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How to solder correctly (a not so brief lesson)

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How to solder correctly (a not so brief lesson)

Old 03-06-2016, 04:53 PM
  #481  
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That looks Hakko compatible at least.

Could be a knockoff... But even if that is so, it means that there is plenty of iron tips available.
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:04 PM
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Not sure Hakko irons themselves will fit but the tips themselves do. I will snap a pic of the connector this week sometime and anyone with other "brand name" irons can chime in and let us know if their irons are compatible with the CS Station.

As for my first impression of this station...

Wow!

Initially I tried it out at 600* to see how well it could cope with soldering 12awg in the way of heat loss and recovery but it wasn't heating as quickly and efficiently as I liked so I upped it to 650. It was a little better, but still not great. I turned it up to 750 and then it was really beast! It was able to melt solder in 3-4 seconds to a Mercury-Like state and all aspects of soldering like pre-tinning and even cleaning old contact points were a breeze. And man did it get to temperature in seconds. I didn't time it but I'd say around 25 seconds.

The larger tip was perfect size for every application on an RC car. ESC, motor, battery leads, this tip was pretty perfect. Large enough to heat things up efficiently, yet small enough to Allow you to see and access every nook n cranny comfortably.

I did crank it all the way up to the max just to see how it would handle it and holy cow. The tip got blue and red molten hot and I quickly turned it down to prevent damage to the tip and it quickly cooled to the lower temperature and the tip looked perfectly fine.

I soldered up 3 cars quickly, easily and efficiently. EASILY the best $46 I've ever spent on equipment.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:11 PM
  #483  
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Originally Posted by marine6680
That looks Hakko compatible at least.

Could be a knockoff... But even if that is so, it means that there is plenty of iron tips available.
As promised, here are pics of the connector type. Anyone with different brand stations please feel free to chime in and let us know if this is compatible with yours.


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Old 03-08-2016, 10:21 AM
  #484  
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Looks similar to the hakko plug. Without actually checking with a hakko iron, I can not be sure.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:24 AM
  #485  
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Hakko products like the plug on them. maybe plastic but last a while if maintained correctly. A lot of China clones of Hakko come with connectors like incubus station. Those connectors easy to come by, same connector for CB mics, 5pin or 4pin. I still have a few sets of connectors in my CB and HAM days!!! You can tell in its a clone or not.
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:15 PM
  #486  
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@marine6680 I have to say this is an outstanding write up. I was 2M qual'd while in '89-'94. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-02-2016, 01:05 PM
  #487  
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Hi there, awesome thread and awesome to see it maintained for so many years.
Soldering newb here, bought a couple short course trucks to get back into the hobby with a friend after a few years off and got some Turnigy Trackstar sensored motors/ESC/Batteries to put in them.
To put it bluntly, everything holds together well but its messy. I need some help and am very worried.
After calibrating my control to the ESC yesterday, a shower of sparks fired out the ESC where the motor wires are soldered but everything kept running till I shut it off. I also noticed the 4MM HXT connectors were VERY hot after just a few seconds. Haven't plugged it back in out of caution since then.

I can take a pic, but here were a couple questions. If Solder has run from one ESC post to the next, could this be shorting out? Also are those wires supposed to be 100% covered in solder? I can see a spot or two where there are wire thats a bit exposed.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:20 PM
  #488  
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Oh boy!

YES solder running between posts is most definitely a HUGE No-No and can and will burn your gear out. Quite frankly, if that's the case I'm perplexed as to why it didn't just go up in smoke the second you powered it up!

Wire covered in solder = Tinning Wire.

Properly tinned wire leads should not have bare uncoated wire anywhere BUT, one must always keep in mind you want the minimal amount of solder on the leads. To achieve this you NEVER want to melt solder on the tip of your iron and then attempt to get it to feed into the wire. That is the first and most common mistake I see people committing with regularity.

