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If you haven't already, that is.... If you have indeed already posted a thread, and will be generous enough to re-post the link I'll click it, and this thread can die a peaceful death..

I know it's a somewhat pedestrian request, but hey- you're not the Professor for nothing.. I'm pretty handy with a wrench, but when it comes to the physics of electricity, not so much.

I've seen a lot of the electrical threads on here, and as a life-long wire-nut guy, was hoping to learn a bit about soldering.. I watched some "tube" videos, so I went to my local Radio Shack and probably bought more equipment than I needed, including what I think is a nice Weller variable iron and core-flux 60/40 wire at the salesman's suggestion.

I practiced for a while on a dozen Velleman kits and other printed circuit board things, and I also managed to replace two resistors and one capacitor in my TV by using solder wicks- that saved me probably hundreds of bucks, and I also saved a ceiling fan, but I'd like to become better educated. I'm still getting the occasional cold joint, and I'm not sure if silver (Ag) might be better for electrical connections or if I should pick a different wire and apply a separate flux paste?

Maybe it's my technique?

Thanks in advance for answering a noobish question, and if anyone else has any tips, please chime in.
 

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Try these:
1. A 40 watt soldering iron will do most jobs, but certainly no more than a 60 watt iron.
2. Use thin (about 1mm) five core solder. You can see the number of cores by firmly pulling the solder apart with the help of a flame from a match or cigarette lighter….
3. Solder the tip of the iron immediately before any soldering job – it will ensure the solder ‘runs’ better at the joint.
4. When soldering wires onto PC boards, cut the protruding wire to length first. Cutting the extra stalk with side cutters after soldering might physically stress the soldered joint, causing it to crack.
5. Let the solder run without using too much solder. A finished soldered joint should have a blob of solder that has the shape of Mt Fuji, not the shape of an igloo.
6. Don’t leave the iron on the joint when soldering sensitive components like diodes or other semiconductors – they don’t like excessive heat.
7. Pre-solder any wires first, before actually soldering them together. This is called ‘tinning’, and will speed up the process, thus minimising heat effects on insulation etc.
 

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Many years ago I did an avation high relability hand soldering course, probbly mostly forgotten but the main thing is preperation.

If you get everything clean the solder will flow easily.
We used little abrasive rubbers to clean dirty cct board tracks and then clean any residue off before soldering.

The solder can "burn" which gives the appearance of a cold joint and nothing short of removing the solder and resoldering it will fix this.

Circuit card substrates can burn and the copper track will lift with too much heat. To prevent this using a temperture controlled soldering iorn and limit the time you heat the joint. I used to count to 8 (about 8 seconds) and if the solder hadn't flowed nicely in that time let the joint cool and try again.

Clean off the flux residue after soldering using methelated spirits

For badly oxdized materials use Duzall flux or similar, but make sure you clean off the residue as its quite corrosive.

But basicly it's the preperation that is the main thing.
 

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Try these:
1. A 40 watt soldering iron will do most jobs, but certainly no more than a 60 watt iron.
2. Use thin (about 1mm) five core solder. You can see the number of cores by firmly pulling the solder apart with the help of a flame from a match or cigarette lighter….
3. Solder the tip of the iron immediately before any soldering job – it will ensure the solder ‘runs’ better at the joint.
4. When soldering wires onto PC boards, cut the protruding wire to length first. Cutting the extra stalk with side cutters after soldering might physically stress the soldered joint, causing it to crack.
5. Let the solder run without using too much solder. A finished soldered joint should have a blob of solder that has the shape of Mt Fuji, not the shape of an igloo.
6. Don’t leave the iron on the joint when soldering sensitive components like diodes or other semiconductors – they don’t like excessive heat.
7. Pre-solder any wires first, before actually soldering them together. This is called ‘tinning’, and will speed up the process, thus minimising heat effects on insulation etc.
Good post,10/10,thank you.

Plasma.
 

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We had one rule, when i was working on one of the biggest car companies worldwide, service side
NO SOLDERING! We were instructed to only use heat-shrinking connectors which did contain both tin and the shrink.

Reason being simple, many people can fail soldering wires, but those connectors assembled correctly were dead reliable. No electric gremlins due to bad soldering.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We had one rule, when i was working on one of the biggest car companies worldwide, service side
NO SOLDERING! We were instructed to only use heat-shrinking connectors which did contain both tin and the shrink.

Reason being simple, many people can fail soldering wires, but those connectors assembled correctly were dead reliable. No electric gremlins due to bad soldering.
That's why I'm trying to become proficient. Yes I know to tin my tip, heat the work and not the solder etc...

It seems like, if done correctly- Soldering is the best way to ensure a good connection..

I think my practice has made me decent, but I'm looking for a dare-to-be-great moment.
 

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Cleanliness of the copper, sufficient heat, and the correct solder/flux will do the job. It's much easier to do it correctly the first time than to re-solder a bad joint, whether you're doing copper wire or copper pipe.

Don't forget to slip on the heat-shrink tubing before you solder the connection, and move it as far away as you can, or it will shrink to uselessness when you heat the wiring.
 

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For soldering electronics I've always used 63/37 solder which has a shorter "plastic" stage which helps reduce the likelihood of a cold joint.
 

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I was an Electronics Technician in the Navy back in the 60's and specialized in repair of Cryptographic equipment, which was state of the art back then. Following the signal through all of the complex coding and altering circuits and finding where something was doing other than what it was supposed to do was a challenge, however, the biggest challenge was finding and repairing cold solder joints. They look just like a good solder joint, and sometimes kinda, sorta do what they're supposed to, but when you need everything to work perfectly a cold solder joint will give you ulcers because it just looks good but isn't

.
 

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Never-ever buy a RadioShack soldering iron with the plug-in style heating element/tip. Anything less than horizontal and the tip falls out! Errrrr.....

/M
 

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I've recently upgraded to a Weller station, and my technique is actually pretty solid- Practice is the key.
Good advice on the Weller. A temperature controlled soldering iron is the way to go. An unregulated cheap soldering iron will often produce frustration, especially for someone learning.

A good soldered connection is superior to any crimp type of connection.
 

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....
A good soldered connection is superior to any crimp type of connection.
bingo. A proper soldered connection is stronger, last longer, and works better. The problem is, it's harder to do. Crimp connections are idiot proof and easier to reverse. If you want a connection to last tho, particularly in a high vibration or potentially corrosive environment (read: your average motorcycle), solder it.
 

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As far as selecting your solder, I prefer the ones that contain silver. I like my work to be pretty. ;)
If you have a choice in the matter: Definitely DO NOT use the lead-free stuff, especially for PCBs. It's dull, ugly, and tends to spatter, has less eutectic properties than your standard 63/37... but even worse it grows "tin whiskers". They are tiny crystalline hairlike growths that can just spontaneously appear, and reach out and touch other solder points or each other. It is seriously a catastrophe for the electronics world in the making, all in the name of reducing the "hazard" of lead.
 
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