Solder question?

I bought a soldering iron that came with wire from Walmart. Good enough for soldering wire to a star?

Or do I need to have special soldering wire? Thanks

Personally, I like to have solder with lead in my tool kit. it just flows better when I work with it as an advanced hobbyist (still learning).

The Walmart solder is lead-free, I presume?

It should be workable for what you are trying to do.

How many watts was the iron? What is the make up of the solder?
I used a 30 watt pencil style iron for years, Its doable but they are reasonable better tools for cheap now.
It depends on how much soldering you plan to do. If its a quite a bit, then step on up in the 30 to $50 range and gets something that makes life easier on you and will make you feel like a pro at soldering. There’s several threads on this site about soldering, try the search feature on the top left of this page.
Its a combination of the quality of the tool and the skill of the user. A skilled solderer can make good connections with a cheap iron or A novice can make good connections with a high quality soldering station.
With these newer copper type boards it takes a lot more heat than the older aluminum type. So general speaking around 50 watts or more is needed to work with the copper. Using lots of good flux will help with a low powered iron.

You want some 60/40 Tin/Lead Rosin (flux) Core Solder.

As duramax mentioned, solder with lead in flows better and at lower temperature, it is much easier to work with and gives better results.

Do you have a link or picture of what you bought?

Hangzhou Greatstar Industrial Co. Model: 5133 30w.

Walmart like $5.

I did one mod with it, I used up half the wire and burnt up half the soldering tip.

Not sure on the wire it came with, somewhere in the stuff.

I will do a mod and see how it does, last time it just did not seem to get hot.

Really, I’m a first time modder. No soldering experience except, making 2 wires stick to 2 battery contacts.


While I’m thinking of it.

As a kid and recently I would ask my Grandpa about his “hobby” of soldering.
A little later he tells and shows me the plaques, etc. that he soldered the circuit boards on the Saturn Rockets for NASA. He’s about 90, I’m 34. Every time I go visit him he’s out soldering something on his condo balcony in South Daytona. I need to get down there and see him.

Thanks for the input fellas. Good Night

I see an orange handle 5133 30w at Walmart. It doesn’t say it comes with solder through. I assume yours is rosin core leaded type like used in electronics. That might work, might not. Give the iron a good 2-3 minutes to fully heat up before using it. Without a seperate source for flux, you have to use what’s in the solder wire. It burns off quickly so touch the iron tip to solder wire seconds before putting the iron on whatever your soldering. Feed more solder if needed. Sometimes you end up with a solder blob. Thus is why it’s good to get seperate flux. It really improves your solder joints.

To get decent results you should step up your soldering game. If you have a Frys Electronics near by you can get this Velleman for $25. I used it for years. It has serious power. You can pick up some rosin core/flux core 60/40 or 63/37 leaded solder and a no-clean flux pen. That makes a good starter kit. It can also handle the big 30mm copper stars and solder blobbing batteries that most smaller irons can not.

Those cheap pencil type irons are just weak and usually get weaker the more you use them. Their cheap tips also wear out making them perform worse.

Your grandpa is probably quite familiar with this.

Edit: for some reason clicking your link gives a 404 but when I quoted your link and click it that works.

Actually if you can afford it (and that is a significant if), you might be better off with an Indium based solder. Indium based solders have none of the hazards of lead, and melt at an even lower temperature, about 320F. They flow well and turn out to be especially attractive in cryogenic applications because they do not ever become brittle.

I’m going to reshape my current tip to a point, clean it and give it a go on a mod before I invest much money. I need to pick up more wire, probably from MTN E…

Thanks for the advice.

Yup. Great little iron. Cheap, reliable, and replacement tips are at Fry’s too. I have 3 of them. :sunglasses:

Key things regardless of the iron: Flux, flux, flux. 63:37 solder (also at Fry’s by MG Chemicals along with their nice size flux bottle). Keep cleaning the tip with the solder tip cleaner “Brillo Pad” - Hakko brand @ Fry’s. Always, ALWAYS, keep your tip tinned. Especially before you put the iron away. It should be nice and silver bright. Tips will last you a long time if you do this. Oxidation is a tip’s worst enemy. Keeping it tinned is paramount.

Solder iron tips should be coated with a special metal. You don’t want to be scraping on it.

Contrary to what said earlier, using the brass shaving style tip cleaner is soft in comparison to the tip. It should not damagr the tip coating. Also, these types of tip cleaners do not suck a lot of heat out compared to a sponge cleaner. When I used a pencil iron with a sponge it would clean the tip well, but it also sucked out a lot of heat which took a while for the iron to replenish.

Going from a sponge cleaner to a brass shaving cleaner can definitely help.

High end irons have lots of power and can heat up in seconds and those seem to work fine with a sponge.

Here’s some helpful videos on soldering in general.

1 of 3 if you want to check out the rest.

What makes the above Hakko 888 iron so good? A lot of it is because of the high quality tips. A helpful hint is that you can use cheaper irons, but still the genuine Hakko tips (about $7 each) and it will make a cheap iron perform really well. I have some videos of my own showing why the cheap tips don’t work well.

Part 2 which is actual soldering.

Part 3.

Why use flux? Here is a really nice video on why flux is important. It’s pretty to watch as well.

I’ve used flux pens, but they can be thin and runny. I’ve used the hypodermic needle style applicators, but it’s very hard to control the amount that comes out. I definitely prefer the tubs of flux that you can scoop out with a toothpick. You can apply just the right amount. This is what you see in the last video.

Amazon is a great source for flux, solder, tip cleaners, etc…

Thanks Jason, that’s very interesting.

Once you reshape the tip, it will become useless without nickel re-plating. Check below video:

- Clemence

Thanks for all the advice.

I picked up some 60/40 Rosin Flux Core from ACE Hardware today. Made by: Alpha Fry, product # 31605. .032” diameter. Melts at 374F. Its a spool of 4oz. $9.99

I will give this a go. Thanks again.

Soldering a Xhp35 in my Ultrafire F13 went good. It’s pretty cool one could turn a dinky light into a small light throwing MONSTER.

Thanks for all the help.

So after doing a couple of flashlight driver and led upgrades I had to break down a buy a better iron. My Walmart cheapo iron wasn’t cutting it, it would go from working okay to dead cold, then warm.

I bought a Weller WLC100 and a 5 pack of conical pointed tips from Amazon. It has to be better than what I have been using.