The proper way to tin is to have the wire held steady (soldering rigs/jigs will allow you to do this easily) and then place your iron underneath the lead and dip your solder in flux to give a bit of a coating and then slide that on top of the wire until it melts. This will happen quickly so be extra keen not to over do it and once you see the wire coated, STOP and turn it over and you will most likely see the underside is not tinned all the way, if at all. Now, repeat the same steps so you tin this side and again, just enough so the wires are coated. Anything more is overkill and completely kills the flexibility of the wire.

NOTE: Try not to place the iron on the end of the wire as this can fray the strands, resulting in having some of them reside away from the rest of the lead. If this happens you can apply heat and press it down, but you want to slide the iron in the direction of the lead and not up/off/away from it.

Once your leads are tinned, you want to do the same to the contact points of whatever you are soldering them to… ESC or Motor contacts. Again, you want to place your iron on the contact and then apply solder to the surface area of the contact point rather than your iron. Once you see a slight bubble of molten solder, STOP, you're done. It doesn't take a lot.

To join the tinned leads to your contact points, it's good practice to dip the leads into flux so there is a tiny bit of it on the very end. Flux is your friend but you must use it sparingly as too much is unnecessary and counter productive, so use just a tiny bit to aide in transferring heat through the components being soldered.

Likely the most important element to all this is to always ensure your soldering tip is CLEAN because a dirty tip hinders heat transfer and makes it much more difficult to solder things up and it leaves a dirty residue. A good steel wool pad and/or CLEAN wet sponge will leave your tip clean and you always want to wipe it clean just before touching any contact points or leads.


Hope this helps.
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Old 05-03-2016, 08:35 AM
  #489  
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Incubus said it well.


It's possible you had some shorting between the leads of the ESC, but it was thin enough that it burned through in a flash of sparks, and then ceased to be a short.

Clean and inspect the area.

You may want to ensure your solder joints are good. Redo the joints usng good solder and flux.

If you still have issues, you may need a larger wire and connector.

It's a balancing act of size to current carry ability in RC, many straddle the line at slightly too small for the current, and you will get some heat. It can feel pretty warm to hot. Not ideal, but monitor it to ensure its not too hot, if you can not hold it with bare fingers for 10+ seconds, it's too hot probably.
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:45 AM
  #490  
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Originally Posted by the incubus
Oh boy!

Properly tinned wire leads should not have bare uncoated wire anywhere BUT, one must always keep in mind you want the minimal amount of solder on the leads. To achieve this you NEVER want to melt solder on the tip of your iron and then attempt to get it to feed into the wire. That is the first and most common mistake I see people committing with regularity.

The proper way to tin is to have the wire held steady (soldering rigs/jigs will allow you to do this easily) and then place your iron underneath the lead and dip your solder in flux to give a bit of a coating and then slide that on top of the wire until it melts. This will happen quickly so be extra keen not to over do it and once you see the wire coated, STOP and turn it over and you will most likely see the underside is not tinned all the way, if at all. Now, repeat the same steps so you tin this side and again, just enough so the wires are coated. Anything more is overkill and completely kills the flexibility of the wire.

NOTE: Try not to place the iron on the end of the wire as this can fray the strands, resulting in having some of them reside away from the rest of the lead. If this happens you can apply heat and press it down, but you want to slide the iron in the direction of the lead and not up/off/away from it.
Yes, Oh Boy.

Opinions vary. I started soldering in 1963 scratch building slot car chassis from piano wire and brass strips. I think it is technique that comes with experience, but I pretty much do the opposite of your advice and this is an example of the result I achieve:



IMHO, it is important to put the flux on the thing you are trying to tin, not the solder. Wire ends, for instance. I dip the wire end in the flux so it is coated all around, apply solder to the iron and touch the iron to the wire. The flux already being on the wire, it flows into the strands as the wire heats up assuring full penetration of the solder (in my experience).

For the joints above, the wire was dipped in the flux to coat it, a small copper ferrule crimped on the wire (which caused some flux to extrude), solder applied to the iron, and the iron applied to the end of the wire. (Of course in this case the ferrule prevents fraying.) At that point I also tinned the top and bottom of the ferrule. Soldering the wire to the motor terminals was then pretty simple but again, flux applied to the components, solder to the iron, and then iron to components.

