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Psyborg's Tips n Tricks #3 how to solder. You are NOT a plumber!!

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PsyBorg

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#1
Hello all.

Back again with another video that hopefully will help you guys specially the younger new people to soldering in the RC hobby. I see far too many "How to" videos with people doing work on RC things. Very few have a clue what they are doing and simply post their way of doing it. In this video I will show you how to prep any PC board to get it ready for wires. This one happens to be a PDB I have for a project I am doing. The next in this series will be when I replace components and do some rework on my Alien to get it ready for spring and back in proper working order as parts have worn over time and need replacing.

Anyway the written version for this mainly boils down to "YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CRANK THE HEAT ON YOUR IRON" to solder safely and properly. Stop doing that and you will stop burning up your wires , cooking your electronics, lifting pads and so forth. The main problem people run into when soldering is not the lack of heat but the inability of their irons to keep a steady temperature when soldering. This gives the appearance of too low heat but is not the case 99% of the time.

There are techniques I will show to help mitigate this property and hopefully teach you better soldering practices should you choose to accept what I tell and show you. Later in this series I will show other bad habits people do far too much and get you in the practice where you do not do these things because you will then be conscious of what it is that may be causing some of your problems with hobby electronics work.

For now lets stick to basic things to make soldering easy while not roasting everything you do just to attach wires to a board.

 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
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#2
Anyway the written version for this mainly boils down to "YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CRANK THE HEAT ON YOUR IRON" to solder safely and properly. Stop doing that and you will stop burning up your wires , cooking your electronics, lifting pads and so forth. The main problem people run into when soldering is not the lack of heat but the inability of their irons to keep a steady temperature when soldering. This gives the appearance of too low heat but is not the case 99% of the time.
This. So VERY this.

Keep fighting the good fight Psy, and perhaps a few more boards will live to die a proper death from mechanical damage!
 

PsyBorg

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#3
Yes I agree. RC stuff should die in the most epic of ways not on the operating table and before its first breath.

I have to solder things anyways so turning on a camera and yakkin to myself is nothing more then normal for me most days. People will do what they are gonna do. I do these things in hopes one person learns and passes it on.
 

SlingShot

Maneuvering With Purpose
#4
Good job Psyborg. I'm sure this will help me. I have approached soldering in the past with a certain amount of trepidation. Care to way in on equipment? How much power do you need? I did a search and I found these two if you want to step up to a station: X-Tronic 3020, or a Weller WLC100.
 
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PsyBorg

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#5
I got this back in 2016 and have loved it since. I got it off amazon but Walmart also carries it so you can probably get it local.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Aoyue-469-VariIle-Power-60-Watt-Soldering-Station-with-RemovIle-Tip-Design-ESD-Safe/922173407?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=8916&adid=22222222227075544693&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=188316365975&wl4=pla-293355517344&wl5=9005624&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=115781901&wl11=online&wl12=922173407&wl13=&veh=sem

When I was working in MFG we had the Wellers but as nice as they are they are out of my budget for the little bit of soldering we do in the hobby compared to what I was doing. This is a nice little effective home unit. So far seems to do what I ask without much hassle like bad temperature fluctuations. Next time I fire it up Ill hit it with a thermometer and get the actual temps I run. For now I run it at 3.5 on the dial for tinning boards and small wires and 4.5 for larger wires and XT60 connectors.
 
#6
There are techniques I will show to help mitigate this property and hopefully teach you better soldering practices should you choose to accept what I tell and show you. Later in this series I will show other bad habits people do far too much and get you in the practice where you do not do these things because you will then be conscious of what it is that may be causing some of your problems with hobby electronics work.

For now lets stick to basic things to make soldering easy while not roasting everything you do just to attach wires to a board.
Good job, Psy. Now if folks will just pay attention to your words and example, they'll turn out work they can count on.
 

PsyBorg

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#7
Thank you sir!

