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berniebeaudry

Soldering problems

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I've been soldering my own cables for a long time so I'm not new to the work.  In the past couple of years I'm having more trouble with the solder itself.  It wants to just glob up and not flow as easily into the wire. Tinning wires has turned into a exercise in patience.  I have a decent soldering station, I use tinner/cleaner on the tip before I solder and I've tried different temperatures.  Has the formulation for electronic solder changed?  I used to enjoy soldering but its really annoying now.  Any ideas what I should be using to make it easier/better?

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Make sure you're using leaded solder not the RoHS lead free. Kessler rosin core 60/40 or 63/37  .032 diameter has always done the job for me. Replacing the tip every year or so is always a good idea. Don't try and mix rosin core leaded with RoHS unleaded, it causes problems with cold solder joints.

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Hello Bernie, 

 

Just a thought - is the tip good to work? maybe you need a tip cleanser... 

 

Did you try using another workbench/solder iron/station and felt the same? 

 

And it's been this way for a couple of years, as you say...

 

I am sure you know the Lead-free thing...  

 

-vin

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I've been soldering my own cables for a long time so I'm not new to the work.  In the past couple of years I'm having more trouble with the solder itself.  It wants to just glob up and not flow as easily into the wire. Tinning wires has turned into a exercise in patience.  I have a decent soldering station, I use tinner/cleaner on the tip before I solder and I've tried different temperatures.  Has the formulation for electronic solder changed?  I used to enjoy soldering but its really annoying now.  Any ideas what I should be using to make it easier/better?

Hi Bernie,

What is the brand of solder and the formulation (tin-lead ratio)? I'm not sure what you mean by tinner/cleaner. If it is a compound like sal ammoniac, it can corrode your connections down the road.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

Lectrosonics

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Make sure you're using leaded solder not the RoHS lead free. Kessler rosin core 60/40 or 63/37  .032 diameter has always done the job for me. Replacing the tip every year or so is always a good idea. Don't try and mix rosin core leaded with RoHS unleaded, it causes problems with cold solder joints.

Thanks Eric,

I have a feeling its the solder. I'm out of the stuff I bought at the electronic surplus store. The most recent stuff is just called electrical solder, silver bearing rosin core solder. Not sure of the diameter but its not too heavy.

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Hello Bernie, 

 

Just a thought - is the tip good to work? maybe you need a tip cleanser... 

 

Did you try using another workbench/solder iron/station and felt the same? 

 

And it's been this way for a couple of years, as you say...

 

I am sure you know the Lead-free thing...  

 

-vin

Thanks Vin,

I tried changing the tip, and it helped a bit but still not great. They seem to corrode quickly. They've changed the formula to exclude lead, is that what you're referring to?

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Hi Bernie,

What is the brand of solder and the formulation (tin-lead ratio)? I'm not sure what you mean by tinner/cleaner. If it is a compound like sal ammoniac, it can corrode your connections down the road.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

Lectrosonics

As I answered Eric I don't know the current formulation. The stuff I'm using is called Tip Tinner and Cleaner from Radio Shack. It comes in a very small tin and is grey in color. Doesn't say what the compound is. WhenI use it the tip looks like its been freshly tinned, silver and shiny. My solder tip does look a bit corroded since using it however. The solder I've been using lately doesn't stay shiny when it cools, but more gray. I looked at some xlrs I did a while back and all the connections are nice and shiny. Not so lately. From the sound of it my solder is not the right kind.

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Make sure you're using leaded solder not the RoHS lead free. Kessler rosin core 60/40 or 63/37  .032 diameter has always done the job for me. Replacing the tip every year or so is always a good idea. Don't try and mix rosin core leaded with RoHS unleaded, it causes problems with cold solder joints.

Where's a good place to get that formulation Eric?

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As I answered Eric I don't know the current formulation. The stuff I'm using is called Tip Tinner and Cleaner from Radio Shack. It comes in a very small tin and is grey in color. Doesn't say what the compound is. WhenI use it the tip looks like its been freshly tinned, silver and shiny. My solder tip does look a bit corroded since using it however. The solder I've been using lately doesn't stay shiny when it cools, but more gray. I looked at some xlrs I did a while back and all the connections are nice and shiny. Not so lately. From the sound of it my solder is not the right kind.

Hi Bernie,

Do not use that grey crap you are using to clean the tip. It will cause corrosion of your electrical connections any time there is moisture in the air. Throw as far as you can without the EPA seeing you.

Get the Kester 44 that Hartley references or this:

http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-Core-Solder-Spool/dp/B00068IJX6/ref=sr_1_27?ie=UTF8&qid=1425941808&sr=8-27&keywords=electrical+solder

 

Two trusted brands are Kester 44 and Alpha. You want 60-40 or 63-37 tin-lead with mildly activated rosin flux. Don't let some bastard sell you 40-60, trying to confuse you.

The 63-37 tin lead formulation goes from liquidus to solidus without the grainy phase. It's $29 and will last you for years. Give me a quick address larryf@lectrosonics.com and I will mail you an envelope of a sample so you can see how much fun soldering can be.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

Lectrosonics

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Hi Bernie,

Do not use that grey crap you are using to clean the tip. It will cause corrosion of your electrical connections any time there is moisture in the air. Throw as far as you can without the EPA seeing you.

Get the Kester 44 that Hartley references or this:

http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-Core-Solder-Spool/dp/B00068IJX6/ref=sr_1_27?ie=UTF8&qid=1425941808&sr=8-27&keywords=electrical+solder

 

Two trusted brands are Kester 44 and Alpha. You want 60-40 or 63-37 tin-lead with mildly activated rosin flux. Don't let some bastard sell you 40-60, trying to confuse you.

