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Firebird21
04-27-2006, 06:37 PM
The basics of soldering.

This is for the people that have never picked up a soldering iron before.
For the more experienced members, any constructive criticism is welcome. I want this to be as simple and straight forward as possible.

You will need:
Soldering Iron
"Rosin Core" Solder (Lead Free and NOT ACID core solder)
Wire
Clamps or "Aligator Clips" (Optional)

First you must ďTinĒ your brand new soldering gun (or iron). You do this simply by pulling the trigger to heat up the iron, when it is hot enough just put some Solder on the tip. This will help to add solder to your connections.


Now Strip the wire you wish to solder.
http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder1.jpg

It should look like this.
http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder2.jpg

You donít need to strip this much off, but you want to leave yourself enough to work with.

Next you want to Tin the wire you just stripped, and the part you want to solder it to (If it doesnít have any on it yet).

Hold the wire, Rosin Core Solder and the Iron (if you canít hold them all at once, use the clamps to secure the wire), heat up the Iron until it can melt the solder. Once itís hot enough place it on the wire and melt the solder onto the wire.
Like thisÖ
http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder3.jpg

http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder4.jpg

This can be the tricky part. You want to heat the metal enough so the Solder will attach to it, but you donít want to heat it up so much that you start melting the sheath.
This is especially important when soldering switches and such. I have destroyed many good switches by over-heating it wile soldering. And youíll get really peeved if you fry your LED!

Also, you must make sure you get some Rosin onto the wire. Solder will not stick to the wire with out the Rosin. So donít just use that big Glob of solder on the end of the Iron, use fresh Solder from the spool.

You need to make sure u clip the tip of the solder now and then if you get that excessive melted solder on the tip of the solder wire, this helps the solder to melt quicker.

This is were ďPractice makes perfect!Ē You may want to take a piece of wire and keep practicing on it by Tinning the end, cutting it off and staring over until you are comfortable in your ability.

Next youíre going to solder the wire to the part.
In this example Iím soldering the wire to a junk Battery box (From the Thomas project)

Here you just heat the Iron and hold the wire on the part you are soldering it to, when the Iron is hot enough, just touch it to the joint for about 1-2sec. or until the solder melts.

http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder5.jpg

Pull the Iron away, wile holding the joint together until the solder cools.

Then youíre done!
http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/Solder6.jpg


This is the same for soldering two wires together. The trick there is being abole to hold it all. Some people twist the wires, but I just hold them together.

Try not to have any Sharp Edges. They will poke through the Shrink Wrap and may cause as short if it hits something.

Remember to put you heat shrink wrap on BEFORE you solder your joint together or you will be very mad! lol


Remember, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!
Before you know it youíll be a pro!

Do-Clo's Clue:
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Do-Clo

Soldering is really something that requires practice, one can look at a picture to see the desired results but until time is spent with your iron in hand you really can't master it. Another requirement is a good soldering iron, that will make or break the quality of your work. Another requirement is a hot soldering iron, wait for the iron to heat up to maximum before attempting to use it, just because it melts the solder it is not ready to use. I use a 800 degree soldering iron for my work and home use it gives the best results. Soldering guns are really not the best for saber building. A wet sponge is a peect way to clean the excessive solder from the tip of your soldering iron, just wipe your hot iron across the sponge and it will remove the extra solder and you have a clean tip once again.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">


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xwingband
04-27-2006, 06:55 PM
Although I doubt anyone here will be soldering that much... LEAD FREE too! The lead stuff, while easier to work with, the fumes are not good for you if exposed for a while.

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james3
04-27-2006, 07:23 PM
Right on man! I use the lead free inside and the lead based outside.
I use the flat blade to heat the wire to wire connections and the smallest point for circuit board work.
When I use stranded wire I spread it out mix the strands together like joining fingers give a slight twist to blend them together to get that same low profile look as putting the wires together.
You may also want to point out that the soldering iron while conveinent for the shrink tube it is not a good idea to use it for that, the wife's hair dryer is much better suited for that task[;)]

Good job firebird, it is a dang fine tutorial.

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Firebird21
04-27-2006, 07:26 PM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by james3

...the wife's hair dryer is much better suited for that task[;)]
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">


Is it wrong that I use a lighter?


If I had some Heat Shrink I'd add that too, but I used the last of it on my saber...[:(]

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Ambo
04-27-2006, 07:36 PM
I use a Grill lighter....dosnt burn the didgets like a bic does




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Albert Einstein

james3
04-27-2006, 08:24 PM
I have used the lighter sticks a few times but I read somewhere way back that a hot air gun or simmilar is better then open flame. I think it had something to do with the fire retardant properties start to degrade.
Or I could be smokin' crack and that has to do with plenum wire, it's late.

