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-   -   Which soldering tools? (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=60930)

rare_j 08 September 2011 22:10

Which soldering tools?
 
I need a soldering iron to do some pretty simple jobs on various equipment like:

  • reflow cracked joints
  • simple repairs e.g. where a wire has come away from its solder point
  • battery replace in A500+
  • replace caps in amigas and other equipment etc
So as you can see, really simple jobs.
I'm thinking i only need a cheap iron - something like this:
http://www.ebuyer.com/176562-antex-e...iron-er30-iron
Or maybe this as it comes with a few extras:
http://www.maplin.co.uk/40w-soldering-kit-399593

As you can see I dont want to spend a lot - will either of these do for my simple jobs or are they completely useless and is it just a false economy to buy cheap tools like these?
Do I need a selection of tips? should i worry about the wattage? should i use lead free solder? do i need variable temp? I dont know anything about soldering really - I've dome it a few times but only with someone else's tools.

prowler 08 September 2011 22:28

The Maplin kit is certainly a very good purchase at the moment and would be great to get you started.

As the bits might be difficult to get, you could find yourself with a useless soldering iron in a relatively short time. However, you can extend the life of the bit by keeping the sponge incorporated in the stand wet at all times when you are using it and keeping the bit freshly tinned (i.e. wetted with solder) and wiping it on the sponge to prevent oxide build up.

It's not temperature-controlled from what I can see, and a 40W iron might struggle to remove a battery from an area of the board with a large ground plane (65W would accomplish this more comfortably).

For the money, you can't go wrong. I would purchase it and get some practise removing the components from an old circuit board or two and then resoldering them until you get the knack. (Mastering the desoldering pump will be quite difficult. It's very easy to break tracks and remove pads because of the whiplash - try it, you'll see what I mean.)

Following this, you might find you're good enough to attempt some real job on your Amiga.

When the iron eventually packs up, get yourself a better one - a 65W temp. controlled one for example.

Good luck.

PS. Don't worry about lead-free solder. Any multi-cored solder, such as that supplied with this iron, will be fine.

rare_j 09 September 2011 00:26

Great, thanks prowler.
I forgot to ask about a multimeter - in threads where something looks dead or psu's or caps are involved they always say test for 5v here or 12v there.
Would either of these do for simple diagnosis of problems like this?
http://www.maplin.co.uk/ut30b-palm-s...ltimeter-46498
http://www.maplin.co.uk/general-purp...ltimeter-25414
I quite like the look of the digital one but perhapst it is too weedy for these kinds of tasks?

prowler 09 September 2011 20:49

Yep, the digital one looks good enough and it's the cheaper.

Some purists prefer to see a meter rather than a digital display, but for checking DC PSU voltages I would say that a digital meter is better for situations where you're looking to see how well the PSU voltages are standiing up under increased loads, like when you're adding an accelerator or second hard disk, etc.

You've timed this rather well to coincide with special offer time at Maplins. :)

rare_j 10 September 2011 00:04

Many thanks for the advice. :great
I didn't know about preserving the bit, so will try to follow that.
First job is to do some simple reflow repairs on the kids toys.
I'll practice on some old board though before letting rip on the Amiga. :)

prowler 10 September 2011 00:33

When soldering, clean the soldering iron bit by wiping it on the wet sponge and apply solder to the bit until there is a "blob" on the end of it, but not so big that it looks as if it might drop off.

Present the bit to the joint so as to bring the blob into contact with it rather than the bit, to keep its sharp edges from possibly damaging the pcb tracks or pads and heat will be transferred much quicker via a blob of solder than without it.

Prodding the solder at the joint will let you know the instant the joint is hot enough, because the solder will start to melt. It won't require much solder to make a good joint, so you will be able to pull the solder and iron away quite quickly once the solder starts melting. You will know that the joint is good when it covers everything without swamping it and is smooth and shiny all over.

