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frozenfire75i
March 4th, 2009, 11:37 AM
Are there any good kits out there that have a soldering gun and stuff plus a guide/how to book and something to “practice” with? Almost like a “older kid” kit for teens and such.
I want to learn, but have never touched one in my life! ;-) The more idiot proof the better. Any Ideals and leads on a kit?

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Ole Juul
March 4th, 2009, 11:44 AM
You don't want a soldering gun except to do cables and stuff. Get a 15-25 iron. They're cheap. Then carefully take the parts off some piece of junk using needle nose as heat sink. Somebody made me do that when I was a little kid and I'm forever grateful. Every "electronics for beginners" book has a paragraph on it so read that and there you are. The rest is practice. I'm sure there's no kit out there - at least I hope not.

After you do a bit of desoldering, get yourself a kit of some sort. This is probably the easiest way to learn - and how it is comonly done. Most electronics stores have a rack full of kits, many of which are only 10-20 bucks. Make yourself a binary clock or other flashing led thingie. There's mini FM transmitters, audio circuties, you name it. A good idea would be a signal generator which you can use for debugging other projects. Here is an example site: http://www.mainelectronics.com/kiltsvelleman.htm but you will probably have some place more convenient.

patscc
March 4th, 2009, 03:39 PM
Ole Juul said...You don't want a soldering gun except
Or to hold of your neighbours at gun point when they're trying to raid your parts bin...

Ramsey has some.
http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/
All Electronics, on occasion, has some.
www.allelectronics.com
You can also sometimes pick up demo evaluation kits for cheap.
I've got some in a box somewhere, for basic switchers, linear power supplies, and such. Nothing glamorous, but also hard to destroy.
PM me if interested, and I'll dig for the box.
patscc

Dr_Acula
March 4th, 2009, 03:52 PM
You can't go too wrong with just a small soldering iron as suggested. If you put new components in a new board, soldering is almost impossible to get wrong. It just works. Where it can be a bit tricky is with older oxidised parts. Last night I was soldering some 20 year old resistors and they needed a quick shineup by running the leads gently through the wire cutters. Then there is the art of tinning - if you want to join two wires then put solder on each end sepearately before bringing them together. And sometimes you have to get out the soldering fluid if there is a lot of oxide around or if soldering to steel wire. Copper proto boards need a quick shine with fine sandpaper before using. But if you get a kit it will come with new components and everything will work very easily.

Chuck(G)
March 4th, 2009, 04:13 PM
You can't afford cheap tools.

Get a good temperature-controlled iron. I've used my Weller WTCP soldering station for more than 35 years. It works and will probably keep on working after I'm gone.

Even though the design for the WTCP was patented in 1950, you can still purchase repair parts for them (like I needed to when I slammed a desk drawer on the handset cord).

I'm not saying that the Weller is the best iron, but get something that's of the best quality you can afford. Somewhere I have an Ungar 40 watt iron that I started with. When I got the Weller, I never touched it again.

frozenfire75i
March 4th, 2009, 05:24 PM
Thanks guys for the points and links to kits, would something like this be a good iron to get? Ebay "150328037905" Just light use is all i will every do with it!

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Chuck(G)
March 4th, 2009, 06:34 PM
Consider a good used iron:

220369852358
270351944755
150330417921
390034364780
260370201186

rebeltaz
March 4th, 2009, 06:56 PM
Thanks guys for the points and links to kits, would something like this be a good iron to get? Ebay "150328037905" Just light use is all i will every do with it!
.

That is a good iron and I like Weller myself - I used a WP35 for 12 years before it finally died and it was used when I got it. But if you're just starting out, why not go to your local Radio Shack and for eight bucks pick up this soldering kit (http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062758)? It has everything that you need for starting out including a heatsink and solder.

As for what Dr_Acula said about "... You can't go too wrong with just a small soldering iron as suggested. If you put new components in a new board, soldering is almost impossible to get wrong. It just works..." that's not exactly true. It will take time and practice to get to where you can create good solid connections and not "cold solder joint." Radio Shack used to sell a book on the basics of soldering, but I guess not enough of their clientèle would even know which end of the iron to hold these days. But you should still be able to find something on eBay or Amazon.

Dr_Acula
March 4th, 2009, 07:02 PM
Yes maybe I was being a bit too upbeat there. Solder certainly does wick nicely though with new parts straight from the factory and a new board, but it is still possible to get a cold joint. Cheaper "fixed watts" irons can cool down too much if you have just soldered a lot of joints. "Temperature controlled" irons are a lot better as they supply whatever heat is needed. My first iron was a fixed watts one (30W I think from memory). It was frustrating to use and was replaced after a few months with a temperature controlled one. That iron is still going 25 years later.