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Do-Clo
04-27-2006, 09:29 PM
A heat gun is the best way the shrink heat shrink tubing but I don't have one so it falls to the lighter that is lying on my bench. Remember if you don't burn yourself then you are not soldering.

Firebird my professor would have failed you on the quality of your solder joint[:D]

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

GFORCE13
04-27-2006, 11:07 PM
So True I used to use a lighter and matches but nothing get's the HeatShrink to form and shrink evenly like a Heat Gun. Especially if you are using the 1" or larger Diameter Stuff it would take forever with a lighter and on light colored stuff you don't get the carbon scoring.[:)]
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"> Remember if you don't burn yourself then you are not soldering. <hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote"> So True, you got to suck it up especially while trying to hold the wires together while the solder joint cools to get a good connection.[:)]
I also recommend using Rosin Core Flux Paste to get a nice even solder flow.
" I am a Jedi like my Father before me"
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Firebird21
04-28-2006, 04:48 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Do-Clo

Firebird my professor would have failed you on the quality of your solder joint[:D]<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I said constructive criticism.
I was never taught how to solder. Yet another skill I was forced to figure out on my own.


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WeirdoTransvestite
04-28-2006, 05:10 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Do-Clo

Remember if you don't burn yourself then you are not soldering.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Does buring a hole in my shirt count? Grabbing a soldering iron from the wrong end? A speck of moying onto my cheek, Or was that the rosin core flying?

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Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 06:34 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Firebird21

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Do-Clo

Firebird my professor would have failed you on the quality of your solder joint[:D]<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I said constructive criticism.
I was never taught how to solder. Yet another skill I was forced to figure out on my own.


Have you read your Thread Index (http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/sabers/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=577) today?
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<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Kidding with you firebird the procedure you posted is good, if you invest in a good soldering iron, you will find it much easier to solder and get a good joint. The gun like you are using is really too big for soldering small wires. Pick up the one Tim has here on your your next order you will find that you like it.


Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

Firebird21
04-28-2006, 07:29 AM
Tell me what don't you like about it and I'll fix it.

There's nothing I can do about the Iron, sorry.

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Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 08:20 AM
I just spot solder joints more than most because I have done it for so long. When finished the solder joint should be smooth and shiny, in the picture one of yours looks to be sorta grainy not smooth. I found after years of trial and error that a 800 degree iron works the best for soldering, it heats up the joint fast and allows you to get a nice solder joint quick.

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

Firebird21
04-28-2006, 10:03 AM
I thought you were going to say I have too much extra wire there.
I know it's bugging me.


It's cruddy because I never cleaned the gun before its Photo-Op.

I didn't think anyone would care. lol

When I get a chance I'll fix it just for you Do-Clo.[:D]

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virus692
04-28-2006, 10:14 AM
Just a quick shime in <font color="red">DO NOT USE A COLD HEAT GUN</font id="red"> I fried a hasbro sound board that way... <font color="purple">DARN LAWS OF PHYSICS</font id="purple">.[;)][}:)]

Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 10:32 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Firebird21

I thought you were going to say I have too much extra wire there.
I know it's bugging me.


It's cruddy because I never cleaned the gun before its Photo-Op.

I didn't think anyone would care. lol

When I get a chance I'll fix it just for you Do-Clo.[:D]

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<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

I was going to let you slide on the extra wire but since you mention it.[}:)]

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

xwingband
04-28-2006, 10:56 AM
Sometimes I say it doesn't matter. Especially if it's not going to show.[:p] If you have a lot of wires close together that extra may count, but otherwise heatshrink it and cover it up.[:D]

Like for my clear one... I'm not going to give you guys many opportunities to critize my soldering.[:p] I'm going to use those types of quick disconnects you just crimp on the wire. That way it looks better with the heatshrink to cover the wires and I won't have to worry about resoldering if a wire comes off, just plug it back on.[:D]

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Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 12:09 PM
Come on Xwing we wouldn't pick on you very much[}:)]

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

Firebird21
04-28-2006, 12:54 PM
How are these Solder joints Do-Clo?

http://www.yankeetoys.org/lee/LED.jpg


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Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 01:07 PM
If you want the truth the joint is not that strong because the soulder is sitting on top of the pad and not blended with the solder already on the solder pad of the led. You did not apply enough heat to flow everything evenly. I wish I could show you a picture of a smooth solder joint but my camera doesn't do that well close up. I have never had a problem with wires coming off because when the solder joint is evenly flowed with the right amount of heat you can pull the wire into but not break the solder joint. Remember you asked.

