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Old 10 September 2011, 05:36   #7
Precious & fragile things

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 1,945
Originally Posted by prowler View Post
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.
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