Are you going to be soldering mainly ICs and components, or is it more for bigger things like power supply wires? If you are soldering electronic components it helps to have a fairly fine tip. I guess this seems obvious, but the irons you buy in electronics shops are the right irons for electronics. The ones I've seen in hardware shops are great for lead soldering gutters.

Chuck(G)
March 4th, 2009, 08:00 PM
Try some simple kits for practice:

http://www.electronickits.com/kit/complete/complete.htm


The ones I've seen in hardware shops are great for lead soldering gutters.

Or stained-glass canes.

It's pretty surprising what a good TC iron will do, though. The other day I repaired a display and used my iron to unsolder the metal shield from the CRT base assembly, fixed a cold solder joint in the PCB without changing tips, then resoldered the shield to the PCB. Not a trace lifted or anything burned in the whole process.

For heavy-duty work, I use an acetylene torch.

Ole Juul
March 4th, 2009, 09:50 PM
... For heavy-duty work, I use an acetylene torch.
I can't afford the tanks so I just have an old Lincoln buzz box. However, my tiger torch will easily throw a six foot flame. (It's for torch-on roofing and other mischief)

Seriously though, I've never had a good temperature-controlled iron and perhaps that's worth a few bucks for what sounds like a deluxe experience. I recently picked up a 20 buck chinese one with a rheostat and, although I have only used it a bit, I don't think it's worth it. I should just have stuck with my old cheapie and saved my money for a real iron like you describe.

One thing I should say. I've done a lot of audio connectors over the years and electronics irons usually won't work properly. There's too much metal in XLR connectors to make a proper joint and thick shielding can suck up the heat too. My weapon of choice for that stuff is the good old fashioned 100/140 gun. Bottom line, you gotta have the right heat for the job.

rebeltaz
March 5th, 2009, 08:00 AM
Yeah, I forgot to mention that unless you are soldering high current transistors or 12 gauge wire exclusively, make sure you get the finest pencil tip that you can. And son't get me wrong, I love my TC station. After twenty five years, I finally decided it was time to take the TC plunge. :rolleyes: For heavy-duty jobs (ie. tuner shields) I use a small butane pencil torch. Hardly ever pull the 100/140 watt Weller gun out anymore in this SMT world we live in.

And don't forget about solder-wick and a a desoldering pump (solder sucker) for when you need to replace that transistor you just blew or you bridge two connections....

Ole Juul
March 5th, 2009, 12:29 PM
And don't forget about solder-wick and a a desoldering pump (solder sucker) for when you need to replace that transistor you just blew or you bridge two connections....
Solder-wick? That's not a bad idea but pretty luxurious. I think frozenfire was just wanting to do basic stuff. The pump or solderpult or whatever is probably only two bucks and a great thing to have. However, use a straw or whatever tube you got handy to blow it out with, and you'll do fine. Soldering isn't just for rich kids.

rebeltaz
March 5th, 2009, 12:45 PM
Solder-wick? That's not a bad idea but pretty luxurious. I think frozenfire was just wanting to do basic stuff. The pump or solderpult or whatever is probably only two bucks and a great thing to have. However, use a straw or whatever tube you got handy to blow it out with, and you'll do fine.

Ah, come on... you can get a small spool of wick for about five to eight bucks. And even doing this day in day out for a living, a small spool lasts me for several months. And I don't know where you got the soldapult for $2, but I wish you would give me that info! I paid $12 for mine. And that has lasted for many years, only having to replace a three dollar tip once or twice a year.



Soldering isn't just for rich kids.

That's why I suggested the cheapo Radio Shack kit instead of the Weller units everyone else was recommending.

barythrin
March 5th, 2009, 12:51 PM
Even Vince's kits (MicroKim and Replica-1) http://www.brielcomputers.com/ make a great soldering kit and for a functional replica computer kit the price is great.

Not sure if the seller is still around but someone on feebay a few years ago still had a lot of Sinclair ZX81 kits (original) you could also toy with. I recall them being under $100. I know that may be a lot but still, it's an actual computer kit you get to build.. and reduce to $30 value ;-). Still, they were cheap enough that I was excited when I saw them. Otherwise yes practice on a generic card you have lying around or a toy electronics kit.

Ole Juul
March 5th, 2009, 01:17 PM
rebeltaz: Ah, come on... you can get a small spool of wick for about five to eight bucks. And even doing this day in day out for a living, a small spool lasts me for several months. And I don't know where you got the soldapult for $2, but I wish you would give me that info! I paid $12 for mine. And that has lasted for many years, only having to replace a three dollar tip once or twice a year.

