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Soldering questions

#1
Hey guys, new here but been watching FT for a while. I have some general soldering questions as I have never soldered before and intend on learning before I build and Electro Hub.
First off: I bought this weller iron and was wondering if it is worth the price/any good if y'all have any experience with it
http://www.amazon.com/Weller-SP40NK...qid=1419407943&sr=8-2&keywords=soldering+iron

Second: I don't know what kind of solder to use, I read in a different post that 63/37 Solder was probably the best, but I need specifics like wire diameter and just suggestions.
Tips would be appreciated too! :)
Thanks guys!
 
#2
That 40W pencil iron is solid. I would suggest buying a better stand with a heavy base and cleaning sponge to keep the hot iron from wandering around your work area (Sparkfun PN: TOL-09477).

63/37 is the bread and butter of solders and will work just fine.

I use the 0.031 63/37 that Sparkfun electronics carries (PN: TOL-09161).


Sparkfun also has a pretty decent intro to soldering.
 
#3
You can't go wrong with a Weller - I've had mine since the mid 90's and it was well worth the investment.
Just watch the heat if you leave it running too long, since it's not temperature controlled it'll get pretty hot if you're not using it (much like a glue gun does). Not such an issue unless you're soldering something with lots of plastic nearby.

A decent stand and cleaning sponge for the iron is definitely good advice, and I'd suggest a solder reel holder similar to this or you can build one out of whatever you have handy - it makes tinning wires much easier when the solder holds itself in place.

I use 0.71mm 60/40 (Otto uses 0.79mm in metric units), never tried 63/37 but it is slightly better.
 
#4
Thank y'all for the info! I'll definitely have to look into that intro for some more tips.
I've heard that you can just use a regular sponge for a cleaning sponge? I'm going to go order this stuff on Amazon, thanks for the info and help! Perhaps I'll just have to make a holder like that! :D
 
#5
A regular sponge will do in a pinch, but they tend to melt - you should be able to pick up a proper one from most electronics shops. They're about $1-2. If you can squeeze water out of it in your fist then it's too wet - I remember doing a soldering course at school and the teacher threatened to squeeze it over our head if it was too wet. (it worked!)

I'm assuming you live in the US, and a quick search of Radio shack (the only US store I know of) came up blank but I did find http://www.techni-tool.com/Search?search=sponge had a few, quite nice ones in fact. I'm from Australia so I just pop down to my local Jaycar.

Good luck - Soldering is a very useful skill to have, especially in a hobby where things occasionally get broken :black_eyed:

Just remembered - Safety Glasses, especially when desoldering wires - I've been hit on the nose by molten solder quite a few times and it's not fun, but one in the eye would be much worse. (I once copped a chip of hot mig weld oxide in the eye while wearing safety glasses, and it was Definitely Not fun.)
 
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joshuabardwell

Senior Member
Mentor
#6
I have that Weller, and it is a fantastic buy for the money. I mostly bought it because I wanted to be able to use Weller tips. A soldering iron is only as good as its tip, and the cheap-o tips on the no-name soldering irons I was using were terrible.

Don't leave the iron plugged in for more than five minutes or so if you're not using it, as it will overheat and damage the tip. I did this once, and had to lightly sand the tip to clean off the oxidation--but this is not desirable, as the protective coating on the tip is not very thick and will get sanded off.

Strongly suggest getting leaded solder. It is MUCH better than lead-free. For cleaning, consider one of the brass "sponges", as they don't have to be kept wet, and can just be used as-is.