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Computer Circuit Board

Soldering & Wiring

What do you need to get started electrically:

gold soldering iron.jpg

The Soldering Iron

I can't tell you how important this tool is for sim building. I have seen so many people try to do without. This is essential! This will enable you to connect components that have reliable and strong connections.

Don't be afraid to "grab the bull by the horns". After all, practice makes perfect. There are lots of youtube tutorials out there, and it's a very simple procedure. If you are creating the ugliest solder joints, they are going to be much better than not using a soldering iron. 

Safety Tip: Protect Those Eyes! Many people will probably think this is over the top, but I would wear safety specs when you solder. It's all too easy to flick the excess solder off the iron or try to solder something overhead and for excess solder to drip down. This is of course, down to you. But I have had many close calls over the years.

My first soldering iron was the GOLD A55KJ which I have owned for many years and is now obsolete. I use a Weller soldering iron at work but these are very expensive. I have now been looking at this version on eBay. This is because it has a mini hot air gun attached. Great for desoldering and applying heat shrink. A basic soldering iron will also do the job fine, just look for a small tip or various size tips. Were not building ships here, so a tip size of a few millimetres is perfect. I found the D series Tip (Chisel tip) pretty perfect for most applications.

d series tip.jpg

Soldering Q & A:

What temperature do I set the iron to? 

I use 350 Degrees Celcius, A high heat for quick short applications. This is too high for some cheap plastic electrical components and you will find they just melt. Dial the temperature back as low as 200 Degrees C if needed.


The solder won't take to the wire or the component? 

Try using flux. Apply to the joint/component before applying the solder or buy solder with a flux core.

Which solder?

I use a 60/40 solder with flux core. This is 60% tin and 40% lead. Im old school, but breathing in lead is apparently bad. There is lead-free solder out there (it requires a higher temp for a good joint)

My final tip: Clean the joint afterwards with alcohol. Remove any excess flux. Probably not as apparent in the west. But out here in the hot, humid environment of Brunei. My overhead suffered catastrophically only a year later. The flux had eaten its way through the cheap Chinese wire and all the components had turned green and furry. 

Which Wire?


When I started my first Sim, I searched eBay for cheap 

24 & 22 AWG wire. There are plenty of amazing deals (especially from China) I normally purchased the wire in 100m rolls as you wouldn't believe how much wire you are going to use! This was very hit and miss. There is just no way to check the quality of the wire before it arrives. I have mentioned this elsewhere on this website. I have had many rolls that only contain 3 tiny strands of copper. The slightest movement and the wire would break. This caused many failures within the sim. Once I found a good supplier I would stick with them.


They are out there, and you can get decent wire at a great price. Search UL1007 wire (rated 300V) or UL1015 (rated 600V). I think to stay away from the solid core and go with multistranded. It's more flexible, allows for cable movement and is easy to route. 

For Arduino 5V systems and low current, (28-24 AWG is perfect). Don't use this thin gauge cable for high-current loads. You don't want to turn your beautifully made sim into a fire pit!

The next version I tried is the military version of the above equivalent, with the part number 99M0111-24-9.

It can be found here:

Excellent quality! Fantastic size in 24 AWG and has super thin insulation, which is robust. It is easy to solder. However, £60 for 100m is still expensive.


Then I bought a roll of the recommended alternatives suggested by RSONLINE and FARNELL UK. The rolls had to have the following criteria: it had to be 22 or 24 AWG, white in jacket colour to represent actual aircraft wire.


I instantly fell in love with two rolls from Farnel UK. Excellent quality comes in 1000ft/300m lengths. The first of these was from Alpha wire called 3250 WH001:


It is 24AWG and comes in at £61 for 300m. This is now close to the cheap Chinese UL1007 (£22 for 100m), but after using it, that's a fantastic price for the quality and quantity of cable. Good strand count and is strong, but the jacket size is much larger than standard aircraft cable. So when 20 cables are placed in a loom, it becomes quite large. However, it has a slightly smaller external dimension as UL1007.


IT GETS BETTER! Check this out and if you have any common sense, buy this now before the price shoots up (37 left in stock). Farnell UK's sister site CPC Farnell has a similar wire for half the price (slightly larger jacket size):


Available here:


I have now bought a lot of rolls at £27 each for 300m. What I think will happen is that their prices work on demand. The more demand for the item, the more expensive it becomes. As you can see, it's already gone from £27 to £31 in the last few days after I made a bulk buy.


