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So, I need to know a couple of things about soldering. My primary workspace, robotics and otherwise is a desk with a computer and only a little bit of free space (4ft. by 6 in.). I am wondering if it is safe to solder in such a small area. Also, what level of ventilation do I need to solder safely? My desk is in a normal house room and my desk is write next to an air vent. My house has heating and A/C? Do I need a fan or a fume sucker thing? I plan to only solder a little to get things to stay in my solder less bread board (soldering header pins onto wires and such). So, basically, what are the minimum requirements for soldering safely (space and ventilation). Also, if anyone could point me to some hobby/beginner level soldering must-haves on amazon that would be great, thanks.

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  • $\begingroup$ In addition to jwpat's answer, I'd suggest a proper soldering iron stand (I stuck mine to a heavy piece of scrap metal to stop it from falling over). For soldering very small components, you probably have enough space but for making boards I'd recommend a bit more so you can support or clamp the board without the iron and stand getting in the way. Optionally, an assortment of heat shrink tubing might help reinforce cable joins to small components. $\endgroup$ – Andy Aug 19 '15 at 10:36
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For occasional light-duty soldering as you describe, no special ventilation arrangement is required but sometimes a fan or hood is helpful. For example, I use an open-front plastic cube, 34 cm on each edge, with a fan that draws air into the front and exhausts it through a hole in the back. Two bright LED floods are mounted in the top of the box.

Piping the exhaust to a window or vent is a good idea if you do much soldering and want to keep smoke from smelling up the area. My fan's flow is low, just enough that smoke from rosin-core solder moves away from me instead of into my face. It is a 12 V computer fan powered by a 9 V source, so is quiet and low-flow. Too much flow would make noise and would cool off whatever you are soldering.

The free space mentioned (4ft. by 6 in.) is rather narrow, but is big enough if you have an effective way to keep the soldering iron from falling off the edge, and a way to keep it out of the way of your hands when it is set down. Burning yourself is more of a safety risk, I think, than is causing a fire.

For “soldering must-haves”, thin solder (about 1 mm or less) is needed for typical electronics soldering. Solder wick is good to have if you don't solder perfectly. (See solder wick videos on youtube.) Tweezers are a good idea. Occasionally the following are useful: small metal clips to heat-sink wires or parts, a “third hand tool”, a PCB vise, a magnifying glass (or camera), etc.

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