Soldering Irons

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Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur
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Soldering Irons

Post by Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur »

As some of you will know, my inability to Solder is quite remarkable and somewhat frustrating, given that once again one of my rather nasty speaker connections has failed.

I tend to shy away from being a bad Workman and blaming my tools, but maybe that really is the trouble here.

Perhaps my little 30W Soldering Iron often isn't getting hot enough, an affliction not assisted by the fact that its a really basic model and doesn't even have a 'Ready' light.

Should this little Iron be sufficient for purpose, usually relating to Speaker wire?
or is the problem more likely me being ham-fisted?
20180823_085127.jpg
....and what are these Gas Irons like? I can see this one's rated at up to 70W, over double the power of mine and is available from Hong Kong at about £4.
Soldering Iron.JPG
NB: for anyone who's noticed listings on eBay for China and Hong Kong stuff and been tempted, I recommend it; I buy a lot of stuff from the Far East, its cheap, it works, the Customer Service is good and it arrives in as little as a week (usually 10-14 days).

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Stickyfinger
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Stickyfinger »

10-14 days, bollocks to that :)

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white exec
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by white exec »

A 30W solderimg iron is quite adequate for most jobs involving small cables and components.
I use 25W Antex irons most of the time.
Important to have some good-quality multi-cored fluxed electrical solder, not the plumbing type.
Keep the bit clean (wipe with a damp tissue when hot, so you see a bright silver solder layer).
If a copper bit has got black and cruddy, use a file or emery to get it back to clean metal, then tin it.
Allow the iron about 10 mins to get fully up to temperature; if solder doesn't melt immediately on contact with the hot tip, it isn't hot enough.
Make sure you "tin" both the bit and the wires/items you are joining, before you solder them together.
There will be some YouTube videos offering soldering tutorials.

The little gas irons are useful for where there is no power, but can be a bit of a pain.
For working on the car away from mains, Antex do some good 12v irons.

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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Gibbo2286 »

This should to the trick. :-D
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Paul-R
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Paul-R »

The bit on your soldering iron looks well goosed to me. A new one, kept clean and tinned as Chris says, would go a long way to ensuring good soldering.

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white exec
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by white exec »

If you need a new iron, bits, solder or anything in the way of electronics components or tools, these folk are first-rate:
https://www.rapidonline.com/.

They are owned by Conrad Electronics, who carry an even larger range of items:
https://www.conrad-electronic.co.uk/ce/

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Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur »

Thanks Guys, I'll follow the advice and hopefully respond in the next week or two with news that my Soldering has improved considerably.

Plan is to persevere with the existing Iron [including Fluxed Solder, Flux-Less, tin of Flux etc], having cleaned and sharpened the end (it adjusts outwards and there's plenty spare).

...and also given partic importance to tinning everything, which could well be where I'm going wrong.

Thanks for saving me a few quid too, the gas Iron can stay on eBay. 10-14 days isn't usually an issue by the way; you know when you've only got a couple of 3mm Drill Bits left or the Safety Goggles are scratched but still good for a short while, etc, etc.

I'm aware of the old style Irons, never owned or used one; they look a bit unwieldy. Power isn't a problem: I am looking forward to no longer needing the 25m extension leads though, when I move house..... least its not all bad.

Youtube videos are great..... ish. But they tend to either be irrelevant to one's own situation or to omit important detail. I found this when I was learning to weld and it took forever. There are some good ones out there though, and I did eventually Bookmark some really choice ones. [if anyone wants the links feel free to shout]

....similar issue with Brake Pipe Flaring. The supplied instructions were wrong for a start, they said to have the pipe proud of the tool by 0.5mm instead of 5mm (ie the OA width of the pipe); so initially I couldn't understand why it was proving impossible to make a Double-Flare. Eventually after numerous videos someone mentioned this.

....like so many things, you usually get there in the end. :-D often with thanks to those who've been there, done that and kindly offered advice. Thanks again!

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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by dnsey »

Avoid lead-free solder - even many of the pros hate the stuff!
For amateur use, good old-fashioned 60-40 flux-cored solder is perfectly legal, and much easier to use.
Please get a new bit. It should be fully inserted into the iron - they don't adjust as such, and pulling it part-way out is likely to damage the iron. The bit needs to retain its designed thermal capacity to work well.
Tin the new bit when you first heat it, and clean it regularly in use.
Heat the joint, not the solder.
Tin the parts to be joined individually before making a good mechanical connection and finally soldering the joint.