But wait, there's more! LOL! After that purchase, CPC Farnell suggested this roll of 28 AWG of 500m for £27 (19 rolls left in stock):


It arrived today, and I think is another great buy! Yes, it's thinner at 28AWG compared to 24AWG. But on inspection, it also has a thin jacket. Both the insulation and conductor are strong. Seven cores of 0.1mm strands. Perefct for most Arduino connections of buttons and LEDs. Also, many wires together make for a small loom diameter too. It can be found here:

The downside to this wire would be resistance over length being so small in CSA. But as most of us keep Arduinos closer than 2m to the component, I don't think it will be an issue.


I just wanted to share this with anyone starting out with sim building. I get asked all the time what wire I would recommend. I have two excellent recommendations that I have used to build various components and a healthy stock for future builds!



Good luck! Kind regards, Karl

Actual Aircraft Wire & Cable Colour

colred cables.jpg

I was lucky a few years ago that we modified our fleet of helicopters. This meant I had hundreds of meters of discarded, reusable white aircraft wire. This wire is by far superior to anything have found from china on eBay. The part number is:

55A0811-22-9 or 55A0811-24-9.  This can be found at or from 0.21 to 0.53 cents per meter.

I started by using a different colour for each connection type:

Yellow = Leds

Switches = Grey

Rotary Switches = Brown

Servos = Purple

+5v = Red

GND = Black

+12V = Orange

This worked fantastically, as I didn't need to actually know where that wire connected, I would look a colour, yellow (for example) and knew it was a LED. I would tell Mobiflight at pin 2, it was an LED. Pressing test on pin2 in Mobiflight would Light up the LED. Pin2 was annotated as an LED and what that LED was.  The same rule applied for switches.

I have now switched to all-white wire/cable. The same rules still apply, I just use permanent markers on the ends of the white cables. This makes for very neat looking all-white wiring looms. 

Cable Managment & Record Keeping

These two go hand in hand. Tidy cables and good record keeping are essential for building a sim. You soon will be adding hundreds of cables even for a single part such as an overhead or pedestal. Tidy cables make it really easy to trace the cables routing. Record keeping ensures you know what each wire does, where it goes and where it comes from. It also gives an air of professionalism to your work.


Avoid in the aviation trade what we the picture to the right.

The rat's nest of cable management.

rats nest.jpg
cable management.jpg

A tidy neat wired sim looks like eye candy! It's a pleasure to look at and prevents those with OCD from having a mini-meltdown.

Im jesting, this is only a suggestion and I admit to rats nests during my build. This usually happens when I just want to get something done quickly, or it's just for testing. But going back, spending a little time to tidy it all up makes a huge difference. If you then ever want to try and sell your items in the future, cable management is an exceptional selling point.

Heat Shrink & Loom Sheathing

Another part of soldering cables and components is to apply heat shrink afterwards. This prevents shorts, protects the joint and provide a clean tidy look. When starting out, these huge assortment boxes of heat shrink are ideal. Did you know you can shrink these with the soldering iron itself just by rubbing it up and down the sheathing? Not ideal as it does leave marks, another way is to use a lighter. But naked flames in a sim also arises safety concerns. The proper way to use heat shrink is to use a hot air gun. 


Dont forget that this heat shrinks all come in a set length. I usually cut the smaller lengths into 2 or 3 sections. This adds much more quantity to the box selection. 

heatshrink box.jpg
sheathing cable.jpg

The final part of wiring in this section is cable sheathing. You have probably seen me use this in many of my videos. This also came from the aircraft mods programme. This is ideal for separating different cable looms. For example, in the overhead, each panel would have its own set of wires in a wiring loom routed down to its Arduino. That loom when then be covered in this expandable sheathing. This helps with loom routing, indenting and creates even more eye candy!

If you use this stuff, remember after you cut it to length. Melt the cut ends with the soldering iron or lighter to stop it from unwrapping itself to a rats nest!

The Ultimate in cable management 
& Eyecandy!


My favourite wiring toy which makes life so simple and professional. 

The DYMO Rhino 4200. It's a label printer that can also print on heat-shrink. I primarily use a 6mm yellow and white heat shrink which fits around 24AWG. 

This helps label the cable correctly, looks neat and tidy, protects the joint and serves as insulation.

These usually retail at $100, but at Christmas, Amazon sold them for $75. They quickly sold out. Due to the Heat Shrink tape cost, this is probably not worth it for a single project. However, if you are building a whole cockpit, this is for you!

I would highly recommend buying the heat shrink from eBay, using


"100% Genuine COPY" versions as they are so much cheaper. 

How much wire do I Need?

Quite simply put - Lots! More than you think.

I have checked my eBay purchases going back 5 years. I have purchased 12 rolls of 100m, at around $30 a roll with shipping.


That's a few looms right there. Granted some of those rolls, I will never touch again due to the bad quality of the wire on the roll. 

I have also used many meters of recycled aircraft wiring. 

Stick with 100m rolls minimum if you are building a full sim.

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