I find that with the ferrule crimped on the wire, the solder flows completely into the crimped section and pretty much stops there. It doesn't take a lot of solder to tin the wire in the ferrule.
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Old 05-03-2016, 06:54 PM
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You can apply flux to the components but applying solder to the iron and then introducing it is not the proper technique.

Cool use of the ferrules on your leads but what I see in the pics only the center one looks close to perfect. The one on the right appears to have crystallization which is indicative of a longer exposure to heat from the iron and the left one appears to be a bit on the cold side. When you apply solder on the iron the components generally take longer to accept the solder, which is why you find applyind flux onto components more than effective.

When you apply heat to a lead from underneath and coat your solder with flux, you have 3 things working for you. One is obviously the flux and the others are gravity and heat draw. When solder liquifies it want to adhere itself to the greatest surface area that will accept it and with the tip of your iron being considerably larger than most contact points, it needs the flux to help it deep down and I to the wire. Without it your be hard pressed to get it to seep into the wire. In contrast, if you heat the lead and apply plain solder without any flux, you will be able to tin it just the same, but it will likely require a few more seconds of exposure to the heat, but the end result will be the same given the top of the iron is hot. Applying flux to your solder simply accelerates the transfer of heat sioner than without.

My mom has worked for a commercial refrigeration company for almost 40 years so I spent summers working there and I was fortunate enough to work with the head foreman who was a master welder and he explained to me how flux needs to be placed on copper pipe fittings before introducing solder because otherwise the solder would not flow around the parts and settle smoothly around their circumference resulting in a rough finish on the interior edges. This type of soldering however is done with a blowtorch so it's vastly different from soldering of electronics.

It would be a good idea to try soldering something using your technique and then try it how I explained and see which you prefer. If be interested in seeing pics of them compared.

And by the way gents, have you guys seen the screw on motor and ESC connectors yet?
Really digging them but they need to shrink down a tad with the tightly cramped cars of today.
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:13 PM
  #492  
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I usually put a small amount of flux on the components or wire.

I feel that putting flux on stranded wire directly is both good and bad. Because the flux flows into the wire well before applying heat, which allows it to work better... But liquid flux can seep into the wire too far and allow solder to flow under the insulation.

I tend to use a thicker flux for stranded wire for this reason.

I have also applied flux to the outside of the solder, by dipping it in a paste type. This works well for solid wire and component leads.

Odd shaped terminals may need the flux applied to them first, to aid in flow.


Applying heat to the components, and then touching the solder to the components is the better method. It allows the solder to flow toward the heat, which it does better than flowing away.
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Old 05-05-2016, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by the incubus
It would be a good idea to try soldering something using your technique and then try it how I explained and see which you prefer. If be interested in seeing pics of them compared.
Having been doing soldering (off and on - not every day) since 1963, I know what I prefer. I would apply heat to the workpiece and let the solder melt it when building the slot car chassis. I still do that on the rare occasion when sweat soldering copper pipes or larger items.

But for RC stuff I prefer an appropriate amount of solder on the iron applied to pre-tinned wires and generally pre-tinned components (for instance, I don't bother to pre-tin the posts on an RX-8 because it is just not necessary with my technique).

My take on it is this: It you apply heat to the joint and solder to the joint, the heat you apply to the joint will start moving into other parts of the materials while the joint is transferring heat to the solder to melt it and flow it in.

If both halves of the joint are pre-tinned, putting the small additional amount of solder on the iron means it is already not only at, but above melting temperature. When the iron is applied to the joint, it only has to transfer enough heat to get the joint materials up to temperature and let the molten solder flow into the joint, not the additional required to melt room temperature solder.