My apologies, I came off a bit jerkish there. :) Perhaps the wick is a good idea. I remember not being able to affod it when I was young. Eight bucks is probably a good investment. Regarding the soldapult, I got it from Lee's Electronics (Vancouver BC) and perhaps it was a bit more - it honestly looks like it came from the dollar store. I see one in their catalogue which looks much better and is 7.50. The straw idea is quite workable though. I've done it many times: hold straw firmly to avoid melting, apply iron, close eyes, blow!


rebeltaz: That's why I suggested the cheapo Radio Shack kit instead of the Weller units everyone else was recommending.
I moved a few years back and I couldn't find my iron and didn't want to spend much on something that I thought I had, so I went to the Source and got that very model. It's actually pretty servicable. Later I wasted my money on a 20 buck chinese toy with a rheostat that looks like a thermostat but isn't. That was a waste of money. (Don't know what got into me) My feeling about tools is to buy cheap or used to learn on because without experience, one doesn't know what is needed or wanted. Then spend the bucks and get the best you can afford - not until then. I'm still embarased about having bought the fake one. lol

rebeltaz
March 5th, 2009, 01:53 PM
My apologies, I came off a bit jerkish there. :)

No.. not at all! :)


My feeling about tools is to buy cheap or used to learn on because without experience, one doesn't know what is needed or wanted. Then spend the bucks and get the best you can afford - not until then.

I could not agree more. Which is why it took me over twenty years to finally fork out the cash on a temperature controlled solder station :cool:

cosam
March 5th, 2009, 01:57 PM
Are we talking about the same things here? I just got a (admittedly rather small) roll of what I've heard referred to as "desoldering braid" for somewhere around the $2 mark. I could never get on with the non-heated solder suckers, which I suppose would probably go for $8-to-10-ish. I do have a relatively high-powered (30W) desoldering pump which works great, as long as you clean it out properly. I've even successfully (mis)used it for soldering in larger parts as my other iron is "only" 15W, although it's decent quality and has served me surprisingly well.

rebeltaz
March 5th, 2009, 02:08 PM
Are we talking about the same things here? I just got a (admittedly rather small) roll of what I've heard referred to as "desoldering braid" for somewhere around the $2 mark. I could never get on with the non-heated solder suckers, which I suppose would probably go for $8-to-10-ish. I do have a relatively high-powered (30W) desoldering pump which works great, as long as you clean it out properly. I've even successfully (mis)used it for soldering in larger parts as my other iron is "only" 15W, although it's decent quality and has served me surprisingly well.

Desoldering braid is the same as solder wick, but I have never seen it for that little even at HamFests. $2 is a fantastic price.

I have one of those desoldering pump/irons as well, but I have never been too good at using it. I guess it's just a matter of what you learned on. I've been using the soldapult type for twenty five years so that's just what I am used to. And, like Juul was saying, I was trying to suggest cheap beginner equipment to start out with.

Chuck(G)
March 5th, 2009, 02:57 PM
I have one of those desoldering pump/irons as well, but I have never been too good at using it. I guess it's just a matter of what you learned on. I've been using the soldapult type for twenty five years so that's just what I am used to. And, like Juul was saying, I was trying to suggest cheap beginner equipment to start out with.

Hmm, I suppose that the 50 rolls of it I picked up for $5 counts as a good deal... :)

I've used it more for cleaning up while soldering SMT stuff. For through-hole component replacement, I prefer the Soldapullt. Said Soldapullts are not created equal. I use the large model (DS017) that requires some effort to arm and have only rarely been disappointed with the results.

The little ones are pretty much useless.

patscc
March 5th, 2009, 05:01 PM
Like others, I tend to use suckers, either the thumb-loaded, or the pump-driven kind. I like using wick for cleaning up. If you don't use the right-size iron, I've noticed it has a tendency to solder itself to the parts you're trying to clean.
I've occasionally had the problem that with old wick, the powdered flux has fallen out of the braid, so it's always handy to keep some liquid flux handy.
patscc

Chuck(G)
March 5th, 2009, 05:06 PM
I've occasionally had the problem that with old wick, the powdered flux has fallen out of the braid, so it's always handy to keep some liquid flux handy.
patscc

Moistening the wick with a little denatured alcohol will make the flux sticky again.

amedic
March 5th, 2009, 05:45 PM
I personally have just begun to acquire the skill of soldering. Interestingly enough, I did this by doing exactly what barythrin reccommends, although not in the same order. I picked up some Sinclair Spectrums from the same ebay seller and really learned how to solder on it. Then to help advance my rather basic skills I picked up the microKim kit from Vince Briel. This was right when the microKim kit first went on sale, and that was the last time I practiced soldering. Now to prepare me for the rather epic N8VEM kit I intend to buy and build this soldering kit from Make Magazine http://www.makershed.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=MKEL4
It comes with everything you need except for a soldering iron. The kit is put together by Elenco which makes all kind of electronic kits (I built one of their bench top power supplies kits), and is well designed for the person new at soldering.

