Republic day - an auspicious day to try out something new...
Finally after all those years of doing engineering I tried my hand at soldering. Believe it or not most of the engineering students these days have hardly held a soldering iron in their hands! The iron was smoking the first time I plugged it in just as they had mentioned in the back cover of the soldering iron box.
My victim was the computer speaker which wasn't working any longer. I pried open the speaker to reveal its internals which was nothing more than a medium size speaker along with a small circuit board. While investigating with my new multimeter I discovered that the power supply was reaching the upper half of the circuit board - there was a connector between the two halves and there was no voltage on the upper half. I jumped to the conclusion that there must be some loose connection. After researching on how to use a soldering iron I came to one conclusion - many people have burnt their fingers during soldering and I wouldn't repeat their mistakes.
By the way, a soldering iron is nothing but a metal rod with a pencil like tip which when given power supply will become smoking hot. A solder is used to make electrical connections on circuit boards between two components.
I placed the iron pencil on the connection I believed had problem and almost immediately the pin sent up a few puffs of smoke! It seemed like I had burnt the pin. The soldering iron turned bluish golden and I could feel the volcanic heat under the plastic handle. I plugged off the power supply and decided that this was enough for one day. Just out of curiosity I checked whether power supply was coming to the upper half of the circuit board and voila: the meter read 16V. But the speaker was still not working and renewed with enthusiasm I thought that perhaps there was some other loose connection in the circuit board (I got this idea after seeing a guy repair my monitor by just reapplying solder on the entire circuit board - and the monitor worked after that!); and so off I went with the iron pencil (this time not smoking), trying to apply solder wherever I wanted to.
I knew I wasn't doing the soldering proper because I made 2 or 3 tiny metallic balls of solder which I had to push out off the circuit board! Still it was fun to burn some connections and see some smoke arising out of the board and the second time around I was worried of the smoke. Worst case scenario would be burning out the circuit board itself - I wasn't worried about damage because the speaker had served us faithfully for nearly 8 years; it was anyway due for replacement.
And if there are any would-be engineers reading this then I'd advise them to learn the art of soldering in college itself; you needn't rely on teachers - there is a good chance that someone from your own batch will have good experience in soldering.