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having trouble soldering

Old 02-17-2008, 01:01 PM
  #1  
206driver
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Default having trouble soldering

I made a similiar post a little while back. Before I had a Radioshack iron 15/30watt, for some reason it stopped working. I picked up a new one from sears. This one is 45watt for some reason it was the lowest watt iron that they sell. I've been told a few different opinions as to how hot I need my iron to be. I notice though in every video I watch on the subject guys are always using those guns that get up to 140 watts. I'm having trouble soldering twisted wire together. Such as wire to plugs for ESC and Charge Leads.

I had the iron on for like 45 minutes. I only heated the work area and not the solder. I kept touching the solder to the wires and it would never melt. I just burned my work bench and fingers holding the wires. Do I not have the correct wattage iron for doing this stuff?

I watched a video online and the guy uses a high wattage gun. Touches the wires once or twice and the solder flows right across it. The tinning of the new iron was also mentioned. When I try and tin my iron the solder just bubbles on the end of the solder wire and never drips onto the iron.

Would appreciate anyone's help.

dave
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:44 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

Hi Dave,

I solder quite frequently with the job I do (so you know my background) and yes you probably have more than enough wattage for the job you're doing. I appears though, that the problem you're running into is the tip of the soldering iron is not being "tinned". What I mean by that is first clean the unheated iron tip well (clean off any manufacturing oils, etc). Next, turn on your iron for about five minutes then dip the tip of the iron into the flux, you do have flux don't you? Finally, right after you've fluxed the tip apply some solder to the tip and let it flow all over the tip. This will prepare your iron for all future soldering jobs. Hopefully this is of some help to you.

Good luck and be well,
Steve S.
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Old 02-17-2008, 02:07 PM
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Sir Raleigh
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

First thing is that every surface has to be clean and shinny.

I'm going to assume your iron is one of the pencil type with the long, skinny tip.

Take a file and file either a round pencil-type point or a 4-sided wedge-type point. Make sure the tip is clean with no black pits in it. This can be done when the iron is cold.
Make sure your solder is either a 'rosin-core' or is 'solid-core' (nothing inside the solder).
If the solder is 'solid-core' you'll need a tube or tin of rosin. This is used to allow the solder to stick to the surface you are trying to solder. Without it, the solder will just roll off in little balls. It's a good thing to have a little rosin available anyway whether you are using 'rosin-core' solder or not. I always put just a tiny bit of rosin on all my solder work.
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE USE "ACID-CORE" SOLDER! This is the kind of solder plumbers use on water pipes. The acid in the "acid-core" solder will cause corrosion on electrical parts and will it will eventually stop working.
Plug the iron in and give it about 10 minutes to heat up. When you see the shiny tip begin to turn blue or black dunk the tip in the rosin quickly to put a light coat of rosin on it. Then immediately put some solder on the tip to "tin" it. The solder will flow around the tip and it will be a nice shiny silver color.

When you solder items make sure they are nice and clean, too. Some wire comes already tinned (silver colored) and some do not (copper colored). If the wire is copper colored make sure it's shiny like a new penny. If it's dull you may need to scrape the oxide off with a knife, sandpaper, or some other rough-surfaced item.
I cannot stress enough that the surfaces to be soldered and the tip of the iron has to be clean and shiny before you apply any heat or solder!

If you are soldering 2 or more wires together, you should twist the wires together before soldering rather than just laying them side by side, although you might not be able to do this in all cases. If you twist the wires together you don't need to tin them first, but if you lay them side by side you MUST tin them first.

Put your iron on the joint to be soldered and let it heat up for a few seconds. Then apply the solder to the JOINT, not to the iron. You want the joint to be hot enough to melt the solder to prevent what's call a "cold solder joint".
Apply just enough solder to fill any gaps in the wire and joint. Don't glob the solder onto the joint, it's not necessary.

Remove the solder from the joint and then remove the iron. Let the joint cool before you move it. If you've twisted the wires together that should be enough to keep them from moving for the few seconds it takes for the solder to cool, but if the wires are just laying side by side just the slightest movement could loosen the bond and could create a cold solder joint within the solder.

If you are soldering a wire to heavy tab-like material, like what's on a Deans connector, tin both the wire and the tab first.
Then lay the iron on the bottom and the wire on top of the tab. Let the iron heat the tab until it melts the solder and bonds the wire to the tab.
Make sure the tab gets hot enough to just melt the solder but not so hot it melts the plastic of the Deans connector. This might take a little experience before you are totally successful, but it can be done quite easily.

Post back if you're still having problems. Try to be as specific as you can with your questions because I think I've covered just about everything except for specialized soldering like on printed circuit boards and very tiny items.

Good luck.
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:02 AM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

[8D] Don't lose faith. Credentials: 20 years in eletronics and amateur radio.

I would never, ever file a soldering iron tip. They should come properly shaped, tinned and ready to work. Some tips will have a colored coating on them, often this is blue. This has to come off. You can usually get it off just by heating and take an rag and clean it off.

