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Old 10-27-2013, 07:54 AM #17
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

^ Very well said. I've never used a temp controlled iron, and never seen the need to either. I've done everything from 0.4mm pitch TQFP to 10AWG cable with my $13 iron, and it's worked perfect every time.

Lead free solder is crap, and I bet if you switched to leaded, your work would come out a lot better. I've only ever used 60/40 and never had an issue with it, but technique is everything. I've been soldering since 12, just keep practicing.

Oh, and get yourself some flux. Flux core solder is good, but putting a bit more extra flux on can really help if the parts being soldered aren't cleaned.



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Old 10-27-2013, 03:47 PM #18
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Thanks Bionic-Badger!

Also, what is the best diameter for, like soldering on drivers and, basically all laser stuff?

Which of these solders should i get?

MG Chemicals 4880 Series, Sn63/Pb37 Rosin Core Leaded Solder: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

Delcast Rosin Core Solder Wire 63/37 Tin Lead, 0.6mm (12.5g Tube) - Amazon.com

Im leaning towards the 2nd one because of its price, but IDK...


Also, has anyone had any experience with this iron?

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707

What do you guys think about it. ARG recommended it. If not, what is a good starting hakko iron or a weller?
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:26 AM #19
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Get the thinnest solder you can afford, since the thinner stuff is usually more expensive. That will allow
you to precisely control the amount of solder applied to the joint and makes it easier to not apply too
much on really small boards. You should also have some thicker stuff on hand for globbing, like when
soldering drivers to pills, like 2-3mm. I was soldering a Micro Drive with some 0.035" solder the other
day and it was way too thick. It kept getting on adjacent components (solder bridges) and that is pretty
thin. You'll probably want something thinner than 0.015" (0.4mm).

Get some flux as suggested above as well. Get both no-clean and rosin flux because there are
situations calling for each. The rosin flux will clean better and it's better to use it if you can get away
with it. It has to be thoroughly removed afterwards though to prevent corrosion. The no-clean is for
boards with moving parts like switches, potentiometers, and trimmers where there are areas that are
impossible to clean or that by cleaning them it will wash the flux into places it will cause problems.
Sometimes there is a lubricant or corrosion inhibitor inside as well.

For removing the flux, there are RMA flux removers that work very well. You can also make your own,
though there are times the little spray can works better. The recipe for flux remover is 1 part 99% or
greater isopropyl alcohol, 1 part SLX denatured alcohol (>99% ethyl alcohol), and 1 part camp stove
gasoline (hexane). The alcohols have to be very high proof, otherwise they will fall out of solution and
leave the gas on top. Sometimes my local big box store sells 99% isopropyl and I stock up. All that
goes into an old hair spray or Bactine™ pump bottle (solvent proof), and the rest into a mustard bottle
for refilling the pump sprayer. Napkins make good low lint cleaning wipes, though not all napkins are
created equal.
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:54 AM #20
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

For a solder station, I liked the Aoyue (such as this) I bought because it has a nice stand, heats up quickly, and has a holder for a spool of solder. They're also not that expensive and you can get other tips and stuff. The tip that comes with the iron is a pencil-type tip which works good, but you might want to get a chisel-type tip so that you can heat up larger surfaces, as well as have a pointy end for small stuff.

Thin solder like mentioned above is good, but I've never had a problem with my thicker 0.031" diameter solder (~0.78mm). The real trick to soldering up chips with pins that have very fine pitches is to pre-tin the pads and use flux. Then you can just brush along the pads to melt the solder to the form the connection without having to be precise. The flux also helps ensure that the solder sticks only to the pads, not forming bridges. For really tight stuff you might want the thinner stuff though, but down to small SOICs the thicker stuff has worked fine for me.

