What soldering gun is best for electronics

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wiss
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What soldering gun is best for electronics

Post by wiss » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:04 pm

I have a cheap one that I have been using when I do guitar mods and repairs. I am looking to take on a small electronic projects to build my solder skills before I take on a paia fatman and when my numbers is called for an x0x box.
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Post by logicalhippo » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:25 pm

For electronics you don't want a soldering gun, you want a soldering iron with a small tip. This is partly so you can solder small things, but also because guns tend to create magnetic fields that may harm ICs (so I've been told). If you're feeling cheap, just go to radio shack and get a $15-20 soldering iron between 25 and 40 watts. This what a lot of hobbyists use and is totally fine. Replacement tips are cheap and available, which is important while you're learning to solder - and h**l, if you break the whole thing (which isn't as hard as it sounds), it's only 20 bucks!

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Post by rpcfender » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:47 pm

I agree, get an iron with a small tip with a flat end not a point,around 3mm.
Low wattage is OK for printed circuit board work, but if you are soldering cables and plugs and you have a low powered iron the heat is 'sucked' out of the iron and becomes too cold to melt the solder. The more power the iron has the faster the tip returns to the correct temperature.
So perhaps 30 to 40watts if you want to do this sort of work (highly likely I would have thought as it is much cheaper than buying them and good soldering practice)
The other thing about soldering irons is electronics generally hate heat. Some irons are temperature controlled (they turn off and on depending on the temperature at the tip) and they will apply only enough heat to melt the solder thus protecting the component.
Some have variable temperature, but I wouldn't bother with those. Much more than you need and can be expensive.
So go to an electronic parts store and buy the best you can afford, or check out ebay.

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Post by wiss » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:11 am

thank you for the feedback...
"All we used was the explosion and the orchestra hit. The Fairlight was a $100,000 waste of space."

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:21 am

I made my x0xb0x with a really cheap iron that I got with a "learn electronics for kids" book and kit. The iron was rated at 25W, it worked fine and I've had it for about 6 years, so cheap irons can be OK.

At work we've got a really nice soldering station with variable temp. The barrel of it is thinner, the tip is finer and it doesn't get as hot in your hand as my cheap one. If I was getting a new iron for myself I'd get a better one than my cheapie, but probably not this fancy.

So basically cheap ones are fine but there are definate advantages to the more expensive ones. If you're going to be doing a lot of soldering I'd spend a little more just so it's a more plesant experience.

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Post by tallowwaters » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:32 am

well, you want one that can fire solder accurately from at least 30 paces
Brains can be used like a "stress ball," but only once.

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Post by OriginalJambo » Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:38 am

I've had my new iron since Christmas and I'm told it was really cheap (around $20) and it happens to be a 50W, fine tip, variable temperature number which seems pretty neat. Also has a nice wee station to sit the iron in when you are fiddling around with the cables/boards you are soldering.

So far I've soldered a dual mono RCA to jack lead from a butchered guitar cable and that was a success, and since my soldering skills leave a lot to be desired, it can't be too bad. I think if you look in the right places you can get a decent iron for next to nothing.

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Post by hageir » Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:27 am

I'm so afraid of soldering, but I have to be brave and start doing it!
I can't wait to make my own MIDIboxSID or something similar!

stab, thanks for a great tip (the "soldering for kids" thing :))
I'll try to find one like it..

..hope it'll get me over the threshold of the HORRORS OF SOLDERING + THE UNBELIEVABLE SOLDER-MONSTER-MAN:
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Post by rpcfender » Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:24 am

For those just starting to solder...
Use really thin resin filled solder - get a roll, as it is so thin it gets used up quickly but it is really easy to use and effective and you pay for it by the weight anyway.
Don't use hardware stuff unless you are soldering up a leak in your guttering.

If the tracks on your your PCB (printed circuit board) look like copper, clean the tracks
Sometimes the PCB can have a layer of solder on the tracks in this case you are pretty much good to go.
Otherwise use an abrasive rubber thingy or eraser from the stationary store.
At a pinch you can use steel wool if you don't have anything else.
You are cleaning off the thin layer of copper oxide that forms when the copper is exposed to air. So if you leave it for a few days you will need to clean it again.

To solder a PCB place the iron on the track pad and up against the leg of the component and touch the solder to the area between the leg, the pad and the iron. This turns to liquid and forms a "heart bridge". Push a bit more solder to the joint and it should flow around the track pad and leg. Pause.

The whole thing should take about 1 to 2 seconds and when you look at the joint closely it should be slightly concave like a mountain with the component leg jammed up the middle.
Try not to get a round 'bubble' blob. If you do, just use the iron to reheat it.

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Post by hageir » Sun Jan 06, 2008 6:50 am

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Post by Altitude » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:46 pm

I got a weller WESD51 on ebay NIB for $70 (they retail about $170). I like the fine screwdriver tip (small and flat). Having temperature controls is nice but not necessary and a half way decent iron is never a bad thing (mine heats up in about a minute).

I do recommend using organic flux based solder (not rosin) for all water tight components (resistors, diodes, non-polar caps etc) since cleanup of the rosin stuff is a NIGHTMARE. The organic flux washes aways with water so all you need to do to clean the board is run it under the faucet. For the other components that you really cant rinse with water, I like the "no clean" stuff

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Post by pricklyrobot » Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:41 pm

The temperature control is handy if you're not actually soldering for 5 or 10 minutes; you can just turn the knob down without turning the iron off or unplugging it. Saves on energy, and the iron should come back up to temp plenty quickly when you turn it back up.
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Post by qtuner » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:44 pm

I've built a couple of electronics projects recently and having a decent soldering iron makes a huge difference. I've built 2 seventh circle audio preamps in the last year and a half(2 pre's each). I would stay away from anything radio shack.

Seventh circle audio recommending the Hakko 936. I got one and really like it.

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