That is what I am hoping for. I see far to many build videos with really bad habits that make me cringe. Then I come here and see so many new people who followed them asking for help because they have issues directly resulting from seeing poor habits. If we can get better information and knowledge out then the hobby will be that much more safe and enjoyable as well as less costly for many
 

rfd

AMA 51668
#8
i solder every day, 7 days a week. seriously. it's what i do, i build transducers. i use a pair of digital soldering stations (they're not expensive and are THE way to go if you expect to be in the r/c game) - i require two, hobbyists need but one. small diameter .032" lead-less solder, radio shack flux (flux is important! do not depend on "rosin core solder" flux!), and a good soldering process. the wire i need to solder to either components or other wires ranges from 18 gauge down to 43awg (that's .0024" in diameter). the keys to good soldering are - clean all the components to be soldered, flux and tin each component separately, then solder the components. soldering iron tip cleanliness is important. use as much heat as necessary to get the job done. for me, that's usually 715F, but there are times when i need lots more for soldering wires to large metal mass surfaces.
 

PsyBorg

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#9
Sounds like you have a setup for a specific task that works well for you.

However it is TOTALLY wrong for small electronics we work with specifically flight controllers. I spent years in the electronics industry working on anything from Military Radios held up to extremely tight military specs down to clean room work under microscopes. Then into amplifiers for navigation as well as refurbishing England's Directory Assistance entire system while the automated operator system was being developed. (My apologies to all had I known how much it would be abused and how much a pain it is I would have not got involved)

On new electronics as well as small scale circuit boards extra flux is not only not necessary it is frowned upon as it wicks under components and eats away at conformal coatings plastic packages and the pcb itself over time.

My purpose here is to pass on that experience and knowledge not to argue over personal preferences between technicians. If you feel this is wrong or bad information please feel free to take the time to make your own instructional videos in your own thread and let the people decide what is best for themselves.
 

PsyBorg

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#11
not at all wrong for me and pcb circuits at the micro level. i do it for a living. ymmv.

My purpose here is to pass on that experience and knowledge not to argue over personal preferences between technicians. If you feel this is wrong or bad information please feel free to take the time to make your own instructional videos in your own thread and let the people decide what is best for themselves.
 

FoamyDM

Building Fool-Flying Noob
#12
As someone who has ruined numerous boards because... Well my my incredibly off-the-boat beginner solder skills could have use this video when I started,
I say thank you.

I didn't catch in the beginning of the thread or video. Which may be selective eyesight, Like selective hearing, but web browsing on a cell phone, and missed it; what solder do you recommend for old fools/newbs to solder, 63/37, 60/40, lead-free.
 

Craftydan

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#13
Don't know about Psy's metal of choice, but good ol' 60/40 Rosin Core is the common go-to for a reason.

I've played with 63/37, and it's fine, just not what I'm used to, and all things (price and availability) being equal, that's a taste difference. in general 60/40 is a touch easier to get a hold of.

I detest lead free -- you have to run your iron hotter and you must use excessive flux, where the leaded solders are more forgiving to both you and your work-piece . . . and they don't grow whiskers over time on fine pitch parts. Don't breath the vapors and wash your hands afterward (oh, and don't eat your boards) and you'll be just fine with the leaded solder.

Just to be clear . . . DO NOT use "Acid Core" or "Plumbers" solder for electronics work. Save that junk for copper pipes.

For thickness, I tend toward the thin side -- I do almost all of my work with 22 ga off a 1lb spool -- but that's a matter of taste. For me, Thinner is more flexible to the task. If the solder is thinner, you can still do a big joint by feeding it in a little quicker, but it's hard to feed solder that's too thick any slower into a small joint.

I also tend toward the no-clean rosin cores since they aren't as reactive when cool (and therefore, the board doesn't have to be cleaned). smells a bit more acrid . . . but you shouldn't be sniffing the smoke anyhow ;)


One bonus recommendation . . . if you haven't looked into getting a Temperature controlled station, DO. Don't settle for a power controlled, you want temperature controlled. The low end ones are still quite good and not that expensive, but they make your task MUCH easier. Do your self a favor and pick up the right tool for the job, and shelve the old solder stick/solder gun.
 

