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Dave

Best soldering iron/gun for basic cable fixes by a novice?

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I love the Weller WES-51.

Incidentally, I was looking for help getting a shorter TA3 to TA3 set of cables somehow (purchase or custom, as I'm having trouble making my own), when I saw JDirckze mention the necessity for a good desoldering pump for beginners, just above.

 

If there isn't one here already, it sounds worthy of a new thread...

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Looks like this original post is a bit older, but to assist anyone searching for later I'll throw in an extra tool that has helped me on a few occasions when I wish I had more hands:

http://www.radioshack.com/radioshack-helping-hands-with-magnifier/6400079.html#.VM-exYY77CR

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The alligator clips specifically are of great use. The one I have had more articulation in the arms but does not have the iron holder.

As far as an iron goes, the Wellers have been some of the best I've personally used. As a beginner that just needs to learn by fixing a handful of cables I'd just start with a cheapo 30W iron. If you enjoy it and wish to continue, you'll enjoy the Weller more.

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I was showing a colleage my technique and he said "hey, all the how-tos say to never melt the solder directly, and that's exactly what you're doing".   Yep, I was doing that, but because I couldn't orient the tip to heat the work directly, and a small amount of the melted solder on the tip created a bridge through which the heat could then get to the part, and then see the solder get wicked across to the pin in question, then touch up afterwards.

 

I've never had any luck with solder vacuums, wick braid has been 100% for me.

 

I also find myself using one of these more often than not when working on PCBs, though the plane magnifying glass type is fine for cables.

http://www.amazon.com/AmScope-SE400-Z-Professional-Microscope-Magnification/dp/B005C75IVM

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This company GRS seems to make what I would call probably one of the best third hands I have ever seen this is a lot more costly then the garden variety but seems really well made with more artculation then most.

 

Originally built for the jewelry industry this makes a great soldering helper in my opin, they also have a single version that is much cheaper. I would consider this the rolls royce of third hands.

 

If you need somthing like this and will use it often then it may be worth it.

 

Also Bessy makes a cheap version of a panavise that for the money works great its less then $15 on Amazon right now I picked one up and its fine for what it cost is it as good as a panavise no but then again its only $15. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057PUR88/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1428465563

post-11433-0-11683800-1428465145_thumb.j

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After using a solder iron for 20 years that someone gave me back then (no idea what brand), I upgraded to a Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station one last year:

weller.jpg

Very happy with it.

Bought the same one recently and it's great and cheap

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Al I beleive Eric uses some of his work bench items in his toy chest as well.

 

Well, after taking a longish course in Chinese/Slavic/Mongolian (old style) torture techniques way back in the 90's, I usually carry some 'interesting tools' in my daily toolkit that is part of my equipment rig at work on any shoot. It helps a lot in many situations on the set. I must say it has been the most effective way to get thing going the right way for the sound department. My "patients" come from diverse trades, including production, camera, lights, craft service and not to forget - direction teams... I specialise in 30-second procedures. Super effective and long-lasting. Definitely through any regular film shoot duration, if not more... 

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definitely don't start with a butane. But if you are into heroics, like touring, fixing stage malfunctions, or shooting without that country's power adapters, then have at it. You've got a flash of a moment where these heat up and won't burn your circuitry, and if you miss that window you'll have more to toss out.

+1 on dewick gauze. Braid. Better to use the cohesive properties of the solder. Those pumps just frustrate the situation in places where you don't have a proper seal.

This has been a great thread, now that I just ordered a half-dozen custom cables from pro-sound! Part of trying it yourself is realizing that no one is getting rich off making cables for you. Plus hand-made only means quality if that person's hands are better than mine. Which in the case of custom cables is unequivocally true. Cables are exponentially more challenging than circuit boards. Right angles, lemo, you name it, if you don't have the right tools and enough hands, the DIY approach will choke you with humble pie. But it's nice to see that we have a good collection of accessories to add to this decision all of which could make someone like myself jump back in the ring and at least try repairs.

Another aspect to this training I think that would be essential is to understand and to mock-up circuit diagrams. Someone hands you a back-of-the-envelope sketch and the assumption is that this abstraction is something you can construct if you already know soldering. Not necessarily the case.

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2 hours ago, James Louis said:

definitely don't start with a butane.

Weller makes a battery powered iron I'd been wanting to try for a while:

http://www.weller-toolsus.com/weller-bp865mp-battery-soldering-iron-kit-6-8w.html

looks like a nice backup if you have to work away from the grid and not expensive either. But for starters, I'd go with a Weller 25W as well (they have a unit with built in LED now that looks interesting)

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No recommendations for a li-on powered iron? Ideally with temperature control. I've had AA powered and was not impressed. I've had a gas powered and really like the lack of cable. I see USB powered is an option and gives us something in the field but these are not cordless.

d r

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14 minutes ago, daniel said:

No recommendations for a li-on powered iron? Ideally with temperature control. I've had AA powered and was not impressed. I've had a gas powered and really like the lack of cable. I see USB powered is an option and gives us something in the field but these are not cordless.

d r

These new Lithium Ion powered irons are really convenient. Both ends get hot enough to melt 63/37.

All kidding aside. I've used many 110v powered irons. No matter which you settle on, I've found that best ones are the ones with a temperature control. Some have arbitrary numbers on the temp dial. Others go by Fahrenheit. 

 A good desoldering pump is also a wonderfully handy tool to have. This Edsyn Soldapult is by far, the best I've used, because of its available volume, and the $20 pricetag.

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That's a good price for that pump!  I don't own one but I do have the braid.  If I'm recycling xlrs I'll heat the solder to flowing and then just do a flick of the connecter and all of the solder comes out.  Careful to use a tool to hold the connector so you don't get burned, or splatter the melted solder on yourself.

 

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I had a desoldering pump for a few years, but it broke. Didn't work all that well anyway. I think it originally came from Radio Shack o' Shame. Like Bernie's method, I currently just heat the old solder to flow and tap the connector on something hard. I use small vice grips or other light weight clamping device to manually hold the connector.

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+1. The flick method works good for me too. I always hit the iron cradle or a vice. But oftentimes, cleaning a pc board or overflowing solder cups is another issue. And I forgot to mention: the Soldapult is serviceable too. Unscrew it. Wipe it out. Coat everything inside with petroleum jelly. It's ready to go again. When I got the two I have, they were $12, so they went up some since then. 

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