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Author Topic: Learning to solder  (Read 5693 times)


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Re: Learning to solder
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2009, 10:17:34 pm »

I can tell you this... it takes about a minute and a half to damage the bond between the conductor and the board... care to ask me how I know that? :laugh:

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Mr. Dare

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Re: Learning to solder
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2009, 04:18:48 pm »

Amateur Radio repair/destruction of same... :rolleyes:
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Roy J. Tellason

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Re: Learning to solder
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2009, 09:42:59 pm »

I've been soldering for something over four decades,  so I figure I'm qualified to toss out a few comments.  :-)

For pc board work,  if you're stuffing a new board,  it should appear shiny copper,  like a new penny,  and if it's oxidized then a bit of work with steel wool or very fine sandpaper should get it there.  And yes,  you don't want to continually apply a lot of heat to those traces,  sometimes they will come loose from the board which can be no fun at all!

For cheap kits,  see Ramsey Electronics,  Sparkfun,  and others,  there are probably a bunch of sites out there like that.  The yahoo "Electronics_101" group (where I've been known to hang out and _answer_ questions) is a good resource for other places.

For solder alloys,  I mostly use 60/40.  Some folks favor the 63/37 stuff,  the reason for that being that it skips right from solid to liquid at soldering temperature and skips that "plastic" phase that makes for cold solder joints.  I haven't found it to be worth chasing down though I'll use it if it's handy.  The .022 size mentioned is pretty fine stuff,  I have two rolls in my toolbox and one's .031" and the other .062", for when I'm working on bigger stuff.

For soldering tips,  I find that I get the most flexibility out of a chisel-shaped or screwdriver-shaped tip,  where you can apply heat with a corner,  an edge,  or a flat,  controlling things nicely.  That's one of the reasons I use a 45W (!) heating element a lot.

The key to good soldering,  whether it's electronic or jewelry or whatever,  is to start out with clean surfaces,  as I sorta mentioned in the bit about boards above.  If it's something that will tend to tarnish on the surface as it's heated,  a little flux will take care of that problem (but not any kind of _acid_ flux!).  The second aspect of the key is good heat transfer to the stuff you're soldering.  Not having good heat transfer means that you're heating the components or wires way longer than you should have to,  with the potential for damage and sometimes poor results that you'll get that way.  Good heat transfer means you get things done in a matter of a few seconds.

I'll second the recommendation for the "helping hands" (gadget with alligator clips) though I don't see the plastic magnifier as being particularly useful.  I *do*,  however,  have one of those bigger magnifiers with the circular flourescent tube in it,  and those _are_ useful.  Though I had to clean a bunch of solder fumes off mine.

I haven't found those clip-on heatsinks particularly useful or necessary.  If you're working on real early semiconductors (which most folks aren't these days) and you're using a soldering gun and tube-era components you might need 'em,  but other than that I haven't bothered with them.  A hemostat or pair of long-nosed pliers works well too.

Regarding switchable power levels,  I have a little box I built years ago,  with two switches -- one turns the iron on and off,  and the other one is full or half power,  with neon indicator lights for both switches.  The trick here is to put a diode in series with the iron -- you get half power and that's all there is to it.  Making the neon indicators work gets a little more complicated,  but I could probably do a schematic if enough folks were interested.

Oh,  and I've scrapped *bunches* of electronics,  and have a bunch more to scrap out,  so if any of you guys wouild like any parts,  feel free to email me,  and I'll be happy enough to drop some in an envelope for not much more than postage.  I have some stuff that I have a *lot* of listed here.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2009, 09:49:09 pm by Roy J. Tellason »
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