Author Topic: How important is soldering technique to you?  (Read 589 times)

gordo

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1882
    • View Profile
    • Project Website
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2019, 05:59:13 PM »
Sort of the classic "power of the magician and not the wand" scenario.  It's really nice to have good gear and makes life so much more comfortable but at the end of the day its just heat.  I think a good iron makes you WAY more efficient and you think about what and why you're doing what you're doing as opposed to "how" you do it.

Fairly similar to a good guitar vs mediocre guitar.

alanp

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 5258
    • View Profile
    • http://alanp.info/
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2019, 06:02:35 PM »
I was wondering how often you guys change the tip on your irons.  Because I've been using the same one for a long time now--counting age in years--and it's still going strong.  Leaded solder on a good quality station (I have a Hakko but it's the older one with the dial for temperature control), and I'm a hobbiest so it's not like I'm using it for hours every day.  But it's surely got hundreds of hours on it.  I bought a new tip a few months ago out of a sense of obligation, but I haven't installed it yet.

I have never, EVER changed a tip on a soldering iron in my life. I used sandpaper on once once, when it was unutterably slagged up, and also tightened up the grub screw when that backed off, but never changed any tips. I've also never, ever set a temperature on a soldering iron, either :)

I have set temperature on my hot air station, but that involves a lot of guesswork on my part and swearing. "Melt, you little b*st*rd!" Verdict: pain in the arse to use, but it's the only real option for reworking anything SMD with three or more pins.
"Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper."
- Cohen the Barbarian, on what is greatest in life
My OSHpark shared projects
My website

EBK

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1030
  • Eric K.
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2019, 06:11:46 PM »
A long time ago, I used some horrendous soldering techniques, loading up the iron tip with solder before it even got anywhere near the place I wanted to make a solder joint.  At the same time, my knowledge of electronics was very subpar, so it is difficult to say exactly where I went wring with the things that didn't work.  However, around the time I was finishing up my if-it-results-in-solder-sticking-to-the-parts-then-it-must-be-ok phase, I did successfully complete my first guitar pedal.
Not affiliated with Oatey, makers of the world's best and most delicious* low tar solder paste. Ask for Oatey -- It's the juiciest!

*Solder paste is not food.  If ingested, seek medical help promptly.

cooder

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 2110
  • Stephan Nelson / New Zealand / Aotearoa
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2019, 07:23:23 PM »
It's important to me because an intermittent solder joint is probably the single worst thing to troubleshoot in our hobby.  If good solder technique can keep me from going there, then I'm a fan.

I was wondering how often you guys change the tip on your irons.  Because I've been using the same one for a long time now--counting age in years--and it's still going strong.  Leaded solder on a good quality station (I have a Hakko but it's the older one with the dial for temperature control), and I'm a hobbiest so it's not like I'm using it for hours every day.  But it's surely got hundreds of hours on it.  I bought a new tip a few months ago out of a sense of obligation, but I haven't installed it yet.
When I started with crap 10 bucks iron the tips went very quickly crummy and in newbie mode I sanded them, which actually makes things of course worse and you can just dump them.

I then bought a good Antex 25 watt iron, nice but I thought that the tips didn't last very long, needed replacing after 12 months. Lost the iron while on tour somewhere, so time to replace with a Chinese Weller knock off, which is still my backup but haven't used it since I got that mini TS100.
On that TS100 the tip seems to last very well, haven't replaced it and not the slightest sign of need to do so in a year of regular use.
The cool thing about the TS100 is that it powers up to full heat in a mega quick 15 seconds or so, has an automatic sleep mode which cools it down to preset changeable temp and as soon as you pick it up it goes back to full temp in 10 sec or so. That helps the lifespan of tip as well I guess.
Another thing I do is to clean and freshly tin the iron when I shut it down so the tip is nicely coated with fresh solder when sitting around.
TS100 also has auto shut off after 10 min(can be adjusted), so no leaving on by accident... did that a few times with earlier irons. Not good.
Yes I'm a fan boy of that thing and no, I'm not affiliated (sigh).
BigNoise Amplification

selfdestroyer

  • skilled electronics ninja master
  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 4797
  • Cody - Fresno CA USA
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2019, 08:54:14 PM »
I was talking about this recently with a buddy of mine that wanted to learn to soldier. I likened it to, when I learned how to play guitar on a nylon string acoustic. The neck was FAT and the action was high and it was a struggle to play anything. But, after a month or so, I picked up a standard strat and I felt unstoppable. Everything felt so easy.. I still was not good but it was so much easier to play.

