It looks easier when you're not holding a coil of solder between your teeth. (Note, this is a stock image, not a controller board).

We have an alarm access controller board that has been working perfectly for a very long time but during recent work a non-security technician has wrenched the controller cabinet in a way that strained the cables and broke the power connection point off the board. Do you think damage like this could be repaired by soldering?

A: Soldering manually is an inexact science – solder has quirks of flow that make getting your work right in a predictable way difficult. When soldering you need to ensure the project leaves a little room for unexpected gravitational incidents. That said, if there’s an area manual soldering could apply with older pre or early SMD control boards it’s in the repairing of low voltage connections at the edge.

Make your attempt on the work bench at the office or at home, not on site. You need good light, a magnifier, a third hand and plenty of masking material. Ensure uniform temperatures between solder tip and the connection being repaired before introducing the solder wire. Surfaces should be fluxed clean. Be sure the iron tip has a good cover of solder before you get started – and stick to the lower end of the temperature range – super heated solder has a habit of running away on you.

If you have not done much soldering lately, spend a bit of time messing about to get your eye and hand back in. If there’s to be no further stress on the joint, less is probably more when it comes to connection coverage/volume. If you plan to solder the connection while the controller is in the cabinet with all its devices still wired, the usual Hail Mary rules apply.

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