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Best soldering iron for diodes and beginners?

rpaloalto

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So I want to get a soldering iron. My old one is a cheap wall mart one, with junkie tips. That are held in place with a set screw.

I know from reading the forums that the diodes are extremely sensitive to heat and easily destroyed.

I was at my local frys (large electronics and computers supply center
I found 2 weller irons that I really liked. They were both very skinny and easy to hold, with nice fine tips.
These were single watt irons choice of 12w or 30w

I have very basic soldering skills, So

Should I go for a real low wattage iron 12w
Less heat but more time on the joint?
Or
should I go for a higher wattage iron 30w
more heat but less time on joint?

Also, after I use the iron. Should I leave some solder on the tip, or wipe it clean before storage?
 

Hemlock_Mike

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Are these Wellers adjustable temp? I would go for the 30 watt. A low wattage iron can take too much time to do the job and allow heat transfer.
Soldering is an art and you need to practice on junk diodes, wires etc. I use 63/37 solder because it is the lowest temp Lead/tin mix.
I always wipe mine off with the wet sponge before shut off.

HMike
 

Tabish

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30W for Sure. 12w is VERY low.

I got a 25w from radioshack.

Wipe the solder off after you are done.
 

bobhaha

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I have a 45W and its a monster! its really hard to get the solder to sit right cause you have only a few seconds before you have to remove the heat. I should of went for something a bit less powered cause its really hard to start off with an iron like this. BTW my dad has alwyas put solder on the tip to stop it corroding... could be a myth but my iron is still going fine!

-Adrian
 

Hemlock_Mike

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Solder dissolves the metal which it contacts -- That's how it works. Most Weller tips are copper or an alloy with iron plating to reduce erosion by the solder. I reduce the temp of my iron to the 400 degree setting (idle) when not in use. I wipe the tip to reduce the amount of solder available to remove the iron coating there. Once the plating is gone, the copper goes away fast.

HMike

I sometimes use my 60 watt pencil iron set at 700 Deg F. If the wires are wetted first, it takes only a second to make the connection.
 
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sciullo779

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maybe its my solder, if i remember correctly i used flux core lol, but my soldering iron tip looks like a hook from corrosion lol
 

Hemlock_Mike

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If your iron is not temp controled, it may get REAL HOT from non use. This accelerates tip erosion. Consider using a light dimmer or something to keep the iron warm between usage.

HMike
 

rpaloalto

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Are these Wellers adjustable temp? I would go for the 30 watt. A low wattage iron can take too much time to do the job and allow heat transfer.
Soldering is an art and you need to practice on junk diodes, wires etc. I use 63/37 solder because it is the lowest temp Lead/tin mix.
I always wipe mine off with the wet sponge before shut off.

HMike
I'll go with the 30W then. I just liked these two models because they were extra skinny.

No these are not temp controlled irons. They did have one that was selectable 15/30W but that was a big fat iron.

The solder I have is 60/40 rosin core. Should I get some 63/37 will that make much of a difference
 

Hemlock_Mike

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Look on the fleaBay for irons. In the meantime, cut the power for idle by switching a diode into the inpit side of the iron.

HMike
 

rpaloalto

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Look on the fleaBay for irons. In the meantime, cut the power for idle by switching a diode into the inpit side of the iron.

HMike
Thanks I'll keep that in mind about switching off or reducing the power, to my iron. Your idea of using a dimmer switch is a good idea.

That was one of the reasons I thought about going for the 12W. My old one would just get so hot, from being left plugged in.
 

mfo

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I had a similar problem. I thought my soldering skills were decent, until I realized that I killed 5 PHR's due to heat and holding the tip on there for too long. I thought a few seconds was good. How wrong I was. Here's a tip that Dave (daguin) gave me. Pre-tin the driver contacts, and the diode pins. This way when it's time to connect, all you have to do is give them a quick touch with the soldering iron, and you're good to go. I've successfully put together 2 PHR's now. Hope this helps.
 

rpaloalto

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I had a similar problem. I thought my soldering skills were decent, until I realized that I killed 5 PHR's due to heat and holding the tip on there for too long. I thought a few seconds was good. How wrong I was. Here's a tip that Dave (daguin) gave me. Pre-tin the driver contacts, and the diode pins. This way when it's time to connect, all you have to do is give them a quick touch with the soldering iron, and you're good to go. I've successfully put together 2 PHR's now. Hope this helps.
Crap, their that sensitive?
Now I'm even more hesitant.
I guess When the time comes I could try pre-tinning all the connections first. Also if I use a alligator clip as a heat sink. That might help as well.

I will get the iron tomorrow and maybe a small electronic project kit. To help gain more experience
 

bobhaha

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It isn't really that bad.. I did my first PHR build with no soldering experience! I did it completely wrong and its still working! (sold it to a friend!) I held the iron on the pin and then used solder and the wire to spread the solder onto the pin. This is obviously incorrect, but it worked out fine! My dad came into the garage one day to look at wat I was doing and told me I was doing it all wrong.. now I think I'm in the intermediate soldering group. I have never used flux or pretinned my connections, i think my solder has flux in it anyway, not too sure.

Give it ago, but please practise before you go full scale! hope it all works out for ya! -Adrian
 

Things

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Soldering shouldn't be scary, I was doing it when I was 5!

Do what mfo said, quickly tin the diode leads, and the wires or driver (Put the soldering iron onto the wire, let it heat for a second or 2 then feed some solder in from ontop, you should get a nice coating on the wire. If not, your wire isn't hot or clean enough, clean it and try again)

Then all you have to do is touch the iron to the pin, hold the driver so the solder pd is touching the pin and it'll melt and join almost instantly! Take care not to move the driver while the solder is cooling, you could end up with a bodgy joint.

I use the 60/40 Tin/Lead combo with rosin core. Lead free solder doesn't seem to be as good as the good ol lead solder.
 
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