Rule 6: This is really getting ahead of ourselves here, but it’s good to hear as many times as possible. Here is a short video to demonstrate how to clean your iron tip, solder a through hole component, and clip off the extra leads. Please note: the component placement on the shifter board in the photos in this tutorial might not be the same as the shifter board you purchase. This board is a MAX232 equivalent circuit meaning it does some dirty tricks to convert RS232 signals to TTL level signals. In response to problem 1 – I’ve never come across a modern computer that the shifter board does not work. Problem 2 – Windows simply can’t handle serial speeds faster than 115200bps (well, not without some serious finagling). So let us build up this kit and replace the MAX232 circuit in the breadboard with our shifter circuit.
Solder in the electrolytic capacitor noting the ‘-’ sign polarization matching with the silk screen.
Power your board, pound some characters into hyperterminal and verify that you get an echo.
In the end, I use the shifter board on all my breadboard prototyping and a conventional MAX3232 circuit on my PCB designs. Soldering is a group of processes that join metals by heating them to a suitable temperature. Hard soldering or silver soldering refers to solder that has silver content used to lower the melting point so that the molten metal flows more easily. This process is used for joining most common metals with an alloy that melts at a temperature below that of the base metal. The parts to be soldered should be free of all oxide, scale, oil, and dirt to ensure sound joints. Wetting refers to the ability of a liquid filler to spread over a surface (think car wax when applied to a car). All soldering operations require a flux in order to obtain a complete bond and full strength at the joints.
Soft solder joints may be made by using gas flames, wiping, sweating the joints, or by dipping in solder baths. Clean base metals with a brush or other method (see above)Clamp the two metals to be joined together ensuring that there is a gap for the solder. A surface-mount device (SMD) is a very delicate component because it is extremely sensitive to heat. Installing and removing these devices require a little more dexterity, and the use of tweezers and a magnifying glass are vital. Contrary to popular belief, SMD components can have the standard 0.1-inch pitch lead distance. For soldering SMD, I would use a 22 gauge (0.7 mm diameter) Omega solder, together with a fine pointed (1 mm) Antex tip.
The proper way to work with surface mount components is to use special glue called Surface Mount Adhesive (SMA).
The first step is to apply a small spot of glue to the component body, and align the leads to match perfectly with the pads. Learning how to create very thin solder bridges is also a good skill to have, as well as knowing how to avoid creating them when not needed. This lead rocking process only takes a few seconds if you have your soldering iron set on high, and will not damage the part if done carefully.
Some devices are inserted into a circuit board with very short leads or in such a way that makes it impossible to manipulate the part with your fingers. However, sometimes it’s also better to solder at only 350°C because the flux will not disappear that quickly which makes it easier to solder as well. To change the voltage you can solder a variable resistor (VR) between the feedback (FB) pin of the PWM Controller and GND. Before you start with expensive high-end cards you should do some practice on old cards or mainboards. Take a piece of wire (about 5-10 cm), remove the insulation at one end and apply soldering tin on it.


