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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 2-31 through 2-40

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.

Overheating small or delicate wiring can easily occur when a soldering gun is used. For most jobs, even the Low position of the trigger overheats the gun after 10 seconds. With practice, the heat can be controlled by pulsing the gun on and off with its trigger. The High position is used only for fast heating and for soldering heavy connections.

When a soldering iron or gun is used, heating and cooling cycles tend to loosen the nuts or screws that hold the replaceable tips. When the nut on a gun becomes loose, the resistance of the tip connection increases. The temperature of the connection is increased, thus reducing the heat at the tip. Continued loosening may eventually cause an open circuit. Therefore, check and tighten the nut or screw, as needed.


Soldering guns should never be used to solder electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, and transistors, because the heat generated can destroy the components. They should be used only on terminals, splices, and connectors (not the miniature type).

Q30.   What happens if a soldering gun switch is pressed for periods longer than 30 seconds?

Q31.   What causes the nuts or screws that hold the tips on soldering irons and guns to loosen?

Q32.   a soldering gun should NOT be used on what components?

Resistance Soldering Set

a time-controlled resistance soldering set (figure 2-32) is now used at many maintenance activities. The set consists of a transformer that supplies 3 or 6 volts at a high current to stainless steel or carbon tips. The transformer is turned ON by a foot switch and ofF by an electronic timer. The timer can be adjusted for as long as 3 seconds soldering time. This set is especially useful for soldering cables to plugs and similar connectors; even the smallest types.

Resistance soldering set - RF Cafe

Figure 2-32. - Resistance soldering set

In use, the double-tip probes of the soldering unit are adjusted to straddle the connector cup (connector barrel) to be soldered. One pulse of current heats it for tinning. After the wire is inserted, a second pulse of current solders the connection and completes the job. Since the soldering tips are hot only during the brief period of actual soldering, burning of wire insulation and melting of connector inserts are greatly reduced.

The greatest difficulty with this device is keeping the probe tips free of rosin and corrosion. a cleaning block is mounted on the transformer case for this purpose. Some technicians prefer fine sandpaper for cleaning the double tips.


Do not use steel wool for cleaning tips. It is dangerous when used around electrical equipment because the strands can fall into the equipment and cause short circuits.

Q33.   What is an advantage of using a resistance soldering iron when soldering wire to a connector?

Q34.   Why is steel wool NEVER used as an abrasive to clean soldering tools?

Pencil Iron and Special Tips

An almost indispensable item is the pencil-type soldering iron with an assortment of tips (figure 2-33). Miniature soldering irons have a wattage rating of less than 40 watts. They are easy to use, and are recommended for soldering small components, such as miniature connectors.

Pencil iron with special tips - RF Cafe

Figure 2-33. - Pencil iron with special tips.

One type of pencil iron is equipped with several different tips that range from one-fourth to one-half inch in size (diameter) and are of various shapes. This feature makes it adaptable to a variety of jobs. Unlike most tips that are held in place by setscrews, these tips have threads and screw into the barrel. This feature provides excellent contact with the heating element, thus improving heat transfer efficiency. "Antiseize" compound is generally applied to the threads of the tip each time a tip is installed into the iron. This allows the tip to be easily removed when another is to be inserted.

A special feature of this iron is the soldering pot that screws in like a tip and holds about a thimbleful of solder. It is useful for tinning the ends of a large number of wires.

The interchangeable tips are of various sizes and shapes for specific uses. Extra tips can be obtained and shaped to serve special purposes. The thread-in units are useful in soldering small items.

Another advantage of the pencil soldering iron is that it can be used as an improvised light source to inspect the completed work. Simply remove the soldering tip and insert a 120-volt, 6-watt, type 6S6 lamp bulb into the socket.

If leads, tabs, or small wires are bent against a board or terminal, slotted tips are provided to simultaneously melt the solder and straighten the leads.

If no suitable tip is available for a particular operation, an improvised tip can be made (see figure 2-34). Wrap a length of bare copper wire around one of the regular tips and bend the wire into the proper shape for the purpose. This method also serves to reduce thermal inertia when a larger iron must be used on small components.

Improvised tip - RF Cafe

Figure 2-34. - Improvised tip.

Q35.    Why should "antiseize" compound be used on the screw-in tips of the pencil iron?

Q36.    If no suitable tip is available for a particular job, how may one be improvised?


Any discussion of soldering techniques should include an explanation of solder itself. Ordinary soft solder is a fusible alloy consisting chiefly of tin and lead. It is used to join two or more metals at temperatures below their melting point. In addition to tin and lead, soft solders occasionally contain varying amounts of antimony, bismuth, cadmium, or silver. These are added to change the melting point or physical properties of the alloy. Ordinary table salt has to be heated to 1,488º F before it melts. However, when a little water is added, it dissolves easily at room temperature. The action of molten solder on a metal like copper may be compared to the action of water on salt.