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

supertrogdor
04-28-2006, 01:10 PM
full marks on the closeup picture though Firebird, i am yet to see many people pull off a nice tight shot like you did

Firebird21
04-28-2006, 01:42 PM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by Do-Clo

Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. I told you so.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">


That's why it's the basic soldering. For the people that have never done it before.

You should do "Advanced Soldering Techniques" and go into further detail about it. The kind of stuff that most people wouldn't know and tips to Solder like a Pro.

Or we could just incorporate it all onto here. If it doesn't get too complicated. This is for the people, so lets make it as good as possible.

I just got sick of the "You just have to do it" Comments I see all the time. This Tutorial is supposed to get you started.



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xwingband
04-28-2006, 01:53 PM
True, this is a "basic" tutorial. I'll certainly try to tackle some "good" soldering joint in pics after I get home. I'm by no means an expert either, my dad just sat me down with a bread board and did one for me to watch then said "try anything until you feel you can do it", but I'll try too.[:)]

The point is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Describing it is like tech support over the phone... http://forumimages.somethingawful.com/images/smilies/emot-bang.gif a picture at least gets them to understand what they have to do.

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Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 02:24 PM
Soldering is really something that requires practice, one can look at a picture to see the desired results but until time is spent with your iron in hand you really can't master it. Another requirement is a good soldering iron, that will make or break the quality of your work. Another requirement is a hot soldering iron, wait for the iron to heat up to maximum before attempting to use it, just because it melts the solder it is not ready to use. I use a 800 degree soldering iron for my work and home use it gives the best results. Soldering guns are really not the best for saber building. A wet sponge is a peect way to clean the excessive solder from the tip of your soldering iron, just wipe your hot iron across the sponge and it will remove the extra solder and you have a clean tip once again.

Firebird don't take it personal, as I said your instructions are quite good.

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

Ambo
04-28-2006, 02:49 PM
In reference to the soldering iron, what wattage soldering iron hits the 800 degree mark, i bought the highest wattage that my RS carried(45 watt), but it didnt tell what degree it went up to. Oh, and by the way, a wodr of caustin to everyone out there.....the black and decker solder irons SUK i would never recoment them to anyone.




"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
Albert Einstein

Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 03:02 PM
The temperature is set by the tip of the iron, the one Tim sells is 25 watts but it has a tip temperature of 750 degrees good for soldering. I really don't like the ones radio shack sells as the temperature is much lower probably less than 700 degrees. I have a 100 watt iron for really big work that I named Bertha, it has a tip that is 1/2" wide and it is 800 degrees.

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

Ambo
04-28-2006, 03:14 PM
so basically the 45 watter that i have sux?....maybee that is why it takes forever to melt solder and such?




"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
Albert Einstein

Do-Clo
04-28-2006, 04:18 PM
I hate to say it but I think you are right, order the weller from Tim on your next order, they make realy good soldering irons.

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

LAN-ED-TUL
04-29-2006, 11:45 PM
the one i got from wally world works ok, i just let it sit there and heat up before i try to use it. and when im ready, it is hot enough to heat it all up and melt solder just fine. only thing i have issues with on it, is the tips dont last very long before they get all blunted up and lose the nice point it has. i still need to get that soldering station do-clo gave me the link to. for 15 bucks its a good deal.




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james3
04-30-2006, 05:30 AM
I just found it is easier to use force lightning to solder every thing. Give that a try[;)][:D]

Really though, I love that this is getting done. I have a 45 watter with a brand spanking new tip and that makes all the difference. There is a fine line between having the tip tinned and a cloopy tip that won't give good heat.

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WeirdoTransvestite
04-30-2006, 07:05 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by virus692

Just a quick shime in <font color="red">DO NOT USE A COLD HEAT GUN</font id="red"> I fried a hasbro sound board that way... <font color="purple">DARN LAWS OF PHYSICS</font id="purple">.[;)][}:)]
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

That, and they take forever to heat up, and when they do, it's not hot enough.

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Do-Clo
04-30-2006, 10:36 AM
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by james3

I just found it is easier to use force lightning to solder every thing. Give that a try[;)][:D]

Really though, I love that this is getting done. I have a 45 watter with a brand spanking new tip and that makes all the difference. There is a fine line between having the tip tinned and a cloopy tip that won't give good heat.

<center>http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e370/Dadof3/James3sig.jpg</center>
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

The last time I used force lightning I ended up destroying the entire building, but then I have an anger management problem. [}:)]

Do-Clo
Brotherhood of the Sith

Don't make me destroy you...

arlaman
05-02-2006, 07:07 AM
Also when you solder the LED don't melt the little plasic bubble the LED sits in. I scorched mine a little the first time I did that.

