One skill that you will quickly see is a great skill to have in the RC hobby is the ability to solder. Soldering is not rocket science but it does require a bit of know how and of course there is no substitute for gaining experience by actually getting a soldering iron and doing it.
Tools and Accessories
- Soldering iron
- Helping hands device
- Deans connectors
- Soldering wire
- Shrink tube
- Lighter or heat gun for shrink tube
I would highly recommend that you get a good soldering iron and develop this skill as it will certainly help you in the hobby to make your own connections, repair connections, etc. The soldering iron is very important as even someone that is great at soldering will tell you that if your iron is not a very good iron and doesn't get to the proper temperature, you will have problems with your connections. A really great soldering iron that won't break the bank but will most likely do anything you need it to do is the Hakko FX-888. I ordered mine from Amazon and it was around $100.
This iron gets super hot and is a beefy device with dedicated power supply and temperature control.
Flux is an essential part of being able to make good soldering joints. You will read and hear many say that you don't need flux if you get good soldering wire. This can be true in some cases, however, I have tried with good wire not using flux and it still does not work as good for me. I think that especially for beginners in soldering, you set yourself up for much greater success if you use additional flux in your soldering technique.
I just use flux that I purchased at Radio Shack that seems to work great. What I like to do is dip the end of my soldering wire into the flux and then let the wire/flux flow over my soldering iron.
- Get your iron setup and let it start getting hot while you work on preparing your battery. First things first. Cut only one wire at a time as this is very important to keep the battery wire ends from touching each other and causing an arc. This can potentially be a dangerous situation if you cut both wires at the same time. So, again, only cut one wire at a time.
- As you see here, I have cut the black (negative) wire and have already cut another quarter of an inch of the sheathing back so we can go ahead and tin the wire and get it ready to solder to the connector. You can see part of the process above. I like to press them down on the section you want to strip until you "feel" the sheathing being cut down to the wire. Simply move all the way around the wire to get all the sheathing cut and simply clamp down and pull the sheathing off to the side.
- Tinning the wire means that we take some solder and let it run on the wire before we attempt to solder the wire to the connector. This makes the connection much easier to make and prepares the wire to accept the additional solder we will be adding to make the connection.
- We also "tin" the connector with a drop of solder to accomplish the same thing we did with the wire before making the connection
- Make sure you cut your shrink tube and slide in onto your unconnected wire before making your connection. I can't tell you how many times I have been frustrated with soldering my connector on and then realizing that I hadn't put any shrink tube on.
- Using your helping hands device, clip your deans connector on one side where it can be mated up with the wire from your battery held by the other side of the helping hands device. Apply your flux covered wire onto your iron over the connection, letting the solder flow evenly over the connection until it is secured.
- Slide your heat shrink tubing over the connection and apply heat to shrink it.