The solder bonds the connection by dissolving a small amount of the copper at temperatures quite below its melting point. Thus, the soldering process involves a metal solvent action between the solder

and the metal being joined. a solder joint is therefore chemical in nature rather than purely physical. The bond is formed in part by chemical action and part by a physical bond.

The properties of a solder joint are different from those of the original solder. The solder is converted to a new and different alloy through the solvent action. Two metals soldered together behave like one solid metal. It is unlike two metals bolted, wired, or otherwise physically attached. These types of connections are still two pieces of metal. They are not even in direct contact due to an insulating film of oxide on the surfaces of the metals.

Temperature change does not affect the solder alloy. It withstands stress and strains without damaging the joint. An unsoldered connection eventually becomes loosened by small movements caused by temperature variations and by the gradual buildup of oxides on the metal surfaces.

To understand fully the alloy or solvent action on molten solder, look at the tin-lead fusion diagram shown in figure 2-35. This diagram shows that pure lead (point A) melts at 621º F. Point C shows the lowest melting point of the tin and lead alloy. The alloy at point C consists of 63-percent tin (SN63) and 37-percent lead. This is commonly called 63/37 solder. It has a melting point of 361º F. This type of solder, because of its very low melting point, is used in printed circuit boards and microminiature electronic repair. As you can see from the chart, the melting point of the alloy is lowered when tin is added to lead.

Tin-lead fusion diagram - RF Cafe

Figure 2-35. - Tin-lead fusion diagram.

The solder used to solder wires to electrical connectors, splices, and terminal lugs is a combination of 60-percent tin to 40-percent lead (60/40 solder). The melting point of 60/40 solder is 370º F, as shown at point B of the figure. Type 60/40 solder is less expensive than 63/37 solder and is suitable for all general uses.

Q37.    What two metals are used to from soft solder?

Q38.    Define the metal solvent action that takes place when copper conductors are soldered together.

Q39.    What is the tin-lead alloy percentage of solder used for electrical connectors, splices, and terminal lugs?


As you know, flux is a cleaning agent to remove oxidation during soldering. Heating a metal causes rapid oxidation. Oxidation prevents solder from reacting chemically with a metal. Flux cleans the metal by removing the oxide layer. This operation is shown in figure 2-36. As the iron is moved in the direction shown, the boiling flux floats away the oxide film. The molten solder following the iron then fuses

rapidly with the clean surface of the metal.

Action of flux - RF Cafe

Figure 2-36. - Action of flux.

There are two classes of flux: corrosive and noncorrosive. Zinc chloride, hydrochloric acid, and sal ammoniac are corrosive fluxes. Corrosive flux should NEVER be used in electrical or electronic repair work. use only rosin fluxes. Any flux remaining in the joint corrodes the connection and creates a defective circuit. Rosin is a noncorrosive flux and is available in paste, liquid, or powder form.


A solvent is used for cleaning and removing contaminants (oil, grease, dirt, and so forth) from the soldered connection. Solvents must be nonconductive and noncorrosive. Solvents must be used in a manner that keeps dissolved flux residue from "contact" surfaces, such as those in switches, potentiometers, or connectors. Ethyl and isopropyl alcohol are acceptable solvents.


These cleaning solvents are highly flammable and may give off toxic vapors. Follow Navy safety precautions and take extreme care when using any flammable solvent.

Q40.    What purpose does flux serve in the soldering process?

Q41.    What type of flux must be used in all electrical and electronic soldering?

Q42.    Why are solvents used in the soldering process?

Soldering Aids

Some type of heat shunt must be used in all soldering operations that involve heat-sensitive components. a typical heat shunt (figure 2-37) permits soldering the leads of component parts without overheating the part itself. The heat shunt should be attached carefully to prevent damage to the leads, terminals, or component parts. The shunt should be clipped to the lead, between the joint and the part being protected. As the joint is heated, the shunt absorbs the excess heat before it can reach the part and cause damage.

Heat shunt - RF Cafe

Figure 2-37. - Heat shunt.

A small piece of beeswax may be placed between the protected unit and the heat shunt. When the beeswax begins to melt, the temperature limit has been reached. The heat source should be removed immediately, but the shunt should be left in place.

Removing the shunt too soon permits the heat to flow from the melted solder into the component. The shunt should be allowed to remain in place until it cools to room temperature. a clip-on shunt is preferred because it requires positive action for removal. It does not require that the technician maintain pressure to hold it in place. This leaves both hands free to solder the connection.

Two safety devices are shown in figure 2-38. These devices prevent burns to the operator when the soldering iron is not in use for short periods of time.

Soldering iron safety devices - RF Cafe

 Figure 2-38. - Soldering iron safety devices.

Q43.    What is the purpose of a heat shunt?