If you apply some soldering tin on the soldering joint as well, it will be much easier to apply the wire there later.
To get the correct resistance you have to measure from FB to GND and multiply the value by 20. You use the iron to heat two things – the part and the board, and then you add solder to the two heated parts. When soldering joints that have a lot of thermal weight, heat the joint up for an additional 5-10 seconds. It was under $100, it can solder lead-free solder just fine, and I use the standard included iron tip. Because it’s so thin, the assemblers would have to use many many inches of solder to solder larger joints (lke DB9 connectors). Make sure to follow the silkscreen indicators on the board you receive for proper component placement. This is because the RS232 ports on modern computers are designed to deal with poorly designed serial devices! The shifter board works fine at this speed so the MAX232 has no real advantage for the every-day application. In the picture above, the black line on the diode matches with the white line on the silkscreen. Notice the small amounts of residual flux – it’s the clear, shiny, sticky material left of the board. In many respects, this operation is similar to brazing in that the base is not melted, but is merely tinned on the surface by the solder filler metal.
Cleaning may be performed by immersing in caustic or acid solutions, filing, scraping, using steel wool, a stainless steel brush or by sandblasting.
Fluxes clean the joint area, prevent oxidations, and increase the wetting power of the solder by decreasing its surface tension. The goal is to minimize movement.Plug in the electric soldering iron or light the gas torchHeat the base material with the iron or torchApply solder by touching the end of the solder to the joint. Once the glue has dried and bonded the component to the PCB, you can then solder all of the leads without any problems. For example on a matrix board such as this, it is a quick and convenient way to join two pads without using a wired link. Some cleanup of the leads might be necessary after, though, as the molten solder may stick to the lead as you release the component from the board. Resistors that are laid down horizontally are often difficult to lift up by hand as there is not much to hold on to, and they become extremely hot in a hurry. The following picture is a 4 Phase VRM which should help you to understand how your modification works and where you find the measuring points. Now cut the end of the wire to about 1 mm length which is still enough to use the wire but it is insulated as much as possible to prevent shorts. You do not add a glob of solder to the tip and then rub this mess against the two things you’re trying to solder together.
When you solder to a big part or a pad that has a lot of copper attached to it (very common with GND connections), it takes a few extra seconds for the iron to pump enough heat into the part to get it to the correct temperature to form a connection.
You don’t really need a digital read-out for home use, but do get an iron that has an adjustable temp dial. Smaller diameter solder helps you control how much solder goes into very tight pitch joints but it’s not magic – it is not required. As you melt the solder into the joint, a small amount of rosin inside the core will come out and help the solder flow. So even though our shifter board can’t quite get to the -12V and +12V, the computer can still understand what it’s trying to say.
After the resistor is inserted into the board, bend the legs out the other way so that it stays in place. Enough solder was applied to come through the holes from the bottom of the board to fill all the way through the via. For production assemblies, this flux is cleaned off with a light solvent or rubbing alcohol.
When you solder together as many prototype PCBs as I do, you really want to limit how many solder connections you have to solder.


The filler metal is distributed between the closely fitted surfaces of the joint by capillary attraction. For its strength the soldered joint depends on the penetration of the solder into the pores of the base metal surface, along with the consequent formation of a base metal-solder alloy, together with the mechanical bond between the parts.
It is not a replacement for manufacturers directions and is only to provide reminders for experienced welders. This lead cleanup is only necessary if you plan to place the part in a solderless breadboard, as the solder blob may be too wide for the slot on the breadboard.
The MOSFETs basically change the voltage from 12 Volt DC input to the required GPU voltage like 1.2 Volt.
So it can happen that the soldering iron just sticks to the part or you can’t even get the soldering tin to melt. If you sit in one spot for a long period of time and nothing is flowing, take a step back, clean your tip, add a bit a solder to the tip, and try soldering the joint again. Use the side of the iron (remember, not the point) to heat the two parts while adding solder from the opposite side. If you notice your iron tip feels ‘sticky’, or if you see the solder balling to the pin instead of flowing to the joint, this is because one part of the joint is not hot enough. Just don’t buy the solder at the hardware store that they sell for copper pipe plumbing, that stuff is ridiculously thick. Rosin basically changes the surface tension of the solder allowing it to flow better (we’re talking about liquid metal after all).
They sell some handy tools and supplies but it’s not your standard hobby shop – it can be tricky to get help some days.
The shifter kit is easy to tell which is which – there are five 10k resistors and two 220Ohm resistors. Inserting through-hole components for the shifter circuits takes much more time than a MAX3232 circuit. Soft solders are used for airtight or watertight joints which are not exposed to high temperatures. These are used on clean joints to prevent the formation of oxides during the soldering operations. Wiping is a method used for joining lead pipe and also the lead jacket of underground and other lead-covered cables. We do accept advertising and receive some compensation when we mention select products and services.
After each phase you have an Inductor and capacitors (C) which are eventually connected to the GPU or CPU.
Solder aficionados may watch the DOM (date of manufacture) and claim that solder will go bad at some point. This should open up some significant space on your breadboard and allow you to skip building a MAX232 circuit for future breadboard projects. Zinc chloride and ammonium chloride may be used on tarnished surfaces to permit good tinning. Sweated joints may be made by applying a mixture of solder powder and paste flux to the joints. Every time you pull the iron from the stand, it’s a good idea to swipe the tip on the sponge just to clean it off and get a nice silver tip – it will allow you to solder much quicker and much cleaner.
A solution of zinc cut in hydrochloric (muriatic) acid is commonly used by tin workers as a flux.Flux comes in powder, paste and liquid form. Then heat the part until this solder mixture liquifies and flows into the joints, or tin mating surfaces of members to be joined, and apply heat to complete the joint. It has been known to irritate some people’s eyes but I’ve never known anyone to have a problem with it.
I imagine the rosin may change slightly over time but this solder is probably good for many years to come. The corrosive form works best, but requires a flux remover after your soldering is complete.



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