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I want to avoid soldering for health reasons. I have no well-ventilated open area in my apartment. For a board/modules that have no pins but only holes, how can I connect pins to the holes without soldering?

For certain popular hardware like Raspberry Pi Zero, there seems to be something called "hammer header"

enter image description here

but the problem is those have a fixed, pre-determined number of pins, not individual pins. So, if a hardware has 5 holes instead of 20 holes, that thing cannot be used. Is there a hammer header for a single pin? So that if the hardware has 5 holes I would just use 5 of them. I have searched the Internet, but no result. Also, the "hammer header" itself seems to be rare. I could not find a single online store in my country that sells it.

Some existing answer mentioned "Pomona minigrabber", but that thing seems to be temporary. That is, I cannot move the device (it looks that it will fall off). So, that is probably not the answer I want.

A secondary, less-important question, but if I installed hammer pin headers (seems like one has to hit it with an actual hammer to install it), can I un-install (remove) the headers?

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    Do you have a medical condition that precludes soldering, or are you just under the impression that the (few) fumes are dangerous in some way? – Majenko Jul 16 '20 at 16:45
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    The working principle behind those hammer heads might be cold welding. If that's the case they will form an atomic bond with the holes and they can't be removed without damage. I also can't understand your concerns about soldering. Just make those few solder joints outside if you are really scared. You can also use flux-less solder and colophony as a flux. Colophony is completely natural... – Sim Son Jul 16 '20 at 17:10
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    Do you have asthma? Rosin only causes minor irritation in people who are already susceptible. And they don't actually know if it's the rosin at all (rosin is a food additive and perfectly safe for ingestion). And soldering headers has no wire coating... I have been soldering for over 30 years in enclosed spaces with no noticeable effects. If you are that paranoid just get a Hakko FA-400. – Majenko Jul 16 '20 at 17:13
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    Never believe anything you see on social media!!! Soldering is perfectly safe. If it weren't all electronic engineers would be dead. – Majenko Jul 16 '20 at 17:38
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    Maybe if you spend all day every day soldering and breathing fumes. A small exposure from a hobby project isn’t going to hurt you. STOP getting your science from YouTube. They’ll let any idiot say anything they want there. It’s not a reliable source. – Delta_G Jul 16 '20 at 19:06
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As you already have seen, there are not many options to contact such boards without soldering, because they are meant to be soldered. Those hammer headers are an option. When you find a seller for your country, it should also have these in different sizes/numbers of pins.

Though contacting the board with the pins is not the only problem, you may face. As long as you are experimenting, the typical breadboard is often enough. But when you want to make something more permanent, reliable, current thirsty or noise sensitive, a breadboard is a bad choice. In that case you would also need to solder. Soldering is just a very integral part of electronics.


As others have wrote in the comments, I would also consider soldering as a hobbyist as safe, especially, when you take some precautions. A "well ventilated area" can be a simple room with the window open and a small fan directed to the working place, so that the fumes don't directly go up your nose. That is already a very big improvement, which is also rather cheap. That's also about what the woman does in the video, that you linked. And washing your hands after soldering is also a good measure. (I'm doing soldering the described way for about 15 years now, without any health issues)

In the video, that you linked, they say, that the fumes are toxic and their effect adds up. Letting aside, that they don't back it up with any data and I cannot either, they also don't talk about the amount of solder work, that they consider here. As an electronics beginner you most likely will just solder very rarely for getting pin headers on boards or maybe contacting a motor. The main work most likely will still be done on the breadboard. So here the exposure is so small, that you don't need to consider more than the above safety measures. These will also last rather long, as you get more profound in electronics. And when keeping up that hobby, you maybe wanna invest in a more professional filter system, as you are doing more solder work.

Doing electronics while being that scared of soldering will not be much fun. For the start you might get away by only buying presoldered boards. But very fast you will run against walls with this. Not a good start for a beginner.

But in the end it's your own decision. You have all right to be afraid of solder fumes, though that just might disqualify electronics as a hobby for you.

if I installed hammer pin headers (seems like one has to hit it with an actual hammer to install it), can I un-install (remove) the headers?

That depends on the pin headers, but most likely no. You would need physical force to get them off. And the pads on a PCB are not very strong. They are made to be soldered, not for tearing the pins off without any damage. But why would you want to remove the headers? You only very rarely solder wires directly to the board for connecting with other parts. Either you solder it onto another PCB (where the pin headers come in handy), or you use a female header on a PCB or a cable for making the connection temporary. For example all my small Arduinos get pin headers soldered to them, so I can put them onto my own PCBs via female headers on the PCB. With that I can also disconnect or replace the Arduino if I need to.

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Why not get a fume extractor, there are all types, some even have filters. Simply do a google search for "fume extractor", on my first try I got 587,000 hits. The price is all all over the map even for the same model.

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