When I first learned to soldier it was with a huge, cheap, one setting radio shack iron from the 80's that my dad had. I was trying to soldier mod chips (PICS) on original Playstation consoles. It worked, but it was ugly. Fast forward to mid 2000's and I picked up a Weller WESD51 and life was changed. all of a sudden I felt like I can soldier ANYTHING. haha then I started working with SMD and instantly got humbled again.

All this to say, there is definitely importance with your technique but don't underestimate good tools also. I think they go hand and hand.

alanp

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 5258
    • View Profile
    • http://alanp.info/
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2019, 09:00:45 PM »
All this to say, there is definitely importance with your technique but don't underestimate good tools also. I think they go hand and hand.

Absolutely, I just started the thread because the usual forum tendency is to say, if I buy a new iron/guitar/frying pan then my solder joints will be perfect/I can play Paganini's Caprices/I can make stroganoff without burning it!
"Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper."
- Cohen the Barbarian, on what is greatest in life
My OSHpark shared projects
My website

selfdestroyer

  • skilled electronics ninja master
  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 4797
  • Cody - Fresno CA USA
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2019, 09:10:03 PM »
All this to say, there is definitely importance with your technique but don't underestimate good tools also. I think they go hand and hand.

Absolutely, I just started the thread because the usual forum tendency is to say, if I buy a new iron/guitar/frying pan then my solder joints will be perfect/I can play Paganini's Caprices/I can make stroganoff without burning it!

Totally agree!

lars

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 763
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2019, 12:13:16 AM »
RoHS. The four letter word. RoHS has made soldering technique irrelevant. RoHS has made electronics into throw-away technology where the DIY'r has to wither into a sea of stupidity. It's funny that now we throw all this stuff away when it breaks, because it's so hard to fix; which fills up the landfills. This is what RoHS is supposedly aimed to prevent: environmental contamination.
Sorry, RoHS. Nobody is dumping Gibson GA-40s or old Fuzz Face's into your landfills, that have lead-based solder...OMG!!!!!. We're throwing out your RoHS-compliant 50" TVs that break after only 2 years and are too expensive to work on.
Great success!
✅ This message is from a trusted sender.

juansolo

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 4616
  • John - Wakefield, UK
    • View Profile
    • Juan's Gnomepage
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2019, 12:54:03 AM »
RoHS. The four letter word. RoHS has made soldering technique irrelevant. RoHS has made electronics into throw-away technology where the DIY'r has to wither into a sea of stupidity. It's funny that now we throw all this stuff away when it breaks, because it's so hard to fix; which fills up the landfills. This is what RoHS is supposedly aimed to prevent: environmental contamination.
Sorry, RoHS. Nobody is dumping Gibson GA-40s or old Fuzz Face's into your landfills, that have lead-based solder...OMG!!!!!. We're throwing out your RoHS-compliant 50" TVs that break after only 2 years and are too expensive to work on.
Great success!

This with big bloody knobs on!

I've been keeping running 30+ year old computers and broadcast monitors of late. I can do that because they are absolutely repairable. By virtue of this they're NOT going into landfill and will possibly keep on trucking another 30+ years.

Our current attitude of build it cheap and bin it when it fails irks me greatly for all the reason above. It's just wasteful. I spent a bit of time in India and their attitude toward repairing things may go a little to extremes (there are things they keep running that they really shouldn't, and their wiring can be a tad terrifying), but they repair EVERYTHING. The idea of binning something that's absolutely fixable is alien to them (electronics are really expensive there). It's a skill here in the UK that's vanishing rapidly with the disposable culture we've adopted. All down to super cheap, sub par goods, mainly from China and not being prepared to pay for quality.

All of which creates monumentally more waste than leaded frickin' solder!
JuansoloFX Stompage - DIY effects library & stuff
(NOT commercial)

“I excite very large doom for days” - playpunk

m-Kresol

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 2637
  • Felix - Graz, Austria
    • View Profile
    • My blog - in german
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2019, 01:12:20 AM »
I don't see the throw-away-when-broken-society as a result of RoHS standards. RoHS has some good points and goals, but obviously they come with disadvantages. Much of the new stuff is purely digital, which makes repairing it much harder than the older purely analog stuff.

