So what temperature should I be using with my soldering iron for all this small PCB work?

to add to this thread, I am curious… I have a 40watt iron from home depot,which heats up to 900°F but I feel like it can get wayyy too hot to be effective sometimes, especially if I leave it on for too long, it basically wont soldering much of anything… Someone recommended the amazon $20 adjustable soldering iron off of amazon… ( I will order this) but I did see there was a 25watt option at home depot which heats up to 750°F. Does anyone else use the well 25watt Iron for basic soldering on boards? if so, is it decent?..

Edit: Ahhh I see. 675*degrees seems to be a nice temp, meaning that the 25watt iron from Home Depot maybe still be just a bit too hot for small electrical boards and what not. It seems that the adjustable $20 Amazon option is truly a really good option to consider, as opposed to any of the Home Depot irons…

I’m running my iron around 320 C, which works well and sometimes can be a little too hot for small wire … . The one thing i would add to to the above that makes a huge difference is the type of iron tip you use. My preference is an iron tip with a small flat (1-2mm diameter) surface, that transfers the heat very well.

I find the needle point tips do not transfer heat quickly enough.

@Latraxstar720, I would not be looking at buying an iron from Home Depot. It is more preferable to have an adjustable temp controlled iron which you can find many of on Amazon for around 20$. Don’t get me wrong, if you have skill at soldering you could get away with using a non temp controlled iron but you will get the best results and less chance of damaging the delicate pads and traces found on these PCB. https://www.amazon.com/Soldering-VicTsing-Adjustable-Temperature-Different/dp/B01JACYTUU/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1475504760&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=soldering+iron&psc=1
There are many temp controlled irons available on Amazon and that is just one for an example. Besides the temp control you also get interchangeable tips which you will want because the large conical tip that the ones in the hardware store come with are too big and clumsy for working on tiny stuff. Like @JTR says, I use a small 1.5mm wide beveled chisel tip for almost all the work I do.

Besides the iron, also having the correct solder and flux make a huge difference in how easily you can solder something as well as the final result of that soldering. No clean solder flux in a syringe is your friend! Use flux whenever you solder and it will make the process much less difficult and you want a very small diameter 63/37 solder with rosin core. I use a .33mm diameter for all the work I do or .0129 inch diameter. Prep the surface you plan to solder by first cleaning with isopropyl 91% alcohol and a Q-tip, I usually only do this for PCB not wires or components. Apply flux to the pads or through holes, tin wires or legs of the components and solder away.

Temperature is important and you want to only heat the work enough to get the solder to flow. Too high, you’ll lift pads and traces or burn the board, too low and you get “cold” solder joints which does not make a sound electrical connection. You cannot trust that the temperature the iron is displaying is always correct and the best way to find a good temperature to run them is to experiment. Start low like 500 degrees F and tin some wires or practice on something broke, when the iron is just right it should melt the solder wire right away and you should be able to make most soldering joints within a few seconds. If you have to hold the iron on a connection for more than say 5-10 seconds then you need a little more heat. My iron stays right at about 570-600 F but I also know that that is not accurate from testing with a temp sensor. Above I stated that I was using 650-675F that temperature is a little too high and over the past year I have adjusted that down. I recall lifting a few pads from some Vtx while building FPV gear and so have made adjustments since then. If you look at the data sheets for the 63/37 solder you will see that the melting point of that type of solder is around 360 F. If that is the melting point then you need to set the iron a bit higher in order to be able to melt it quickly, the tip of the iron may not be the temperature that you see displayed and there are other factors that would affect the accuracy of that reading.

Have a look on YouTube if you need a little more help, there are lots of great video on how to solder. Besides that, practice makes perfect and there is no better way to learn than by just doing it :wink: Have fun!

Thanks guys, I have a fairly new iron station and I’ve been timid with the temps. I’ve been doing tiny stuff at 260C, which seems pretty safe on components, but it takes forever. I’ve gone to 300C for power wires, and I’ll probably start using that for everything now!

