Simple Soldering temp guideline for beginner.

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Ouchyfoot
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Simple Soldering temp guideline for beginner.

After trying to solder with a $7 iron I figure I need some tips. I can melt the solder, but it just hardens into mountains and I can get it to soften and spread evenly. I figured I just don't have enough heat for the job. I ordered a soldering station with adjustable temp., and will have to wait three weeks for delivery.

In the meantime, can anyone help me prepare by giving me some guidelines as to what temps to set it on for various modding jobs.

garrybunk
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Some good posts here.  I've been using a simple soldering iron (an old 25 watt Ungar I've had for 20 years) without too many issues.  I have recently acquired a soldering station, but haven't set it up yet and tried it.

-Garry

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Old-Lumens
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Most of the solder we would use, will melt at 400F or lower. That means the tip of the solder gun has to be 400F or more. The problem with some guns and stations is that while the gun may read over 400F, the tip is actually colder. Also the surface area you are trying to heat will affect this. Put the tip of your soldering iron on a single drop of water and it sizzles and steams  immediately. Put it in a glass of water and see what happens. It will never heat up the whole glass. Sometimes, on larger surface areas, we don't get the surface hot enough to melt the solder properly. The brass base of a P60 can be too big to heat with a soldering gun, to ground the driver to it. Soldering leads onto a star that is already mounted to a heat sink can be hard, as the heat is transferring to the mass, instead of just to the star. It's all about getting the piece you are soldering up to the tempreature needed to melt the solder properly.  

Depending on your station, it might read 500F and melt solder to a 22ga wire just fine, or it may read 500F and not be able to heat an 8ga wire enough to melt solder.

I don't think there's a perfect solution. From the little I know of, I would say at least a 25watt gun for soldering small components and for larger stuff or big surfaces, a 60 watt would be better.

I am no soldering expert, so take this with a grain of salt and see if others agree or not.

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Ouchyfoot
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Thanks. I’ve read that thread. I’m sure the problem Im having is my iron(everyone blames the iron). All I seem to accomplish is making huge mountains of hardened solder. I want to be able to spread the solder evenly along seams such as between a driver and pill. I think I need more heat. Is there a secret technique?

Tumbleweed48
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I found some pretty good ones on sale at The Source a little while back. Adjustable 30 & 40 watt ones for about $15/$17. They also had some of those heavy based magnifying glass doohickeys with the adjustable alligator clip arms and a soldering iron spiral on the side, for $10. They had 1 mm solder as well.

The trick is, don’t worry about melting the solder – the thing the solder’s going on has to melt the solder. Otherwise it won’t adhere, it’ll just ‘freeze’ in a gob on top of the subject matter and fall off later.

AlexGT
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I think you need more heat and probably some paste flux to make it flow easily, and lots of practice soldering random crap before you solder things you care about.

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Ouchyfoot wrote:
Is there a secret technique?

Flux helps quite a bit. 

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Ouchyfoot
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I used flux, but just made blobs of solder that harden and I can’t soften to make a smooth seam.
I ordered a Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station. I’m sure it’s overkill, but I need all the advantage I can get.

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+1 on the flux. I also use the tip tinner from radio shack. I know lots of people use a sponge to clean their tip. I use a paper towel. I wipe the tip clean and if it is shiny/tinned, I will solder with it, if it is dirty looking, I will clean it in the tip tinner and then solder. I wipe/clean the tip after every joint I solder. Flux makes solder flow but it also burns up from the heat and rosin flux leaves a residue on the tip, so I clean and solder or clean, tin and solder - for every joing I am doing.

 

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Ouchyfoot
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Old-Lumens. We seem to be cross posting at the same time. Smile our posts are out of sync.
I tried reflowing using my iron like you do in your video. No matter how long I held my iron to the bottom of the sink pad , nothing happened. I finally accomplished the reflow in a frying pan on the stove. I think this iron is okay for a simple wire connection, but nothing else.

garrybunk
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Are you heating the part you want the solder to melt on and not the solder itself?  Melt a little solder on the tip then hold that on the part you want to melt solder to.

-Garry

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For reflowing LED’s I have been holding the sinkpad/star in the alligator clips on my ‘helping hand’ station. I then hold a heat gun underneath, blowing the heat upwards at the pad. It only takes a few seconds for the LED to become detached for removal, or in the case of flowing an LED on, it only takes a few seconds for the solder to become liquid for me to apply the LED.

My question is (sorry if this is off topic) is when I receive my sinkpads, how do I reflow an LED to it when there is no solder on the pad? Are there any tutorials out there?

