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Soldering: Need Two More Hands(Part 2)

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Apr 9, 2006.

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  1. Guest

    I'm in a *desperate* situation and really need a video of some sort
    showing the art of soldering.

    Six projects have hit a wall because of my inability to solder leads to
    fingerboards and I really need help.

    I've read every "How to" I could find and studied the advice from here
    and the classic video game group, to no avail.

    I'm using stranded wire and I'm starting to wonder if the wire just
    doesn't solder like it is supposed to.

    I been using 60/40 rosin core(from various suppliers). I constantly
    clean the fingerboard, and clean and change the tips. I was using a 30w
    iron, and have tried(for the last couple of hours) using a cheap Radio
    Shack station that switches between 20w and 40w, but the 20w doesn't
    melt the solder and the 40w tends to take too long and then turn the
    solder into vapor..

    If I manage to get it to melt, the solder will tend to solidify into a
    ball anywhere but on the wire I'm attempting to connect to the
    fingerboard. Or on those occasions when it is fluid *and* in the
    correct location, I'm burning my fingers(trying to keep the insulated
    wire from lifting out of position) long enough for the solder to

    Basically everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

    Can anyone make a video? I *really* need to see how this is done,
    because for the life of me I cannot figure out how people with only two
    hands can get the soldering iron, solder, wire, and work to come
    together at one location, or fast enough so that the solder doesn't
    solidify before the connection is made.

    Perhaps my hands just aren't capable of certain things others take for
    granted. But If I don't figure this out soon these fumes will kill
    me.(A fan only does so much).

    Any help would be appreciated.(I really need a video).

    Darren Harris
    Staten Island, New York.
  2. Simon Scott

    Simon Scott Guest


    Maybe not much help to you, but I commonly solder JAMMA fingerboards.

    What I do is locate the pad to solder to, and give it a light rub with some
    find grit sandpaper, and then clean with isopropyl. Then I stick the
    soldering iron on it and rub it around a bit, just in case there are any
    remaining impurities on the surface. Then I 'seed' the pad with a blob of
    solder, which should flood to the edges of the pad and not sit like a
    little ball (which would snap off).

    Finally I grab the wire (which should has a little solder on it itself) in a
    pair of needlepoint pliers and stick it on the solder on the pad. Then
    simply press it down with the iron.

    Im a complete amateur, but this works for me.
  3. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    1. Get a soldering sponge and get it pretty damp (not soaking wet,

    2. Plug your iron in and let it get hot.

    3. Tin it. That means touch some solder to the tip until it melts
    and flows onto the tip. Id you can't do that, your tip is dirty
    and you'll have to clean it. To do that, I scrape the edge of a
    common screwdriver along the tip to get the crud off of it, and
    then hit it with some solder. A little at a time. Scrape until
    some crud is gone, put a little solder on the tip,then scrape
    away a little more gunk and repeat until the whole tip is bright.

    Once you've got it like that, clean it by rubbing on the sponge
    and put a new layer of solder on it. Your iron is now tinned.

    4. Strip and tin the wires. Use a good stripper that won't nick the
    wires and remove as much insulation as you need to. Then, if you
    have any strands sticking out, twist them back so they follow the
    lay of the rest of the strands. Once you've got that done, take
    your solder and lay it down so it sticks out over the front of
    your bench, then touch your wire and the soldering iron to the
    solder at the same time, at the same place, so that when the
    solder melts it'll flow into the wire. Your wire is now tinned.

    5. Tin the finger strips. Touch the iron to where you want to
    solder the wire and put a little solder where they're
    touching. The idea is to flow a _little_ solder onto the
    fingerstrip where the wire will be connected.

    6. Solder the wire to the fingerstrip. Lay the wire down on
    the tinned part of the fingerstrip and press down on it _gently_
    with the iron. If you do it right the solder in the wire will
    melt and cause the solder on the fingerstrip to melt as well.
    When that happens, hold the iron on the joint for a second or
    two, and then quickly remove it WITHOUT DISTURBING THE WIRE.

    Keep the wire from moving with the hand holding it NO MATTER
    HOW HOT THE INSULATION GETS, and If you did it right, when it
    cools the joint should be nice and shiny. If it isn't, unsolder
    it, remove the old solder from the fingerstrips with braid, retin
    it, heat up the wire and shake the old solder out of it, retin it
    and try again.

    The most important thing is to get the joint hot enough before
    you remove the iron, and to keep it ABSOLUTELY still while it's
    cooling. The other most important thing is to keep your iron
    clean and well-tinned. If you don't have a soldering sponge,
    get one.
  4. Chris

    Chris Guest

    Hi, Darren. Google is your friend. The _first_ link shown on the

    "How to solder" video


    Try it. It works. Download all six parts.

    Try this, too:

    Even though it's not a video, it's good.

