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Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) - Module 4
Chapter 2:  Pages 2-21 through 2-30

NEETS   Module 4 − Introduction to Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading

Pages i, 1−1, 1−11, 1−21, 2−1, 2−11, 2−21, 2−31, 2−41, 3−1, 3−11, 3−21, 4−1, 4−11, Index

NEETS Modules
- Matter, Energy, and Direct Current
- Alternating Current and Transformers
- Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement
- Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
- Generators and Motors
- Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies
- Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
- Amplifiers
- Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits
- Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas
- Microwave Principles
- Modulation Principles
- Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits
- - Introduction to Microelectronics
- Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros
- Introduction to Test Equipment
- Radio-Frequency Communications Principles
- Radar Principles
- The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary
- Test Methods and Practices
- Introduction to Digital Computers
- Magnetic Recording
- Introduction to Fiber Optics
Note: Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) content is U.S. Navy property in the public domain.

4.    Squeeze the tool handles slowly until the tool jaws hold the terminal lug barrel firmly in place, but without denting it.

5.    Insert the stripped wire into the terminal lug barrel until the wire insulation butts flush against the near end of the wire barrel. (See figure 2-22.)

Proper insertion of stripped wire in insulation terminal lug for crimping - RF Cafe

Figure 2-22. - Proper insertion of stripped wire in insulation terminal lug for crimping.

6.    Squeeze the tool handles until the ratchet releases.

7.    Remove the completed assembly and examine it for the proper crimp in accordance with the following:

a.   Indent centered on the terminal lug barrel.

b.    Indent in line with the barrel.

c.   Terminal lug not cracked.

d.    Terminal lug insulation not cracked.

e.  Insulation grip crimped.


If not properly stripped, some of the smaller gauge, thin-wall wire insulation can be inadvertently inserted and crimped in the terminal wire barrels. This will cause a bad electrical connection. Do not use any connection that is found defective as a result of a visual inspection. Cut off the defective connection and remake using a new terminal lug.


Preinsulated permanent copper splices are used to join small copper wire AWG sizes No. 26 through No. 10. a typical splice is shown in figure 2-23. Note that the splice preinsulation extends over the wire insulation. Each splice size can be used for more than one wire size. Splices are color coded in the same manner as preinsulated small copper terminal lugs (see table 2-2).

Preinsulated copper splice - RF Cafe

Figure 2-23. - Preinsulated copper splice.

Crimping Procedure for Splices.

Crimping small preinsulated copper splices in the No. 26 to No. 14 wire-size range can be accomplished with several recommended tools. In this section, we will discuss the basic crimping procedures.

1.    Strip wire to length following one of the procedures already discussed.

2.    With the tool handles fully open, set the wire size selector knob to the proper position for the wire size being crimped. Slide the terminal lug locator down below the die surface into the fully retracted position. (See figure 2-24.) Slide the splice locator back into the retracted position. Insert the splice into the tool so that the "locating shoulder" on the side of the splice to be crimped is in the space between the two crimping dies. The insulation barrel on this side of the splice should protrude from the "wire side" of the tool. (See figure 2-24.) Slide the splice locator into the fully extended position. Insert the splice into the stationary die so that the locator "finger" fits into the locator groove in the splice.

Locating splice in crimping tool - RF Cafe

Figure 2-24. - Locating splice in crimping tool.

3.    Squeeze the tool handles slowly until the tool jaws hold the spice barrel firmly in place, but without denting he barrel.

4.    Insert the stripped wire into the splice barrel, which protrudes from the "wire side" of the splice, until the stripped end of wire butts against the stop in the center of the splice. This can be seen through the splice inspection window.

5.    Crimp by closing the tool handles. The tool will not open until the full crimping cycle has been completed.

6.    After crimping, check that the wire end is still visible through the splice inspection window.

7.    Reverse the position of the splice in the crimping tool (or location of the crimping tool on the splice) and repeat steps 1 through 6 to crimp the wire into the other side of the splice.

If the correct tools are used and the proper procedures followed, crimp-on connections are more effective electrically, as well as mechanically, than soldered connections. a visual inspection is very important. It reveals oxidation, deterioration, overheating, and broken conductors. In some cases it may be necessary to check these connections with an ohmmeter. The proper resistance, for all practical purposes, should be zero. Any defective terminal should be removed and a new terminal crimped on.

Q18.    What is the most common method of terminating and splicing wires?

Q19.    Besides not having to insulate a noninsulated terminal, what other advantage is gained by using a preinsulated terminal lug?

Q20.    Why are preinsulated terminal lugs and splices color coded?


