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Soldering tip width

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by louis058, Dec 19, 2011.

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  1. louis058

    louis058

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    0
    Nov 6, 2011
    This may be a stupid question, but does the width of the body of the tip (not the tip itself) differ amongst different companies, and models?
    I ask because I bought a generic soldering iron ('Coltech') with a chisel tip, and I hear a fine conical tip is better for circuitry, but I don't know if any old tip from any company will work, since they all seem to say 'designed for etc. model soldering iron'.
    The soldering iron I have just uses a firm screw pressing the tip into two bumps to hold it in place (those two bumps press into the tip and the tip ends up with two grooves pressed into it, but it doesn't seem to matter...)
     
  2. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
    12
    Dec 13, 2010
    Hi there.
    The generic tips are not a lot of good, usually to big, a Chamfered tip is a good all rounder, usually copper iron plated tip and chrome plate body, 18 watts for light stuff, 25 watts for general use, and a good quality flux cored solder, oh stand, sponge, wet the sponge to keep the tip clean, try to keep the tip tinned with solder, or do it intermittently, for prolonged periods of no use ie idol turn it of to preserve the tips iron plate coating, generic iron tips are consumable, the tip devolves slowly over time through a metallurgic process.

    Not sure where you are in the world, but the link below is a standard most use, or you could opt for a temperature controlled iron, good investment if you build a lot of circuits. :)

    http://www.esr.co.uk/electronics/products/frame_tools-soldering.htm




     
  3. louis058

    louis058

    7
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    Nov 6, 2011
    So in general, could any new tip I buy fit in the soldering iron I got?
     
  4. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
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    Dec 13, 2010
    No not really, generic tips are a one off, they come with the soldering iron, once the tip is worn down there is usually not a replacement.

    Branded soldering irons support new and different tip types, size shape etc. :)
     
  5. louis058

    louis058

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    Nov 6, 2011
    But for mine, the tip can be swapped out, and they give one replacement tip (though it's chisel head also). Apart from if a new tip doesn't fit, I don't know how it couldn't be replaced, which is why I want to know what kind of width replacement tips usually are at the base, to see whether it might fit in.
     
  6. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
    12
    Dec 13, 2010
    I have a generic iron, a 40 watt job, i dress the tip with a file to the shape i want, its not an iron plate tip so it does not matter, but you never use abrassives on iron plate tips, yes they do some times come with a second tip, but its rare, those irons are meant for occasional use really, for constant circuit building buy a better iron, ive not got a temperature controlled one yet, but use Antex an rate them as a good iron, Weller is another good iron.

    As i only use the 40 watt beast for heavy joints, pulling stuff apart, its cheap cheerful and gets hot, to hot for most circuit building really. :)

    PS. Weller and Antex bits are hollow to fit over the irons element, the tip section is solid.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  7. louis058

    louis058

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    Nov 6, 2011
    Aww... I had so hoped I hadn't bought the wrong one...

    This is off topic from my question, but one more question: This one that I have now is 30W - is that too much for normal circuitry?
     
  8. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,505
    2,852
    Jan 21, 2010
    The best bet is to take an old tip (or even better the whole iron) into the place you bought it from originally and ask if they have replacement tips.

    I tend to use a small flat tip (looks like a tapered and very blunt screwdriver) about 2 to 3mm across at the tip.

    In general, the size of the tip is determined by the size of what you're soldering. The tip should be about the size of the solder pad, although since they vary a lot, your tip will be larger than some and smaller than others.

    If you're working on fine electronics (perhaps hand soldering SMD) then you want a smaller tip than if you're soldering power electronics (say high current diodes, mosfets, etc. With the need for a larger tip usually comes the need for higher wattage, but that relationship is less straighforward.

    edit: 30W -- that should be fine. Better if it's temperature controlled, but also OK if it's not (but be more careful)
     
  9. davelectronic

    davelectronic

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    Dec 13, 2010
    Hi Steve.
    Most generic irons are 30 - 40 watts, beg to differ to hot for most components, 18 - 25 watts is better, the latter for every day components, the former for lighter smaller surface and lead areas. Or 12 - 15 watts for SMD's. Or the temperature control equivalent of the fixed irons if its a solder station variable temperature . :)
     
  10. GonzoEngineer

    GonzoEngineer

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    Dec 2, 2011
    You guys forget the best advice.........

    "If you drop your soldering iron , don't try to catch it!":D:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  11. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
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    Dec 13, 2010
    OUCH :eek:
     
  12. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,505
    2,852
    Jan 21, 2010
    No Dave.

    Temperature control is what you want, not a particular wattage.

    And the correct size tip is even more important.

    Sure, being too hot can be a problem, but you've just got to work faster. If you're using lead free solder then it may not be too hot! Too hot is more an issue of vaporising the flux too quickly. Whilst excess temperature kills semiconductors, it requires a large amount of heat to be transferred, and if you can't get your joint soldered before that happens, you're doing something wrong.

    A fine tip can't supply heat quickly to a joint and so it somewhat negates the problems of "too much" wattage.

    I've had occasion to wrap a piece of copper wire around a soldering iron tip in order to create a fine enough tip. Trust me when I say that too much heat was not the problem.

    If the OP already has this soldering iron, I'd suggest he try it. I'm certainly not going to send him out for a new one (maybe I would if he said it was 150W and had a 3/8 copper tip and was last used to solder a downpipe)
     
  13. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
    12
    Dec 13, 2010
    The solder iron the OP's got to all intents and purposes will probably serve him fine, i dont see price for a good iron a problem, under £ 20 for an Antex iron, i used cheap generics for a long time, there ok, but i would draw a line at 30 watts, as the temperature of hotter higher powered irons vaporises the flux, the joints solder then refuses to flow, at best a poor joint. but generics are fine.
     
  14. louis058

    louis058

    7
    0
    Nov 6, 2011
    Thanks Steve, and I'll be soldering to protoboard with it, not a PCB, so whether that might help, I don't know.
    I don't really want to spend another 12 quid or whatever on a new iron before I've even used this one (I could return it, but I got it from far away from my city, so it'll be inconvenient).
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
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