April 3, 2012

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Soldering 101
A Guide to the Science and Art of Melting Solder

Chances are that most have used a soldering iron as part of their first accomplishments on the homebrewing workbench ... to assemble a kit, prepare a cable or to build a radio.  But how many of us ever had instruction from an Elmer when we first starting using that $5 radio Shack pencil iron or that 35W Weller Soldering Gun?

Here's a chance to participate in a discussion that overviews the many aspects that we each have mastered(?) over the years.  We can compare notes, toss in our own experiences of successes and failures, and offer general guidance to the newcomers in the homebrewing ranks.

~George N2APB & Joe N2CX

Audio Recording ... (Listen to MP3 recording)

Text Log ...

<20:16:10>"N8ET - Bill": www.kangaus.com
<20:35:58>"George - N2APB": madelltech.com
<20:36:32>"George - N2APB": weller solder stations ... http://www.all-spec.com/products/Soldering_and_Rework%7CSoldering.Rework_Equipment%7CSOL-10/?brand=Weller&gclid=COSX8-H5ma8CFQfe4AodqXP8cg
<20:38:10>"George - N2APB": http://www.madelltech.com/m3.html
<20:41:15>"George - N2APB": Brass wool from Digi-Key ... http://parts.digikey.com/1/parts/1850504-replacement-wool-wdc-2pc-0051384099.html
<20:42:23>"George - N2APB": acid core solder = no no.  Nearly impossible to get the acid flux outta there and eventually the joint (and electrical connection) will corrode.
<20:43:30>"George - N2APB": Rosin core is the best for us to use.  Rosin melts and keeps air away from the joint during soldering.  Usually no need to add extra flux.  better one from Europe is "multicore".
<20:44:07>"George - N2APB": Water soluble solder is usually not good for amateur use.  Hard to get it all off without leaving some gray trace of it behind, which also tends to corrode in time.
<20:44:32>"George - N2APB": 60/40 (or 63/37 with lower melting point) is better for us to use.
<20:44:59>"George - N2APB": Common sizes is 015" (size of hair) for SMT use, especially.
<20:45:13>"George - N2APB": 031" is better suited for larger-leaded parts.
<20:45:30>"George - N2APB": 128" solder not great for electrical components.
<20:46:49>"George - N2APB": ROHS (no lead) is come to be the better environmental solution (no Pb), but it has problems in time ... "Tin wiskers" actually grow and ultimately short out connections.  Hi-Reliability industry does NOT use ROHS solder for this reason.
<20:55:29>"Joe N2CX": 1206 is .12" x .06"
<20:56:04>"Joe N2CX": 0805 is .08" x .5"  Decimal, not metric!
<20:56:43>"Joe N2CX": Make that .08" x .05"
<21:00:09>"Joe N2CX": Convection oven
<21:09:18>"George - N2APB": To see several thousand soldering demo videos on YouTube, do a search there using "soldering tutorial"
<21:09:28>"George - N2APB": http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=soldering+tutorial&oq=solder&aq=1&aqi=g7g-s1g2&aql=&gs_l=youtube.1.1.0l7j0i10j0l2.774l1217l0l3885l6l4l0l0l0l0l183l536l1j3l4l0 .
<21:13:06>"George - N2APB": Wahl portable/battery solder iron ...http://www.starkelectronic.com/wahl.htm
<21:14:05>"George - N2APB": Flux pens are very handy to use for making great connections ... Digi-Key http://ca.digikey.com/1/3/rosin-flux-pen
<21:15:05>"N8ET - Bill": Bruce of EAE Sales   www.eaesales.com     will be at the Timonium hamfest - he has everything for soldering!
<21:16:07>"N8ET - Bill": Thanks George!
<21:16:45>"N8ET - Bill": W1REX
<21:17:38>"Terry WB4JFI": QRP ME Island cutter kit: http://www.qrpme.com/?p=product&id=IC


1) Solder Stations

2) Solder Tips

      Normal (.062”)

      Fine (.032”)

      Super-fine (.015”)

      750 to 800 deg. F

3) Solder Types

         Rosin core

         Acid Core

         Water Soluble

         60/40 or 63/37



         .128” for auto radiators and lawn art

         ROHS – just say no


4) Other tools


         Fine tipped needle-nose pliers

         Flush cut clipper

         Fine tipped tweezers (non-magnetic)

         Toothpick to hold SMT components in place

         Solder wick braid

         De-solder bulb or solder-sucker

         Anti-static mat

4) Health Considerations

      No food on workbench

      Wash hands after handling solder


5) Viewing Aids

6) Soldering Components to a PCB

7) Typical Solder Techniques (leaded components)

8) Multiple SMT Solder Techniques

9) Inspection

      Magnifier and bright light help

      Or take macro photo and enlarge on screen


10) A Clean Workbench ...




The following is original work of N2APB as contributed to the ARRL Handbook, chapter 23 ...


The "Doofus" SMT Hold-Down Device ...


KD5SSJ "SMT Soldering Tools & Process" (http://kd5ssj.com/solderpaste/smt-tools-and-process)


1.       1) N5IB SMT techniques including “Doofus” hold-down device:  http://www.qsl.net/n5ib/surface_mount/Smk30.jpg

2.       2) Cash Olson KD5SSJ soldering tools paste and process:  http://kd5ssj.com/solderpaste/smt-tools-and-process

3.       3) Lady Ada SMT Tutorials: http://www.ladyada.net/library/smt/index.html

4.       4) X-Tronic 4000 hot air solder station:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/X-TRONIC-4000-HOT-AIR-REWORK-SOLDERING-IRON-STATION-/120571221985

5.       5) KD1JV SMT Soldering YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah5HEjDTHUo



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