The following information will aid you in learning basic soldering skills. It should enable you to solder wires to electrical connectors, splices, and terminal lugs that we have discussed earlier in the chapter. Special skills and schooling are required for the soldering techniques used in printed circuit boards and microminiature component repair.


Cleanliness is essential for efficient, effective soldering. Solder will not adhere to dirty, greasy, or oxidized surfaces. Heated metals tend to oxidize rapidly. This is the reason the oxides, scale, and dirt must be removed by chemical or mechanical means. Grease or oil films can be removed with a suitable solvent. Connections to be soldered should be cleaned just prior to the actual soldering operation.

Items to be soldered should normally be "tinned" before making a mechanical connection. Tinning is the coating of the material to be soldered with a light coat of solder. When the surface has been properly cleaned, a thin, even coating of flux should be placed over the surface to be tinned. This will prevent oxidation while the part is being heated to soldering temperature. Rosin-core solder is usually preferred in electrical work. However, a separate rosin flux may be used instead. Separate rosin flux is frequently used when wires in cable fabrication are tinned.

Q21.    Why must items to be soldered be cleaned just prior to the soldering process?


Wires to be soldered to connectors should be stripped so that when the wire is placed in the barrel, there will be a gap of approximately 1/32 inch between the end of the barrel and the end of the insulation. This is done to prevent burning the insulation during the soldering process and to allow the wire to flex easier at a stress point. Before copper wires are soldered to connectors, the ends exposed by stripping are tinned to hold the strands solidly together. The tinning operation is satisfactory when the ends and sides of the wire strands are fused together with a coat of solder. Do not tin wires that are to be crimped to solderless terminals or splices.

Copper wires are usually tinned by dipping them into flux (view a of figure 2-25) and then into a solder bath (pot) (view B of the figure). In the field, copper wires can be tinned with a soldering iron and rosin-core solder. Tin the conductor for about half its exposed length. Tinning or solder on the wire above the barrel causes the wire to be stiff at the point where flexing takes place. This will result in the wire breaking.

Dip-tinning In a solder pot - RF Cafe

Figure 2-25. - Dip-tinning In a solder pot.

The flux used in tinning copper wire is a mixture of denatured alcohol and freshly ground rosin. This type of flux may be mixed just prior to use. a premixed paste flux may also be used. The solder used for terminal lugs, splices, and connectors is a mixture of 60-percent tin and 40-percent lead. Maintain the temperature of the solder bath (pot) between 450 and 500º F.  This keeps the solder in a liquid state. Skim the surface of the solder pot, as necessary, with a metal spoon or blade. This keeps the solder clean and free from oxides, dirt, and so forth.

Dip-tin wires smaller than No. 8 in groups of 8 or 10. Dip-tin wires size No. 8 and larger individually. The procedure for dip-tinning is as follows:

1.    Prepare the flux and solder as previously described.

2.    Make sure the exposed end of the wire is clean and free from oil, grease, and dirt. Strands should be straight and parallel. Dirty wire should be restripped.

3.    Grasp the wire firmly and dip it into the prepared flux to a depth of about 1/8 inch (see view a of figure 2-25).

4.    Remove the wire and shake off the excess flux.

5.    Immediately dip the wire into molten solder. Dip only half of the stripped conductor length into the solder (see view B of figure 2-25).

6.    Turn the wire slowly in the solder bath until the wire is well tinned. Watch the solder fuse to the wire. Do not keep the wire in the bath longer than necessary.

7.    Remove the excess solder by wiping the tinned conductor on a cloth.


Do not shake off excess solder. It can cause serious burns if it contacts your skin. It can also cause short circuits in exposed electrical equipment that may be in the immediate area of the tinning operation.


 Use only rosin flux or rosin-core solder for tinning copper wires to be used in electrical and electronics systems. Corrosive flux will cause damage. During the tinning operation, do not melt, scorch, or burn the insulation.

Q22.   What does "tinning" mean in relationship to soldering?

Q23.   Why should wire be stripped 1/32 inch longer than the depth of the solder barrel?

Q24.   How much of the stripped length of a conductor should be tinned?


If an electrically heated solder pot is not available, a small number of wires can be tinned using the following procedure (see figure 2-26):

Alternate dip-tinning method - RF Cafe

Figure 2-26. - Alternate dip-tinning method.