PsyBorg

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#14
I use plain old 60/40 rosin core. We are not working in an industrial manufacturing unit and only doing hobby type work. Most of the things regarding soldering are hype made to sell more product that someone saw in a manufacturing environment and wish to exploit the normal people to maximize profits.

The keys to good soldering is putting the solder where you need it without destroying everything around it.

1. Temperature control... Get an iron with a temp control.. ANY iron.. you should do a little research and find ones that are proven to be able to hold a stable temperature under reasonably heavy loads like using larger gauge wires as we do for battery connections. I currently use (one in the videos) the Aoyue 469 solder station I got off Amazon. Cheap and effective for anything I will ever do in our hobby.

2. Match the size of the solder to the job you are doing. (Dan touched on this correctly.. Err on the small side) Not everyone can afford to keep several rolls of this stuff hanging out. I use .032" 60/40 rosin core personally.

3. Good habits for working with solder. Like when you get a new iron you should slowly raise the temperature a little at a time and find out where on your dial the station actually melts the solder. Not all stations are super accurate so this will give a more actual setting. I use a sharpie to mark this so I have an idea when the tips are needing changing if my minimal power has to be set too far above that point.

4. Keep the tip clean.. THIS IS HUGE!!! a simple damp sponge is what is needed. NONE of these gimmicky steel wool looking things are necessary. Keep the tip tinned and wipe it then tin it EVERY joint you make. The rosin / flux will build up on the iron as well as deposits left over from the various metals you are working with. This makes for higher potential of a contaminated joint that may not properly conduct current as needed and could over time become more resistive compounding the issue. It also looks like crap with brown chunks and oozy sticky stuff all over your work that will attract even more dirty over time.

5. Tin the tip BEFORE shutting your iron off. This serves two purposes. Mainly it keeps the tip from corroding when not in use thus keeping the shiny tip part in good condition to hold solder and transfer heat. Second with the little heavier blob on the tip it takes that little bit of extra power to melt into a working condition and will stabilize the iron and tip better for your first joints.


Anyway all this will be gone over in future videos as I come across specific areas I have addressed and other situations we may see working with soldering irons in our hobby. For now this is something basic and general to put out to help the newer solderers get started in a good way or to at least give an actual example of the practice so they have a better idea what happens and how things should look and work.

If this helps one or two people then I have done my part to make the hobby better. If it helps more I will be very happy knowing this gave others a better chance at success.
 

JimCR120

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#15
This is a good topic to revisit and gather various ideas and techniques.

Getting an inexpensive temperature controlled solder station was a very nice upgrade. Thanks to jhitesma for the referral to Circuit Specialists out of Arizona.

I haven't tried the 63/37 solder yet as I have plenty of the 60/40 however since seeing the Josh Bardwell video with his guest expert saying the difference is huge, I've been thinking when I run low that I will get the good stuff.

Thanks for taking the time to make a clear video PsyBorg with good explanations and posting for the benefit of the community.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
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#16
Great info and tips. Thanks PsyBorg! I'll add that I haven't seen one thing mentioned, but I tend to do... in terms of cleaning, if you use a wet sponge to clean the tip, I personally prefer using distilled water. I keep a gallon jar around anyway for cleaning dirt off my electronics if they get mud on them, but I used to use that to wet my sponge. Keeps all the minerals/salts and stuff in tap water from further oxidizing the tip. Actually, because of that, I did go ahead and get me one of those fancy brass wool cleaners. I like it because they last longer than my ratty sponge, and I don't have to keep them moist. They also don't cool the tips as much as the sponge in my experience. There's still some cleanup involved in them. I occasionally do have to put the sponge in a ziplock baggie and squeeze / shake all the lead blobs out of it. That baggie full of lead bits then has to be properly disposed of as hazmat (e.g. no throwing it in the trash where it might get incinerated or buried).
 