Get some decent flux, not that stuff from China that is like tar. I think FlamingPyro sells syringes of the stuff for a decent price. I personally use a 100ml small bottle of Kester 1544 that I bought a small quantity of. It works great for me, but unless you want a ton of the stuff -- which is actually pretty cheap for 1 gallon for $50 compared to 1-3ml for $3.5-$9 FP sells -- and to pay the shipping, you might want to go for FP's stuff. Maybe you could host a GB and sell 50ml bottles of it via ground transportation.

I would also buy a solder sucker to remove solder from holes or excess stuff. They're cheap and I've found they've worked better than wick for my uses. I got mine at DealExtreme, not Amazon, but they both work fine.
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:16 AM #21
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

The problem with the Micro Drives is that there are SMDs very close to where the wires go. Even the
slightest overage of solder and it's instabridge. I ended up having to get some braid in there to clear them
out. Then there wasn't enough solder on the SMD. It was some very tricky maneuvering and dirty looks.
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:26 AM #22
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KRNAZNBOY View Post
Thanks Bionic-Badger!

Also, what is the best diameter for, like soldering on drivers and, basically all laser stuff?

Which of these solders should i get?

MG Chemicals 4880 Series, Sn63/Pb37 Rosin Core Leaded Solder: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

Delcast Rosin Core Solder Wire 63/37 Tin Lead, 0.6mm (12.5g Tube) - Amazon.com

Im leaning towards the 2nd one because of its price, but IDK...


Also, has anyone had any experience with this iron?

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707

What do you guys think about it. ARG recommended it. If not, what is a good starting hakko iron or a weller?
So out of these two kinds of solder, which do you think is better? I should get the smallest size?
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:18 AM #23
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Well, it depends to some extent on the exact driver you're soldering. I would get the 0.4mm one just
because I like to have plenty of control over the size of my solder joints. Maybe it's my PACE certification
talking. MG makes pretty good stuff as well.
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:37 AM #24
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Here this video helped me greatly. Everything these guys have told you is something you should always practice so that you can maximize the life of your iron


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Old 10-28-2013, 08:04 AM #25
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KRNAZNBOY View Post
So out of these two kinds of solder, which do you think is better? I should get the smallest size?
Solder Brands

Though most solder will function the same assuming a rosin core and the mix, I might opt for that MG Chemicals brand as that "Delcast" isn't even showing the same brand in the pictures (it's JuFeng on the label). I doubt the Chinese are selling bunk solder, but you might as well opt for something decent as you'll be using the same solder for a very long time.

For myself, I use a 1-pound roll of Kester Flux "88" that a friend gave me, and which will last me literally forever. They don't sell that particular variety (88) anymore, but their 44 variety is just as good. The Kester has a higher flux percentage than the two brands above, at 3.3% compared to 2.2%, but I don't know if that will really make a difference. Given the cost of the Kester, and the good ratings of the MG Chemicals brand solder, the MG Chemicals solder would probably be a decent choice.

I'd opt for the 1/2 pound spool. The flux in solder has a shelf life, and even a 1/2 pound spool will last a long, long time. Still, my 1-pound of solder is quite old (almost 10 years!), but seems to function fine.

Solder Diameter

I do mostly through-hole type soldering, not SMT soldering; so I think the thickness I use (0.032") is a good general-purpose solder diameter. The thicker 0.05" varieties don't give me enough spatial control, while the smaller diameter varieties don't give me as much movement control (it bend too easily). For the smaller stuff, I also find I need to feed longer lengths into the solder joint/hole to compensate for the smaller diameter.

You can see the size of different solder thicknesses compared to different components here (scroll down). The 0.032" strand is just about the right diameter for the pins and wires of components. That diameter has also worked fine for most of my light SMT work, especially using alternative techniques to compensate (described later).

I don't, however, solder extremely fine pitched stuff like The Lightning Stalker. The smaller diameter solder would definitely be useful for that, but you should determine how much SMT work you're going to do before buying a large quantity. For me, I don't do much of that, so a large quantity of very small diameter solder would be a liability.

Technique!

