madbeanpedals::forum

General => Open Discussion => Topic started by: gtr2 on September 17, 2010, 05:40:21 AM

Title: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on September 17, 2010, 05:40:21 AM
Anyone have any suggestions for solder iron stations.  I have a small Weller iron with a crappy radio shack stand.  The iron seems to heat up slowly and the stand is junk.   I'm looking for a good hobby type iron that will be sufficient for pedals.  The one I'm using does not do too bad, just looking to upgrade ;)  I'm also looking for suggestions on helping hands / and magnification..

What about solder diameter?  I recently got some stuff from small bear that seems a little thick...
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: Haberdasher on September 17, 2010, 09:59:38 AM
I can tell you what I use.
Xytronics 379.  Heats up very quickly and I have no complaints at all.  I paid $50 for mine from JAMECO, but my model may have been discontinued.  Xytonics probably offers a little more for the money than Weller, which to me seemed expensive by comparison when I was shopping around.  I hear great things about the Hakko 936 for about $80.
I bought helping hands from Harbor Freight for about 4 bucks.  I took the magnifying glass off so it would stop falling over.  I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty cheaply made; pretty much what I expected.
I use Chinese 63/37 leaded solder with a .031" diameter.  It's great.  I got a kg of it for about $20.
I don't have anything for magnification other than a handheld magnifying glass.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: madbean on September 17, 2010, 10:10:25 AM
+1 on Xytronics. Mine has stayed with me for years.

Helping hands is a good idea, too.

So's this: http://www.lowes.com/pd_313561-52800-BV-VB_0__?productId=3056911&Ntt=vise&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dvise%26page%3D4 (http://www.lowes.com/pd_313561-52800-BV-VB_0__?productId=3056911&Ntt=vise&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dvise%26page%3D4)

(http://images.lowes.com/product/converted/091162/091162008355lg.jpg)
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: Haberdasher on September 17, 2010, 10:26:10 AM
+1 on Xytronics. Mine has stayed with me for years.

Helping hands is a good idea, too.

So's this: http://www.lowes.com/pd_313561-52800-BV-VB_0__?productId=3056911&Ntt=vise&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dvise%26page%3D4 (http://www.lowes.com/pd_313561-52800-BV-VB_0__?productId=3056911&Ntt=vise&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dvise%26page%3D4)

(http://images.lowes.com/product/converted/091162/091162008355lg.jpg)

I have that exact suction vise, lol.  $25 at Lowe's.  Works great.

edit:  after having the vise for a few projects I decided I also wanted helping hands.  They are useful for things like soldering wires to leds and stuff like that.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: eniacmike on September 17, 2010, 01:10:17 PM
I use a cheap weller iron, it works good for me. The key is keeping it clean I used to use a wet sponge but now I have the hakko c3p0 looking thing and it helps alot
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41a12fTsboL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

I use qualitek sn60/pb40 .032 diameter solder

I have the radio shack helping hand with a built in stand and it works great. I rarely use the helping hand anymore. I have a couple of enclosures that I screwed up the drilling on that I use to hold pots and switching while I solder on them. I also use an upside down enclosure as a "booster seat" when I am working on final off board wiring. it keeps the pots and switches free and the enclosure steady.

I also use painters tape to hold things in place when I solder. Especially things with small tiny leads like SIP sockets. I have a few strips that I use over and over again to hold components to the board while I filp them over.

I think for christmas I am going to get a new iron though. really thinking about the HAKKO. I love their stuff.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: Haberdasher on September 17, 2010, 01:17:44 PM
Here's a nice looking Chinese iron (probably a Hakko knockoff) that even has a temp readout.  This one is 45w, the same power as my xytronics, which I find to be more than enough.  If I was buying one today I would consider this unit.

link (http://www.amazon.com/Aoyue-937-Digital-Soldering-Station/dp/B000I30QBW/ref=pd_cp_hi_0)
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: CapnCrunch on September 17, 2010, 06:53:02 PM
I bought this cheap solder station from Parts-express for $12.  It's up to $15 now.  I've used it for about two years, built 3 amps, and soldered some effects with it.  It's no frills but works great and you can't beat the price. The wand feels good and the tips are pretty good quality.  I'd buy it again in a second if this one craps out.

www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=374-100
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on September 18, 2010, 05:21:52 AM
Thanks guys!  I think I'm going with the Hakko 936 in a couple weeks.  I can't find any bad things about it on forums etc...  I'll probably pick up one of those vises as well, I saw them at Lowes a couple months ago.  I wasn't sure if they were worth it at the time, but it would be worthwhile.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on September 29, 2010, 04:54:13 AM
About to buy the hakko 936-12.  What temps do you guys usually use with these type stations.  I'm a little green (newb) when it comes to this type of stuff... ;)
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: CRBMoA on September 29, 2010, 11:33:59 AM
I use .032 Kester solder. The RadioShack stuf works, but the Kester flows like hot butter.