    Also, I'll bet you've either got oxidized wire or oxidized
    fingerboards. Go through Mr. Fields' procedure, and see if one or the
    other doesn't wet. I'll bet that's your problem.

    Good luck
  5. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest

    On Sun, 09 Apr 2006 19:01:13 -0500, John Fields

    To add to John's excellent advice, you may want to add those
    two more hands you mention in your header. They sell little
    stands with arms that hold alligator clips that can grab small
    boards while you solder. Or you can probably rig something
    up with a separate alligator clip or two. (They may be already
    on the endsof an odd cable you have laying about.) Either way, you
    will have to be careful not to pinch the wire insulation too close to
    where it is heated, or the clip teeth will push through the softened

    Best regards,

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
    Home of DaqGen, the FREEWARE signal generator
  6. Noway2

    Noway2 Guest

    In addition to the advice in the other responses, I would suggest that
    you may want to obtain some 63/37 solder as it might be a little easier
    to work with. 60/40 goes through a "plastic" stage when it cools,
    during which time it is vulnerable to movement which will cause a
    disturbed joint. Disturbed joints look a lot like cold solder joints
    in that they are lack luster and have a rippled appearance. 63/37
    solder, which is a eutectic goes directly from a solid to a liquid
    without this plastic stage.

    You may also want to see if anyone nearby teaches any IPC soldering
    certification classes. While you may not be interested in the
    certification, I took one on SMT soldering and it made all the
    difference in my ability.

    Here is a link to the company I took my training from:

    Most of their classes are in Raleigh, NC, but they do have classes in
    other locations. At the very least, it will give you an idea of what
    kinds of classes are offered.
  7. Nick

    Nick Guest

    Good advice here. Something else that may help keep things clean is bit
    cleaner. I never used this as far as I can remember with my old weller
    iron that my Dad bought me as a kid, but with a recent antex iron, I
    was inexplicably having a lot of trouble with keeping the bit clean on
    some work I was doing. So I bought a little tin of bit cleaner and it
    does the job fantastically. You shouldn't need to use it often, but if
    the bit does get messed up then this will clean it in a couple of
    seconds and leave it lightly tinned, shiny and good as new. As others
    mentioned, a damp solder sponge (not a bath one!) is essential too. If
    tinning wires, depending on the number of cores you may get a rapid
    build up of excess solder on the bit. Wipe this off to the sponge after
    tinning each wire or two so that you're applying a fresh bit to one
    side of the wire and new solder to the other side, rather than any
    solder left on the bit from previous wires.

    This page from Rapid here in the UK shows the bit cleaner item. It's a
    tiny tin. Multicore are in the UK, but I expect that you get the same
    or a similar item from your local supplier and it might come in handy.

    Good luck with the soldering!
  8. crazy frog

    crazy frog Guest

    you suck
  9. blah

    blah Guest

    From the sounds of it, you really need to stop being cheap and get decent

    First, make sure you have the right equipment to do the job. There is no
    substitute for the right equipment. Let me assure the right equipment
    doesn't include a cheap Radio Shack soldering iron. If you are serious
    about soldering, get a decent soldering station, a Metcal for instance
    or at least a Weller.

    Second, get decent wire... Teflon coated is much nicer than PVC (not to
    mention probably safer for a whole host of reasons). The right wire
    might be stranded or solid depending on what you are doing.

    Third, get all the other stuff you need to properly do it. Tweezers,
    a helping hand, a vise, isopropyl alcohol, water dispenser, solder
    paste, sponge, solderwick, liquid flux (very useful for the solderwick),
    boars hair brushes, a magnifying lamp, and proper ventilation is always
    nice too. In theory (and I know its asking a lot) you should also be
    operating on an ESD safe properly grounded mat with a ESD bracelet.

    Now in terms of technique. The first thing to do is use the right tip
    for the job, keep the tip clean and then tin it with solder. Now
    tin the leads of whatever it is you want to solder, then hold the
    parts together in the appropriate position with tweezers, tin the tip
    of your iron, and push the two pieces together with the iron and let
    the solder flow between them. Then remove the iron, while keeping
    the pieces perfectly still and allow them to cool. If you are soldering
    an IC, go for the corners first and use it to tack the part in place.
    Having the right equipment will help more than you can believe.
  10. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Excellent advice! I've embellished the subject line a little to make it
    more searchable on the archive.

    I would like to add one thing, however - very many years ago, I got a
    little tub of something called "TipTinner" at RS - it's a combination
    of flux and little solder granules that you stick your iron into and
    it cleans and tins it. They still have something fairly similar, albeit
    when I got mine it was about a buck:

    Look in the yellow pages to try to find an amateur radio club or
    electronics special interest group, or go to a local repair shop, and
    watch somebody solder.

    And, of course, practice, practice, practice. ;-)

    Good Luck!
  11. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Dood! Get that! One post, and he's plonked!

  12. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    There's also the old standard:

    although I prefer the mechanical method of gently scraping the tip.
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