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Soldering iron tips

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by notbob, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. notbob

    notbob Guest

    I've done my fair share of soldering, but never SMT. This video: a good indicator of what's involved. The problem is, where do
    you get a tip like he's using. Took me awhile, but I googled him down
    and he uses a Metcal, a $400 model. Sorry, but I can't afford that.
    I have an ancient Weller WTPCS station that perfect for regular sized
    electronics, but can find no small curved tips like that for it. I
    was considering a Hakko 880. Do they make a similar tip?

  2. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    A bent tip like that is absolutely not required. In fact, with something
    as big as the SOIC in the video you could use a more-or-less standard
    1/16" tip. A 1/32" wedge tip would probably be easier (and they're

    Watch some of Dave's SMT soldering videos over at the EEVblog.
  3. Relatively coarse SMT parts such as SOIC, 1206/0805/0603, SOT-23 parts
    are more a matter of technique than tools. Fine pitch SSOP etc. can be
    done with solder wick and a coarse iron and relatively coarse solder.
  4. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    I've quite happily used a straight, fine-point (1/64" radius, I think)
    #7 (700F) conical tip on my WTCPN (bought new for the task and kept in
    nice shape) to do a boat-load of SMT work and some re-work. Once I got
    past thinking that I "had" to have a hot air rework, and got magnifiers
    and lights to let me see what I was doing, it was really no big deal
    (this assumes you are good with solder in general - plenty of folks I've
    seen would have problems with it simply because they also could not
    solder anything else successfully, and many of them appeared to be
    functionally incapable of learning how to do so either.)
  5. notbob

    notbob Guest

    Yikes! This guy is prolific. I jes watched his Hakko 888 hack and
    it's a hoot. Takes a bit to get past the Eliza Doolittle accent,
    which tends to wear on ya', but you can't fault the guy for not
    covering all the bases. All and more than I ever wanted to know about
    the Hakko soldering station. Plus I'm still a rank amateur at basic
    electronics and his extensive explanation of several circuit options
    is very educational. Thanks for revealing this great resource, Rich.

  6. Haven't tried the needle type flux dispenser.. are they better than
    the Sharpie-style RMA flux pens? Eg:-
  7. notbob

    notbob Guest

    Thanks for that tip. ;)
    Yes, I'm still building up my collection of magnifiers and lights,
    being a geezer with accompanying geezer eyesight.
    That I can do. I've even taught a workshop on soldering, so that's
    not an issue.

    Though I consider myself an amateur electronics hobbyist, I have
    worked as an electro-mechanical tech and can troubleshoot the Hell out
    of huge complex circuits, at least to the board level and occasionally
    to the component level, then repair the problem. But tracing and
    repairing a signal path is not the same as understanding what's
    happening with all those components along the way. Now that I'm
    retired, I've been getting into the basic workings of electronics and
    circuits, something I've always longed to do. I enjoy it immensely.

  8. Sounds fiddly. The flux pens are fast- just pop the cap and mark the
    pads. Good if the board has been sitting around for a bit, otherwise I
    don't usually bother.

    Are the toothpicks useful for something else? Holding down parts or
    something? Never thought to keep them around, but I could see uses for
  9. qrk

    qrk Guest

    Metcal has cheaper models, around $200. At least they did a few years
    back. I don't like the long curvy tips, rather have short tips for
    better heat control. Any of the modern irons have a nice small tip
    collection. The problem with this video regarding tip selection, the
    land patterns have no traces connected to them which suck heat away
    from your pad - especially when it's connected to a plane.

    If you're going to do SOIC, you really don't need anything special for
    a tip. SOIC and 0805 parts are very easy to solder. The fine pitch
    stuff takes a bit of practice and handy to have 0.010" dia. solder
    which is hard to come by. I find 0.015" solder is too big for the
    stuff we do.

    Beware of water soluable fluxes, some varieties, if left on for more
    than a couple hours, will completly tarnish your gold plated pads
    making them unsolderable.
  10. mike

    mike Guest

    I agree with the others that the curved tip is not required. Unless you
    have a particular situation with clearance problems, curved will be more
    hassle than help.

    Back in the day, when Metcals were $175, I was skeptical...until I tried
    It's wonderful to have a tip close to the melting point of solder and still
    have lots of heat. I don't think I ever lifted a pad when using one for
    I could never justify one for personal use.

    A lot depends on what you're soldering and the volume. For hobby use,
    I'd suggest a low cost iron like an Antex C30.

    I used one for decades. Put it on a variac or light dimmer to vary
    the temperature. They're a little too hot for my taste when you don't
    reduce the power a little.
    Tips are cheap and come in lots of different sizes. They slide
    on for easy change.

    There's another soldering issue that I've rarely seen discussed.

    Solder dissolves copper. So solder "eats" the tip. Most modern irons
    use plated tips. The plating keeps the solder away from the copper.
    Makes the tips last a lot longer.

    Problem is that the solder no longer wets the tip surface. Surface
    tension causes it to "ball up" on the surface. As solder joints get
    smaller, that balling up becomes more of a problem. Makes it hard to
    manage tiny amounts of solder.

    The video shows very clean surfaces, TINY solder and a tiny tip.
    Not so much a problem. In the real world when there's oxidation
    and you don't have the tiniest solder or tip, it's more of an issue.

    I like the Antex iron with the unplated tips. The solder wicks smoothly
    to their surface. And you can file the tip to be anything you want.
    I find it much easier to manage tiny amounts of solder.

    There's another option that I like if you're willing to buy solder paste.
    The Portasol butane soldering iron has a hot air tip. It does an excellent
    job of reflowing solder in small areas. Also great for removing
    small parts, but there's too little air for lifting a whole SOIC.
  11. notbob

    notbob Guest

    BTDT! ....but I don't bounce worth a damn, anymore. ;)

  12. notbob

    notbob Guest

    I can see myself back on a some sorta streetbike, if only to save
    money on gas, but not for another year when I qualify for medicare.
    Now, I have zero medical coverage. REAL stupid to ride w/o some
    medical ...unless yer 20 something and heal like a flatworm. ;)

  13. mike

    mike Guest

    Then you're not doin' it right ;-)
    I've never hit a car. But I've hit more than a few trees.
  14. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    A small tip is the worst thing you can use for soldering SMD.
    Soldering SMD is all in the flux. Also forget about soldering one pin
    at a time and you'll be OK.

    The only use I have for a small tip is soldering really thin (like
    hair) wires.
  15. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    I should clarify that just the tip was bought new for the purpose - the
    iron is an old warhorse. 1/32" multicore solder (which you can feed
    through a 0.7mm mechanical pencil if you want to be silly and have a
    handy solder feeder - just don't melt it all the way back to the pencil.)
    Sounds good - if you're having fun, you're doing it right.
  16. WoolyBully

    WoolyBully Guest

    Today, "regular sized" is 0402 form factor.

    Your name is not "notbob" it is "noteducated".
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