PsyBorg

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#17
This is a good topic to revisit and gather various ideas and techniques.
Actually it is not a good place to post various topics or techniques as that is the whole point of this. There are far to many "Varying" opinions and people are learning bad habits and practices and newer people are going by them and destroying gear unnecessarily because if that.

As for JB's video about soldering YAY!!! I love what he does... BUT the guy telling you the 63/37 is the best thing since sliced bread is the one selling it not to mention once again its in a manufacturing environment working on sensitive components where we mainly work with adding wires to inter connect things. What was not mentioned in JB's video is that most of the work he spoke of was done by machines from a wave solder flow machine down to hot air rework. Very little is done by hand in manufacturing beyond adding components that can not be flow soldered or doing rework on failed components.

The added expense of "Specialized" solder to connect wires to flight controllers esc,s and motors is over kill and unnecessary. After all is Flite Test not about teaching AND showing ways to save money?

How much better a method can you get when I tinned a pad and immediately put my finger on it and did not burn myself? If you can make joints that easy every time why would you want to learn any other way?
 

PsyBorg

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#18
Great info and tips. Thanks PsyBorg! I'll add that I haven't seen one thing mentioned, but I tend to do... in terms of cleaning, if you use a wet sponge to clean the tip, I personally prefer using distilled water. I keep a gallon jar around anyway for cleaning dirt off my electronics if they get mud on them, but I used to use that to wet my sponge. Keeps all the minerals/salts and stuff in tap water from further oxidizing the tip. Actually, because of that, I did go ahead and get me one of those fancy brass wool cleaners. I like it because they last longer than my ratty sponge, and I don't have to keep them moist. They also don't cool the tips as much as the sponge in my experience. There's still some cleanup involved in them. I occasionally do have to put the sponge in a ziplock baggie and squeeze / shake all the lead blobs out of it. That baggie full of lead bits then has to be properly disposed of as hazmat (e.g. no throwing it in the trash where it might get incinerated or buried).
Yes mineral water is an option but good solder practice and proper maintaining of your equipment alleviates a lot of that. As for sponges if you clean your tip and the temp changes that much you iron is inadequate or you keep the sponge too wet and is a good example of why everyone says to crank up the heat. Besides the sponge will clean off excess rosin or flux where the steel wool does not which is why damp sponges are used to begin with.
 

JimCR120

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#19
I haven't shopped solder much but the Circuit Specialist website shows spools of 60/40 and 63/37 of the same amount and same diameter for the same price.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
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#20
Yes mineral water is an option but good solder practice and proper maintaining of your equipment alleviates a lot of that. As for sponges if you clean your tip and the temp changes that much you iron is inadequate or you keep the sponge too wet and is a good example of why everyone says to crank up the heat. Besides the sponge will clean off excess rosin or flux where the steel wool does not which is why damp sponges are used to begin with.
Absolutely... sorry, I should have added that when I used a wet sponge, I was always taught to keep it "moist" where it's wet/cool to the touch, but if you press down on it, it won't squeeze water out into a pool. What I used to do was dip the sponge into a tray of water (the distilled type), to fully soak it, then completely squeeze out the water with one hand until no more drips from it.

I only noticed it was cooling my tip long enough that I could hear the soldering station "click on" the heating element and turn off maybe a second or two later. It's my impatience for waiting for that 1-2 seconds for the tip to get back up to temp that made me look for the brass wool option. That could have been because I tend to use screwdriver tips (vs chisel which I now prefer) and my OCDness probably was what forced me to have to clean both sides of the tip... so, just cleaning involved a dual action with the sponges, whereas with the brass wool, I just shove it in and it comes out clean.

BTW, this is the type of brass cleaner I use:
https://www.digikey.com/product-det...PReJM5YsGZwxIbka8arCxIC-_8zdSHr8aAoa1EALw_wcB

One insert and it comes out shiney with all excess solder and flux removed.

As I said, I only went this way because I got lazy and impatient. It is 5x the cost of a sponge ($5 vs $1) but the time savings for me was worth it. I suppose I should probably replace the brass wool eventually, but I've been using the same one since 2014.
 
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