When the solder just boils off the tip, the tip needs to be cleaned. Always have a damp sponge to wipe the tip of your iron. You should wipe the tip literally every time you pick it up to make a solder joint. The tip rapidly oxidizes due to the heat. This prevents efficient heat transfer to the joint. After wiping the tip on the sponge, touch a little solder to the tip. It only takes a little. Touch the tip to the joint. Let the joint heat for a few seconds and touch the solder to the joint, not the soldering tip this time. If the solder melts, then you are ready to go. Add solder and let it wick into the joint. Only add solder until the joint is silver with solder. then remove the solder and the tip. Do not move any components of the joint. If you are soldering terminals, it mayy take several seconds for the joint to cool. If you move anything with the joint, it will weaken the connections. If the solder is not shiny silver and and is a dull gray, you need to re-heat it. Cold joint will fail and they are subject to intermitent problems from what is called "cold" joints.

Terminals are especially problemmatic. The take a lot of heat and you usually have to hold them with something. Pliers and vices that are metal will make it take even more heat. This is the thermal conductivity transferring the heat you want to the pliers or vice. Try usind wood to hold the connector. You can drill a hole in a piece of wood for round connectors. You can also use a dowel rod or place the connector in a vise and use two pieces of wood to insulate the jaws. If you have a vise with non-metallic jaws, be be sure they won't melt at about 750 degrees. Your soldering iron needs to heat the joint to this temperature to melt most common solders.

Flux helps the joint take heat. A little flux can also help you tin the tip. Most electronic solders are rosin core or ersin core or some other core. The core is flux. These solders to not need addtional flux most of the time. The solid core solder will need flux to work well. As someone else posted, NEVER use acid flux in electronic circuits.

Now, if you are soldering to large terminals, it is helpful to "tin" the connector and the wires before attempting to join them. Tinning is just heating the wire or terminal and melting some solder on it. Again, you have to melt the solder on the wire or the terminal, not the soldering iron. Sometimes if you cannot seem to get the solder to melt, wipe the tip with the wet sponge again, tin the tip my melting solder on it, then heat the wire or connector and try to get the solder to melt on it. After you tin both of the surfaces you need to join, then just heat the connector until you see the solder re-melt then continue to heat the connector and insert the wire. Look for the solder to flow then remove the heat.

The thickness of the solder can also be a problem. If you bought solder at Lowe's for soldering copper pipes, it is large, solid core solder. This is hard to melt. You want a 60/40 (60% tin and 40%l ead) solder for electronics that is small diameter about .03 inch. You can get it at Radio Shack. Lowe's and Home Depot may have it to but it won't be in the plumbing aisle.

The really big guns are for large metal surfaces. Coax connectors or soldering wires to a chassis need the big heaters. You should not need one for RC modeling.

[sm=regular_smile.gif] Now for the big soldering tip. You may have a heat gun for working with coverings. You can also use it to solder. I am talking about a heat gun, not a hair dryer. Heat guns often readh 1000 degrees. If you need to unsolder something you can heat it with a heat gun and then remove the wire from the connection. I also recently used this technique to solder some large terminals. Some heat guns come with a couple of deflectors to "shape" the flow of hot air. A small circle one will help you use this technique without adding too much heat to surrounding surfaces. This is great for salvaging electronic components from old boards or broken equipment.

I hope this helps.

Wayne
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:06 AM
  #5  
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

Band-aids on your thumb and finger will let you hold wires with out getting burned.
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Old 02-18-2008, 11:31 AM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

Dave,

Remember that you ask a question here you will get MANY answers. So, with that said, here's mine.

I was NASA certified to solder at one point in my life. I too have had over 35 years of soldering. Clean work parts is a very important part of the equation. I use alcoho to clean the parts to be soldered.l However, the materials being solder are also important. For example, copper wires solder easier that "Tin" wires. A general rule is that if the wires are "gray" in color it will be more difficult to solder and usually need a higherr wattage. Flux is very important but also comes in the solder quite often. A lot of time (soldering copper wires) this is fine. Heat distribution is also very important. Usually, the tip is placed FLAT against the metal(s) to be joined. Here's some important information regarding Flux. Pay particuliar attention to the last section.

In a soldering process, heat is applied to the parts to be joined, causing the solder to melt and be drawn into the joint by capillary action and to bond to the materials to be joined by wetting action

Capillary action, is the ability of a substance to draw another substance into it

'Wetting is the contact between a liquid and a solid surface, resulting from intermolecular interactions when the two are brought together.

The purpose of flux is to clean surfaces that are going to be joined together to enhance wetting by solder in the molten state. To accomplish this flux must be able to deoxidize metal surfaces at high temperatures without decomposing.

It is important to remove any contamination from a completed job regardless of where it comes from, flux or other processes. Residues left on a solder connection can cause electrical shorts or corrosion.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:07 PM
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206driver
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

In response to the first reply post, yes I have the flux. I tried your tip of letting the iron sit plugged in for a bit and then dipping the tip into the flux. It seemed to take to it well smoking up a storm. I then tried applying the solder to the tip of the iron to tin it. Still acting just the same the solder just bubbles up and repels itself away from the tip of the iron. I can't get the solder to go onto the iron.