Novastar
06-08-2007, 12:53 AM
Yes, Arlaman... that would be.... bad. :shock:

I think Do-Clo makes some really great points regarding soldering--and he ought to know. I do remember him saying something about knowing what it means to hold things to military standard... :)

Some other soldering tips I didn't see here:

* TEST YOUR SOLDER JOINT BY PULLING ON IT

Most people are... like... "afraid" to pull on a wire once they have it connected. I think they are afraid it is going to break. Hmm. DUH. There is barely a hidden message here... :) You are building a piece of electronics... that is going to get the bloody 'ELL kicked out of it... for heaven's sake... TEST the solder joint BEFORE you decide to put it all together only to find that the solder was waiting for a stiff breeze to make it fall off. Bad.

* MORE SOLDER IS GOOD, RIGHT?

Wrong. The *correct* amount is good. What that is... actually differs with the connection. And the gauge of wire. Use your brain, and experience. You do not need a giant glob for a wire... but you want a "pool" when doing the LED anode & cathode on the little star base plate. And yes, as Do-Clo says--avoid sharp edges. I hate it when my solder pools have horns. Evil solder joints!!! :twisted:

* I NEED TO SOLDER WIRES TOGETHER THE SAME WAY, EVERY TIME, RIGHT?

Not necessarily. Sometimes, you might solder together wires when they are "side by side". Or maybe you'll do the natural thing and solder them to sort of "re-build" into looking like "one" wire. It doesn't matter as long as the connection is strong.

* WHAT GAUGE OF WIRE SHOULD I USE?

Well, you really don't want to go TOO thin, and you certainly don't want some freakin' piece of licorice in there...! Remember that most of the time... you don't have tons of room in your hilt! You're wiring things up to fit inside a tube!! Expect to get creative... you don't have the luxury of a 5' x 5' space to wire "as you please".

My suggestion is 22 or 24 gauge.

* DO I NEED TO THREAD MY WIRE THROUGH THE LITTLE HOLES IN PARTS LIKE SWITCHES?

Not necessarily. This all depends on your "failsafe" style of thinking. If you want some layers of prevention so that wires are much less likely to come apart:

1. If there ARE holes for a device like a switch or a port or whatever... sure, go ahead and use them if you like! You do not NEED to if you solder job is strong, but... as we said: failsafes! :)

2. For wire to wire connections, after stripping the wires, twist the stranded leads together to form a braid. Unfortunately, you can't really "tin" the wires first if you choose to go this way. But then, you can "draw" the solder right into the wires together! You have to be fairly "artistic" and creative with this method to make it solid soldering-wise... but it CAN work.

3. Use the method I mentioned further above, where you sort of lay the wires next to one another, side by side, parallel to one another (think like railroad tracks), and apply the twisting method above, or just tin and solder if you like.

4. Once you're complete with your solering, find places all about your wiring configuration to tape down "stress points". That is--where you think wires could get yanked and bent in a bad way... see if you can take the stress AWAY from the joint, and place it on a "real" part of the wire!

Remember, those last few numbered suggestions... aren't really great "technique" for large projects... but sometimes they will be perfect for sabers since you have so little room to work with... and they go through a giant amount of shock and stress.

FINALLY... isolate EVERYTHING. Never never never ever leave wiring metal/solder exposed. Even if you think it is miles away from ever touching another lead... all it takes is ONE mistake, and you might cross + with -. Very bad.

So... save yourself a headache, remember what the Ghostbusters said:

"DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!" :)

;)

Aryk Ky'Ratsu
06-24-2007, 01:48 PM
Thanks Novastar for the added info. You've got great timing. I was just reviewing the tutorial again since I'm ready to start soldering for the first time after months of delays b/c of work.

I can't remember now who suggested it (it's not in this string), but I'm also going to put a bit of hot glue on all the wire-to-part joints for that extra "failsafe". Better to pull on the glue instead of the joint itself.

Novastar
06-24-2007, 04:45 PM
I would highly recommend avoiding hot glue altogether, unless you are NOT covering where a solder point goes down to its corresponding connect on the board.

Why?

If the solder point DOES fail (which it can and will given time and just the nature of hand-soldering), the glue will create a GIANT mess that I will never fully tell you about.

For something like wire to wire--it's not THAT big of a deal since you can simply clip it and start anew. If you get glue on a joint in a BOARD... well, good luck with the cleaning process. It's not fun.

Finally, I noticed that most hot glues just sort of peel off with ease anyhow. I have yet to find a glue that really does its job for whatever purpose come to think of it.