To desolder, prepare the desoldering tool by depressing the plunger until it locks, then apply the iron to the joint, having cleaned the bit on the wet sponge and applied a blob of solder to the end. You may have to apply a small additional amount to solder to the joint to get the solder flowing freely. Keep the iron applied to the joint and then present the desoldering tool to it with your other hand and depress the release button. The solder will be sucked from the joint. The fluxes from the additional solder you applied will help to leave the joint clean when the solder has been removed. You may have to apply the iron to the end of the component leg and push or wiggle it to completely release it.

When using the desoldering tool, try to present it at such an angle that it doesn't jab at the printed circuit due to the whiplash when you depress the release button, and you should also remove the iron just before you do release it.

And practise makes perfect. :)

Loedown 10 September 2011 05:36

Quote:

Originally Posted by prowler (Post 776275)
When soldering, clean the soldering iron bit by wiping it on the wet sponge and apply solder to the bit until there is a "blob" on the end of it, but not so big that it looks as if it might drop off.

Present the bit to the joint so as to bring the blob into contact with it rather than the bit, to keep its sharp edges from possibly damaging the pcb tracks or pads and heat will be transferred much quicker via a blob of solder than without it.

Prodding the solder at the joint will let you know the instant the joint is hot enough, because the solder will start to melt. It won't require much solder to make a good joint, so you will be able to pull the solder and iron away quite quickly once the solder starts melting. You will know that the joint is good when it covers everything without swamping it and is smooth and shiny all over.

To desolder, prepare the desoldering tool by depressing the plunger until it locks, then apply the iron to the joint, having cleaned the bit on the wet sponge and applied a blob of solder to the end. You may have to apply a small additional amount to solder to the joint to get the solder flowing freely. Keep the iron applied to the joint and then present the desoldering tool to it with your other hand and depress the release button. The solder will be sucked from the joint. The fluxes from the additional solder you applied will help to leave the joint clean when the solder has been removed. You may have to apply the iron to the end of the component leg and push or wiggle it to completely release it.

When using the desoldering tool, try to present it at such an angle that it doesn't jab at the printed circuit due to the whiplash when you depress the release button, and you should also remove the iron just before you do release it.

And practise makes perfect. :)

All good advice, but a few points I would like to touch on.

Many people seem to like cleaning the tip of their iron when they put it back in the stand after they have soldered with it and this is exactly the wrong thing to do, keeping solder on the tip when returning it to its cradle will protect the tip from oxidization, wiping it before soldering on a moist but not soaked sponge is good and a quick sweep is all it needs, wait a few seconds after for the tip to recover its heat and then solder.

The placing of a blob of solder on the tip is one way of better heat transfer but what I find works well is to place the iron onto the leg and pad of what you are soldering and applying a small amount of solder to the point where everything meets and then if you are soldering a lead when you have applied enough solder to actually let the iron be dragged up the lead as to not leave any dags on the joints themselves. If there's enough interest I will do a short video but I am thinking there's enough on Youtube.

I will be taking stock of a Metcal soldering station in the upcoming weeks so I will no longer need my very reliable old Weller workhorse which I will make available for people here.

prowler 10 September 2011 22:11

Quote:

Originally Posted by Loedown (Post 776298)
All good advice, but a few points I would like to touch on.

Many people seem to like cleaning the tip of their iron when they put it back in the stand after they have soldered with it and this is exactly the wrong thing to do, keeping solder on the tip when returning it to its cradle will protect the tip from oxidization, wiping it before soldering on a moist but not soaked sponge is good and a quick sweep is all it needs, wait a few seconds after for the tip to recover its heat and then solder.

The placing of a blob of solder on the tip is one way of better heat transfer but what I find works well is to place the iron onto the leg and pad of what you are soldering and applying a small amount of solder to the point where everything meets and then if you are soldering a lead when you have applied enough solder to actually let the iron be dragged up the lead as to not leave any dags on the joints themselves. If there's enough interest I will do a short video but I am thinking there's enough on Youtube.

