Soldering Tip Tinning with Sal Ammoniac

If you solder, you’ve likely come across an “untinned” tip at some point— that’s when the tip of your soldering iron loses its shine, and doesn’t easily wet to solder any more.

Once your tip gets this way, it doesn’t make nearly as good of a thermal contact to whatever you are trying to solder, and it simply doesn’t work well. Soldering can take 2-10 times as long, and that isn’t good for your circuit board, components, or mental health.

You can sometimes re-tin the tip by melting fresh solder onto it, but that can be challenging, because the whole problem is that the tip isn’t melting solder. It’s particularly hard to keep tips tinned with modern lead-free solder, because it needs to get even hotter to begin melting.  If you get to this point, you might think about even replacing the tip.

But before you throw that tip away, instead consider using one of the “old standard” solutions, which is to refurbish the tip with a tip-tinning compound. And we came across the most classic of them in one of the most unexpected locations.  Continue reading

Circuitry Snacks

555 LED flasher 1

PCB with components   Joule thief 2

Here we present what is arguably the tastiest way to design and learn about electronic circuits: make circuitry snacks!

Two of our favorite things in the world are playing with electronics and playing with food, and so it is about time that someone finally got around to combining the two. We begin by gathering up appropriate snack-food building blocks and making food-based models of electronic components. From these components, you can assemble “circuitry snacks”– edible models of functioning electronic circuits. You can make these for fun, for dessert, for your geek friends, for kids, and for teaching and learning electronics.
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