The 63-37 tin lead formulation goes from liquidus to solidus without the grainy phase. It's $29 and will last you for years. Give me a quick address larryf@lectrosonics.com and I will mail you an envelope of a sample so you can see how much fun soldering can be.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

Lectrosonics

Thanks so much Larry. I just sent you an email.

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Local 695's soldering instructor James Eric agrees with Larry Fisher and recommends eutectic solder, which is 63/37.  At that ratio, the tin and lead have the same melting point so you don't get that mushy moment when it's almost solid but not quite.

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i am sold on kester 44. this review i came across for it on amazon i felt compelled to share. makes me think chuck norris has a solder bench

 

-Ken

 

----------

 

Have you ever wanted to solder micro PCB transistors and resistors like a demi god/ robot? Then this solder is for you.

Do you want a lead solder with a competent flux that will bond your connections like a champ, and give off fumes with the sweet taste of Bismuth salts and antimony that pairs nicely with a glass of Montepulciano or a Sanghiovese?
Then this flux core is for you.

Do you want to live as long as possible and keep your sperm count up? Then maybe you'd prefer a Rohs solder, and after throwing it across the room you'll realize: laboratories and electronics are not for you.

We all die sometime, we're surrounded by death. No need for the constant reminder from our electronic devices that die before their time, due to inferior Rohs compliant solders.

Women like mysterious dangerous men, and what could be more dangerous than a man who breathes fire and lead fumes? Nothing. Take it from me: a scientist; put a roll of this bad boy in your laboratory and watch the panties drop. Now I know what you're thinking: "we have a disparity in the sciences, with too few women taking degrees in the hard sciences thanks to years of uninformed dogmatic gender role ascribing women to careers other than the hard sciences. Now we're paying the price. Do you realize how hard it is to get a lady in your laboratory?"

Well, true. And no. I don't.
because I use spools of lead solder.

Fact: women are drawn to the sweet smell of Bismuth salts and the pheromones excreted by a man with acute lead toxicity coursing through his veins are unmistakably unique.

It intoxicates their senses, they're drawn on a genetic level to procreate with you *immediately* because, with lead, there might not be much more time.

Pretty sure Darwin mentions the mechanics of this exact biological drive in his work "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" but I wouldn't know. I'm a real scientist, not a biologist so I've not the time to read such quackery.

What I do know about women I've learned from observation and captain Kirk.

From observation I can assure you, heat up some of this solder, sit back and watch the women come in droves. Your lab will make Hugh's house look an all boy's academy. Hang another roll from your review mirror. Trust me. This solder will save us from the gender disparity in the sciences. It will save future generations. But, don't wait, copulate. After all, it is lead bearing solder, so there's not much time.

I will continue to buy this solder.

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Keep the fumes from the solder out of your nose and wash your hands before eating finger food and you will be perfectly safe. The rosin fumes from the solder can cause you to sneeze but carries very little lead. We tested workers on our production line, after they had spent years soldering components using tin lead solder and there was no evidence of excess lead. We had long ago banned food on the production line and used small, very low velocity fans to push the small amount of smoke away from the assemblers. High lead levels in the late 1900's were due to leaded gasoline putting tiny particulates in the air and children eating flakes of lead paint, both of which have been disappeared. With the disappearance of lead from solder, we still follow the same food rules and use the same tiny fans.

Best,
Larry Fisher

p.s. antimony and bismuth are not used in electronic solders. Bismuth is pretty harmless anyway. Look up the ingredients of pepto bismol.
 

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very glad to see this thread, the last two solder wires i've tried were not much fun either :/

 

Get the Kester 44 that Hartley references or this:

http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-Core-Solder-Spool/dp/B00068IJX6/ref=sr_1_27?ie=UTF8&qid=1425941808&sr=8-27&keywords=electrical+solder

 

Two trusted brands are Kester 44 and Alpha. You want 60-40 or 63-37 tin-lead with mildly activated rosin flux. 

 
kester doesn't seem very common over here (amazon sells it for over 100EUR!) but found a reasonable price at mouser:
 
larry, the one you've listed seems to be this here (# 24-6337-0027):
 
there seems to be a very similar variant (# 24-6337-9713 (1 LB)) :
 
with the main difference being that the latter is "Mildly activated rosin wire solder" while the former (and amazon link) only specs "Activated rosin wire solder". i'm sure they would both work well but since you mention "mildly" in your post as well i've slightly confused.. any preference of one over the other?
 
looking forward to some new cable soldering fun :)
chris

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Hi Chris,

There are some halogenated fluxes added to the rosin to carry off oxides and make the solder "wetter". This is what they mean by activated. It basically is a more aggressive flux.  The more activation, the more corrosion you can have in wet atmospheres. Mildly activated is considered the best choice for general electronics. There is even a unactivated rosin core which is just straight rosin and good for very clean joints with bright copper. It is commonly speced  for military electronics. 

 

My recommendation is the mildly activated rosin flux.

Best Regards,
Larry Fisher
Lectrosonics

p.s. Is Kester not kestrel. Auto spelling may have gotten you.

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hi larry,

 

thanks a lot for the clarification, i suspected something along those lines, but was unsure because the amazon part seems to be the normal activated one.

 

p.s. Is Kester not kestrel. Auto spelling may have gotten you.

 

yeah, i was wondering where that came from. sneakily corrected it in the mean time ;)

 

thanks again

chris

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Hi Larry,

Thanks so much for the solder sample! I had some maintenance to do and it came in the nick of time. I put a brand new tip on the soldering station and used the sample. World of difference! Worked like I remembered it. I was able to use a lower temp and it melted the way it is supposed to. I'll be ordering some really soon.

Best,

Bernie

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