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Old-Lumens wrote:
if it is dirty looking, I will clean it in the tip tinner and then solder

Maybe thats what I'm doing wrong. I usually use my hanky to clean the tip. I'm not only a bad solderer but get in trouble with the wife a lot.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

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Ouchyfoot
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mizjif wrote:
My question is (sorry if this is off topic) is when I receive my sinkpads, how do I reflow an LED to it when there is no solder on the pad? Are there any tutorials out there?

Here: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/13705
I laid out solder on my sink pad just like OL did in his video. It was my first ever attempt, and it was easy. My iron couldn’t get the pad hot enough for a reflow, so I did it on the stove. That was easy too.
The trick is not to lay down too much solder.

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i also have a weller wes51. you will like it. it is not overkill. i run 725 degrees F and works for most things i do. i cant remember the number on the tip i have but its the smallest/longest and i havn’t found anything i can’t do with it yet. the tip that comes with the unit is a little too big for the smallest work. just get in and get out as fast as possible. you may want to turn it down a little for stacking chips. i do need to crank it up a little to tin the solder pads on the copper sinkpads. i use 60/40 rma core solder with no problems, and rma flux. i always use flux when reflowing an emitter. and only use it on other things if the solder is being stubborn. and a good assortment of tips will help. like O-L said the radio shack tip tinner/cleaner, i feel is essential. i am always keeping the tip cleaned and tinned.

Ouchyfoot
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kevind43 wrote:
i also have a weller wes51. you will like it. it is not overkill. i run 725 degrees F and works for most things i do. i cant remember the number on the tip i have but its the smallest/longest and i havn’t found anything i can’t do with it yet. the tip that comes with the unit is a little too big for the smallest work. just get in and get out as fast as possible. you may want to turn it down a little for stacking chips. i do need to crank it up a little to tin the solder pads on the copper sinkpads. i use 60/40 rma core solder with no problems, and rma flux. i always use flux when reflowing an emitter. and only use it on other things if the solder is being stubborn. and a good assortment of tips will help. like O-L said the radio shack tip tinner/cleaner, i feel is essential. i am always keeping the tip cleaned and tinned.

If you can dig up the number, or give me a link for the tip you use, it would be appreciated.
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Ouchyfoot wrote:
Thanks. I’ve read that thread. I’m sure the problem Im having is my iron(everyone blames the iron). All I seem to accomplish is making huge mountains of hardened solder. I want to be able to spread the solder evenly along seams such as between a driver and pill. I think I need more heat. Is there a secret technique?

I use a 250 watt soldering gun to solder drivers to brass pills.

in addition to having more power to maintain tip temperature, it has more mass for storing heat.

These factors allow solder to adhere in one spot on the pill without the whole thing getting hot.

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Flux is a great help especially if the iron's underpowered, though it helps with just about everything.

Driver to pill soldering is trickier, and flux usually does NOT help there. If you get the pill hot enough for solder to flow, all the components on the driver will slide off. You have to do it almost like TIG welding - lay the solder across the seam, then with the iron as hot as you can get it, drag the tip across the solder and hope it bridges the gap. Once you have it connected in one spot, the next spot goes a lot easier as you're mostly soldering to the solder you just laid down. It will be ugly, but if it's making good connection it doesn't matter. File or scrape it down to something that looks respectable and doesn't screw up the parts fitting together.

kevind43
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Ouchyfoot wrote:
kevind43 wrote:
i also have a weller wes51. you will like it. it is not overkill. i run 725 degrees F and works for most things i do. i cant remember the number on the tip i have but its the smallest/longest and i havn’t found anything i can’t do with it yet. the tip that comes with the unit is a little too big for the smallest work. just get in and get out as fast as possible. you may want to turn it down a little for stacking chips. i do need to crank it up a little to tin the solder pads on the copper sinkpads. i use 60/40 rma core solder with no problems, and rma flux. i always use flux when reflowing an emitter. and only use it on other things if the solder is being stubborn. and a good assortment of tips will help. like O-L said the radio shack tip tinner/cleaner, i feel is essential. i am always keeping the tip cleaned and tinned.
If you can dig up the number, or give me a link for the tip you use, it would be appreciated.

i have the ETO i really like, and also the ETP.

this a link to many more

http://www.testequipmentdepot.com/weller/tips/ettips.htm

Old-Lumens
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comfychair wrote:

Flux is a great help especially if the iron's underpowered, though it helps with just about everything.

