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Discussion Starter #1
Right you wizards. I've been keen to teach myself soldering as it's something I've always wanted to do for when I'm dealing with automotive wiring and could of even more use on a bike, with the extra vibration and the need for even better weathering. I also fancy having a go at making up my own LCD lights should I ever become proficient enough.

I got myself a 30 watt soldering iron and stripped bare some cabling from an old PC mouse, but I'm really struggling to transfer the heat from the iron through the wire to the solder. I've tinned the tip well and the wire is clean, but this could maybe a coating on the wire that's causing the problem.

I think it's the soldering iron though as I've read that for anything thicker than PCB work at least 45 watts is required.

Thoughts anybody?

I'd also appreciate links that anybody has for "how to" articles on soldering and making up your own lights.
 

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What Kinda Bike Is That?
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You should know that, soldering leads to.......welding.

I am now enrolled in a program to try and break that addiction........


B.L.
 

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Theres a ton of info out there. Search on google or you tube.

Electronics Primer: How to Solder Electronic Components
Cheers. I've googled and looked through loads and I've convinced myself that not only am I shite at soldering (probably), but I also have an underpowered soldering iron for soldering twisted automotive thickness wires. I just need this confirming by somebody that's done the work.

The shop that sold it to our lass (I was too busy watching football) should really have asked what the intended use was. They sell a temperature controllable soldering station for £20 which is actually cheaper than the separates that they sold her along with the 30 watt iron.
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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30W is enough to solder wires. Apply a little solder where the iron touches the wires to help transfer heat, then apply solder to the wires opposite the iron until the wires get hot enough to melt the solder by themselves.
 

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30 watts is fine for PCB work, but a temperature controlled soldering station is the preferred way to go. A 45 watt iron won't hurt either.

Make sure you're using rosin core solder and that the wire is squeaky clean.

Finally 63/37 eutectic solder melts at a specific temperature rather the 60/40 solder, which melts over a range of temps. Eutectic is preferred for electronic work.

All bets are off with solder that is not lead and tin. I don't like it and don't use it.
 

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30W is enough to solder wires. Apply a little solder where the iron touches the wires to help transfer heat, then apply solder to the wires opposite the iron until the wires get hot enough to melt the solder by themselves.
That's exactly how I did it GW but the wire just isn't getting hot enough. I'll try with some normal automotive wire tomorrow.
 

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What are you using to hold the wire? If you're using pliers or something else metal, it will act as a heat sink and carry the heat away. Try putting the wires on a piece of wood and pressing down fairly hard with the flat on the tip of your iron. If the wood chars, don't worry (don't use the family heirloom dining table).

Think of soldering as "wetting." You're getting the base metals, in this case two wire ends, clean and the right heat for the solder to melt and flow wet into the surface of the metal and into the strands of the wire. When a touch of solder melts and runs into the wire, you have the temperature right. When the solder forms balls on the wire, it isn't hot enough. When the insulation melts, you've got it too hot.

About that clean part...the metals must be clean and bright. The flux (including the rosin core) chemically cleans the metal. If there is any oil or dirt, clean it off first. Dry moisture. Sandpaper or wire brush oxidation before soldering. (A tip for soldering water pipes with a drip...stuff a wad of white bread into the pipe to hold back the water for a coupl'a minutes. Do your soldering and put the water back on. It'll dissolve the bread like it was never there. Don't use seeded bread.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What are you using to hold the wire? If you're using pliers or something else metal, it will act as a heat sink and carry the heat away. Try putting the wires on a piece of wood and pressing down fairly hard with the flat on the tip of your iron. If the wood chars, don't worry (don't use the family heirloom dining table).

Think of soldering as "wetting." You're getting the base metals, in this case two wire ends, clean and the right heat for the solder to melt and flow wet into the surface of the metal and into the strands of the wire. When a touch of solder melts and runs into the wire, you have the temperature right. When the solder forms balls on the wire, it isn't hot enough. When the insulation melts, you've got it too hot.

