This page is for tips and tricks to help make building easier.
Trick #1 – Clearing holes
I rarely use a solder suction tool to clear solder from holes, especially when it’sa ground pad. Instead I will remove the component – if it’s a cheap “penny” part just clip the leads and pull out while heating. Afterwards I use a quilting pin, heating the pad and pin until the pin pushes through. This also works with leads stuck inside the pad. The plastic end on the pin gives you something to hold onto without burning your fingers. The pins will wear out after a while and solder will stick to them. Fortunately the wife is a very active sewer and doesn’t notice a few pins missing 😉
Trick #2 – Lead bending
Did you ever bend the leads on a resistor only to find out you bent them too narrow or wire to properly slide into the holes? An old manufacturing trick is the distance from the resistor body to the lead bending is about .060″/1.5mm. That’s the same thickness as most PCB’s! So instead of using pliers or eye-balling it, just put the resistor at the edge of the PCB and bend the leads down. The resistor will literally drop right down the holes! For power resistors use 2 boards thick. You can also use this technique to properly space capacitors and other components and even smooth out the crooked legs on a part.
Trick #3 – SMD Stuff
See my Working with SMD page for some tips and tricks
Trick #4 bi-filar and tri-filar toroid windings.
It’s usually hard to have more than 2 or 3 different colors of wire of the same gauge on hand but I usually have different gauges available. In the (poor quality) picture below you can see where I made the primary (bottom) a slightly larger gauge than the bi-filar red-green pair for the secondary. This makes it much easier to identify the different pairs of the same color without resorting to using a DMM.