Further, since I apply flux to the joint materials and to where I am going to touch with the iron, the flux cleans the solder and iron tip in the instant the iron is applied to the joint resulting in faster heat transfer because the solder on the iron conforms to the joint surface much better than any flat surface of an iron can. This way takes less time, not more (for me anyway) since I am always soldering pre-tinned components.

I've watched many RC guys solder using the classic technique. It usually takes them many times longer to complete a joint that it takes me. Unless you are working on battery terminals, RC soldering essentially only involves small joints between wires and electronic components, instead of constructing stuff out of large items that take a lot of heat to solder. So I'll stick with the solder-on-iron technique for my RC stuff. I still use the "classic" technique for other soldering needs as appropriate.

Originally Posted by the incubus
Cool use of the ferrules on your leads but what I see in the pics only the center one looks close to perfect. The one on the right appears to have crystallization which is indicative of a longer exposure to heat from the iron and the left one appears to be a bit on the cold side. When you apply solder on the iron the components generally take longer to accept the solder, which is why you find applyind flux onto components more than effective.
BTW, all three of those joints are fine - I think you were extracting more information than was available in that slightly out-of-focus image.

Originally Posted by marine6680
I feel that putting flux on stranded wire directly is both good and bad. Because the flux flows into the wire well before applying heat, which allows it to work better... But liquid flux can seep into the wire too far and allow solder to flow under the insulation.
I use paste flux, not liquid.

Originally Posted by marine6680
Applying heat to the components, and then touching the solder to the components is the better method. It allows the solder to flow toward the heat, which it does better than flowing away.
Which means it takes longer to complete the joint (because the heat has to flow from the iron, to the joint components and then to the solder) thus allowing more heating of components down the line. I am sure it must take me more time overall for each joint given that I pre-tin and flux all my components. But the iron spens less time heating up the parts and the nearby stuff remains cooler.

I will not claim that the solder-on-iron technique is better for un-tinned components, but for RC work I never attempt to solder un-untinned, un-fluxed components together. Never, ever. So all I need on the iron is the little bit of solder to fill/bond the components and I find having it on the iron works out very well.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:49 AM
  #494  
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I pre-tin everything I work on.


The shovel method is faster, and for the most part, will work well enough for RC soldering jobs. Especially if it's on smaller connections.

But that faster method is less desirable for precisely that reason...

It does not allow good even heating of the joint and surrounding material. Makes for less strength and connectivity.
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Old 05-07-2016, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by marine6680
I pre-tin everything I work on.


The shovel method is faster, and for the most part, will work well enough for RC soldering jobs. Especially if it's on smaller connections.

But that faster method is less desirable for precisely that reason...

It does not allow good even heating of the joint and surrounding material. Makes for less strength and connectivity.
You say the "shovel" method, being faster leads to less strength and connectivity.

As far as not heating the surrounding materials, when soldering RC electronic stuff, I think that is a good thing. So long as the joint itself gets hot enough to flow the solder, I am satisfied with that. I'm only trying to make the joint, not promote global warming.

I gather you believe bad results will show up from quickly soldered joints. How long will it take for those bad results to show? Years? Decades? Centuries? I've got joints on brushed motors 10 years old that still appear fine to me. My most recent Tekin RX-8 install is starting its third season and not showing ill effects now running on 6S LiPo.

I did some searching online and found a research paper that compared cooling rates on solder joints ranging from furnace cooled to quenched.

Here's the link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02669524

I didn't spend the $40 to read the whole paper but the abstract mentions that while faster cooling decreases the ultimate strength of the solder it increases the fatigue life. So this research confirms your statement that quickly cooled joints have lower strength than slowly cooled joints. Reading the preview it seems that this research is concerned with stresses induced by differential expansion of PC boards and components mounted there-on. Doesn't sound like that really applies to the RC joints that end users make. Perhaps the body of the article will say how much lower the strength is but knowing that isn't worth $40 to me.

For me, given that RC electronics joints are not under stress (or shouldn't be!) but there is a lot of vibration in an RC car, I think the tradeoff of greater fatigue resistance for lower strength is a good one. YMMV.
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