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Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jun 2021 6:23 am    
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Putting new Dunlop pots in two L-120s last week confirmed that my soldering skills stink. I'm pretty sure I'm not being helped by the generic tip that came with my Weller soldering station; could probably use a smaller tip for the small jack and pot attachments that are pretty much all I ever do. (Except today when I managed to detach the ground wire going to one of the 9v terminals in my Matchbox.) I noticed my hardware store has mostly "lead-free" tips. I assume they will not work well with 60/40 leaded solder. And, for that matter, I assume lead-free solder is harder to work with. Any and all advice (including, "You clearly should not be anywhere near a soldering iron, Dan") is most welcome.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jun 2021 7:48 am    
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I'm certainly no expert, but make sure the tip is clean, and be certain to "tin" it before beginning your work.
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Brian Hollands


From:
Franklin, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jun 2021 7:59 am    
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Technique is probably more important than the tip. A tip cleaner like this https://www.walmart.com/ip/hakko-599b-02-wire-type-soldering-iron-tip-cleaner/191113377?wmlspartner=wmtlabs&adid=22222222223068512034&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=e&wl1=s&wl2=m&wl3=17602368111&wl4=pla-4578229027272948&wl5=&wl6=&wl7=&wl10=Walmart&wl11=Online&wl12=191113377_10001051063&wl14=solder%20tip%20cleaner&veh=sem&msclkid=cbd1963188081087511ef68d673b4f17
And some seperate flux is very useful.
Pots are challenging to solder a ground wire to the shell. I've had a couple that I just couldn't solder to. You need to scuff the back with sandpaper before soldering and start by laying a pool of solder on the back of the case. Don't try to solder the ground wire on in one shot. Get a little pool of solder on the pot, then solder the wire to the pool you've already put on the back of the case.
Look for video if you need to. Stew-mac should have one on their website.
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Peter Harris

 

From:
South Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 12:16 am    
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Lead-free solder has a higher melting point than leaded solder...advertising a tip that suits lead-free soldering only means that the tip itself will survive the higher operating temperatures.

Any "lead-free" tip will work with leaded solder... NOT always the other way around.

If you are dealing with a piece of equipment that already includes lead-free solder, you MUST always use that same type of solder to re-solder with....DO NOT attempt to mix with leaded solder.

Similarly, if you are using both types of solder across the types of work that you are doing, you must have dedicated tips AND tip cleaners for each type of solder.

Be also aware that while there is basically (near enough) one kind of lead-and-tin alloy used in LEADED solder (give or take the ratios of each in the alloy), LEAD-FREE solder can contain variations of elements in its composition according to brand and complexity of application....

....it's a GOOD idea not to mix tips and tip cleaners across different types and brands of lead-free solder, as that can affect performance and workability.

There are a HEAP of videos on the 'Net about what and what not to do, but the Golden Rules are:-

Pre-tin everything you are going to solder AFTER CLEANING it thoroughly....this includes removal of plating (back to bare metal) in some circumstances

Consider the use of a Flux Pen to help run the solder together between the pre-tinned items, in the manner you wish to get them connected.

Using a hot iron to get "In-&-Out" quickly, quite often causes LESS damage to intricate components than sitting there for minutes at a time with a low-wattage iron trying to warm up solder enough for it to run together... Wink

Practice on some old cr@p first.... Rolling Eyes


HTH
Peter
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 1:33 am    
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Not mentioned yet, we may want to use a station with varied HEAT levels, low to high. Start with the lowest setting that will melt the solder. Why go to 30 or 40 watts when 20 will do the trick. Be sure the final solder joint shines !
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Dan Beller-McKenna


From:
Durham, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 1:46 am    
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Thanks everyone for all this great advice!
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Steve Sycamore

 

From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 2:58 am    
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Also, having an iron that both displays its current temperature and has a variable power setting is a good investment if you do more than the occasional bit of soldering work.
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Peter Harris

 

From:
South Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 3:34 am    
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Yup...agree with all that too...

with the one comment that, if you're using lead-free solder, don't expect it to shine like the leaded stuff...the final surface to the soldered joint is usually more of a 'matt' finish, and happens to be a reasonable method of working out what the original solder was... Wink

The only difference between soldering and making music is that the fumes can kill you....and soldering's not all that good for you either.

Both can take a bit of practice to get it right... Oh Well
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Jack Stoner


From:
New Port Richey Florida
Post  Posted 7 Jun 2021 5:21 am    
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For soldering pots/jacks a cheap 30 watt small tip iron will suffice. If you are doing more, like printed circuit repairs then an isolated variable power/temperature iron is desirable.

SMT (Surface Mount Technology) rework requires an SMT workstation for proper application.

I have a Weller 1010, which is an adjustable temperature unit. I've worked on printed circuits, jacks, pots and switches with it. I don't touch SMT.
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George Biner


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 8 Jun 2021 1:26 pm    
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Soldering is a major skill and there is a lot to learn about it. My tips:

use just enough heat and no more, get in and get out so as to minimize heating of adjacent components

heat the work, not the solder, then melt the solder by holding it against the work

don't use the solder to mechanically hold things in place, but make a good mechanical connection and put the solder around it -- also, solder is a crappy conductor, so this helps with the electrical quality of the joint

variable temp Weller iron is very useful

if you're going to wrap a wire around something, only wrap it halfway so you can unwrap it easily if necessary to reqork it

I would normally say get a nice, shiny solder surface when you are done, but not sure now about lead free solder (I would get some old leaded solder and to hell with OSHA) -- but make sure solder is wetted against every surface, otherwise you may have a "cold" solder joint, which is a source of a lot of troubles

clean off flux with solvent when done

use a damp sponge to "tin" the iron tip
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Stephen Cowell


From:
Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 8 Jun 2021 8:57 pm    
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Flux is the magic juice that makes soldering work... the solder is supposed to have flux inside it, but you will always get better joints if you apply a small amount of flux to both conductors before heating and applying the solder. Caig makes a rosin flux now I think... you can get rosin flux from Amazon.

