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Old 14th March 2003, 03:16 PM   #1
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Default Strengthening PCB tracks with solder?


Since my P3A PCB just arrived (rest of the parts come tomorrow, except for heatsinks and casing ), I was wondering if it would be a good idea (at least want to be sure that there's no drawback) to strengthen the PCB tracks with solder? Since ESP has no PCB coating on his PCBs, I could easily "drop" a lot of solder onto the tracks, preferabbly before stuffing the boards (heat)... ?

Or is it not worth the trouble?
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Old 14th March 2003, 03:27 PM   #2
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Try and look for silver coating solution here. I personaly think that this would be a beter solution.
Silver coating

Hope this help

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Old 14th March 2003, 03:31 PM   #3
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indeed that will be much better than heating the pcb
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Old 14th March 2003, 03:37 PM   #4
tiroth is offline tiroth  United States
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You may lift the traces off the PCB if you are not careful. Since these traces are already tinned I don't see much benefit, except perhaps on the heavy power traces.
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Old 14th March 2003, 03:58 PM   #5
Elkaid is offline Elkaid  Canada
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Be aware when using MG Chemical (product #421) or any other "Liquid Tin" that their use is mainly to prevent trace oxydation. It will not improve traces strength and will not increase admissible current. Moreover, liquid thin isn,t available in retail stores. You must order it in "commercial" quantities. (As stated on MG Chemical website and from my local Active Electronics store)

A thin layer of solder could do it at a certain level but I'm not sure if it worth all the hassle. Moreover, if you care about the pcb appearance, it may be hard to get a nice finish.

If the traces are already tinned, I would recommend to leave the board as it is.

Hope this helps !

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Old 14th March 2003, 04:09 PM   #6
tiroth is offline tiroth  United States
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Rod's boards appear to be HASLed.
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Old 14th March 2003, 04:10 PM   #7
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As tiroth already pointed out correctly You may lift the traces off by overheating.
Moreover when You do this also take care not to overdo it with too much solder - the PCB may warp and bend not so nicely.
If at all I`d only slightly reinforce the high power traces where significant current flows.
Instead of using solder only, You could also use a (pretinned maybe) solid copper wire and solder it only punctually - this might be better regarding overheating traces and bending of PCB - but it`s more time consuming.
Before stuffing the PCB You should clean the PCB after the soldering job as a lot of solder flux residue will be left on the board. Spiritus (cleaning spirit - is this the right word in English ?) would do this okay (eventually repeated washing is required until the boards are really clean).
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Old 14th March 2003, 04:15 PM   #8
sam9 is offline sam9  United States
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I pretty much concur with the posts above. I also note that as PCBs go, some of the traces are a tad fragile, i.e., easier to lift than what I've experienced with my own home made boards (Datak). Just be careful when you solder.

If you do manage to lift a trace don't worry. An easy and effective fix is just to take a piece of wire lead from one of the components already mounted, bend it to the shape of the damaged trace and solder it in place.
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Old 14th March 2003, 04:19 PM   #9
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I've always flux-tinned boards with a soldering iron. Unless you're a TOTAL soldering newbie or are dealing with EXTREMELY thin traces (0.5mm or less), it's perfectly salfe to manually hot-tin a board with solder.

What I do is use a butane-powered cordless (I LOVE that thing!) set to its max. temperature, and before I start I coat the entire surface with a thin layer of flux. I then touch the soldering iron to some solder to put a tiny (1mm or less) blob on the tip and use the iron to "color" the board's traces with a thin layer of the solder. When I start rubbing on copper - you can tell when you're out of solder as the surface will feel more rough all of a sudden - I repeat the touch-to-solder part and go back to "coloring" the copper.

I never leave the iron on one trace for more than a few seconds at a time. Hopscotching all over ensures the traces aren't overheated.

I've never had a board warp, nor have I lifed a trace.

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Old 14th March 2003, 04:44 PM   #10
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I've seem more than a few commercial PCB's with the heavy current traces reinforced with extra solder ( and the rest of the board screen coated to prevent oxidation ), but then the manufacturers have the benefit of silk-screening and wave soldering machines, which we ( generally ) don't have access to.

I think the 'extra copper wire' is a splendid idea too...

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