Someone else wanted to know the type of solder that I am using. It's from Radio Shack (60/40 Rosin-Core solder .032 diameter). A friend suggested holding the iron on the underside of the joint and trying to thread the solder in between all the wires. Tried this but do to everything else not working didn't get any results.

I'm doing this soldering so that I can charge battery packs while connected to a balancer. I have the option of just plugging the batteries to the balancer after charging separately. I have another post in this forum listing about the fact that I can't get that to work either. I guess this is not my week for this stuff. Just thought I would mention that on here in case one of you guys happpens to use the LBA - 10 balancer from Hyperion.

Dave
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Old 02-18-2008, 10:25 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

Your tip is still contaminated, probably with the factory coating. Get yourself a damp (not sopping wet) rag that you really don't care about, and scrub off the tip.

Once you get a good tin, wipe the tip with that damp rag after every soldering operation.
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Old 02-18-2008, 10:45 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

A damp sponge also works well for cleaning the tip. In case it isn't obvious, the cleaning should be done while the tip is hot.

And follow Matt's advice to wipe the tip on the damp rag or sponge between each and every soldering operation. It really helps. In other words, wipe the tip, solder a wire, wipe the tip, solder another wire, wipe the tip, solder a third wire, etc.

- Jeff
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:57 AM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering


You have a BAD Sears soldering iron. Take it back. Sears buys from anyone. Your tip is defective.

You paid TOP dollar at Sears. You should have a pre-tinned tip. PERIOD.

Sears IS NOT a great tool place anymore. That is a fact for over 15 years. I take my drift punches back 2 X every year because their " lifetime " tools are soft enough to bend WITHOUT breaking.
Drift punches DO NOT BEND. They shatter. At least they are supposed to.

Take it back for a different model or a full refund.

DO NOT SAND any new tips. They are just coated with a tinned surface. The solid metals underneath are sometimes Iron or Steel. Not the easiest to re-tin.

Rich

Oh yes, all of us experts have very good Soldering irons/guns. That is why we have no/few problems.
The wet sponge does wonders.






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Old 02-19-2008, 12:38 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

I have been using a Weller 35W for a long time.

http://shop1.outpost.com/product/168...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

It will get to 850 degrees F.

I also like the 1/32" screwdriver tip http://shop1.outpost.com/product/160...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

You will pay a little more but it will do a good job. The links are for Fry's. There maybe one in your area. You can also search the internet for better prices if you like.

Weller has an illustrated booklet you might find helpful: http://www.cooperhandtools.com/welle...rSoldering.pdf
And a Ten Commandments of Soldering: http://www.cooperhandtools.com/weller/ten_command.cfm

Good luck,
Wayne
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:21 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

I'm a big fan of the Weller products. My [link=http://www.cooperhandtools.com/brands/CF_Files/model_detail.cfm?upc=037103001146]Weller WTCPT Soldering Station[/link] is going on 20 years old and still working fine. I've made thousands of solder joints with it and am still on the original set of three tips I bought for it.

When you consider how many cheapo irons you might go through in 20 years, it's a bargain at slightly more than $100.

- Jeff
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:47 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering



Weller dual wattage gun is 50 ?? years old. Finally lost LOW range. OK.
I just move the tip FASTER........

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Old 02-20-2008, 09:36 AM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

You young technology whippersnappers and your new 50 year old soldering guns, ha.
Try a soldering iron sometime. Bucket of charcoal and you're good to go. Ain't ever found a terminal big enough that an iron couldn't handle. Ok, I'll give you it's a little harder to use on a PC board then one of those new fangled soldering pens, but it never wears out. Alright that and it takes a man and two boy to control one. Just kidding.

206 as others have said, just from your discription, your tip is contaminated.
And to add my input, I use a Weller 40 pen, and with proper maintaince, as mentioned before, I can solder just about anything, heck I've even gotten into aluminum (for use on lipo packs) and silver (really strong joints for items like landing gear and control rods.
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:39 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering



Madam.

You are older than dirt, to have a tanned forearm strong enough to handle a 6 pound iron all day.

My iron is electric with black and white braided Cotton cord. I am a "Computer Geek" compared to you.

Rich
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:22 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

Man thanks for all the info on soldering! I too am new at this & am pulling hair trying to get the wire to stay on the tabs of the motor - basically the same troubles as Dave! Thanks for the info everyone has posted... Iron is heating up as I write... See what happens, just 2 motor wires & a couple of fingers burned to get this car running - hopefully[]!

Jonathan
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:22 PM
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Default RE: having trouble soldering

I did this in addition to what has been posted. By a cheap kit online. I bought a 1 to 12 volt low amp power supply. Good for servo testing. Solder it together. I would bet the kit I have had about 50 solder joints. You will be good enough once done with the kit. Once better soldering smaller stuff i.e 1mm motor plugs will be easier.
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