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Soldering: what am I doing wrong?


Guest Zeppelin
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Guest Zeppelin

I have been trying to so some soldering with the Antex XS25 iron (25W & iron clad tip, can be seen here). The problem is after soldering just a few joints; the iron tip quickly turns gray & does not melt the solder(my guess is oxidation). The only solution is to scotch-bright the tip which is only good for another few joints.

In their website they recommend the iron tips to be tinned frequently with solder; my iron tip looks OK as long as its covered with solder, the moment I clean it for soldering it starts changing colour to gray & in less than a minute is incapable of melting the solder.  >:( ???

Am I doing anything wrong here?
Thank you

P.S. I only use antex solder so that shouldn't be the problem

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At this point, you really need a new tip. Sanding down the tip just causes more harm. Are you using a wet sponge to clean the tip whenever you get burned residue on it? This helps. One nice tinning trick is to get a nice blob of solder on the tip when you are done with it and then let it cool down. The next time you use the iron, it will be tinned well.
Another thing that you can do is to keep a tinning block handy. Here is an example: http://shop.vendio.com/LordMikal/item/693681018/index.html
Then whenever the tip starts looking grey, rub the tip against the tinning block. It will look like new again. And lastly, use plenty of flux when soldering. This helps a lot. You will find that the iron needs less time to make a good solder joint and thus there is less build up.
Hope this helps out.

MP

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Wow, expensive tip.
Yes, I use liquid flux on all my soldering. The core flux helps the solder to flow on the copper, but it is rarely enough. A trick I learned years ago. When I was going through MIL SPEC soldering coursework, flux always got me higher grades since the joints were always better looking. Try this for yourself. Flux comes in liquid form and also in pens.

The tinning block will help out a lot, I think. I have used a tinning block to revive some pretty bad solder tips.

MP

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I am not sure what a tinning block is but I assume it is something like a small tin on solder impregnated flux that is sold here as tip cleaner and tinner. Personally all I do is after each joint or when I put the iron back on the stand is to load the tip up with normal solder so it is completely covered. Just prior to doing the next joint wipe it clean and it will be spotless. One important thing to remember is that there is one thing more important than flux..... CLEANLINESS. Never try to solder with a dirty tip ALWAYS wipe it clean before each joint.

Also I noticed that the iron you are using is a constant temp iron. This is not the best thing to use on a PCB. Solder has a melting point of around 275C and the temperature of the iron should be maintained at about 300C to allow for the drop in temp when it is applied to the joint. I would guess that the iron you are using would be around 400C which may result in dull and brittle joints. It is well worth the investment of a temperature controlled iron. In Oz we get these from around $200 (~75GBP).

Also 3.45 for a tip is pretty cheap. The ones I am using are $30 and the desoldering ones are $45.

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Thank you for the inputs guys


windoze killa, I do exactly what you said but in the soldering time when the tip is cleaned it turns gray in a matter of seconds.

About the iron not being good enough, I totally disagree! Sure it's not a soldering station but from what I gather it's one of the good one in the simple range. Both the iron & the tip are quite expensive compared to similar products. What is annoying is that I have used other cheaper irons before & they have done a better job with no maintenance. So much for the iron clad tips! Or probably I'm doing something wrong
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See if you can get hold of a pyrometer and check the tip temp.

Another method of checking tip temp is to grab a piece of HMP solder (High Melting Point). Load the tip up with normal 60/40 solder. Place the HMP across the tip. At 300C it should melt through in 1 second. If it is melting in less time (like instantly) then it is way too hot.

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I find that this soldering iron gives good solder joints http://www.rapidonline.com/productinfo.aspx?id=-1&tier1=Tools%2c+Fasteners+%26+Production+Equipment&tier2=Soldering+Equipment&tier3=Soldering+Irons&tier4=High+efficiency+25W+soldering+iron+%0dwith+fitted+mains+plug&moduleno=60704
with this solder http://www.rapidonline.com/productinfo.aspx?id=-1&tier1=Tools%2c+Fasteners+%26+Production+Equipment&tier2=Soldering+Equipment&tier3=Solder+%26+Fluxes&tier4=Solder&moduleno=30236

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  • 2 weeks later...

:)intresting, i use a thin low tempiture soldering iron and low tempiture melting piont thin solder wire to go with it  and here i have a small tin of soldering iron tip tinner  that cleans and tins the soldering iron tip , the idea of the low tempiture soldering iron is  so that the heat aint to hot as to damage any components  even if ya dont have a heatsink clip to clip onto the component legs to obsorb excess heat, there are some soldering wire that reqiures a higher tempiture  to melt and if thats the case a heatsink clip will be handy to stop any heat damage to the part

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If you use the correct type of soldering iron set to the correct temperature, prepare and clean the pad and component, apply liquid flux and don't be on the joint for more than 3 seconds then there is no need for a heatsink clip. These will just suck heat away from the joint and actually cause a bad joint. If you have the temperature of the iron such that it over comes the effect of the heatsink to allow you to do a good joint you will be overheating you component worse than if you do it properly.

Proper tools and proper technique is everything when it comes to soldering. Another rule of thumb for soldering tips is to chose a tip width that is about 2/3 the width of the pad you are trying to solder.

Remember these simple rules. (probably can be applied to everything in life)

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Practice makes perfect.

Your best mate is not an expert in everything. You don't go to a Dr to find out how to fix your car so don't ask a plumber how to solder electronics. (nothing against Drs or plumbers) (except for the way they charge)

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click on square at top right corner you may have enlarged page to much , or ya pc screen is big or swollen up from the pc flue, lol, when ya solder part hold solder tip against part leg and erea where solder has to flow so they both get equally heated for the solder to take to ,  then continiuity test the jiont and leg and trax so you know they are in conduction still  if not then the leg of component is not haveing the solder sticking to it to well and youll notice a tiny sink hole and the part leg will easily pull out of it when the solder is not takeing to it to well then the  part wont conduct from the solder
so make sure the leg of the part is clean to and reheat the solder so it will stick  to it

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