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soldering irons


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I'm new at building these things and soldering in general. The directions call for a 25 and 45 watt soldering iron, and then say the temperatures for those. If I get a soldering iron that isn't at that wattage but can hit the temperature would that be a problem?

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Your question is an oxymoron, if the Iron isn't the right wattage - it will not get to temperature. I use a high temp high watt pencil, a Weller 45 watt iron.

The goal is to heat the solder pad and the component lead to a temp that will melt the solder - but not so much heat that the pad will lift off the circuit board.

Go to Radio Shack and buy a cheap kit - solder it first.

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I used a 30 and 45 watt fixed power irons got them at Sears for around $14 total. I have used these on around 16 boards and have a few to build with them this year.

You dont need the expensive dial adjustable stations. Here is all you need and you can do a great job.

I used a 30 watt and a 45 watt fixed power solder irons. I had a small iron holder with a sponge, a small electronics diagonal cutter, small needle nose pliers, a good file and my wife’s lighted magnifying lamp. I paid less than 14 dollars for both irons from Sears several years ago.

Here are a few tips I can offer the first time kit builder.

1. Read your instructions and become familiar with the components.

2. Don’t rush take your time notice I didn’t say anything about how long or fast it took me it’s not a race it’s a fun project. Just go your own pace.

3. Follow the instructions and use the check boxes on each page.

4. Solder the components on the same page of the instructions together. You can use the blue painters tape to hold the components to the board.

5. Check EVERY solder joint after you have completed that page of the instructions, look for smooth complete solder joints and check for solder bridges.

6. Keep the tip of your solder iron clean. The wet sponge will work most of the time but as you solder the tip of the iron will round over. I usually file the tip to a point about half way thru the project.

7. Practice on scrap wire, watch how the solder will follow the wire it will flow the same way to the other side of the board when you solder the components.

8. When you complete your board do a complete test on the controller. You can use the hardware utility to do the test or make a short sequence.


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I use a temperature controlled soldering station, but also change the tip size of the area being soldered. Use too big of a tip on small pads and you will lift the pad off the circuit board and possibly disconnect it from the via going to the other side of the board.

BTW: I use a Weller but mine is not available anymore. A good one is the WSD-51 if you want one to last a lifetime.

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Let me back up a bit. The reason for two wattages is that putting too much heat into the smaller components can over heat things and damage them. Not applying enough heat to the larger items can cause it to take too long to bring them up to soldering temperature, and the temperature of the device can get too close to the soldering temperature for too long, and also over heat them.

The reason for listing the temperatures is that with temperature controlled soldering stations, you can achieve the same goals as using the two wattages by selecting different temperatures.

As for that specific iron, it looks like it should work, but not having used it personally, I can't say that it will. It is difficult to tell the scale of the iron. It is possible that it is large enough that the tip will be too large for soldering the chip leads, or so small that the tip is not wide enough to bring the full 50 watts into play.

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This might have already been said. But different people learn from different words and the way they are presented.

The reason for two different wattages is this. With small solder pads and small componets, or componets that have a lower tolerence to heat. You want to use a lower wattage iron, for it takes less wattage/heat to cause the joint to come up to temperature to insure the solder to melt and flow. This is true of everything on these boards except for the stake on connectors, the fuse holders and the one triac lead connected to the hot AC buss.

Think of the wattage issue like this. Wattage is like the size of a pipe with water flowing through it. The bigger the pipe, the more water flows/available. Do not confuss in this discussion the preasure. For this image, the pressure is the same no matter what size pipe.

Now, looking at the stake on connectors, the fuse holders, and the one Triac lead. All of these have a large copper path on the board which sink away heat. Also the fuse holders and stake on connectors sink away the heat. Yes even with a 25 watt iron you can eventually get enough heat to barely melt the solder if you are good enough. But more than likely you will get a cold solder joint that will fail if not right away, shortly there after. There is also the chance of damage to the Triac. And then there is the issue of causing the copper circuit path delaminating from the board as someone else has mentioned. Thus using a higher wattage iron will make more heat available to quickly bring up to temperature the area right around were you wish make a solder joint. It will overcome the sinking of the heat away from the solder joint.

Now I dont have a 60 watt iron, so I am using a 100watt iron. But only on the fuse holder, stake on connector and the one Triac lead. But then too, I have been soldering for many years (35). And have done many circuit board repairs. And I know a few of you who think it is just crazy to use a 100 watt iron. But believe you me, the quicker on a spot the less chance of damage. For that one spot will cool quicker if the surrounding area does not get heated. And it will actually sink away the heat from the point that was heated.

I agree, if you have never soldered before. Get a cheap kit from radio shack or any other place that sells kits. Get both irons, learn to tin the tip. Learn how when the drost builds up on the tip, it no longer transfers heat. Learn how to clean the tip as the drost builds up. Soldering is a skill that can only be learned by doing.

Sorry for the long post. But hope you find some value in what I have said.

Just do it, time and practice will open a new hobby that you will enjoy.

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