Fezzler
March 5th, 2009, 08:37 PM
I'm not the handiest guy around. But I picked up soldering fast. Heat the item, not the solder. Don't spread it on, etc.

But I find de-soldering VERY difficult.

patscc
March 5th, 2009, 09:02 PM
Look for all those homeless analog tuner TV sets, and practice desoldering on them. (Or any other handy piece of unwanted electronics )
patscc

Druid6900
March 6th, 2009, 07:12 AM
Back when I worked for Tandy, we had the latest-and-greatest Weller vacuum soldering/desoldering stations and they were a pain in the ass. Always having to shove a unbent paperclip down the tube of the desolderer and pulling out the glass tube to clean it.

Same with the Unger stations I bought for my first repair company.

Now I just use a solder sucker and a plain old Weller soldering iron.

You have to develop a technique. The one that works for me is a pin-point tip, heating the pin and pad, with the sucker just off the the side of the joint. When you see the solder point collapse a bit, roll the sucker on to the joint and hit the thumb release when it's just about parallel to the board.

After you've done all the pins, without touching the pad, move the pin side to side a couple of times with the iron tip to break any solder threads still attached to it and move it into the center of the hole and then on to the next.

For me, it's then just a matter of tapping the chip and it falls out into your hand.

After the chip is out, especially if you've had to gently pry and rock the chip out, you probably want to reheat the empty holes and use the sucker on them to clean them right out.

As for braid, it's good for doing larger areas like card edge connectors that needed to be tinned or reflowed and, in my case, I roll the side of the tip down the braid, from one end to the other as I'm lifting it off the area.

tezza
March 6th, 2009, 09:20 AM
I always use braid. I just can't get to operate those suckers properly.

For small pads, such as those around IC's I snip the braid on a diagonal at the end so there is a kind of point which fits over the pad.

Tez

chuckcmagee
March 6th, 2009, 10:21 AM
Dru's technique sounds much better than my first attempts. I purchased some extra Nec PC-8201A to steal the ram chips out of. The ram chips are so expensive, it's cheaper to buy bunches of 8201As and take the chips out of them. I will reread Dru's post about 4 times. My percentage of success was only 50% in my last attempts. Frequently, 2, 3, 4 or more pins on the chip would still have too much solder on them. When I would go in there with my long small flat bladed screwdriver to extract the chip, CRACK! as he breaks off the pins! More practice is required. I still have some motherboards sitting here, waiting.

rebeltaz
March 6th, 2009, 02:35 PM
Taking chips out of double- and multi-layered boards is a real PITA! If I am replacing a defective component, I will normally snip the leads with wire cutters and then pull the pin out with needlenose pliers as I heat it. Then use the soldapult to clean the hole. If I actually want to save the chip, I will try to flow a small bit of new solder to each pin to get the old solder flowing and pull as much out with the desoldering pump as I can - removing the remaining bit with the wick. If any pins are still stuck, I will try to wiggle the pin as I heat the pad and while it cools back down. Twenty minutes later :rolleyes: I can usually get the chip out with a chip puller (large tweezers with 90 degree flat ends).

strollin
March 6th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Just thought I'd throw out a funny story re: soldering & kits.

In 1974 I worked at a Radio Shack in Cupertino, CA. Back then the Shack sold lots of kits. Many of them were returned when the purchaser couldn't get the kit to work, of course it was the kit's fault, not the purchaser. I would take all the returned kits home and fix them (on my own time) then we would use them as displays in the store. Strobe lights, color organs and the like.

Anyway. One day this couple returned a kit that the husband had been unable to make work. After the manager returned the couple's money he handed me the kit and told me to take it home and fix it. I opened the box and found that many of the traces on the board were burnt and lifted. The couple were still in the store so I approached them and asked the husband what kind of soldering iron he used. He told me that he had used his soldering gun. I explained to him in the most diplomatic way I could that soldering guns put out 100-200W of heat which was too much, a 25-30W soldering pencil was much more suitable to solder components on a printed circuit board. He seemed to accept my input without issue but his wife said abruptly, "Don't you tell my husband how to solder! He's an engineer!" I just turned and walked away. That night after I spent an hour or so repairing burnt traces and unsoldering and resoldering parts he had put in backwards, I had the color organ working fine.

