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bigal10

Temperature controlled Solder Station

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I like using those tiny LED's both in loco's and for signals etc. but finding soldering wires to them a bit of a pain.

 

I use enamelled copper wire which is great, and I have invested in an illuminated magnifier so i can better see what i'm doing.

 

I've also bought Bees Wax to hold the little blighters in place whilst I solder....

 

Q1) My LED supplier has advised me to get a temperature controlled Solder Station, but what temperature should I be setting it to?

 

Q2) What type of solder should I be using for this?

 

Regards,

 

Alan

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As one whose soldering skills are pretty lousy, I nevertheless think you have been given good advice. The point about temperature controlled soldering is that you can simply work at much lower temperatures - but only if you use the right solder. I think you can obtain 70 degree solder, and this will produce, on an item like an LED , a perfectly secure joint. Soldering at this temperature reduces the risk of damage to these vulnerable components.

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Solder - use multicore (ie. rosin flux inside it) 60/40 Tin/Lead:

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/solders/0555235/

This is 0.7mm which is usually fine, I prefer 0.5mm so I can do the odd bit of surface mount stuff which is very fiddly.

 

Rule of thumb - set the iron to 2x the melting temp of the solder, so for the above 188x2 = 376deg.

 

Ive never used enamelled wire, how do you strip the insulation off it for soldering?

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Not quite sure where Alan is having a problem. Before soldering together both LED and wire need to be tinned. The LED is probably already tinned but make sure it is clean. The wire needs to have the enamel removed, there are 2 ways to achieve this. The best way is to lay the wire on a cutting mat and scrape it gently with a knife blade. With some wire the enamel can be removed with heat, but the temperature is quite high and the fumes are not very nice. I always scrape away more of the wire than I need, tin it and then cut to the length I need for soldering.

 

For Q1, a temperature controlled iron is a good investment. The temperature control stops the soldering tip from getting too hot which causes the copper in the tip to erode away. I've had mine for over 35 years, although it is not a continuously variable type, temperature being changed using different tips (Weller TCP type). Aim for an iron with a 50 Watt rating, you might think that high for electrical/electronic work but the idea is to get the heat in and the solder melted as quickly as possible. Throughout the electronics industry I've worked in, a 50 Watt iron is a standard. For most work a tip with a 1.6 mm (1/16th inch) wide end is a good choice.

 

For Q2, Like ZiderHead I've always used 60/40 tin/lead multicore with a 370 Deg tip in my iron. Tin/lead flows better and it's really only from the waste point of view that lead has been dropped from solder.

 

Brian

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^

I used to strip the enamel off the copper wire with a lighter. Then just cleaned up the end with my nails.

It takes a couple of seconds but sometimes I did have to clean the ends properly.

 

I also agree with everything that has been said so far.

 

 

Kev.

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It's not about soldering at a lower temperature, and so called low melt is usually for kit building and mot suited for electrical work. You need a good quality flux cored solder. I exclusively use lead free which has a higher melting point than leaded solder with a 50 Watt Antex 660TC but I do a lot of soldering and can justify the cost of the equipment and develop the right techniques.

 

It's about having control and maintaining temperature.

 

When soldering a large piece, that might act as a heastsink, it's more about control and a good temp controlled iron will react and put more power into the bit to maintain the correct soldering temperature, allowing the job to be completed quickly before damaging the workpiece (e.g., melting sleepers when soldering feed wires to track).

 

For delicate components like SMD LEDs it's more about control of the temperature, again allowing the joint to be made as quickly as possible without stressing the LEDs.

 

For this kind of work I would use self-fluxing wire, e.g. "verowire". You can solder straight through the coating without having to strip it.

 

Don't be tempted to use too small a bit. A larger bit help again in getting the heat into the joint quickly and effeciently. I rarely use anything other than a 3mm bit, even for fine pitch SMD work.

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There's no need for tinning with electrical work, so long as everything is clean. Component leads are already tinned in any case. Freshly stripped copper wire doesn't require tinning. No one in their right mind tins Veroboard, for example.

 

The essential point for a reliable, repeatable job is DO NOT tin the two pieces and then just join them with more heat. Always make the joint with fresh flux cored solder.

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Thanks for posting your reply's Andrew, my soldering skills are less than zero so I can hopefully learn from this.

 

Michael

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Thanks for all the constructive replies,

 

The Maplin 48w Solder Station N34FB at £39.99 looks a decent tool, on Google,

 

Any comments, Guys?

 

Alan.

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There's no need for tinning with electrical work, so long as everything is clean. Component leads are already tinned in any case. Freshly stripped copper wire doesn't require tinning. No one in their right mind tins Veroboard, for example.

 

The essential point for a reliable, repeatable job is DO NOT tin the two pieces and then just join them with more heat. Always make the joint with fresh flux cored solder.

I would not agree with the last statement. Sometimes the easiest is to tin both sides and then bring then together and apply a little heat. There is plenty of solder. Flux acts as a wetting agent and in this case no more is needed.