Remember, it's more about technique, and you can usually compensate for solder thickness with soldering practice and techniques. For example, the guy in the video below is using 0.5mm (0.022") solder, but it is still too thick to really do decent soldering on an SOIC. Instead, he uses flux, pretinned pads, and the solder left from a bridge to sweep the solder across the pins.



Also remember that soldering tiny leads can be just hard in general, even with thin solder strands and fine tips. It's hard to control the solder strand and your iron at those small pitches, and you'll need to rely on techniques like the above to compensate. This is another reason why I don't use super thin solder: I usually end up bridging pads anyway, so I just use other techniques to get my SMT work done.

You might want to buy a combined SMT/soldering station and have the option of just melting the solder onto the pads using the heat nozzle, or make your own reflow oven from a toaster oven and a temperature controller. That can come later though, and maybe never. Hell, I used my reflow nozzle more for cooking heat-shrink rather than SMT work.
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Last edited by Bionic-Badger; 10-28-2013 at 08:23 AM. Reason: spelling; wording; more stuff about brands.
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:58 AM #26
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Geez Bionic Badger you're confusing the poor guy
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:47 PM #27
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

All right looks like i got what i wanted. Thanks to everyone who helped out!

Looks like im going to the Aoyue 936 iron with MG 0.032" solder (37/63)

Last question: Where can i get more tips that will fit the Aoyue i am buying?\

(@ Bionic-Badger - apparently i have to "spread it around before giving it to <person> again") will +1 when i can, all of you
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:32 PM #28
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Sounds good.
HAKKO FX-888D Just picked one up and am VERY happy with it. Some really great reviews out on it.
I've always either used a gun or pen type depending upon what I was soldering but was ever annoyed at not having a nice setup for sponge and iron holder and for me it was worth the upgrade just to have those together in one central spot. The warmup time of a 65 Watt iron is no joke either.
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:59 AM #29
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pman View Post
Sounds good.
HAKKO FX-888D Just picked one up and am VERY happy with it. Some really great reviews out on it.
I've always either used a gun or pen type depending upon what I was soldering but was ever annoyed at not having a nice setup for sponge and iron holder and for me it was worth the upgrade just to have those together in one central spot. The warmup time of a 65 Watt iron is no joke either.
I've been using the non-D version (analog knob control - discontinued) and still happy with it too. I don't like the interface in the digital version though. Takes a lot of steps to adjust temps when you need to solder on something hefty but if you're sticking to one temp setting, it's great.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:12 AM #30
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

KRNAZNBOY: I got mine on eBay, but Amazon sells them too.

Pman: Yup, Hakko is a good and popular brand.

Tmack: Practice your technique and you should be fine. If your iron is more powerful, you just need to be quicker about not heating up your components. Also, you can also use soldering heatsinks to keep things cool, but getting your technique down has more lasting results.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:16 AM #31
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

That is very helpful info thank you. I will be sure to only heat components as much as needed and no more. I have noticed that this iron is very fast to get the job done. I think I will keep a speedy technique opposed to the heatsink but it is surely great to know about if the absolute need after arises .
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:21 AM #32
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Default Re: Soldering Iron wanted!

Don't forget to check the screw or whatever is holding your tip on. The expansion and contraction will
loosen it over time and cause weak heat conduction and bad joints.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmack;
That is very helpful info thank you. I will be sure to only heat components as much as needed and no
more. I have noticed that this iron is very fast to get the job done. I think I will keep a speedy technique
opposed to the heatsink but it is surely great to know about if the absolute need after arises .
With heat sensitive components, use the 5 second rule and you should be fine. Don't heat the part for
more than 5 seconds at a time. I've never burned an LED or "regular" diode this way. For bigger
diodes turn up the heat to keep the time under 5 seconds. With laser diodes, I try to keep it under a
second.
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Last edited by The Lightning Stalker; 10-29-2013 at 01:28 AM. Reason: 5 second rule
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