Also, get the soldering iron tip wet with solder before approaching the joint... you want to heat the joint as fast as possible, with a good wet connection to the iron. Leaving the iron on there too long will melt components and insulation. Melt the solder onto the tip and have it flow onto the joint... the flux will make it soak it up quickly.
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Peter Harris

 

From:
South Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 9 Jun 2021 7:35 am    
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George Biner wrote:
Soldering is a major skill and there is a lot to learn about it. My tips:

use just enough heat and no more, get in and get out so as to minimize heating of adjacent components

heat the work, not the solder, then melt the solder by holding it against the work

don't use the solder to mechanically hold things in place, but make a good mechanical connection and put the solder around it -- also, solder is a crappy conductor, so this helps with the electrical quality of the joint

variable temp Weller iron is very useful

if you're going to wrap a wire around something, only wrap it halfway so you can unwrap it easily if necessary to reqork it

I would normally say get a nice, shiny solder surface when you are done, but not sure now about lead free solder (I would get some old leaded solder and to hell with OSHA) -- but make sure solder is wetted against every surface, otherwise you may have a "cold" solder joint, which is a source of a lot of troubles

clean off flux with solvent when done

use a damp sponge to "tin" the iron tip



There are many reasons for the need for different types of solder joints depending upon the particular application...

While many of the points raised in all these posts are quite valid, they are not strictly universal techniques, and often one needs to consider the desired outcome, the properties of the components to be soldered, and (in my case) the legalities of what I am producing for markets that prohibit the importation of lead content.

If I contravene international regulations, my products could be impounded and I could be heavily fined and banned from further import participation.

Consequently a lot of information can be very valid, but not always applicable to all instances....it pays to do some research relating to your proposed work in order to make the best job of the project in hand.

I seem to spend a great deal of my time on the business end of one of the four soldering stations that I operate according to what I am producing, and I still find that some jobs need a little fore-thought before launching into them.

Be prepared to look, practice and learn....and ask someone before you delve into something if you are not confident or lack understanding of the particular situation....that is often faster than inadvertently frying something important.

Also, FWIW, I swapped damp sponges for those copper-like dish-scraper things a LONG time ago...not only are they a LOT kinder to the soldering iron tips (which last longer as a result), but also because the action of cleaning the tip does not drastically cool the hot tip in the process, the soldering station spends less time-and-money keeping the tip at the correct temperature that you have set on the dial.

I do NOT consider myself to be an expert on this stuff in any way, I am just attempting to explain what I have learnt by trial and error (!!!) over a number of years dealing with the products that I manufacture and market all around the World.

In terms of Solder, Irons and Solder Stations...mostly you get the quality that you pay for...there can be one heck of a variation in durability, suitability and performance that quite directly relates to the purchase price of the item...as is often the case, 'cheap' does not always save you time, money or anguish.

End of my 73rd Birthday Rant....off to blow out the candles and go to bed because it's after 1 am here in my bit of Oz.

Not being critical, just trying to help..... Wink

Cheers,
Peter
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George Biner


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 9 Jun 2021 1:38 pm    
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Wow this is complicated.

I just researched it and it is not illegal for home use of solder containing lead, so I recommend using it -- the new lead-free solder is crap by comparison. And contravening international regulations is my strong point!

Here is "how to solder" by Weller / horse's mouth: https://www.weller-tools.com/how-to-use-soldering-iron/

A slightly damp sponge is not going to significantly cool the tip and I was amused by the mention of the cost to heat the tip back up after using a sponge -- I'm sure that's somewhere in the femto-cents / mice nuts region.
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“Now there is a snappy sounding instrument. That f****r really sings.” - Jerry Garcia
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Peter Harris

 

From:
South Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 9 Jun 2021 2:50 pm    
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FWIW...it's not the cost that is a problem, waiting for the station to reheat the iron is more a factor when one has multiple points that one is production-line soldering... Laughing

Use any hints that you may find useful and ignore the rest...it's all about being comfortable and effective in whatever you do with a soldering iron.

Yes, lead solder is a LOT easier to use because (if nothing else!) correcting any mistakes is a lot easier...I have my own reasons for doing what I do and the way I approach it as I have tried to explain...

No offence meant or taken.

Have a great day.
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Jack Stoner


From:
New Port Richey Florida
Post  Posted 10 Jun 2021 2:19 am    
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Most on here are not producing product, just maintaining their own devices so what type of solder to use is not an issue.

I started in electronics in the military and before solid state and printed circuits. I also had a NASA soldering certificate as I worked in a NASA module repair depot.

What I previously posted applies to most.
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Peter Harris

 

From:
South Australia, Australia
Post  Posted 10 Jun 2021 6:53 pm    
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Yeah...

In my defence (my spelling) it had had been a long, tiring day, I hate getting older, and I had just finished chasing all these damn kids off my lawn.... Rolling Eyes Laughing

Peace to All... Very Happy
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