Soldering Made Easy — Dealing with Printed Circuits

Soldering Made Easy — Dealing with Printed Circuits

Soldering things together takes all forms and sizes relative to our RC hobby. Back in the day, you needed to have the steady hands of an electronic tech guy to assemble entire RC transmitters from kits. Today most of the soldering chores deal with batteries and ESCs. One of the easiest ways to deal with multiple speed controllers, like with quadcopters and other multi-motor models, is to use a power distribution board. These printed circuits are easy to use and require basic soldering skills. Here’s how to do it.


Here’s a basic power distribution board from HobbyKing. First thing to do is to identify the races for positive and negative polarity. As you see the two races terminate at two points where the battery connection leads will be soldered to.


The basic tools for the job. The TrakPower soldering station works great and allows adjustment of the soldering iron’s temperature. Also, a holding jig comes in real handy.


Next you need to strip off some of the insulation from the wire leads and tin the ends. Use sharp good quality tools.


The easiest way to tin the end of the power leads is to use a holding fixture or jig. Here you see the solder and heat applied to the lead which is sewcurely held in place.


If the wire leads do not fit the holes in the circuit board, carefully enlarge the holes with a pin-vice and a small drill bit of the proper size.


Be sure to clean the solder pads on the board before soldering.


The leads are inserted into the solder points from the back of the board.


Place the board in a holding fixture, secure the wire lead, and apply a small dab of solder paste.


Apply heat to one side of the pad and touch the solder to the other side. When the pad and lead are hot enough the solder will flow into the joint.


Here all of the power leads for the battery pack and the ESCs have been soldered into place on the board. This held simplify the wiring within a model or quadcopter. Be sure to remove any access soldering paste by wiping the board with some rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.


Everything is now ready to install in a quadcopter or an electric powered B-17 or B-24!

The techniques for soldering are easy and the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Remember use plenty of heat and keep everything clean.

Updated: July 20, 2015 — 12:23 PM


  1. Howdy Gerry…..Vnvet:Mike hear…..liked your Soldering-Tips……just wanted to add: RE: using, when soldering Parts to board, a good “HeatSink” attached by using med. size “Needle-Nose” pointed pliers, with rubber band around handle, then clip onto part end 2bee solder……Heatsinks are needed not to Fry-Out resistors, Caps, etc. ………..I’m an user of Soder irons and the old WELLER soldering Gun(shoots HOT blanks,haha)……I’v been in da RC-Hobby many Fly-Daze too,and a model builder two….at 70, still love all RC-Theengs, Going to an AirShow, this W/E, in Camarillo, near Ventura, California…..TANKs alot, Enjoy the RC-daze, Respect, Mike Stark

  2. Remember Heathkits?

  3. By drilling out the hole, the copper connection between the top and bottom tracks will be broken. Never do that!

  4. A lot of people use TOO MUCH heat when soldering, Why? simple because they are busy heating up a lot of surface that doesn’t need to be Heated. Try holding the parts to be soldered with a clothes pin made of wood. Now ALL of the heat energy will be transferred to the solder joint. Using a heat sink up line of the joint will protect things you don’t want to fry.

  5. From 60+ years of soldering some tips. Iron being used must go back to idle heat when in the holder, other wise alloy metals in solder are destroyed leaving a potential grainy or “cold” joint. The iron is one place not to shop on price only. Led readouts are pretty but temp markings on the select knob work just fine. Solder paste is messy and often misleading to the inexperienced, multi core solder, USA sourced is best, works better on new and best on reworks. Cooler temps are misleading, if it takes more than 3 seconds to complete a joint back off and figure out what is not tinned or clean enough. Sand paper or emery paper works fine on sheet metal or wire, not on circuit boards. Thin light circuit boards for aircraft are not plated very deep, long heat times or failing to clean coatings with solvent compromise both board and circuit land bonding. Many boards are thru plated, use a good magnifier before you drill to check this out. Reheating an iffy joint without adding fresh solder will only make the problem worse. When removing old connections add fresh solder in addition to heat to restore melt temp to old solder. Learned much of this during the early days of the space race and under NASA no second chance rules. You are buying the repairs, follow those rules and bring it back in one piece.

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