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Tinning Explained

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by CubeRider, Apr 13, 2013.

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  1. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Hey guys.

    I wondered if someone could give me a little more advice please on the tinning procedure of soldering.

    If anyone has read my last few posts it was about a faulty soldering station which I managed to get a refund.

    So ... I have just got back from town and unboxed this:

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/60w-professional-lcd-solder-station-with-esd-protection-511927#accessories


    I am hoping this will be a good iron, I bought it based on these glowing reviews:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B004X25LW8/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1


    I also bought extra tips that work with this iron:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B009LEDSPK/ref=cm_cr_asin_lnk


    So onto my questions, because this is a new iron I want to do this right from the start and have good practice skills for when I solder.

    Q1. Firstly with this being a new tip, am I right in thinking that I need to dip the tip in flux and wrap some 60-40 solder around the end of the tip and switch on the iron ? let this melt and wipe off and that is done ? do I do this every time or first time only ?

    Or is it a case of just swtich it on and wait for it to get up to temp and with 60-40 solder that would be enough to tin the tip without the use for flux ?

    Q2. Once the tip is tinned, how do I know when to tin again and what procedure do I use ? in the past when I have tried to use lead-free solder it just heats into a ball and falls off, maybe this wouldnt happen with 60-40 solder ? how would you recommend I go about keeping the tip tinned.

    Q3. 60-40 solder comes in different sizes, would say 1.2mm diameter be ok or do I need a thicker solder for circuit boards ?

    Q4. The flux I used twice in a failed attempt to tin gave off an aweful smell, it says on it that its proven to cause birth defects and cause cancer or something, so that worries me, as does breathing in the fumes from the 60-40 solder. Can anyone tell me a way around this, is there a certain mask that I need ? or would a fume extractor do the job ?

    I am going to resist turning on the solder station until I know what I am doing lol that way I can start off on the right footing and get busy making cool things with electronics :)

    Thanks ever so much in advance to anyone who can help me with this thread.

    Matt :D
     
  2. eKretz

    eKretz

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    Apr 8, 2013
    This is very very important to get done as soon as the iron comes up to temperature the first time. If you let it sit at temperature for even a few minutes it will oxidize and won't take solder at all until you remove the oxidation. I have seen people talk about the solder wrap method but it's unnecessary IMO. I just set the iron to 650°F, ~350°C and keep giving the tip a quick dip in the flux and touching the solder to the tip as it gets warm, once every few seconds or so. As soon as the solder begins to melt on the tip keep feeding it onto the tip and rotating the iron to get a good even coverage of the entire tip all the way around and up about 1/4" or 6mm from the tip. If solder dribbles off the iron and falls on your worktable, so be it. Then I give it a quick dip in the flux again and a flick to remove excess solder, and a quick wipe on a brass pad or damp sponge. You're ready to go.

    The tip should stay tinned after that as you use it and you shouldn't need to re-tin it unless you overheat it or leave it on unattended. When I first fire up my iron I usually give it a dip in the flux and a wipe or two on the brass pad or damp sponge, this will get it nice and clean and ready to solder. If it does get oxidized, you can often scrape off the oxidation with a brass or copper pad (like a steel wool pad but made of brass or copper). Do NOT use a steel wool pad when the iron is hot, as they contain oil and will ignite!

    Use .46mm or .02" solder for electronics work. The bigger stuff is really more of a nuisance than anything for most electronics work.

    I like to use only 60/40 solder myself, and as far as the fumes go, I just make sure that I have a fan on blowing toward the oven/range hood (also on).
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  3. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Many thanks for that mate :)
     
  4. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    13,833
    1,950
    Sep 5, 2009
    And use rosin cored solder
    I have NEVER in 35 years of electronics either at home or professionally used separate solder and flux

    Dave
     
  5. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Thanks for that Dave :)

    I am looking at 2 lots of solder now, could you have a look at them please and let me know if either would be suitable ?

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Multicore...Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item19cdf5aa20

    Or this one, I think this has flux in it ?

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TIN-LEAD-...Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item4ac163a58b

    Many thanks :)

    Edit this one looks good too I think ? Can anyone confirm please:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Solder-Wi...Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item1e65ba8dc9
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  6. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    I think 1.2mm is too big. I use 0.022 in or 0.5mm solder.

    Also agree with Dave, I only use flux when doing surface mount, rosin core works without flux for all through hole work.

    Edit: if the solder is just beading up and dropping off, your iron is too hot.

    Bob
     
  7. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Thanks for that Bob.

    So any idea if any of the above solder would be any good for me? firstly for tinning the tip and secondly for working with LED's resistors etc ?

    I like the look of the last one in the list it has a 3 core flux but it says on the ad not suitable for SMD so does that mean I cannot use this for making my own circuits on circuit boards ?

    Not straight forward this soldering / electronics lark for newbies lol.
     
  8. eKretz

    eKretz

    251
    27
    Apr 8, 2013
    I am mostly in agreement with the other fellows' addendums also, but I would certainly keep some flux around. I also only use rosin core fluxed solder, but it's never a bad idea to keep some flux around. You can never have things too clean, and the flux helps keep oxidation at bay on your iron's tip with a quick dip now and again. The flux pens are especially handy.

    Definitely stay away from the larger solder diameters, you will just end up with too much solder everywhere. Here's one of the same brand as one of the ones you posted:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TIN-LEAD-...Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item4ac14822e4
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  9. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Thanks for the info :)

    I didnt know until now that you could get solder with flux in it, I started off with the lead-free solder and really didn't like it, it doesn't melt like when you see clips on youtube of other people soldering, the health reasons do bother me a bit and it looks like they are phasing it out, so I hope they managed to make a lead free solder with flux in thats as effective as the 60-40 solder.

    It's all been a cool learning process :)
     
  10. eKretz

    eKretz

    251
    27
    Apr 8, 2013
    You're welcome. I hope it helps you out. I don't think you have anything to worry about health wise as long as you're not inhaling the fumes as though you were smoking them. One of the problems with lead-free solder is it doesn't seen to be as reliable, and there have been quite a few complaints about whiskers growing out of it and causing shorts.
     
  11. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    For SMD work I use the same rosin core solder, but I flux the pads and pins before soldering. This just makes the solder flow better. They may have been refererring to the diameter when they said it was not suitable for SMD work.

    Bob
     
  12. eKretz

    eKretz

    251
    27
    Apr 8, 2013
    Any updates CubeRider? I'm curious to hear how your new station is working! I just picked up an ersa icon 1 from eBay to replace my old 10 yr old beater that just gave up the ghost, so I'm going to be learning a new iron too.
     
  13. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    I just bought the solder you suggested eKretz :D

    Not even fired up my new solder station yet, want to wait until I can tin it properly before my first use, and then on to my first real project.

    Thanks for the advice everyone, am sure am gonna need much more lol.
     
  14. CubeRider

    CubeRider

    32
    0
    Mar 15, 2013
    Strange this as its only by coincidence that I replied to the post this morning and saw you had replied to it too, but I didnt get any email notification to say the topic had been replied to.

    So as I said really, just waiting on the solder now and then onto my own first project :D

    Your solder station looks nice, similar to the one I bought:
    http://www.maplin.co.uk/60w-professional-lcd-solder-station-with-esd-protection-511927

    Only yours was about 5 times as much lol :D

    This is what I want to make for my first project only I want to power it with a small solar panel:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Resin-Cubes/
     
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