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Some soldering help please

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Some soldering help please
Posted by gdelmoro on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:57 PM

Hi all,

Iv’e recently got several decoders, animated signs and other electronics that require soldering wires too circuit boards.  I have a Weller Soldering iron that has a heating range 1 - 5.

And i just got an electronics soldering iron Which has numbers from 0 - 400

 https://goo.gl/images/c3XeTD 

What is the correct setting for decoder soldering?

Gary

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Posted by richg1998 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:09 PM

I have had the one for some years. I also bought the fine pointed tip along with the little larger wedge tip.

I use fifty percent for decoder soldering with the fine tip and seventy five percent with the wedge tip for soldering rail feeders.

I also use the Radio shack tip cleaner, little rosin flux and use an acid brush with alcohol to clean up any rosin after.

I have been soldering for many years and for the last fifteen years been using the below solder.

https://www.amazon.com/Cardas-Soldering-Eutectic-Silver-Solder/dp/B015X68HXW

Google Cardas quad eutectic solder.

Many solders, such as the popular 60/40, are a slurried mixture of Tin and Lead. In making the joint, the Tin/Lead mixture melts, but as it solidifies it does so one metal at a time. It goes into a slurry state where one metal is liquid and the other is very small solid particles.

I threw out all my 60 40 many years ago, Never a bad joint anynore. Cardas sets up fast.

Yes. Controversial.

Rich

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:59 PM

Gary,

Given that adjustable temperature soldering stations run from 300-850F, I would say "4" would be ample enough for soldering decoders.  You want the soldering tip to be shiny and the solder to melt well but it doesn't need to/shouldn't be on the highest/hottest setting.

Using 60/40 solder for soldering electronics, I find 650-700F is quite adequate.  That would definitely correspond to "4" on your solder station.  63/37 solder is even better and has a lower melting point because of the additional lead.

If you have small enough soldering tips, I would only solder with the adjustable temperature soldering station and skip the "always on"/max temperature electronics iron.  Be sure to keep a blob of solder on your soldering tips when you turn your station or iron off.  This will protect the plating of the soldering tip and keep it shiny.

Tom

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:58 AM

Gary,

I didn't go fancy with a soldering station.

For decoder work, I picked up a Weller WM120 pencil-type soldering iron.

http://www.weller-toolsus.com/soldering/irons/weller-wm120-solder-iron-prof-thin-12w-120v.html

It is a 12 watt iron, and it develops a tip temperature of 800 degrees Farenheit.

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:06 AM

 I used to think that - until I got a true temperature controlled station. My $50 Xytronics works for all levels of soldering from track feeders down to tiny decoder wire (need a LOT heavier to solder feeders to #12 bus wire, a 200-250 watt gun works best there). The advantage of a true controlled iron is that, unlike a standard plain pencil or those cheaper Weller adjustable ones is that when the set temperature is reached. the power is shut off. It doesn't keep endlessly heating. This reduces oxidation of the tip, so it stays nice and shiny. I've had it 11 years now and still on the original tip - and it works like it did when it was new. A dirty, oxidized tip does not transfer heat as well as a clean one, that's when you end up having to hold the iron on the joint longer and when things get melted.  800 degrees is WAY too hot for normal soldering. A plain soldering irons just keeps heating as long as it's plugged in, until the heating element can no longer put more heat in than radiates off. Ones like mine actually have a temperature sensor and cut off at the set level. These can get VERY expensive, but mine was unbder $50 and has lasted this long with no problems. Replacement heating elements and various size and shape tips have long been available for it as well, I do have a selection of tips for specialized work. That's the other thing about being controlled temperature - the tips don;t get more or less 'welded' to the handle and impossible to remove. When cool, it unscrews easily and I can swp them out with no problems. And turned down all the way - I can shrink heat shrink without melting it all over the tip. Well worth it. Like I said, I had an assortment of various size  regular irons for various jobs, like a smalle 15 watt grounded one for electronics and fine wire, a 45 watt one for slightly heavier stuff, and a 60 watt for track. This one station has replaced them all and made me a convert to the RIGHT way of soldering (not that I had issues with melting things or destorying components before).

                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, January 11, 2018 8:27 AM

rrinker

 I used to think that - until I got a true temperature controlled station. My $50 Xytronics works for all levels of soldering from track feeders down to tiny decoder wire 

Now you tell me. And, after you recommended the WM120 to me.   Super Angry

Rich

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Posted by peahrens on Thursday, January 11, 2018 8:58 AM

rrinker
My $50 Xytronics works for all levels of soldering from track feeders down to tiny decoder wire (need a LOT heavier to solder feeders to #12 bus wire, a 200-250 watt gun works best there).

