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What Are the Best Tips for Assembling DIY Amplifier Kits?

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  • Written By: R. Dhillon
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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For a novice, assembling a do-it-yourself (DIY) amplifier kit can be intimidating. These kits typically require special tools and soldering skills for proper assembly. Luckily, the skills required to assemble DIY amplifier kits can usually be attained quickly and all of the necessary tools are generally available for purchase in electronics, hobby, and some home improvement stores. Before building DIY amplifier kits, the owner of the kit should confirm that all of the amplifier parts are included and learn to solder. He or she should also purchase soldering tools and carefully read the kit's instructions before soldering any parts to the circuit board.

Good DIY amplifier kits come with a printed list of parts or provide the list online. The parts list contains the names and numerical values of every component required to build the amplifier. Before any work is done, the owner of the kit should compare each part name and value to the parts included in the kit to ensure that nothing is missing. To figure out the values of some parts, he or she might need to consult a color band chart or a table listing the parts' codes and the coinciding values. These charts are available in some electronics books and online.

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Assembling DIY amplifier kits without soldering experience is not recommended. It is possible to improperly solder components and destroy them or the joints on the circuit board, rendering the amplifier kit useless. Prior to building the amplifier, the kit's owner should practice soldering inexpensive components, such as diodes and resistors, to copper clad stripboard. It is possible to learn to solder within a few days, and in some cases, less than a day.

To solder the components in DIY amplifier kits, a soldering iron, damp sponge, soldering aid, and side cutters are typically required. A high-quality soldering iron that heats up quickly and maintains its temperature should be used. This type of tool allows for faster soldering. The damp sponge cleans the soldering iron's tip, and the soldering aid holds the circuit board in place during work. Side cutters are used to cut the leads on components, such as resistors and capacitors, after they've been soldered to the circuit board.

Wire clippers and strippers, wire, and desoldering braid should also be in the soldering workspace. Wire clippers and strippers cut and strip the protective sleeve on multi-core and single-core wire, so it can be soldered to the circuit board or electronic components, if necessary. Desoldering braid allows excess solder to be removed from the circuit board and allows components that were soldered in the wrong locations on the circuit board to be removed cleanly and easily. It is common for novices to make mistakes while soldering, so having desoldering braid available and knowing how to use it is essential.

Although many DIY amplifier kits come with printed circuit boards (PCBs) that display where each component should be placed through the use of simple codes, it is still necessary to read through the kit's instructions before putting it together. Reading through the instructions decreases the chances of mistakes being made. Additionally, some components might have to be soldered in a specific order, such as heat sinks and integrated circuits (ICs). If these components are soldered in the wrong order, they might overheat and malfunction. The kit's instructions might also include important safety instructions and warnings that protect the assembler's health.

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