Marsupial
06-26-2007, 08:02 AM
I have to agree with Novastar, and add that our application will cause solder joints to fail at some point: we're fighting with the saber, causing impacts and vibration to the whole saber. The solder points might crack or become loose at some point, causing intermitent contact or fail completely. If the maintenance is easier, you're gaining in head ache and time.

I have one of my saber that I have to unmount to find out what solder point or connector makes that the saber shuts off upon impact. I think I'll use the opportunity to make a huge overhaul and convert to K2 or luxIII plus sound instead of my current Lux1 setup.

All to say, think maintenance when building your saber.

Aryk Ky'Ratsu
06-30-2007, 02:24 PM
OK, I'll ditch the hot glue idea. Thanks for the heads up.

Today I finally sat down to practice soldering for the first time. I'm using some scrap PCB from a piece of equipment to practice on. I'm using a 30W iron from Wal-Mart. It might not be the best choice, but some had said to use 15-25W for board work, others said 30-45, so I thought 30 was a good compromise to try out since I'm new.

The instructions said to let the iron warm up for 3 minutes (the "silver" metal of the tip and iron shaft started turning gold/brown in that time), then to tin the tip. I tried that, and like Shaas said happened to him in the LED wiring topic, the solder just beaded up into a ball and fell off the tip and wouldn't stick. As I kept trying to tin it, the tip just kept getting darker (oxidized?). The 1/4" point is now just brown/gray, and the 3/4" tip shaft and thin tip base is sort of dull to shiny metallic blue. The iron's shaft below that is still gold/brown. I kept trying long enough that you couldn't say it hadn't heated up yet.

So does this mean that the 30W can't get hot enough since the solder isn't "flowing" onto the tip? If it should be fine, what am I doing wrong? When I Googled basic soldering tips, one site recommended this solder paste/flux that both cleans and tins the tip at the same time. Has anyone used that before?

xwingband
06-30-2007, 05:09 PM
No, what you did is fine. If your iron is the 30W Lenk I've seen it does fine (I used to use one before I managed to pull the wires out in a tripping incident). The problem is that tinning doesn't occur immeadiately. It takes some use to become really well tinned.

I normally don't worry about having the tip tinned when I have a new tip. It heats up all over so flowing isn't the issue. At the end of my soldering job I set out to get it tinned. It's hard to fully describe as it's a doing type thing, but I just use a wet sponge and solder smoothing it over the tip.

The tinning goo is okay. I don't really use it but it's not a waste of your money. I think everyone should own flux though. It saves me from frustration when the iron and solder decides to not play nice. Especially those situation where you are poking something through a PCB.

Aryk Ky'Ratsu
07-01-2007, 10:35 AM
Thanks xwing.

No, my 30W brand is Electro-Tek...that was the only model they had other than a gun (which folks recommended against here).

After my last post, I used a little Bar Keeper's Friend (oxalic acid powder) to clean the oxidation off the tip, then tried the tinning again. This time I got a small glob on top and it didn't roll off. So I let it sit there a bit as an experiment. When I wiped it away with the sponge, I had a nice patch of tin on the tip that was sticking...SUCCESS!! Partially at least. Couldn't get it to work a 2nd time...or 3rd...or 4th... :? Will try again today. Is that what you meant about the sponge? You have a small glob on the tip and wipe it onto the sponge which still leaves a layer behind? This is hard to explain. Firebird's tutorial is good basic info, but it would be nice if one of the Masters on this site could do a YouTube on soldering for sabers (e.g., the LED, basic wires, etc.). Then you could direct the soldering virgins there to really see how it's done.

You had said you don't really need to have it tinned at first b/c you'll get good heat transfer. I did try some soldering even without it tinned, but several of test joints were grainy and/or dull gray w/c folks here and other sites I googled said was a sign of a bad joint, oxidation from the tip is causing it b/c not tinned, joint is supposed to be shiny for good electrical contact, etc.

Soldering sounds easy enough when you read about it. Ain't that always the case? I see why everyone says you need to practice. I just have to get this down pat on the scrap before I try on the real parts. Don't want to fry my LED...or even worse...burn my buttered toast! :shock:

xwingband
07-01-2007, 12:02 PM
YEAH, when you get a glob of solder to stick and when wiped away it leaves a layer of solder, that's a good tinning! It's hard and takes time but you could eventually get a good portion of the tip that way. I wouldn't say you need the whole tip either. Because of the pen style ergonomics I only hold it on a certain side anyways.

The grey solder is a sign of a "weak" joint but also having held the iron there too long is a cause of that too. You can turn a shiny joint grey too if you have to reheat it... I forget a wire occasionally. :?

I was thinking of film soldering at some point... just have to figure out a way to get a good vantage point and camera mounting. :?

