TIP - Avoid Shorting Controls When Soldering

What: Teams have damaged their control systems by shorting wires while attempting to solder connections with the power still on.

Who: There've been a few - we won't name names

ROV System: Control

Competition Class: ALL

POTENTIAL SAFETY HAZARD or damaged controls

MATE Insights: When soldering wires, the power in those circuits should ALWAYS be turned off and unplugged.  In general, power should always be turned off to all exposed circuits when repairing or working on them.  This protects the circuit from accidental shorts from tools, wires, solder and body parts.  Care, diligence, and awareness are required for troubleshooting live circuits with meters to avoid shorts.  Smoke from some burnt electronic components can be harmful and the work areas should be cleared of any smoke before reengaging with the work item.

Interesting bits: It is sometimes joked that electronics run on “magic smoke” moving inside the wires.  If you let the smoke out of the wires, the circuit stops working.  In reality, “letting the smoke out” or “the smoke of shame” means you burned up a component, causing it to burn and smoke.  This is usually due to a short circuit.  

Compiled by: Jim McDonnell, P.E., MATE Engineering Instructor