1.    Cut off the beveled section of the tip of a discarded soldering iron tip.

2.    Drill a hole (1/4- to 3/8-inch diameter) in the round part of the tip about two-thirds through.

3.    Heat the iron and melt the rosin-core solder into the hole.

4.    Tin the wires by dipping them into the molten solder one at a time.

5.    Keep adding fresh rosin-core solder as the flux burns away.


In the field, wires smaller than size No. 10 can be tinned with a soldering iron and rosin-core solder as follows (see figure 2-27):

Tinning wire with a soldering iron - RF Cafe

Figure 2-27. - Tinning wire with a soldering iron.

1.    Select a soldering iron with the correct heat capacity for the wire size (see table 2-3). Make sure that the iron is clean and well tinned.

Table 2-3. - Approximate Soldering Iron Size for Tinning

Wire Size (AWG)       Soldering Iron Size (Heat Capacity)

#20 - #16..................  65 Watts

#14 &  #12.......... 100 Watts

#10 &  #8..................  20 Watts   

2.    Start by holding the iron tip and solder together on the wire until the solder begins to flow.

3.    Move the soldering iron to the opposite side of the wire and tin half of the exposed length of the conductor.

The tinned surfaces to be joined should be shaped, fitted, and then mechanically joined to make a good mechanical and electrical contact. The parts must be held still. Any motion between the parts while the solder is cooling usually results in a poor solder connection, commonly called a "fractured solder" joint.

Q25.    What causes a "fractured solder" joint?


Many types of soldering tools are in use today. Some of the more common types are the soldering iron, soldering gun, resistance soldering set, and pencil iron. The following discussion will provide you with a working knowledge of these tools.

Soldering Irons

Some common types of hand soldering irons are shown in figure 2-28. All high-quality soldering irons operate in the temperature range of 500 to 600º F. Even the 25-watt midget irons produce this temperature. The important difference in iron sizes is not temperature, but thermal inertia. Thermal inertia is the capacity of the iron to generate and maintain a satisfactory soldering temperature while giving up heat to the joint to be soldered. Although it is not practical to solder large conductors with the 25-watt iron, this iron is quite suitable for replacing a half-watt resistor in an electronic circuit or soldering a miniature connector. One advantage of using a small iron for small work is that it is light and easy to handle and has a small tip that is easily used in close places. Even though its temperature is high enough, a midget iron does not have the thermal inertia to solder large conductors.

Types of hand soldering Irons - RF Cafe

Figure 2-28. - Types of hand soldering Irons.

A well-designed iron is self-regulating. The resistance of its element increases with rising temperature. This limits the flow of current. Some common tip shapes of the soldering irons in use in the Navy are shown in figure 2-29.

Soldering iron tip shapes - RF Cafe

Figure 2-29. - Soldering iron tip shapes.

An iron should be tinned (the application of solder to the tip after the iron is heated) prior to soldering a component in a circuit. After extended use of an iron, the tip tends to become pitted due to oxidation. Pitting indicates the need for retinning. The tip is retinned after first filing the tip until it is smooth (see figure 2-30).

Reconditioning pitted soldering iron tip - RF Cafe

Figure 2-30. - Reconditioning pitted soldering iron tip.

Q26.    Define thermal inertia.

Q27.    Why are small-wattage soldering irons not used to solder large conductors?

Q28.    State why a well-designed soldering iron is self-regulating.

Q29.    What should be done to a soldering iron tip that is pitted?

Soldering Gun

The soldering gun (figure 2-31) has gained great popularity in recent years because it heats and cools rapidly. It is especially well adapted to maintenance and troubleshooting work where only a small part of the technician's time is spent actually soldering.

Soldering gun - RF Cafe

Figure 2-31. - Soldering gun.

A transformer in the soldering gun supplies approximately 1 volt at high current to a loop of copper, which acts as the soldering tip. It heats to soldering temperature in 3 to 5 seconds. However, it may overheat to the point of incandescence if left on over 30 seconds. This should be avoided because excess heat will burn the insulation off the wiring. The gun is operated by a finger switch. The gun heats only while the switch is pressed.

Since the gun normally operates only for short periods at a time, it is comparatively easy to keep clean and well tinned. Short operating time allows little oxidation to form. Because the tip is made of pure copper, it is likely to pit, due to the dissolving action of the solder.

The gun or iron should always be kept tinned to permit proper heat transfer to the connection to be soldered. Tinning also helps control the heat to prevent solder buildup on the tip. This control reduces the chance of the solder spilling over to nearby components and causing short circuits. Maintaining the proper tinning on the iron or gun, however, may be made easier by tinning with silver solder (a composition of silver, copper, and zinc). The temperature at which the bond is formed between the copper tip and the silver solder is much higher than with lead-tin solder. This tends to decrease the pitting action of the solder on the copper tip.

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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