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Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur »

well, once again the people of the FCF have again helped me out. Thank You ! This is without a doubt my best ever attempt at soldering and my six speaker sound system is back to perfect order.
Solder.jpg
It was the tinning the bit that I'd overlooked and I was delighted that instead of my usual situation of finding that the solder wanted to go anywhere but on the wire / the soldering iron actually seeming to repel it

....that things worked as they should. :-D

A new bit will be on order shortly Dsney, thanks.... now I can solder I don't mind spending a few quid !

Pic of my 'Seats Down' Speaker arrangement for inspiration to anyone who doesn't always have a 'Rear Shelf' available but would like to use rear speakers. A small (rather naff in this case) pair of speakers connect to an old style two pin Male-Female stereo plug fed from the rear door speakers (not technically correct, but good enough for me). A garden wire tie holds them to the latches for the back seat. FCF sticker also in view.

Simply disconnect these when the rear shelf is in (most of the time for me) to instead feed a rather better pair of shelf speakers.
Speaker.jpg

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white exec
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by white exec »

=D> Progress!

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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Richard_C »

Looks good. Cleanliness is all.

Soldering is one of those things most of us only do when we have to so its easy to lose the 'touch'. A bit of practice helps.

A useful starter practice rig is to get 2 nails a few inches apart in a piece of wood and stretch a piece of wire between them. You then solder short leads to this stretched wire - after a few you get quite good. If you are too slow, the wire heats up and the ones you did first drop off as the solder softens. The 'party trick' is to see how many wires you can put on without any dropping off.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Zelandeth »

It does have to be said that the difference between a good and bad iron is night and day.

I've had my Iroda SolderPro 120 for a few years now (just looked...15!) and wouldn't swap it for anything. Freedom from a trailing wire and the ability to essentially dial in any power rating between "just hot" up to 120W is dead handy. The one iron is equally happy doing delecate component rework on a computer motherboard as it is soldering whacking great lumps of metal onto chassis ground tags in old valve radios, amps and televisions. Okay it's not exact temperature control that you have on some of the professional bench irons, but you can get it pretty precisely controlled with practice. It's obviously been carefully designed too as while slightly heavier than an electric iron it's balanced such that it never feels bulky or awkward. Having hot knife and hot air attachments and the ability to work as a blow torch as well is also handy.

Tips don't last forever though and do need changing from time to time. Annoyingly with the demise of Maplin I'll need to order them from somewhere online now.

Can't honestly see me ever switching back to an electric iron for everyday use.
IMG_20180830_204309.jpg
Last edited by Zelandeth on 30 Aug 2018, 20:43, edited 1 time in total.

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white exec
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by white exec »

Farnell / CPC Farnell seem to have the Iroda, Zel.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by Zelandeth »

Thought they would, will probably be a random eBay/Amazon seller though unless either of those two have made their shipping costs for small orders less ridiculous. They both lost a lot of business from me in the past to RS as I could pick up orders free from their trade counter. Paying £5 postage on an order of a few quid stings a bit otherwise.

For reference - here's a classic example of a stuffed, worn out tip.
IMG_20180830_204950.jpg
The black bit is actually pitted into the tip, and the surface is peeling away on the far side. To be fair, it's lasted several years and some pretty heavy duty jobs.

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white exec
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Re: Soldering Irons

Post by white exec »

Opened up a workshop drawer, and found these. All still working, and never been discarded...
Henley 'Solon', oval tapered 55W, c.1949
Henley 'Solon', oval tapered 55W, c.1949
Adcola 'Invader', 23W, probably 1950s
Adcola 'Invader', 23W, probably 1950s
A late-'70s Homebase iron and solder
A late-'70s Homebase iron and solder
The Henley belonged to my father, and I remember using it to put together a cat's-whisker crystal set with him when I was about 7 years old. Clumpy, but vast reserves of heat.
The Adcola (rated by some as lighter and niftier than the small Solons) was bought to put together another (MW) radio - this time a BBC Children's TV design, involving a couple of recently-available germanium OC71's, which I remember cost about £2 each (in about 1960). We built the thing in a polythene butter-dish; it ran off a PP3, and powered some WWII headphones. Needed a 2m cable as aerial.
The Homebase jobbie was bought in Godalming, to do something on a car in a hurry. Nasty thing, but does deliver 40W, so still useful for the odd heftier joint.

Current everydays are a couple of 25W Antex XS, with a decent collection of their superb bits.