LACING Conductors

Conductors within equipment must be kept in place to present a neat appearance and aid in tracing the conductors when alterations or repairs are required. This is done by LACING the conductors into wire bundles called cables. An example of lacing is shown in figure 2-39. When conductors are properly laced, they support each other and form a neat, single cable.

Conductor lacing - RF Cafe

Figure 2-39. - Conductor lacing.

A narrow, flat tape should be used wherever possible for lacing and tying. This tape is not an adhesive type of tape. Round cord may also be used, but its use is not preferred because cord has a tendency to cut into wire insulation. use cotton, linen, nylon, or glass fiber cord or tape, according to the temperature requirements. Cotton or linen cord or tape must be prewaxed to make it moisture and fungus resistant. Nylon cord or tape may be waxed or unwaxed; glass fiber cord or tape is usually not waxed.

The amount of flat tape or cord required to single lace a group of conductors is about two and one- half times the length of the longest conductor in the group. Twice this amount is required if the conductors are to be double laced.

Before lacing, lay the conductors out straight and parallel to each other. Do not twist them together because twisting makes conductor lacing and wire tracing difficult during troubleshooting.

Q44.    Besides presenting a neat appearance and supporting each other, what is the other purpose for lacing conductors?

Q45.    Why is flat tape preferred instead of round cord when wire bundles are laced?

Q46.    What amount of flat tape or round cord is required to single lace a group of conductors?

A lacing shuttle on which the cord can be wound keeps the cord from fouling during the lacing operation. a shuttle similar to the one shown in figure 2-40 can easily be made from aluminum, brass, fiber, or plastic scrap. Rough edges of the material used for the shuttle should be filed smooth to prevent injury to the operator and damage to the cord. To fill the shuttle for a single lace, measure the cord, cut it, and wind it on the shuttle. For double lace, proceed as before, except double the length of the cord before you wind it on the shuttle. For double lace, start both ends of the cord or tape on the shuttle in order to leave a loop for starting the lace. This procedure is explained later in the chapter.

Lacing shuttle - RF Cafe

Figure 2-40. - Lacing shuttle.

Some equipment requires the use of twisted wires. One example is the use of "twisted pairs" for the ac filament leads of certain electron tube amplifiers to minimize radiation of their magnetic field. This prevents an annoying hum in the amplifier output. You should duplicate the original layout when relacing any wiring harness.

Lace or tie bundles tightly enough to prevent slipping, but not so tightly that the cord or tape cuts into or deforms the insulation. Be especially careful when lacing or tying coaxial cable. Coaxial cable is a conductor used primarily for radio-frequency transmission. It consists of a center conductor separated from an outer conductor (usually called a shield) by an insulating dielectric. The dielectric maintains a constant capacitance between the two conductors, which is very important in radio transmission. The dielectric is soft and deforms easily if tied too tightly or with the wrong type of tape.


Do not use round cord for lacing or tying coaxial cable or bundles that contain coaxial cable. use only the approved military specification tape to lace or tie coaxial cables or bundles containing coaxial cables.

Q47.    What is the purpose of a lacing shuttle?

Q48.    When should wires be twisted prior to lacing?

Q49.    What precautions should you take when tying bundles containing coaxial cables?

Single LACE

Single lace can be started with a square knot and at least two marling hitches drawn tightly. Details of the square knot and marling hitch are shown in figure 2-41. Do not confuse the marling hitch with a half hitch. In the marling hitch, the end is passed over and under the strand, as shown in view a of the figure. After forming the marling hitches, draw them tightly against the square knot, as shown in view B. The lace consists of a series of marling hitches evenly spaced at 1/2-inch to 1-inch intervals along the length of the group of conductors, as shown in view C of the figure.

Applying single lace - RF Cafe

Figure 2-41. - Applying single lace.

When dividing conductors to form two or more branches, follow the procedure illustrated in figure

2-42. Bind the conductors with at least six turns between two marling hitches, and continue the lacing along one of the branches, as shown in view A. Start a new lacing along the other branch. To keep the bends in place, form them in the conductors before lacing. Always add an extra marling hitch just prior to a breakout as shown in view B.

Lacing branches and breakouts - RF Cafe

 Figure 2-42. - Lacing branches and breakouts.

Double lace should be used on groups of conductors that are 1 inch or larger in total diameter. Either a single lace or a double lace may be used on groups of less than 1 inch.

Q50.    How is the single lace started?


 Double lace is applied in a manner similar to single lace, except that it is started with a telephone hitch and is double throughout the length of the lacing (figure 2-43). Both double and single lace may be ended by forming a loop from a separate length of cord and using it to pull the end of the lacing back underneath a serving of approximately eight turns (figure 2-44). An alternate method of ending the lacing is illustrated in figure 2-45. This method can also be used for either single- or double-cord lacing. Another method is by using a marling hitch as a lock stitch (figure 2-46) to prevent slippage. This procedure will also prevent unraveling should a break occur to the lacing.

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