Driver to pill soldering is trickier, and flux usually does NOT help there. If you get the pill hot enough for solder to flow, all the components on the driver will slide off. You have to do it almost like TIG welding - lay the solder across the seam, then with the iron as hot as you can get it, drag the tip across the solder and hope it bridges the gap. Once you have it connected in one spot, the next spot goes a lot easier as you're mostly soldering to the solder you just laid down. It will be ugly, but if it's making good connection it doesn't matter. File or scrape it down to something that looks respectable and doesn't screw up the parts fitting together.

If I am going to do a stock P60, I usually go ahead and solder around the edge of the empty brass first and then bridging to the driver is much easier. All you have to do is put some on the driver and just heat the solder already on the pill.

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Tumbleweed48 wrote:
I found some pretty good ones on sale at The Source a little while back. Adjustable 30 & 40 watt ones for about $15/$17. They also had some of those heavy based magnifying glass doohickeys with the adjustable alligator clip arms and a soldering iron spiral on the side, for $10. They had 1 mm solder as well.

The trick is, don’t worry about melting the solder – the thing the solder’s going on has to melt the solder. Otherwise it won’t adhere, it’ll just ‘freeze’ in a gob on top of the subject matter and fall off later.

Harbor freight has em for 2.99 and 6.99

http://www.harborfreight.com/helping-hands-319.html

http://www.harborfreight.com/jumbo-helping-hands-with-led-lights-65779.html

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Ouchyfoot wrote:
Thanks. I’ve read that thread. I’m sure the problem Im having is my iron(everyone blames the iron). All I seem to accomplish is making huge mountains of hardened solder. I want to be able to spread the solder evenly along seams such as between a driver and pill. I think I need more heat. Is there a secret technique?

If the solder balls up or forms mountains, it’s not hot enough. I’ll bet you’re trying to hurry too much. Remember that the iron heats the work, and the work melts the solder. I touch the tip to the joint, and leave it there steadily as I start dabbing the solder at the work, watching for it to start melting. The cold solder is sucking heat away from the joint, and it takes a little time for the iron tip to replenish that heat. Once the solder starts melting, you have to dab the solder and then wait for it to fully melt and flow into the joint. Don’t pull the tip away until the joint looks flat and smooth.

For a seam, you have to be able to combine the above technique with moving the tip along the seam. Trying to join pieces that have vey different thermal mass, like soldering a wire to a chassis or a star to a pill, is tougher; you have to dump enough heat in so that the bigger piece reaches soldering temperature.

The technique isn’t hard to master, but it’s easier demonstrated than described. Do you know anyone who can help with a hands-on demo?

Ouchyfoot
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Thanks everyone for all the usefull help. My problem seems to be solved.

Today my new Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station arrived and I can now solder like a son of a gun. Wow. What a difference. My old iron couldn't even melt hardened solder.

I built my first light today...it was easy. I feel like I could paint a picture out of solder with this Weller. Man oh man, soldering is fun. I tinned everything, it was like doing a watercolor. I don't care what anyone says, a good soldering station allows you to easily do jobs that a cheap iron cannot do.

Money well spent.

How's this look for beginner soldering?

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Ouchyfoot wrote:
I don’t care what anyone says, a good soldering station allows you to easily do jobs that a cheap iron cannot do.

+1,000,000,000

I say this every single time a soldering iron/soldering station thread comes up. I’m ALL about “Budget”, but when it comes to a soldering station, you get what you pay for.

PPtk

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it looks damm good buddy, how do you like the Roche? I’ll bet its been bugging you it being so near yet so far. Nice job. 8)

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I thought you would like that Weller. Your work looks pretty damn good.

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Looking good! Congrats! 

-Garry

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Ouchyfoot, you just convinced me to buy a proper soldering station. I’ve been doing a few mods lately with a cheap soldering iron, and while I’ve been successful the soldering is pants, especially soldering vertically onto a mounted star. Is that the Roche F8? Nice, I’ve had my eye on that one for a while.

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Ouchyfoot, as a first timer your skills already surpass those of 99.999999% of all those who live in china. GOOD JOB!

Ouchyfoot
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Thanks everyone for your patience.

I know it seems like "that ouchyfoot" has sure been asking a lot of dumb questions for the last few weeks, but I have been methodically picking you brains, and gathering knowledge from the best. I couldn't have done it without you, and this little baby.

 

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I use a soldering iron that has 48W I believe, adjustable temperature and very often I run at 295°C/560°F. With a normal thin but not long tip. If I would use a longer and thinner tip it needs more temperature. That is for Sn63Pb37 1mm solder wire.
If you have something lead free etc. you might even go 305°C for normal operation.

Depends how well your tip heats up and holds the heat.

And remember to flux flux flux, it makes all the difference at least for me.
It’s so much easier to solder when both parts are covered in flux.
I have a flux pen/brush.

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