Druid6900
March 6th, 2009, 07:29 PM
If I actually want to save the chip, I will try to flow a small bit of new solder to each pin to get the old solder flowing and pull as much out with the desoldering pump as I can

Yes, adding a little bit more solder to the pins first is good and usually what I do, I just forgot to mention it. It's automatic for me. I'm not good at teaching people to do things I know how to do.

You can do this several times if you let the pin and pad cool down between attempts.

Fezzler
March 6th, 2009, 07:29 PM
What's a pin tip?

Druid6900
March 6th, 2009, 07:36 PM
What's a pin tip?

If you mean a pin-point tip, most good soldering irons have interchangable tips. A pin-point tip comes to a sharp point. I used to use a chisel point tip with a V filed in the middle of the chisel, but, I find the pin-point better for sticking in the holes to get the last of the solder out of them.

Terry Yager
March 7th, 2009, 01:58 PM
"Don't you tell my husband how to solder! He's an engineer!" I just turned and walked away.

Whatever happened to the 'GoodOl'Daze', when engineers would listen to RatShack techs, cause they actually knew sum'n?

--T

Chuck(G)
March 7th, 2009, 06:39 PM
If you mean a pin-point tip, most good soldering irons have interchangable tips. A pin-point tip comes to a sharp point. I used to use a chisel point tip with a V filed in the middle of the chisel, but, I find the pin-point better for sticking in the holes to get the last of the solder out of them.

Careful with filing tips! The Wellers use iron-plated tips. Filing through that will cause the tip to deteriorate in nothing flat.

If my iron's tiop gets badly gunked up because it collided with some plastic or hot glue, I'll use a bit of 00 steel wool to clean it, followed by a wipe on the cleaning sponge and re-tinning.

In the old days of the big American Beauty irons (you know, the ones you pick up by the wrong end if you're not careful...What's that smell?), we used to tin the bare copper tips with hard (melts at 1100F) silver solder to make them last longer.

Druid6900
March 7th, 2009, 08:10 PM
Careful with filing tips! The Wellers use iron-plated tips. Filing through that will cause the tip to deteriorate in nothing flat.



True enough, it's another one of those things that requires a "special touch" to pull off. Just deep enough to fit around a pin......

rebeltaz
March 8th, 2009, 10:09 AM
Whatever happened to the 'GoodOl'Daze', when engineers would listen to RatShack techs, cause they actually knew sum'n?

--T

I was at RS once when a lady was in there trying to buy a wall-wart for her cordless phone. The phone called for a 12v 300mA supply. The only thing the RS salesguy could find was a 12vdc 600Ma supply. He actually told her that that would not work because it was too big. I caught her on the way out, told her who I was and what I did for a living. I told her the supply would work and tried to explain that the 600Ma meant that that was the maximum it could supply - not what it was going to push into her phone. She was still hesitant, so I gave her my card and told her that if she bought that supply and it fired the phone, I would fix the phone for free.

Needless to say she was happy, but I just couldn't believe that that was the type of people they hire. RS even refused to hire my dad once, claiming that he was "over qualified" for the position! I guess knowing electronics isn't a desired trait when selling electronics.....

Chuck(G)
March 8th, 2009, 10:24 AM
Needless to say she was happy, but I just couldn't believe that that was the type of people they hire. RS even refused to hire my dad once, claiming that he was "over qualified" for the position! I guess knowing electronics isn't a desired trait when selling electronics.....

Good heavens, no! No customer wants to hear "I know it looks good to you, but these are built with cheap "Rulycon" electrolytic capacitors and you'll be lucky to get a year out of it before they go kablooie".

patscc
March 8th, 2009, 10:32 AM
I've noticed in stores that a lot of customers like to feel smarter/superior to the salesman. Go figure.
patscc

rebeltaz
March 8th, 2009, 10:34 AM
I've noticed in stores that a lot of customers like to feel smarter/superior to the salesman. Go figure.
patscc

Not me. Hell, if I am asking a salesman a question, it's because I don't know. If I already knew the answer, I wouldn't need to ask....:rolleyes:

Terry Yager
March 8th, 2009, 11:15 AM
I've noticed in stores that a lot of customers like to feel smarter/superior to the salesman. Go figure.
patscc

I've noticed that in some stores it is inevitable...

--T

Chuckster_in_Jax
March 17th, 2009, 09:57 AM
For those that are new to soldering and desoldering components on circuit boards, this article has a lot of good information. It is mainly targeted to pinball repair, but the techniques and tips discussed are valid for any circuit board. I read the article a couple of years ago and stumbled on it again recently.

http://www.pinrepair.com/begin/index.htm