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Old 22nd April 2003, 03:51 AM   #1
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Default On Soldering

I just thought I would offer my suggestion to any newbie who is interested in how to get a good solder joint.

1. If the tip of your soldering iron is crusty, and you can't clean it to look shiny with a damp sponge, then....
turn off the iron, let it cool, and clean the tip with steel wool / fine sandpaper, until it is very clean. Then, heat it up, and get it coated with fresh solder before it has a chance to oxidize. Leave a nice blob of solder on it, so the solder oxidizes instead of the tip of your iron.

2. You need a fairly hot iron. Make sure the tip is screwed in tightly.

3. To make the joint: Pick up the iron, and drag it across a damp sponge, twisting it as you do, to completely clean off the oxidized solder. Then put a small bit on the tip, just to wet it. [This is very effective in making a good contact between the iron and the work, to promote heat transfer]

4. Immediately, place the iron at the joint of the work, where it can touch both parts that you wish to solder together. Give it a few seconds to heat up the parts, then feed the solder to that junction as well. If it doesn't melt VERY readily, back off with the solder and give it a few more seconds to heat up. Try again.

5. If you are soldering something that solders very quickly, in about 2 sec, like a resistor lead to a pcb pad, then you can probably do a second one right away. If it takes any longer than that, then go back to 3.

When you are done for the moment:
6. Put a sizable blob of solder on the tip, big enough to cover the entire tip and prevent it from oxidizing, and put the iron back in its holder.

I think that the keys are:

A clean tip on your soldering iron. NO OXIDIZATION!
A small amount of solder on the tip before you contact the parts, to help the connection and heat transfer.

That's my successful formula. The other experts may have somewhat varying techniques. Your milage may vary (as they say).
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Old 22nd April 2003, 03:55 AM   #2
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Liquid flux is very helpful, I often use it with a small brush.

And when you have a chance, get one of those Hakko station from a Trading Post

Use good solder. I've been always using either silver alloy or Cardas solder. Recently I tried to solder with a regular 40/60 solder and I just couldn't find myself enjoying it.
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Old 22nd April 2003, 03:58 AM   #3
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I have one of those irons, Peter. It's really great, isn't it? I think I never could have perfected my technique if I had it before.
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Old 22nd April 2003, 04:25 AM   #4
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Exclamation Be Careful!

Quote:
turn off the iron, let it cool, and clean the tip with steel wool / fine sandpaper, until it is very clean.
Be careful if you do this! It is not recommended to use steel wool or any abrasives to clean the tip of an soldering iron. Most irons have plated tips, and the abrasive can remove the plating, which will screw up the tip.
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Old 22nd April 2003, 07:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Daniel
Liquid flux is very helpful, I often use it with a small brush.
Peter, could you tell us exactly which type of liquid flux is suitable, I have always been scared to use any flux except that which is present in cored solder, on the basis that all my early electronic manuals said that the majority of fluxes required cleaning due to their corrosive nature.

Cheers, Adrian
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Old 22nd April 2003, 10:16 PM   #6
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Take a look at Kester's Flux pen. This is the same flux they put in their solder (there are zero clean versions also available. Very easy to use, especially for surface mount parts.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&i...9-1&q=flux+pen

Phil
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Old 23rd April 2003, 04:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Daniel
Use good solder. I've been always using either silver alloy or Cardas solder. Recently I tried to solder with a regular 40/60 solder and I just couldn't find myself enjoying it.
Well no duh, that's why you use 60/40...

Sn40 is actually used, acid core for instance. Has a big slushy point, good for making fillets but doesn't make good electrical solder. I love Sn60. Last time I tried silver-based stuff it gave a crappy looking joint so I stay away from it.

Tim
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Old 23rd April 2003, 04:55 AM   #8
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I'd recommend that you not sand your soldering iron tips unless you have a disposable iron. Soldering iron tips are typically plated and you'll sand right through it and start eating your tip away with each solder operation.

I'm a big fan of kester 63/37 eutectic solders. There's no amount of words you can say which will make me believe the likes of Cardas and other audio companies know more about solder than people who's business is solder and has been for many decades.

Sheldon
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Old 23rd April 2003, 05:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
I'd recommend that you not sand your soldering iron tips unless you have a disposable iron
Note that my advice was basically aimed at those using $10 irons with crappy tips that have had the plating oxidized to the extent that it is no longer effective. See the "If" statement in my step one. I wholehartedly agree that if your iron has a good tip that can be properly cleaned so that solder will wet the tip completely after cleaning it with a sponge, it's not necessary and will damage the tip.

I learned how to make great solder joints with crappy irons, and it's all about a clean tip.
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Old 23rd April 2003, 06:14 PM   #10
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Yep, my RadioShank 30W iron has about 3/8" left of its tip, the setscrew is stuck so I can't replace it. Why'd it happen? Filing the oxides off the tip. Solder dissolves copper pretty quickly! (As soldering tools go.)

Tim
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