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Some questions on soldering

Old 01-12-2008, 04:46 PM
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Default Some questions on soldering

I was replacing some stock battery plugs with deans today and was having some trouble getting them on. It seemed like it took longer to heat up the wire and especially the tab than it should have. I'm using a 110/140 watt gun type iron, and I thought that would be pleanty of power for just about any job. I'm thinking maybe the small, two pronged tip on it isn't holding heat as well as a regular pencil type iron which has more mass to it.
Also, I'm using lead-free solder and was wondering if that's harder to work with too.
I'll probably be getting another iron eventually (at least because the gun gets bulky at times) and was wondering what I should look for. There seems to be a difference in ratings from degrees the iron gets to the wattage it puts out. I'm guessing wattage would be a better indication of the volume of heat it can put out (sort of like volt vs. amps).
Any suggestions for technique improvement or better equipment are appreciated.
Old 01-12-2008, 05:03 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

if that's a weller gun then you need to be sure the end of the tip is still in one piece and that the nuts where each leg attaches is tight
also be sure the tip is cleaned and tinned
110 or 140 watts is more than enough to do dean's plugs

to solder them i find it's easiest to heat and tin the plug and wire separately then they go together much faster with a better connection

also, somewhere there's a pretty good tutorial on soldering dean's plugs
do a search, you'll probably find it
Old 01-12-2008, 05:11 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

Have you considered buying two soldering irons? For example one 200W, and the other 100W for small fine soldering.
Edit: A while ago when I had to solder 12 14gauge wires, I used a blowtorch.. that will always get the job done.
Old 01-12-2008, 05:13 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

No, actually it's a Craftsman, but I'll check that anyhow.
Now that you mention it, I think it probably is an issue with the tip being clean. I've been trying to keep it clean with flux and wire brush, but still the solder just balls up on the tip. Maybe I need a wet sponge to help with that too. Anyway, thanks for advise.
Old 01-12-2008, 05:19 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering


ORIGINAL: Codeblack

Have you considered buying two soldering irons? For example one 200W, and the other 100W for small fine soldering.
Edit: A while ago when I had to solder 12 14gauge wires, I used a blowtorch.. that will always get the job done.
if you want to do fine soldering then 100 watts is way too much.
for circuit board work you only want 25 - 30 watts
if you cannot solder something with a 140 watt iron then you may need a torch.
though a small butane one is a lot easier to use than a "blowtorch"
Old 01-12-2008, 05:23 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering


ORIGINAL: Kitsune

No, actually it's a Craftsman, but I'll check that anyhow.
Now that you mention it, I think it probably is an issue with the tip being clean. I've been trying to keep it clean with flux and wire brush, but still the solder just balls up on the tip. Maybe I need a wet sponge to help with that too. Anyway, thanks for advise.

you may need to use some sandpaper to get down to bare metal and then retin it to keep it clean
a wet rag or sponge is always good to have around to keep the tip clean
also, you may want to pick up some rosin core solder for electrical work
coreless solder is hard to use on electrical stuff and electronics
whatever you do, do not buy an acid core solder for electronics or electrical work
Old 01-12-2008, 05:59 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

To keep your tip clean you should cover it with solder before unplugging the iron. Next time you use it let the solder melt, clean the tip with a sponge, and solder what you need to solder.
Old 01-12-2008, 07:04 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

ORIGINAL: iamnot


ORIGINAL: Codeblack

Have you considered buying two soldering irons? For example one 200W, and the other 100W for small fine soldering.
Edit: A while ago when I had to solder 12 14gauge wires, I used a blowtorch.. that will always get the job done.
if you want to do fine soldering then 100 watts is way too much.
for circuit board work you only want 25 - 30 watts
if you cannot solder something with a 140 watt iron then you may need a torch.
though a small butane one is a lot easier to use than a "blowtorch"
hah, that was just an example, I couldn't remember the rating on my last iron
Old 01-12-2008, 11:04 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

once you file off all the black crap from the tip of the iron, do you need to do anything else to it? im not sure what tinning is or flux is, because im not an electric guy yet. besides the weller, i have a small handheld butane solder iron, which can be switched with the blow torch, but im afraid the fire will get too hot, and melt anything else around the thing im soldering.
Old 01-12-2008, 11:28 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