Tradeliphine
11-24-2008, 08:27 PM
Ive searched and read around and I havent seen the exact answer to something that Ive been wondering. Does it matter if I use stranded wire or like a solid copper one? It seems like everyone mentions stranded, but not solid. I was wondering why, what propertys do they differ in, what property is better for what application, or is it just personal preference? I appreciate any info and clarification, ty much

Lord Maul
11-24-2008, 09:15 PM
Stranded is better for our application. It can flex much more without snapping

P.S. Thanks for reading the Index.

Jedi-Loreen
11-24-2008, 09:29 PM
Yes, solid wire is more rigid and prone to breaking, which can even happen inside the insulation, where you can't see it.

I also think that stranded can be tinned better. The strands sort of "soak up" the solder, for lack of a better term.

Tradeliphine
11-24-2008, 09:45 PM
P.S. Thanks for reading the Index.

too tired, sarcasm detection meter is shorting out, was that serious or sarcasm?

thanks for the prompt answers from both of you though, thats a really good point i hadnt thought of with the flexability and concealed damage.

Lord Maul
11-24-2008, 09:48 PM
That's serious. I've spent 5 hours easily finding all the threads for the Index and continually updating it. Xwing has spent even more time since he maintained it from the beginning of the forum till the forum change last year. It's nice to know people still read the dang thing

Tradeliphine
11-24-2008, 10:03 PM
=x its a very nice list, I clicked it for the first time after you said that... Im kinda stubborn and all, so I like to search by terms, browse threads manually, etc. Especially with a site like this I learn so much just by looking for something else, I just tuck it away in the back of my mind, then when Im out in my garage building I have little epiphanys and say OMG THATS WHAT HE MEANT, or DUH THATS WHAT A DPDT IS FOR!

I will try to use the list more, I see the purple saber link on there, and that is one of my next projects, converting mommas mace windu into something much brighter and purplier. I love the pics Ive seen by Mako, but need to read up on what he did.

Anywho, Im always here lurking and reading, I dont feel right spamming threads and trying to jack my count up, I run a forums too and have too much respect to do that, so while my count may be low, but my knowlege (and accompanying headaches) grows daily, I have now completed my 3rd saber, sink tube orange led, vintage graflex blue led, and now mace conversion seoul p4 white with lee filters hot pink for my sis, Im hooked. Im giving my sis, her husband, and their son each a saber for xmas this year, then next year Ill have them mail the hilts around thanksgiving and Ill put in sound/drivers for them for that years present (by then i will be more comfortable with the process, have the parts, money, and hopefully a nice system in place.

on another derailing of topic, ive seen several sleds for lack of proper term, where people organize all their components in a framework ( usually in Graflex shots, I know some are made by yoda at fxsabers) that slides in and out of the hilt, are they bought somewhere? parts from some real life object I havent thought of, or scratch built? I was bumming around lowers today and found a plethora of threaded rods and washers and grommets, but nothing that looked simple/clean like the ones Ive seen.

Lord Maul
11-24-2008, 10:07 PM
Yoda at FX Sabers laser cuts his, they are 100% custom.

The ones most people use are just thin walled 1.25" PVC pipe. You can shape it pretty easily to make a chassis. Erv's tutorial shows a sinktube being used which also works. The main advantage of PVC though is that it is an insulator, meaning nothing can short in it.

astromech_kuhns
12-01-2008, 02:14 PM
if i solder my saber toethor than wanted to add US2 or something can you reheat the solder so it comes apart?

Jedi-Loreen
12-01-2008, 03:23 PM
I thought you said you knew how to solder? Have you never had to resolder a connection?

Solder doesn't solidify into concrete once it cools. You can remelt it. ;)

eastern57
12-01-2008, 03:36 PM
if i solder my saber toethor than wanted to add US2 or something can you reheat the solder so it comes apart?

Uncertainty is one thing, but come on... think about what you're about to ask - before you ask it.

astromech_kuhns
12-01-2008, 03:39 PM
i have soldered before but no i have never needed to resolder anything. and srry eastern your right.

eastern57
12-01-2008, 03:48 PM
No harm - no foul. :) I feel okay laughing at this one because I know you'll realize how silly it was ;)

Solder = resolder

astromech_kuhns
12-01-2008, 04:02 PM
lol all right. and thanks.

Novastar
12-01-2008, 08:14 PM
I'm not certain if these have been posted here before, but... me wanna post it-think I should?-Gonna do it-here it go...