I'll second the recommendation for the Xytronics. Mine is the LF-389D.  I had used a Weller gun for rail joint soldering and 2 pencil irons on decoder soldering when I got into that.  The non-fancy pencil irons fouled & burned up tips and I could not get replacements.

I bought a replacement tip and another size tip for the Xytronics.  I will likely not need to use them as the original tips stays like new.  I use about 375F for decoder soldering and turn it up a bit if soldering to a truck contact point, etc, for faster heating.

Paul

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:18 AM

gdelmoro

Hi all,

Iv’e recently got several decoders, animated signs and other electronics that require soldering wires too circuit boards.  I have a Weller Soldering iron that has a heating range 1 - 5.

And i just got an electronics soldering iron Which has numbers from 0 - 400

 https://goo.gl/images/c3XeTD 

What is the correct setting for decoder soldering?

 

The guys I work with are true electronic nerds/AV geeks/TV engineers and this is the soldering iron they buy to use at work where soldering wires to jacks is a part of their job. There is also a higher price version of this with the scale in degrees instead of just numbers but they can tell how hot it is by how the soldier melts.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by tstage on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:37 AM

I don't think you guys read the OP's question correctly.  Gary is not looking for soldering station/iron recommendations; he's asking what setting he should set his Weller soldering station at for soldering decoders - e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

The "0-400" for the linked 60W Weller electronics soldering iron is confusing to me.  It looks like a plug-in type that stays on all the time.  Needless to say, Gary already has both of them in his possession.

Tom

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:39 AM

Thanks for all the replys. Guess I'll put the  Xytronics LF-389D on my BD list.

Gary

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:51 AM

richhotrain

 

 
rrinker

 I used to think that - until I got a true temperature controlled station. My $50 Xytronics works for all levels of soldering from track feeders down to tiny decoder wire 

 

 

Now you tell me. And, after you recommended the WM120 to me.   Super Angry

 

Rich

 

 Not I, I would never recommend a low end Weller anything. I've always recommended the Xytronics, after it was recommended to me and I found it to be quite a nice product for not much money. I also have one of their fume extractors (really little more than a fan with an activate charcoal filter, but it sucks the soldering fumes away from my face which is what really matters) and I am considering one of their fancier machines that includes a desoldering tool and hot air gun.

 I know I've psoted about it several times - my thoughts on the use of the Weller name by their current owners, and that I grew up in the same town as Carl Weller and all that.

                                      --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:55 AM

rrinker
 
richhotrain
 
rrinker

 I used to think that - until I got a true temperature controlled station. My $50 Xytronics works for all levels of soldering from track feeders down to tiny decoder wire  

Now you tell me. And, after you recommended the WM120 to me.   Super Angry 

Rich 

Not I, I would never recommend a low end Weller anything. I've always recommended the Xytronics, after it was recommended to me and I found it to be quite a nice product for not much money. I also have one of their fume extractors (really little more than a fan with an activate charcoal filter, but it sucks the soldering fumes away from my face which is what really matters) and I am considering one of their fancier machines that includes a desoldering tool and hot air gun.

 I know I've psoted about it several times - my thoughts on the use of the Weller name by their current owners, and that I grew up in the same town as Carl Weller and all that.

                                      --Randy 

Hey, I gotta blame somebody.   Smile, Wink & Grin

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:25 AM

 As for the OP - I would really try to return that Tabiger thing before you use it. Especially if you paid anywhere close to the $70 is shows as the cost in that "review". I never heard of that brand before, and when I read the review it just smacked of BS. As in, written by the peopel that sell it. I can;t conclusively tell, but it looks that way based on the domain name registrations.

 And I will be willing to bet (actual money even - I've seen a similar device taken apart on an EE site I participate in) if you open it up, that temperature dial isn't connected to anything. 

 My Xytronics is the older version of the LF-389D (the D stands for Digital, as in it has LED digits that read out the actual temperature - mine just has a numbered dial like the Weller. Some day I'll borrow a friend's FLIR and figure out just what the temperature is at each setting). So I'm not absolutely certain what the temp ranges are - but for most work I turn it half way or jsut beyond. A little higher for heavier items like soldering rail joiners. On the lwoest setting it will burn you butnot melt solder - that's what I use for heat shrink, and also if I need to do something and it will be a few minutes bfore I need to sodler again, I will just turn it all the way down but leave it on. It only takes a few seconds to get back up to temp, and the low setting again helps keep the tip from oxidizing.