After you're down to bare metal all the way around (wether it's a new tip or and old, cleaned one) you need to "tin" the tip. Tinning is just coating the tip with solder. To do that you heat up the iron and as soon as it's hot enough to melt solder you coat the entire tip. Then wipe off the excess solder with a wet cloth or sponge. This will leave a very shiney tip that is ready to solder.
Flux is a chemical (it can be several different things) that, when heated, flows over the surface(s) to be soldered and it basically cleans the surfaces so the solder can flow and bond with the parts. In solder for electronic use the flux is inside the solder wire. It is usually a "rosin" type of flux and so the solder is usually called "rosin core solder"' Rosin core solder can come in several differend wire sizes to fit the application it is to be used in. Solder used for plumbing does not usually have the flux in the wire and you buy it separately and apply it to the parts with a brush before heating the pipes.
Old 01-12-2008, 11:38 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

Keep in mind that the flux used for plumbing is not rosin core and will eat away at the joint overtime.
Old 01-12-2008, 11:52 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering


ORIGINAL: hands without shadows

Keep in mind that the flux used for plumbing is not rosin core and will eat away at the joint overtime.
Right, you should not use flux intended for plumbing on any electrical connection. Thanks HWS for pointing that out.

On a side, but related, note... The laws are/have changed and the flux for plumbing that's available now is considerably different from a few years ago. People got worried about the flux contaminating drinking water in the home and mandated a safe(er) flux. Unfortunatly it does a pretty crappy job and is a LOT harder to solder plumbing lines with than the older stuff.
Does anybody else remember true acid core solder??? That stuff worked well but, again, was pretty much legislated out of existance.
Old 01-13-2008, 01:25 AM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

I used my 25Watt gun with no issues. Make sure you tin the plugs and the wire first.
Old 01-13-2008, 01:31 AM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

i have a 100 watt radio shack gun
and a 30 watt iron

use the gun for batts & escs
iron for everything else

make sure that the tip is still good
Old 01-13-2008, 01:46 AM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

i can't work with a iron or a gun, gotta have a torch. i useda propane torch to solder my power poles on all my batteries, esc,s and chargers. i need to get me a little pencel torch
Old 01-13-2008, 12:55 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

those pencil torches are cool, but to solder, all you need to do is put the solder where you want it and heat it up?

hey dave, thanks a lot for that help, it cleared it up a bit, im going to try tinning the tip next time, thanks again
Old 01-13-2008, 02:22 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

I was trying a bunch of things yesterday to try to get the tip to tin properly, but to no avail. I used a wire brush, sandpaper, even some muric acid to try to clean up the tip well enough, but nothing seems to work. I think there's just something wrong in the design of it. For one thing the enitre tip seems to be made of nothing more than steel. Just for a good heat draw, I know that there should be copper in the tip too. I'm thinking that may have something to with why the solder won't stick too.
I'll probably just get a new iron (or two like Codeback suggeted).
Old 12-09-2008, 12:06 AM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

I bought a cheap pencil type iron and i just slightly file the tip of it sharp (until I can see copper color coming through), plug 'er in and melt solder on it. If the solder sticks to it good, I will brush it with a CLEAN SS wire brush, and do the job. If the solder isnt sticking properly, i will re-file it and start over. It is very important that the tools you use to clean it arent contaminated with any kind of petroleum. I have had this iron for about 2 years and use it fairly regularly, and it costed me 200 yen (about $2.15USD).
Old 12-09-2008, 02:45 AM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

The best way to solder RC electics together is with a FLAT tip iron. The pencil tips don't focus enough heat on the right spot. Go to you LHS or local craft shop and get a flat tip end for your soldering iron. It works MUCH better as it heats things better. I'm not the world's best solederer, but I know the small flat tips work better than the pencil tips. The pencil tips are more for circuit board work, than wire work.
Old 12-26-2008, 07:06 PM
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Default RE: Some questions on soldering

Also make sure you get the right solder. I was using some random stuff i found in the garage. Then i got what the guys at the lhs use and it is 10x easier.

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