Wow! Thank you thank you thank you for all of that advice! This thread has now become my soldering cheat sheet, always to be referenced until it is soldered into my brain! :wink: ordering an adjustable soldering iron today, no more Home Depot irons!!! I was unsure of which type of solder to buy as well and you cleared that up along with the flux syringe and temps!!! Once again, thank you

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i like to use my solder sucker to clear holes…

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Right on @tronaton :wink: Finger on the trigger, sounds like a Rage Against the Machine song haha. You were right to spend a little more on a nice solder sucker. The ones that have the silicone nose are best since they conform to an uneven surface and get better suction. The cheap ones are typically crap. Good video.

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That probably explains why I hate solder suckers and don’t think they work well. I have a plastic tip that doesn’t conform.

@tronaton Just bought one of those. I thought I was doing it wrong the whole time. Turns out my solder sucker just, well… sucked.

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Old school… I like it :slight_smile:

Nice that pump looks gnarly! I remember my father used to have this (dont know where it went sadly)

http://www.alliedelec.com/nte-electronics-inc-j-045-ds/70722084/?mkwid=sabYU23qn&pcrid=30980760979&gclid=CK6noLGvx88CFYEYgQodAiML3g

I may pick one up just for the hell of it…

Here are my favorite methods aside from solder pumps.

For pads:

Tin solder tip, heat pad and drag off. Perfect tinned pad for the next connection.

If you wanna clear the pad use good desolder braid. Not the stuff at the hardware store. A little flux on the braid and you’re in business.

For through hole cleaning:

This is where people think they need solder suckers. This is how I do it. You can heat the solder then flick the PCB. But, this always leaves some solder behind when I do it. I prefer Chipquik. Its solder that has a different melting point. Stays liquified longer. Add it to the joint then flick it, totally clean through hole.

The other advantage of Chip Quick is de-pinning components. Got a component with a full set of pins? Add Chip Quik solder and pull the pins out individually.

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If you have a cheap solder sucker, you can push a bit of silicon fish air line or fuel line onto the tip, and its like the nice ones, and a serviceable tip.

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Brilliant! I’m off to rummage in my workshop for some fuel line. :+1:

I’m using exactly that method for a while now - with success.
But I’m a big fan of desoldering wick and flux. It’s a bit more precise to work with than a solder sucker.

Yeah the cheap solder suckers suck man :wink: that hard plastic nose does not help get the suction you need to clear the through holes. I personally like the finger flick technique where you liquify the solder and give it a quick pluck of the finger and it usually will clear any through hole on a PCB. If you are not used to being burnt protect yourself appropriately haha. In other words wear pants while practicing that technique :slight_smile: Thanks to @Benedikt for sharing that knowledge! So if you cannot afford the more expensive sucker the finger flicking technique is aces for clearing them through holes.

Brilliant @JG101 :blush:

I just stumbled across this soldering technique on another forum. I have not used it yet, but it seems like it could be a good solution for someone who does not have any soldering braid, pump, or sucker, and is stuck in a situation where they need to clear a pad with a hole in it.

If you are trying to re-open a hole on a soldering pad, heat up that pad, and then used compressed air to blow the hole clean again…

This is NOT recommended, but could probably be used as a last resort option. Just as flicking the pcb board may flick random pieces of solder around onto other components, I can only imagine using compressed air can would be just as risky! I would recommend always checking for little micro pieces of solder using a magnifying glass to avoid any unnecessary short circuits!

If there ever comes a time where I have to do this, i will let you all know of the outcome!

I think I saw the same video @quadlifepro, guy was working on a computer monitor I think? That was over a year ago that I saw that and I immediately had to try. If it is something that you do not care about this method will work but you have to really get that solder and board above temperature for this to work. As soon as the compressed air hits the solder it wants to solidify. A better way to do this on these tiny PCB and equipment used in the micro builds is to get the solder liquid and give the card a flick with your finger. Of course safety first so wear glasses and do not have important things in the trajectory of the solder that will be flying out of the hole. Also gloves, long sleeve shirt and pants may be advisable while using this technique. I credit Benedikt for the technique since he was the first one I heard speak of it. I made a little video on the technique while replugging some motor sockets on a board.

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yeah, i think ur way will work the best. :slight_smile: @benedikt, and @madman1412 you guys are the bomb! Thanks for linking that to me, madman!

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