About that clean part...the metals must be clean and bright. The flux (including the rosin core) chemically cleans the metal. If there is any oil or dirt, clean it off first. Dry moisture. Sandpaper or wire brush oxidation before soldering. (A tip for soldering water pipes with a drip...stuff a wad of white bread into the pipe to hold back the water for a coupl'a minutes. Do your soldering and put the water back on. It'll dissolve the bread like it was never there. Don't use seeded bread.)
Cheers for that. I'm using one of those "third hand" contraptions which has crocodile clips holding the wire no more than an inch either side of the area that I'm trying to solder.
 

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I think it's the soldering iron though as I've read that for anything thicker than PCB work at least 45 watts is required.
My first soldering iron when I started as a trainee radio tech back in '65 was a 19 watt Adcola iron provided as part of my tool kit. I used that for about 6 years when I splurged and bought a Weller TCP-1 temp controlled iron in 1971 for the very high price of $27 (I was earning $100 per week as a senior tech).

I'm still using that iron although I've gone through a few tips and a couple of elements over the past 40+ years.
 

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I'm still using that iron although I've gone through a few tips and a couple of elements over the past 40+ years.
If you ever replace it, go with Hakko. Fifteen years and never had to replace a tip. I chucked all the old Weller stuff a long time ago.
 

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If you ever replace it, go with Hakko. Fifteen years and never had to replace a tip. I chucked all the old Weller stuff a long time ago.
Thanks, Tom. That may happen the next time I need an element. I'm not sure they are still available.. I still have a lot of tips from when the Wellers were replaced at work.
 

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Cheers for all of the replies and apologies for all of those who subscribe to all three forums that I posted the same subject on :headbang:

I stripped down some "normal" electrical cable and Robert's your mother's brother! As somebody said, and I suspected, the stripped bare mouse cable innards that I was using must have had a coating on it after all.

It all soldered really well except a silly attempt at a triple thickness braided splice. I even managed to get a really strong solder with an end to end joint and parallel soldering was also no bother.


Now :lol: what else can I solder?

Anybody recommend any electronics tutorials/books/projects? Maplans seem to have dozens of cheapish mini projects for sale. I might start with a dummy led alarm for the bike to scare off any slack jawed thieves in the area.
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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Now :lol: what else can I solder?
Take up model railroading. This brass locomotive and tender are primarily constructed of brass pieces soldered together. I used a 250W iron and an alcohol torch for most of that.

 

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It all in the transfer of heat

Glad to hear you succeeded! Some computer accessory wires are made of different metal alloys or are plated, leading to the difficulties you described. A few thing to look out for starting out: I know it seems stupid, but don't use the rosin that you would for pipes. It is far more 'active' than you want for wires and will continue to etch the wire unless cleaned very, very well. Don't linger or reheat too often. This tends to seperate the alloy of the solder leading to a poor bond. Good soldering , like anything, is 70% prep 10% fun and 20% clean-up. (Take your time setting it up, you never have enough hands!)

Keep practicing, pay attention to the behavior of the solder as you try different things(applying the heat or solder at different points). Note how it depends on how well you transfere the heat to the target (wire) before the solder will work (beware heat sinks as stated before).

Before you know it you'll be looking for cheap oxy/ace refills and scrap metal!
 

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Glad to hear you succeeded! Some computer accessory wires are made of different metal alloys or are plated, leading to the difficulties you described. A few thing to look out for starting out: I know it seems stupid, but don't use the rosin that you would for pipes. It is far more 'active' than you want for wires and will continue to etch the wire unless cleaned very, very well. Don't linger or reheat too often. This tends to seperate the alloy of the solder leading to a poor bond. Good soldering , like anything, is 70% prep 10% fun and 20% clean-up. (Take your time setting it up, you never have enough hands!)

Keep practicing, pay attention to the behavior of the solder as you try different things(applying the heat or solder at different points). Note how it depends on how well you transfere the heat to the target (wire) before the solder will work (beware heat sinks as stated before).

Before you know it you'll be looking for cheap oxy/ace refills and scrap metal!
Ha! I've already done loads of very poor mig welding:thumbdown:
 
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