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Advice for a soldering noob?

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giftiger_wunsch

New Member
Before cringing at the photos, please note that this is literally my first attempt at soldering. I'm in the middle of about 3 projects which will require me to get much better at it very quickly so I'm practising by re-attaching various jumpers, etc. which I've desoldered from this VCR board.

I realise that most (or all) of the joints are poor quality or may not even hold at all, but I'm hoping someone can give me some tips on how to improve. I think the only one which is even passable (maybe) is the third one, but I followed the same procedure for all four so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

Constructive advice only please, I know my soldering sucks ;)










Sorry about the quality of the photos as well, the lighting wasn't fantastic and the flash produced glare.


By the way, I'm using this soldering iron: http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=35016 at about 75% of the maximum setting, not sure exactly what type of solder I'm using (it's been laying around the house for about 10 years or something).
 
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Hero999

Banned
Sorry but none of them are that great.

What solder are you using?

Is it leaded?

I've heard that some lead-free solders aren't compatible with leaded solders.

The existing solder on the practise board might not be compatible with the solder you're using.

If this isn't the case then you just need more practise. You need to heat both the pad and the component led and apply solder to both of them.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
Meh I guess it's just a matter of practice then. I was hoping that there was something I was doing horribly wrong which I could correct and suddenly be able to do it :p

I doubt that the problem is the differing types of solder, it's more likely just my inexperience with soldering. I watched a good video on the subject and have been trying to copy what I saw in that, but it doesn't seem to be working out well.

I've been trying to position the tip so that the side of it is in contact with both the pad and the lead (after tinning the iron and the lead), and then touching the solder from the reel to the joint and then removing the iron. But the rather bad results are shown above :( It's probably not that much better, but the third one looks slightly better than the others at least; that was the last one I did before giving up and posting the pictures here. I'm slightly comforted by the fact that I think it's actually better than it was on the PCB I removed that wire from, whoever soldered the wire on had done an apalling job of it :eek:

Perhaps I should be using a tip with a larger surface until I get more used to it, the one I'm using at the moment is a relatively fine point.


Maybe I'll just torture myself by cutting a metre of cable into 3cm sections and then soldering it all back together :eek: I'll consider it a failure if I can't use the cable to lift a dining chair off the ground afterwards :D
 
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Mr RB

Well-Known Member
Your tip is dirty. How are you cleaning it? You should clean it before every couple of solder joints. The best way is to apply fresh solder to the tip, then wipe it off the tip onto something NOT wet (like a metal scourer pad or big block of solder). When your tip is fully "wetted" (and glossy silver) and clean you can solder for a few seconds before it starts get scaly and dirty again. If your iron has been sitting for a minute it needs cleaning before you try and solder with it.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
I've mainly just been using the sponge to remove the layer of dirt. I'll bear that in mind next time, I'll have to find something suitable I can clean it with...
 

Hero999

Banned
I use a damp sponge and it works perfectly.

I also have a tip tinner which is very good.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
While I was getting used to desoldering, I suddenly noticed at one point that the tip is actually shiny underneath the layer of burnt flux and oxides that builds up :D and since then I've been trying to remember to clean it off before I use it. It's somewhat less important with desoldering though.
 

Hero999

Banned
Do you have a solder sucker?

De-soldering wick is also handy, especially for cleaning the board before soldering a new part, just be careful not to lift the track.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
Yeah, I use a solder sucker and now that I've gotten used to it I find it to be very effective. Just need to get used to soldering now...
 

tinker_1000

New Member
When you apply your tip to the part you're soldering, make sure you get fairly good contact with it. After a few seconds, touch a bit of solder to both the tip and the part to see if the solder readily adheres to your part. Wait for the solder to begin to suddenly flow, then remove both the solder and your soldering iron or gun immediately. Give it a few seconds to cool and look over the connection. If it looks like it made good contact with everything, you're done. However, if it looks like your solder just blobbed or if it doesn't appear to have flowed nicely onto the part you were soldering, you have what's called a cold-solder joint; essentially a bad joint. Remove the solder, make sure the part you are soldering is quite clean and try again.