 The other nice thing about this (and several other brands) is that instead of a wet sponge it came with a copper scrubber - looks a bit like steal wool but it's brass or copper so it won't wear the palting off the iron tip. Just jap the tip in a few times and I don't have to often use the tip tinner stuff (which being sal ammoniac, really stinks. But it DOES clean the tip nicely - remember to then apply some solder, NEVER leave the tip bare). When I am all finished soldering, I turn it to the lowest setting, melt a blob of solder over the tip, put it back in the stand, and turn it off. Next time I use it - turn it on, wait til the light goes out indicating it is up to temperature, and poke the tip in the wool pad to scrape the excess blob of solder off, revealing a nice shiny and tinned tip ready for use.

                           --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, January 11, 2018 6:20 PM

That Tabiger was $20. I do use the copper scrubber when soldering.

So the takeaway from my original post is about 1/2 way up for decoder work the irons i have now.

Thank you

Gary

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, January 11, 2018 6:44 PM

Gary,

I would say heavier (>) on the 1/2 half than "about" (<).  The only way to know for sure though is to test it.  I would first try "3" then 1/2 way between "3" & "4", if necessary.  If it takes longer than 1/2 second to melt the solder then you need to up the temperature.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Drumguy on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:11 PM

When I got back in the hobby 5 or 6 years ago, soldering was the bane of my existence. I had some old soldering irons, thought they’d be good enough, but nothing worked well. So I bought the Weller shown in the original post. Thought that would solve my problems. It got worse— my ancient Popular Mechanics iron with a bent corroded tip worked better. So I bit the bullet and spent 100 bucks on a Hakko station. Bang— clean, shiny joints every time. It measures and maintains temp at the tip. Default temp is 750 and I’ve never changed it. I use a chisel tip for rails, a pencil tip for everything else — even soldering decoders at 750 (maybe that’s stupid but it’s worked ok so far with no problems).

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:42 PM

Drumguy
So I bit the bullet and spent 100 bucks on a Hakko station. Bang— clean, shiny joints every time.

+1 on the Hakko. Yes  I do vary the temperature often, though. I have a decent selection of tips as well. I've had mine over four years so there are newer models available now. 

I don't think I was aware of the Xytronics at the time. I'm sure it's just as capable.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 12, 2018 6:11 AM

 Yeah on the EE forum I'm on, all they go on about is Hakko. It IS a worldwide forum, even more than here, people from the US aren;t even HALF the subscribers to it, and I don't know about Xytronics availability elsewhere in the world, but most act like they never heard of it. I see them occasionally on eBay but the main place (and where I got mine) is just a signle distributor in the US. 

 Of course all they go on about when it comes to 'scopes if the now relatively ancient Rigol DS1054, but mainly because they built them all witht he same hardware and it's an easy firmware hack to get a full 100MHz bandwidth instead of the 50MHz it comes with. I'm quite happy with my Siglent which cost significantly less (but only 2 channels).

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Friday, January 12, 2018 10:57 AM

LION is very happy with the Xytronics of him.

 

FEW SOLDERING TIPS FROM THE LION:

 

1) ALWAYS LOOK at the soldering iron BEFORE you pick it up.

2) ALWAYS adjust your eyeglasses BEFORE you pick up the soldering iron.

3) DO NOT solder over head, blobs of hot lead will fall in your eyes.

4) DO NOT try to catch a falling soldering iron.

5) DO NOT splatter hot solder on your nice soft fur.

6) IF NECESSARY, Get a human to help you.

 

ROAR

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Posted by garya on Friday, January 12, 2018 11:42 AM

BroadwayLion

LION is very happy with the Xytronics of him.

 

FEW SOLDERING TIPS FROM THE LION:

 

1) ALWAYS LOOK at the soldering iron BEFORE you pick it up.

2) ALWAYS adjust your eyeglasses BEFORE you pick up the soldering iron.

3) DO NOT solder over head, blobs of hot lead will fall in your eyes.

4) DO NOT try to catch a falling soldering iron.

5) DO NOT splatter hot solder on your nice soft fur.

6) IF NECESSARY, Get a human to help you.

 

ROAR

 

Good tips, Lion.  I've never done #3, but I may be guilty of the others (sort of).  Even when it's hot, don't wear shorts if you get under the layout and solder (#5)

Gary
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Posted by Drumguy on Friday, January 12, 2018 9:46 PM

And don’t solder barefoot. Around the house I’m a beach bum barefoot shorts and t-shirt guy even when it’s 20 below outside. Early on I learned to at least wear socks whilst soldering. Ouch!  BTW I got my Hakko on Amazon with free shipping. In terms of frustration relief, possibly the best investment I’ve made.

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