Thanks for providing the extra details, Paul. :great

It's difficult not to miss anything when you've been soldering for many years and everything is done automatically.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Loedown (Post 776298)
I will be taking stock of a Metcal soldering station in the upcoming weeks so I will no longer need my very reliable old Weller workhorse which I will make available for people here.

That's a nice thought. Thanks for that. It should be snapped up I reckon. When I worked in electronics, Weller irons were practically the industry standard. :)

rare_j 02 October 2011 15:23

Fixed 65 quids worth of kids toys so far - many thanks to both for your help.

The tip with this £10 kit is pointy and has no ledge to balance a blob of solder on. (my preferred technique). So i'm following the technique where you hold the end of the solder roll up against the solder point and melt straight off the end. Difficult for shakey shakey hands, but its fine for bodging a few simple repairs.

Loedown 05 October 2011 04:15

If you place your solder between the leg you want to solder and then place the iron on the other side of the solder it will make a nice joint.

Great that someone wants to take the time in fixing toys for children instead of throwing everything out and replacing it. I take my hat off to you Sir.

TTD 05 October 2011 21:38

hi rare_j

I found this thread interested because I self try learning soldering stuff too
Where can I see that soldering tip video, Loedown can you put it on The Zone ;)

Loedown 06 October 2011 06:46

I have some soldering to do in the near future, I'll put something up for the masses.

lopos2000 06 October 2011 08:21

If you are in need of a good new soldering iron Maplin has a special offer on now.
You by 2 tubes of lead free solder (Antex) and you get the Antex 30 Solder iron for free.

prowler 06 October 2011 22:58

Thread is sticky now. :)

lloyd 10 October 2011 13:42

For what its worth, forget about Maplin, they charge silly money. Try Googling for Bowood electronics - the guy that runs it is about the friendliest bloke you'll ever want to meet and their service is second to none. Great prices too.

For reflow work, I'd suggest a hot air or infra red device - SMD stuff is microscopic and almost impossible to solder by hand.

rare_j 10 October 2011 23:57

Quote:

Originally Posted by Loedown (Post 779813)
I have some soldering to do in the near future, I'll put something up for the masses.

Would certainly be appreciated. Its amazing how intimidating soldering is until it is explaind properly. Would like to see how it is done properly before opening up my 500+

Loedown 11 October 2011 10:36

Many people are starting to mess around with SMD stuff too, so I plan to show a few techniques for removing and repairing common things like caps / 14 / 16 pin IC etc.

Most people will use hot air but it's good to know what you can do if you're in a pinch or don't have hot air available.

Like how to make a dental pick out of a paperclip ;)

Hewitson 28 November 2014 12:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by rare_j (Post 779326)
So i'm following the technique where you hold the end of the solder roll up against the solder point and melt straight off the end. Difficult for shakey shakey hands, but its fine for bodging a few simple repairs.

I know this is an old thread but I'm going to post this anyway in case it helps someone out.

This is bad technique, as the entire roll of solder is absorbing the heat from the iron. Break a bit of solder off and use that instead. Same goes for solder wick.

xArtx 28 November 2014 13:47

It's a no-no to break solder by pulling it for breaking the resin. It's supposed to be cut if you have to.
It would be more an issue for surface mount.

I would avoid ever mixing lead free and leaded solder, although they probably mix,
they both have different melting temps, and beginning with lead free solder on thru mount
parts is probably a good way to break discreet transistors with heat.
I don't know if Amigas ever went RoHS compliant.

In Australia military spec doesn't favour lead free solder but medical does.

Hewitson 28 November 2014 15:23

Quote:

Originally Posted by xArtx (Post 988851)
It's a no-no to break solder by pulling it for breaking the resin. It's supposed to be cut if you have to.
It would be more an issue for surface mount.

I was taught to solder by people who have been in the industry for decades and they ALWAYS pulled it apart.

I don't see how pulling it apart would affect the rosin core inside the solder. If doing surface-mount work, you should be using a liquid flux anyway.


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