Once you get it right, you will remember and you're home free. Also, you don't need a ton of solder to make a good connection. It's the quality of your connection that's important, not how much solder you use.
 

audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Good electronic solder has a core of flux that cleans the joint just before the solder cools and becomers solid. It takes about 1 second to make a good solder joint.
 

giftiger_wunsch

New Member
I believe the solder I'm using has a flux core, though I'm not 100% certain. I seem to remember I boiled the flux without melting the solder when I was using the puny 12W iron I had before this one. The end of the solder coil ended up so charred that I had to cut off the end and try again. Obviously with the more powerful iron I'm using now, the solder melts instantly and I don't get that problem :eek:.
 
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Hero999

Banned
Going from your pictures, you're using flux cored solder.
 

Ross Craney

New Member
Your absolute BIGGEST problem is the 10 yr old solder you are using. As you say , you can see the flux bubbling. This is because its getting warm but the solder is not melting easily because of lead oxide & other crap all over it. When it does melt you have too much heat & you are introducing all that **** onto the soldered joint. If you must use the 10 yr old solder then give it a good wipe with some wet & dry or fine sandpaper to clean it up.
 

RCinFLA

Well-Known Member
You need enough heat, 700-800 deg F. The size of the tip is dependent on the size of the joint you are trying to desolder. If you can't get it to flow within 3-4 seconds your tip is too small. Keep tip clean and re-tin it with solder frequently.

Trick is to get in and out within five seconds for desoldering. Staying on longer will lift the PCB pads. It is usually good to add more flux core solder first to get a good flow. If you don't succeed on first desoldering attempt add more fluxed solder back and either suck it out or use desoldering brad. Don't keep trying to desolder a flux dry joint, add more fluxed solder and make another attempt.

The best suction desoldering tool is one that has a spring loaded pre-cock so all you do it hit the button to release the suction plunger. Squeeze bulbs require too much dextarity and you need to be focusing on soldering joint, not fumbing with a squeeze bulb. Clean out tip after every two or three suction attempts to clear any clogging.

Flux is key to keeping flow good. Burn out all the flux and you don't get a good flow. Solder will be like lumpy clay.
 

bountyhunter

Well-Known Member
I've heard that some lead-free solders aren't compatible with leaded solders.
The lead free crap they made us switch to at my last job was not compatible with soldering. It was really awful, didn't flow, was grainy, didn't stick. I'm glad I don't have to use that stuff anymore.
 
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bountyhunter

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I use a solder sucker and now that I've gotten used to it I find it to be very effective. Just need to get used to soldering now...
Solder on a joint "goes bad" if heated too long or several times. The thing to do is suck the old stuff away and put new solder on. I think the tin oxidizes and leaves the lead, or something like that. It definitely goes funky quick.
 

bountyhunter

Well-Known Member
I believe the solder I'm using has a flux core, though I'm not 100% certain. I seem to remember I boiled the flux without melting the solder when I was using the puny 12W iron I had before this one. The end of the solder coil ended up so charred that I had to cut off the end and try again. Obviously with the more powerful iron I'm using now, the solder melts instantly and I don't get that problem :eek:.
get a good Weller soldering station. Don't screw around with junk, a Weller will outlive you and you can get a whole assortment of tips for them. Weller tips are electroplated with something so they are effectively permanently tinned.
 
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MrDEB

Well-Known Member
I myself have been using RS .022 solder

that has silver in it - Part # 64-013E
but I stick it into some solder flux (yellow paste from RS as well.
since I started applying the flux my solder joints are bright and shinny.
when they took the lead out and w/o using solder flux, my joints looked terrible. Dull looking.
much better after applying extra flux (the solder has flux in it but being so thin there can't be much.
Also be sure the copper is clean. I lightly sand with 600 paper prior to soldering.
could be your solder is tooo large.
 
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