one.  I’ve used these when I was younger.  They have two settings, off and 860 degrees.  860 degree is good for melting wire, burning holes in wood and frying ants.  I never go that hot on my iron.

Why the big price difference you ask?  We’ll I’ve had my Weller soldering iron for over 20 years and I bought it used from the school when they were replacing them.  I’m still using the original tip!  So they will last a loooong time if you  take basic care of them.

SOLDER – There are different types of solder for different jobs.  I find for building quads, rosin core 60/40 (60 tin/40 lead) .032 diameter solder works great.  It’s thin enough to work on tiny jobs like Naze32 headers and works great for fat battery cables.  It flows easily without the need for messy flux.

SOLDER WICK – This acts like a sponge that sucks up hot solder.   A simple 2.5mm wick works great for quad building.

Here’s a soldering vise I designed.  It makes soldering much easier.

How to solder

Soldering is easy.  The main objective is to heat up two metals hot enough to melt solder so they join together when they cool.  When you apply the soldering iron tip, make sure you touch both metals.

how to solder


For instance, if you are soldering a through the hole joint like a pin header to a Naze32 pad, make sure the tip is touching the pin header and the pad at the same time.  You want both metals to be heated enough so that it melts solder.  That way the solder will melt and bond to both parts.  A good through the hole joint will look like a little volcano and is shiny.  This type of joint doesn’t require tinning.  Tinning is putting a little bit of solder on both parts before soldering them together.

how to solder

For soldering wires on a PDB (power distribution board), tinning should be done.  Tinning the wire and pad makes it easier for this kind of solder joint.  Again, you want to touch the pad and wire at the same time to make sure both are hot enough to melt solder.  After the solder is melted, try not to move the wire until the solder hardens.  If you do you might end up with a cold solder joint.  A cold joint will look dull and bumpy.  If it looks like that, redo it.  The wire could come apart while you are flying.

build qav250

Here’s a guide on temperatures:

  • 600 degree – delicate jobs such as joining two small gauge wires together
  • 675 degree – pin headers on a flight controller, through the hole type joints
  • 725 degree – soldering ESCs on a PDB
  • 800 degree – soldering 16AWG wire on XT60s or fat battery cables

You want to strike a balance between getting the job done while not causing any damage like melting wire,  applying so much heat that the solder pad comes off or damage surrounding electronic components.

Soldering tips:
  • Soldering can get messy and ruin your tabletop.  Use a workstation pad like this Silicon soldering pad.  This is a great pad with all sorts of compartments to help organize screws and tools.
  • Unless you are in the act of soldering, don’t leave hot solder on the tip.  A simple tip cleaner will work as a soldering pad.  Wipe the tip on the cleaner before and after each solder joint, especially after.  Leaving hot solder on the tip is the best way to shorten the life of the tip.  That’s really all you have to do to take care of the tip.  My tip is over 20 years old and still works great.
  • Wipe the tip before using.  A bright shiny tip works much better than a dirty tip.
  • Use a small conical tip.  These work equally great for precise jobs like pin headers or fat battery cables if you know how to use it.  (Watch the video)
  • If you get a stubborn solder joint that won’t melt, put a tiny bit of solder on the iron tip.  The melted solder will increase the surface area of heat and melt the stubborn joint.
  • Breath out or lightly blow on the melting solder.  There are some nasty metals in solder.  You don’t want to breath it in.
  • Wash your hands after handling solder.  Lead is nasty.

Hopefully this little tutorial will give you some confidence to get started.  Once you get basics it’s pretty fun.  Like everything else, the more you do it the better you get.

Build Fly Crash Repeat

If you found this post helpful, it would be super cool if you purchased the components from my store or purchase items from my Amazon links.  These posts are expensive and take a loooong time to make so the purchases make it possible for me to keep making them.  Thanks in advance, I greatly appreciate it 🙂

2018-08-16T14:12:06-06:00 Basics, Build, Quick Tips|16 Comments


  1. Adam 11/04/2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Hi mate, perhaps a link to you magic board vice? We only ever see bits of it but looks very useful

  2. Ken Stovall 11/05/2015 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Hey Mike I went to there site but I don’t see where I can order one ??

    • FlightClub 11/05/2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

      They aren’t for sale on that site. Give me a week or so. I’ll make one and put it in the store 🙂

  3. jimd 11/08/2015 at 11:26 am - Reply

    A solder pad came off of my Naze32 board. I found several other people that had the same exact pad ripped off (perhaps a defective part?). I found instructions on how to repair by digging down into the board to the trace wire, but is that really reliable? I have this connected to my D4Rii and was also wondering if it’s possible to just use one of the adjacent pads…


    • FlightClub 11/08/2015 at 11:43 am - Reply

      solder pads coming off is usually the result of too much heat for too long while soldering. I’ve soldered close to 100 naze32 boards and never had a pad come off. I wouldn’t risk it.

  4. Gary 11/15/2015 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    A great tutorial that I have looked for. Recently, I am also looking for an upgrade from my old soldering iron. Weller WESD51 is a bt more expensive than WES51. It is also recommended here. http://www.whichsolderingstation.com Not sure if it is worth the price. Appreciate your input very much in advance.

    • FlightClub 11/15/2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Mine is the older version of the WESD51. Even though mine doesn’t have all the new features on the WESD51 I love mine. Well worth it and it will last you a loooong time.

    • Steph Boeker 04/15/2021 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      I found this kit which seems to be very heavy, (sturdy) reviews were good and boasted 10 hr days for 20yrs as well as a higher heat (896 F) than the Weller (850 F) and only 1/2 the price !!
      Hope this helps,
      Sincerely …………………..

  5. michael 03/18/2017 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    how to wire up naze32 rev6 acro board to flysky fs t6 receiver

  6. Yaron 04/05/2017 at 1:04 am - Reply

    What is the measurement unit of the soldering iron? (You wrote 0.32 diameter but what unit)

  7. Rob M 05/09/2018 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks for these great tips and instructions. I was trying to solder at a measly 450f, ugh. No wonder my soldering sucked…

    • Mike Tseng 05/10/2018 at 7:22 am - Reply

      yup! i leave mine on 850 for everything.

  8. ‘Danny 05/09/2020 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips. My lead wire going into my 7000kv brushless motor came out, in fact all three detached from the motor. How can I attach all three back? They don’t look soldered to the motor, almost looks heat shrinked but can’t tell. Thanks!

    • Mike Tseng 05/11/2020 at 10:23 am - Reply

      usually the windings go around the motor then they are soldered and shrink wrapped to the wires extending out. you can solder a wire to the windings near the motor

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