Judge Wapner's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpb4NfiGLMk

Erv-a-zoid's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOdnGUMi7lQ

Nova-Claus's'ss'sss:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR9r_lGYGoQ

Yes I'm being weird, but... hey, what's wrong with that. It's all about freakin' toy LED sabers for heaven's sake... :)

Heheheh... seriously though--for those who need some soldering help... I think these 3 vids should be sufficient. You may not even need to watch them all. Or you can. Or not. I don't care. Just like I don't care if you're glad I'm eating nachos right now or not. I just don't care. :D hehehehhe :p

Mandalorian
12-01-2008, 09:54 PM
Listen to Novastar. Those are some of the most helpful tutorial vids around here. There's even more to learn from them than just soldering. They teach that very well, but there's more as well.

Tradeliphine
12-02-2008, 05:48 AM
I may have to adjust my set up, my iron has to heat the parts for like 10-30 seconds some times. It seems clean, I wipe it often, and from the vids it looks like im using a larger diameter solder than you guys, might have to look at that too. Im using a 45w craftsman iron at the moment, you cant adjust temp on it.

Jedi-Loreen
12-02-2008, 02:08 PM
That sure doesn't sound right to me. It shouldn't take that long to heat up your parts. My 33W iron only takes a few seconds.

Novastar
12-02-2008, 04:30 PM
Agreed with J-Lo... even in my minimal experience with soldering and after buying "el-junko" irons and abusing them like I should (and do)... I can solder most anything in a second or two.

Those who know me also know that my iron is friggin' akin to soldering with a bloody BASEBALL BAT, and poor Gundamaniac (Brian) had to use it in the CF Wiring Guide video...

...although he liked it, go figure. :)

Anyhow. Heating parts for >3 seconds or so = not a good idea... or something is wrong. Maybe it IS your solder... I don't know though...

Mandalorian
12-02-2008, 06:02 PM
I just had my first soldering experience tonight, and I must say, it's a lot easier than everyone makes it up to be. I practiced a lot on some spare wire, but I got the hang of it really quickly. In less than an hour, I made my first solder and went on to make the basic LED hilt in Tim's tutorial.

So for all you fellow noobs, don't be afraid. Once you see how it's done and give it a try, it's not too hard.

Angelus Lupus
12-02-2008, 06:08 PM
Congratulations Mandalorian, it's always nerve-wracking the first time you bring the soldering iron near your saber's guts.

Novastar
12-02-2008, 08:15 PM
I just had my first soldering experience tonight, and I must say, it's a lot easier than everyone makes it up to be. I practiced a lot on some spare wire, but I got the hang of it really quickly. In less than an hour, I made my first solder and went on to make the basic LED hilt in Tim's tutorial.

So for all you fellow noobs, don't be afraid. Once you see how it's done and give it a try, it's not too hard.Good advice, Manda! It's true that the first time you try something... it's harrowing. But some things are more in your head than reality.

It may sound strange, but... it's the same with something like acrobatics. You FREAK out the first attempt at things... and later--you get comfy and you're like "Hey... this isn't so hard... it's easy!!" :) Well, with practice. :cool:

Tradeliphine
12-02-2008, 08:25 PM
I havent afforded myself the time to work on sabers any this week yet, I just got a nice pair of calipers too on black friday (among the tons of other tools I bought at sears) so Im going to tinker with my iron maybe tomorrow. Ill try putting a finer tip on, and measure my solder and look for a finer strand. Thanks for all the info/standards.

Tradeliphine
12-06-2008, 08:34 AM
Well I put on a finer tip, about half the diameter of the one I was using, and I switched to a finer solder, again about half the diameter of the previous. When I let the iron sit and get hot for the first 10-15 min, then touch the solder it eats it fine, but the solder just builds up as a blob on the wire, it doesnt coat the tip, Ive never really gotten it to, and the tips just get dark gray. When I touched the tip to two positioned wires it still took like 15-30 seconds to heat them enough to have the solder flow. Ive watched the videos and read the threads, but my experiences are far from that smooth or fast. I wish I had someone locally to show me, idk if I got a bum iron or if Im the bum, I just dont know.

Mandalorian
12-06-2008, 11:12 AM
Hmm, that's weird. My iron is getting darker from the heat like you described, but it still heats up in a few short minutes, then solders everything fine on contact. Sounds like you need to take it back and get a new one if that's possible.

Jedi-Loreen
12-06-2008, 11:35 AM
Dude, just get a new soldering iron. There isn't to be any point in still trying to use the one you have now, if it won't do what you need it to.

You can't build saber guts with that thing, it's not working right.

And you sure don't want to try that one of the upper end sound boards. :shock: I wouldn't even want to try it on a Hasbro. Or anything, for that matter.