 

Dave

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I would not agree with the last statement. Sometimes the easiest is to tin both sides and then bring then together and apply a little heat. There is plenty of solder. Flux acts as a wetting agent and in this case no more is needed.

 

Dave

Hi

 

Maybe when building etched kits you do but I have never in the last thirty years needed to do this for electronic work and I used to populate PCBs for a living.

 

Cheers

 

Paul

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When I worked for Pye/Philips we more often than not found that pre-tinned (by manufacture) components would not solder properly, due to the surface being contaminated, so had to refresh the tinning before use. Not talking a blob of extra solder here, just a refresh.

 

Stewart

 

Edit: typo corrected to be more meaningful.

Edited by stewartingram

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The Maplin solder station N34FB looks a reasonable bet.  Not especially cheap but if you live near a store, easily obtainable and if it goes wrong, exchangeable.

 

I've got one of the earlier versions (BP53) with LED temperature indicators and have been very pleased with it.

 

I've recommend getting the pack of 3 assorted tips (N72CW).  I work mostly with a 1.5mm chisel tip but it's useful to have alternatives.

 

Mark

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I would not agree with the last statement. Sometimes the easiest is to tin both sides and then bring then together and apply a little heat. There is plenty of solder. Flux acts as a wetting agent and in this case no more is needed.

 

Dave

 

They took the "disagree" button away :)

 

Yes, if you apply extra flux then it's fine, but most people I've watched will just reheat the joint and hope for the best, The original flux has already been burnt off.

 

Andrew

Edited by Crosland

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They took the "disagree" button away :)

 

Yes, if you apply extra flux then it's fine, but most people I've watched will just reheat the joint and hope for the best, The original flux has already been burnt off.

 

Andrew

people over think this, when soldering fine things like leds to wires, there is no need to add more solder or flux to the already tinned parts, bring then together and touch to heat 

 

flux is only needed if there is a wetting issue 

 

 

for those interested in a good temperature controlled iron, I recommend the Hakko FX-888 model , beloved of commercial setups, 70w, good heat time and recovery , wide range of tips 

Edited by Junctionmad

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people over think this

Some come from a professional electronics background and only recommend best practice, not short cuts that can lead to disappointment.

 

Andrew

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Some come from a professional electronics background and only recommend best practice, not short cuts that can lead to disappointment.

 

Andrew

thats me an EE for 30 years .  the difference between a professional , is that a professional actually knows whats works under real world situations, amateurs  read the instructions :D

or to out it another way , professionals understand the issue from first principles and know when a shortcut can be used or not.  Amateurs read instructions 

Edited by Junctionmad
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Like most things, its probably best to learn the correct way to do it before you start improvising ...

 

As for "tinned" components, experience has taught me to tin everything, its quicker. Anyone know the solderable half life of tinned copper wire? (I keep my TCW in airtight baggies ... ;) )

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For this kind of work I would use self-fluxing wire, e.g. "verowire". You can solder straight through the coating without having to strip it.

 

 

Verowire is not a self-fluxing wire, like most "enameled" wire it is a copper wire with a polyurethane coating which upon heating gives off a toxic gas ( Toluene diisocyanate ). Needs to be used in a well ventilated area, hence the reason I suggested scraping the enamel off. Doing this will probably curve the wire a little, so we straighten it with our fingers and introduce a bit of finger grease, so the copper is no longer clean. So best to tin the wire, then we know that all the enamel and grease has been removed. 

 

There's no need for tinning with electrical work, so long as everything is clean. Component leads are already tinned in any case. Freshly stripped copper wire doesn't require tinning. No one in their right mind tins Veroboard, for example.

 

The essential point for a reliable, repeatable job is DO NOT tin the two pieces and then just join them with more heat. Always make the joint with fresh flux cored solder.

 

Agreed everything has to be clean. On occasion I even use lighter fluid as a "flux". :O Wonderful stuff.

 

But sometimes there is another problem. In the OP's case to solder a wire to the small LED, we can probably secure the LED to the work surface with a lump of blu-tak. Then we hold the wire in place with one hand, grab the soldering iron in the second hand and apply the solder with our third hand. :scratchhead: Oh cr#p, I was born with only two hands. Easier to touch the iron on the solder and apply to the joint. Job done. :boast:

 

Oh sorry, I'm not in my right mind because I do tin Veroboard on occasion. It beefs up the tracks so they can carry higher currents and stops them cracking if there is any mechanical stress from a large component etc.

 

Brian

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Verowire is not a self-fluxing wire,

<Sigh> The datasheet http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/415642.pdfsays otherwise.

 

...upon heating gives off a toxic gas ( Toluene diisocyanate ). Needs to be used in a well ventilated area.

 

The fumes from any soldering operation are hazardous. You should always arrange adequate ventilation when soldering. Be especially afraid if you're still stuck in the 20th century using leaded solder :)

 

Andrew

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