I have a Rat Shack helping hands (but I bought it 25 years ago. I doubt the currents ones are as beefy.) I also have a Harbor Freight one, and it is flimsy.

My last soldering iron was a no name variable temp pencil, but it went to heaven, and my new (to me) station is on the way.

My MOST USEFUL set of helping hands is clip  that I screwed to a 1" x 1/2" two foot long piece of wood.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on September 30, 2010, 06:20:51 AM
Is this the Kester your using http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-Core-Solder-Spool/dp/B00068IJPO/ref=sr_1_6?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285848905&sr=8-6 (http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-Core-Solder-Spool/dp/B00068IJPO/ref=sr_1_6?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285848905&sr=8-6)

Plus, a bump on what temperature setting guys are using for soldering.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: Haberdasher on September 30, 2010, 09:11:44 AM
with leaded solder, around 650F I think, maybe 700.  i just know where to turn the dial to, and my station's labels are in watts, not temps.  it's hot enough to flow the metal and move to the next joint very quickly.  the downside is that solder gets sticky real quick at high temps and you have to constantly clean the tip  even if you turn the temp all the way down (recommended for longer tip life) every time you set the iron in its holder.  that's why i like to have a whole row of components lined up and go down the line, bang bang bang, etc.

you're probably just going to have to experiment with some trial & error to find the temp that makes you happy with your new iron.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on September 30, 2010, 10:43:22 AM
thanks, new 936 iron should be here tomorrow along with a brass tip cleaner
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on October 05, 2010, 06:14:54 AM
Well I finally got my Hakko 936 (It was delayed due to the floods in Philly).  I spent some time with it and so far so good.  It heats to temp in about 10 seconds!  I've found between 600-700 degrees to be a good range.  I am having a little problem getting the solder to flow well on the copper pcb though.  It seems like I have to heat the board longer than I should to get good adhesion.  I cleaned the board with a green scotchbrite pad, but it didn't make much difference.  Any tips? ???  I am using radio shack 60/40 solder, but I tried some stuff I got from small bear to see if that helped.  The stuff from small bear was worse, it seemed messy with a lot of the clear stuff (flux?) around the joints.

Thx

Josh
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: Haberdasher on October 05, 2010, 09:46:13 AM
I use 63/37 leaded solder and always have, so I don't have any experience with 60/40.  But when I've had trouble with solder not sticking to the copper it has always been because the iron isn't hot enough or the tip isn't clean enough.

Sometimes I clean the hot tip in the bass shavings, then on wet paper towel or sponge because a lot of times there is some baked on brown crud that you can't see.  Then I melt some solder on the tip to get the flux core flowing around it.  Then I flick the melted solder off into a used coffee can or whatever and begin soldering again.  Sometimes I have to waste a little solder like that to get the tip prepped right.

The clear stuff cleans right off the pcb with 91% rubbing alcohol.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: madbean on October 05, 2010, 09:47:13 AM
After polishing with Scotch Brite, did you clean with Acetone? That is extremely important. Are you tinning your iron tip with solder pretty frequently? When soldering, try to heat the lead and pad together with the tip. You should be able to flow solder after about 2-3 seconds this way. If you have a lot of flux, you can clean it with a lightly damped toothbrush. That will take it right off.


-------------------

Here's a quick tutorial on how I prep boards in case it comes in handy for someone. I polish it with two things. First is a 3M foam sanding pad, around 330grit. This removes burrs around the edges of the board and flattens the pads out. Next, I polish with either 000 steel wool, or lately with an alternative that is similar in grit but in pad form (steel wool is freaking nasty). The polishing is done first along the two axes of the board, then in cross hatch. This gets it pretty dirty, but it cuts very fine grooves into the copper, which is what makes solder adhere easily. Lastly, I clean both sides vigorously with Acetone and a paper towel. When the towel comes away clean, the board is ready.

This is really only good for a few days, though. The copper will start to oxidize around day two. Over a longer period of time, the traces will become very dark and somewhat discolored, and the board will need to be polished and cleaned again before soldering. This is part of the reason I'm starting to tin the hand-made boards again, because it prevents that oxidation from happening. That way if you don't build one for a few weeks or months it will look exactly the same as the day it arrived.
Title: Re: Solder Iron Station
Post by: gtr2 on October 05, 2010, 10:21:04 AM
Thanks guys!  I am cleaning and tinning and heating as described...  I think madbean nailed my problem.  I have no trouble soldering anything else except the copper clad pads.  I did not clean the board other than the scotchbrite.  I've had the boards since August and I believe they oxidized more than I thought.

Thanks again, and for the tip with the rubbing alcohol!

Josh