Tradeliphine
12-06-2008, 01:01 PM
yea its a craftsman 45 watt that I bought less than a month ago just for sabers, so i can return it np, just trying to decide if I should exchange it (maybe it is bad) or get something else if the model itself sucks. I wish there was a place near me where I could go look at several diff models, but I dont know of any. I might just order a station like many of you have.

Donnovan Sunrider
12-06-2008, 02:18 PM
I'm wondering if the model was intended for work on larger items, and thus not well suited for small electronics.
I'd try a different model personally.

Tradeliphine
12-07-2008, 06:37 PM
Well I called around town, and found out what each store had in the way of soldering guns, and being the instant gratification guy that I am I wanted to buy local rather than order (that and I need to finish another saber by xmas) The best I found was at the RC/Train store, a Hobbico (???) 60 watt for a whopping 7.95. So I grabbed that and a pack of misc tips.

I asked the employee for some tips if he knew how to solder. Turns out he soldered for the military for like 30 years. He gave me several tips and pieces of advise/technique, some of which I have never read here or anywhere else I tried to learn from.

Now I am in no way bashing what everyone has offered. But whether these are things you knew or not, they proved very helpful for someone starting truely from scratch (again, these are from the hobby shop guy/former military solderer):

When you get an iron or new tips take sandpaper or files, and actually file them down. He said its ok to have them be rough, that they are almost always copper core, and you want to take it down to the copper, try not to ruin the shape of the tip obviously. He said that the coatings they come with is often lousy for conduction and tinning.

Before you plug the iron/tip in the first time wrap some solder around the tip, when the iron is hot enough it will melt the solder and tin itself. Wipe it on the sponge and youll have a nice smooth tinned tip. Tin it before you stop the session. Wipe it with a wet rag or on the sponge when its almost cooled.

I dont have pics but my 45 watt craftsman iron was all dark and grody looking, the tip would not tin no matter what I tried, any solder I tried to tin it with just melted onto a blob on the solder. No matter how much I tried to clean it it never lost the gray or would tin. This I suspect was a major factor in why it took me so long to heat elements, more often I found myself melting the solder onto joints than heating the joints and letting the solder flow.

So when I got home I did a test. A head to head combat. Two irons enter, one iron leaves. I took both irons (45 watt craftsman with fine point vs 60 watt hobbico with chisel tip) and filed them down to roughish copper on the tips. I cut lengths of solder, and wrapped one around each tip and plugged them in.

The craftsman was the first to smoke and melt the solder, it melted so smooth, it picked up the iron and twirled it slowly to coat the entire tip, it was a beautiful silver color, and it was sooooo smooth looking, I wiped it on the sponge and got a nice coat with a clean tip.

I put it back on the holder and picked up the hobbico as it had now smoked, it didnt smooth out as much with twirling, more my fault from imperfect filing not removing all the chrome. Wiped it on the sponge and again had a nice smooth silver color finish where I had filed properly.

I tried the new hobbico first, tinned some wire ends, melted some solder pads on junker circuit boards, soldered and desoldered joints, and for fun decided to draw with solder on the boards. The hobbico did fine, was a little unweildly with the wider chisel tip, but was melting joints/pads in about 2-5 seconds, much better than my old craftsman.

Next I tried the 45 watt craftsman with the fine tip. I soldered and desoldered joints, heated pads and tinned wires, I drew on the circuit board, it was very easy to control, it was melting stuff in about 2-5 seconds just like the 60 watt. I had done a much better job filing the tip on this iron, so the tip is much better tinned. Once I got things to heat they reheated much easier on subsequent attempts, I got it down to 1-2 seconds to solder joints.

On both irons I wiped on the sponge after every few solders, basically when the tip started to lose its luster i would retin it and wipe off the excess.

I am going to keep the 60 watt around for bigger stuff, but I now have my 45 watt working fine, and am seeing results much more in line with what you guys were stating.

Hope my comparison and tips can help some other noobies.

Tradeliphine
12-07-2008, 06:38 PM
=( sorry for wall of text and double post

Jedi-Loreen
12-07-2008, 07:04 PM
I would have advised against filing your tips. Lightly sanding would have been all I would have done to the "grody" tipped 45 watt.

Why? Now that you've exposed the copper, if you're using rosin core solder, it's going to start eating away the tips, and you're going to have to keep filing them as they lose their shape and they'll get smaller and smaller. It's a viscious cycle.

At least, that's been my experience in the years that I've been doing electronic assembly.

I use pretty small tips for that sort of work though, so maybe yours won't corrode away so fast.

Novastar
12-07-2008, 11:06 PM
Agreed with J-Lo... I learned this the hard way on my first iron, although--sure, it's not really THAT big of a deal to replace tips if need be. It can be annoying though, since your tip "changes" every 50 solders or so, lmao... :)