How to Solder 30 Gauge Wire to a 0603 LED

Written by nachiket deshmukh
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How to Solder 30 Gauge Wire to a 0603 LED
LED closet light application of a high power 0603 surface mount LED (lampada a led image by Alessandro Usai from Fotolia.com)

A 0603 LED, the smallest surface-mount semiconductor, is used in numerous applications including backlight keypads, mobile phone displays, LED arrays in traffic displays and many small-scale, high-power products. Electronics hobbyists use this type of LED for projects related to Christmas decorations or automotive features. Generally a surface mount device cannot withstand temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius for approximately longer than a second or it gets damaged. The small package dimensions and temperature limitations make it a challenging task to solder copper wires to the LED terminals.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 30-gauge copper wire
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire cutter
  • 0603 package surface mount LED
  • Thin-tip soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Liquid solder flux
  • Solder sucker
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • 1 AA size battery

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut the 30-gauge wire into two separate strands using the wire cutter. Split the wire in two separate strands, one for the anode and other for the cathode terminal of the LED. Mark one strand using a permanent marker for the anode terminal. Strip one end of each wire using the wire wrap tool or the wire stripper.

  2. 2

    Apply a small amount of solder flux using a small brush on the two LED terminals and on the wire tips.

  3. 3

    Heat the soldering iron to a temperature of 349 degrees Celsius. Load some solder onto the soldering iron tip. While holding the LED with the tweezers, touch the soldering iron tip to each of its terminals so that the solder flows onto the terminals.

  4. 4

    Hold the LED in position using the tweezers and wrap the 30-gauge wire strands around its terminals by preparing a small loop of wire ends. Touch the soldering iron tip on the solder on the LED terminals until the solder flows to form a bond between wire ends and the terminals.

  5. 5

    Using a magnifying glass, observe the bond between the wire ends and LED terminals. If they are not bonded properly, detach the wires from LED by touching the soldering iron tip to the solder on the bond and sucking the molten solder off with the solder sucker. Repeat the soldering steps to attach the wires to LED terminals.

  6. 6

    Connect battery terminals to the other ends of wires and ensure that the LED turns on. If the LED does not turn on, it is possible that the LED may have been damaged due to exposure to excessive heat during the soldering process. In that case, repeat the procedure using a new LED.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a thin soldering iron tip for precise soldering.
  • Use a "helping hands" tool to hold the LED in place while soldering.
  • Do not touch the soldering iron tip to LED terminals for more than 1 second or it will damage the LED.
  • Do not exceed the soldering iron temperature above 371 degrees C. The safe temperature range for soldering surface mount components is 348 to 371 degrees C.

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