In my opinion, the mentality of just replacing broken stuff has mainly two reasons:
1) the new stuff and electronics in general are just too cheap. The amount of technology, development and machinery that gets you to a simply component like a capacitor is tremendeous. The problems I face at work are details of that process, but we are trying to squeeze out every bit of improvement. On the other hand, the product needs to be produced for less than 5 cents a piece just to have some profit margin. Also, customers usually want to have fixed prize contracts over 5-10 years, with a fixed price discount every year. How the hell is one supposed to guarantee this? A simple increase in costs for base materials such as copper or aluminum will drive this into a no-profit deal. *rant over*
2) Many people are afraid that they don't have the skills to fix this, "because this is technical". My mom refused to learn how to set the clock on the microwave. The thing had just one button and a knob. Basically this is a hen and egg problem. If you never try, you will never learn. Since I picked up the DIY electronics hobby, I have fixed quite a few things for me, my parents and friends. Just much more ecological. Even if the replacement battery costs a bit, I refuse to buy a new "whatever", if the rest is still fully functional. Ecology over economy for me.


Getting back to the initial question of soldering technique: it is important, because bad technique (which is often just lack of experience imo) will likely result in some failures (which is part of getting experienced). Obviously good equipment helps, but it's not everything. Just yesterday I cleaned our lab soldering station and had to throw out a tip, that was utterly destroyed. basically it broke off due to to much water in the sponge and to aggressive use. the copper sponge was clustered in huge blobs of soldering tin, and this is a super fine soldering station we're talking about. apparently, one of my collegues likes to drain their pcbs and iron in tin. Also found some more than obvious bad solder joints where the tin did not wet the pad at all.
I build pedals to hide my lousy playing.

My projects are labeled Quantum Effects. My shared OSH park projects: https://oshpark.com/profiles/m-Kresol
My build docs
My etching tutorial

Muadzin

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 988
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2019, 02:32:53 AM »
I reckon its like with tone. Fanboys will obsess endlessly about what gear their guitar hero uses to sound like him, while give that guitar hero any guitar and any rig and he'll still sound just like him. If you have good solder technique you can work with anything. And getting better high end soldering gear just makes things easier. A Dutch saying has it that one should learn how to ride a bicycle by using an old bike. Not because its easier but because its harder.

As for RoHS, all those circuit boards look the same. I'm sure they are marvels of technical design, but whenever I see an old school circuit board it looks like a work of art. Because it is, both of design and technical craftmanship. And it doesn't hurt you can pilfer the old school board for rare unobtainium parts.

pickdropper

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 5984
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2019, 05:48:19 AM »
I reckon its like with tone. Fanboys will obsess endlessly about what gear their guitar hero uses to sound like him, while give that guitar hero any guitar and any rig and he'll still sound just like him. If you have good solder technique you can work with anything. And getting better high end soldering gear just makes things easier. A Dutch saying has it that one should learn how to ride a bicycle by using an old bike. Not because its easier but because its harder.

As for RoHS, all those circuit boards look the same. I'm sure they are marvels of technical design, but whenever I see an old school circuit board it looks like a work of art. Because it is, both of design and technical craftmanship. And it doesn't hurt you can pilfer the old school board for rare unobtainium parts.

Can you show examples of the work of art on non-RoHS vs. RoHS? 

RoHS solder is just a formulation difference.  While I prefer lead based solder given the choice, RoHS doesn't dictate board layout.  If you're referring to SMT vs. Through-Hole, that would be here regardless of whether or not RoHS existed.
Function f(x)
Follow me on Instagram as pickdropper

Muadzin

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 988
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2019, 04:18:07 AM »
Can you show examples of the work of art on non-RoHS vs. RoHS? 

RoHS solder is just a formulation difference.  While I prefer lead based solder given the choice, RoHS doesn't dictate board layout.  If you're referring to SMT vs. Through-Hole, that would be here regardless of whether or not RoHS existed.

Then I meant SMT. Sorry for the confusion. I don't solder much these days anymore.

pickdropper

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 5984
    • View Profile
Re: How important is soldering technique to you?
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2019, 05:04:33 AM »
Can you show examples of the work of art on non-RoHS vs. RoHS? 

RoHS solder is just a formulation difference.  While I prefer lead based solder given the choice, RoHS doesn't dictate board layout.  If you're referring to SMT vs. Through-Hole, that would be here regardless of whether or not RoHS existed.

Then I meant SMT. Sorry for the confusion. I don't solder much these days anymore.

It's cool, I just wanted to understand.
Function f(x)
Follow me on Instagram as pickdropper