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l stephens

Silverado

Posts: 53 Member Since: 03/02/2011

Lead

Apr 1 12 7:12 PM

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Hello,
I've been working on one of the PAiA kits (the theremax) recently and I'm noticing that my soldering skills are poor. Some of my joints are turning greyish rather than shiny silver. I looked at an older project I've done and the soldering looks much better. I can't remember what I've done differently.

What are the factors of good, professional solder joints?

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cgc

Gold Finger

Posts: 944 Member Since:06/02/2011

#1 [url]

Apr 1 12 7:26 PM

Others are far more pro at soldering, but here's what I do:

Make sure the iron tip is clean by wiping it on a damp sponge and make sure the iron is hot enough. 

Heat the joint with as much of the tip as you can get on it and then let the solder flow over the connection by applying solder to the part leads not just the iron.  Don't use too much (or too little) solder, just enough to cover the pad and component lead.

Make sure you don't break the connection when removing the iron.

I find using thin gauge solder helps with most components and especially with wiring terminations.

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compasspnt

Diamond Forever

Posts: 21,106 Member Since:08/01/2011

#2 [url]

Apr 1 12 7:37 PM

And, make sure you are using good old leaded solder.

And especially be sure the wire doesn't move before the joint has cooled completely.

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johnr

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,561 Member Since:25/01/2011

#4 [url]

Apr 2 12 4:55 AM

And, make sure you are using good old leaded solder.

-compasspnt

Absolutely. The unleaded stuff isn't very good for manual soldering.

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silvertone

Aqua Marine

Posts: 2,573 Member Since:26/01/2011

#6 [url]

Apr 2 12 6:22 AM

Also make sure you have a good iron or station with a good tip.
Hakko from Fry's, cheap and great:
[url]

-bill_urick

This is great advice.  The Hakko's are great bang for the buck.

Also solder seems to be a little different today than it was 30 years ago, don't know if it's true but my "vintage solder" seems easier to work with still.

I recently bought the same pro Weller machine (a 129.00 on I found new for 89.00 on ebay!) that my tech has and it's made the job way easier.

Quality tools make all the difference.

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ssltech

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,034 Member Since:22/01/2011

#7 [url]

Apr 2 12 7:18 AM

I was an affirmed Weller user. Soldering, Desoldering, large irons, needle-tip irons...

Used my first Hakko when my 'Magnestat' Weller let me down. -Again.

-I've replaced magnestats and heating elements several times over the years. but in the last 16 years since I tried my first Hakko, I think I've replaced one heater element and perhaps a wand cable. In that time I've never ONCE encountered the 'cherry-red-glow' of a stuck switch (and a dangerously overheating tip) with which Weller TCPs have regularly and repeatedly 'surprised' me over the years.

There are better irons out there than Weller AND Hakko... but I've sold almost all of my Wellers now, and the two which I still own... I haven't plugged either one of them in for at least five years.

But... Good solder, good flux (silly question perhaps, but you ARE using rosin-cored solder, -right?) and clean bits which are to be joined... then a tip at the right temperature, and NO MOVEMENT WHATSOEVER until completely cooled to below the eutectic temperature.

-Keith Andrews -If I can't fix it, I can fix it so [i]NOBODY[/i] can fix it!

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johnwhynot

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,935 Member Since:22/01/2011

#9 [url]

Apr 2 12 10:25 AM

If you want practice, may I suggest purchasing an MCI JH-series tape machine and moving it from room to room periodically.

I'm in the throes of improving my soldering skills too!  I did a tiny circuit board for a stomp box and lo, I messed something up.

Big difference between the early joins and the ones done at the end.

Practice.

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seth

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,474 Member Since:26/01/2011

#10 [url]

Apr 2 12 12:22 PM

I used to go to TV repair places (if you can still find one) and ask for junk circuit boards to practice on. Great for desoldering practice in particular.

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justpushplay

Silverado

Posts: 245 Member Since:02/02/2011

#11 [url]

Apr 2 12 12:58 PM




If you want practice, may I suggest purchasing an MCI JH-series tape machine and moving it from room to room periodically.[image]

-johnwhynot

Room to room? How about just across the room, in my case. I've reflowed enough points on that thing to get lead poisoning. But the MCI is easy to work on compared to recent gear that has lead free solder, there is no way to to do that without a good Weller or better station. And lots of good solder braid, for desoldering.

Michael Spence

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fbw70

Silverado

Posts: 105 Member Since:04/02/2011

#12 [url]

Apr 2 12 1:13 PM

The avionics guys use a copper brillo pad to wipe their tip in, not sure why but they do grand work.

Mick Holman Analog sounds really really good!

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dave harrison

Gold Finger

Posts: 821 Member Since:21/01/2011

#13 [url]

Apr 2 12 3:17 PM

I do a TON of soldering... good clean iron, Kester "44", and a steady hand... my solder joints are still a bit dull looking, but there's nothing wrong with them.  Used a roll of solder I found in a box a few weeks back most likely from the early 80's (judging by the other things in the box), nice shiny joints... I would say the quality of even the Kester is not what it once was...

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l stephens

Silverado

Posts: 53 Member Since:03/02/2011

#14 [url]

Apr 3 12 4:11 AM


Thanks to all for the insights. Bad soldering and all I finished building the Theremax and it works beautifully. It has a pitch CV output so I'll be plugging it into the Moog Opus 3 tomorrow. Should be fun. I also picked up one of these http://sonuus.com/products_g2m.html which can make the Theremin a midi controller as well. 

here are a few photos of the finished build



Click here to view the attachment
Click here to view the attachment

Lou Stephens

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LeforaGuest

New Forum Friend

Posts: 0 Member Since:26/03/2017

#16 [url]

Apr 3 12 1:07 PM

Take on a project where you can watch people with great skills. Dave Harrison and Markus Resch are both magicians with a soldering iron. Watching and learning raised my game a LOT. My joints are now pretty functional, just not as pretty by any measure. Thousands of solder points in the Helios re-build...OMG.

So what (if any) are the tricks to making non-lead solder work? It's a disaster for me.

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johnr

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,561 Member Since:25/01/2011

#19 [url]

Apr 3 12 2:33 PM


So what (if any) are the tricks to making non-lead solder work? It's a disaster for me.

-phantom309


It takes more heat than tin/lead. I used a 45W Weller TCP for years for general electronics work with 60/40 tin/lead solder, but had to go up to 80W to do the same kind of work with lead-free. Two other characteristics make lead-free harder to work with: it doesn't stay molten over such a wide temperature range and it doesn't flow as freely. I've given up trying to get shiny joints with the stuff, and just try to make them electrically and mechanically sound.

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johnwhynot

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,935 Member Since:22/01/2011

#20 [url]

Apr 3 12 3:39 PM

I've given up trying to get shiny joints with the stuff, and just try to make them electrically and mechanically sound.

-johnr

That sentence right there is the most reassuring thing I've heard all day.

I was really stressing about the mottled finish on my solder joints in this most recent project.

And I had also noticed that the 20W setting on my little Hakko was not sufficient to get the solder to flow on the PCB.  It will work on jack and pot lugs.  I have to button in the 135W setting, which raises the stakes considerably vis-a-vis time spent with heat applied to a component.

Are there bootleg sources of leaded solder? NOS?

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