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Solder, Soldering irons and stations, tips and tricks

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by BobRogers, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    This topic comes up periodically, so I thought I'd make it a sticky. Please contribute your recommendations for all soldering tools in all price ranges.

    Here is a link with a lot of info soldering.

    Here is some info on the solder itself from Wikipedia. (As with all information, verification is encouraged.)
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    RadioShack is as good a place to start as any for an iron and solder.

    You can get a 25-watt iron with replaceable tips and some basic 60/40 solder .032 diameter. I'd recommend a tiny dab of flux as well on those shiny new connectors.

    One of the most useful [and ugly] things I've ever adapted was a small metal mic holder from a 1970's El Cheapo brand cassette recorder into a soldering iron stand. It gives you two hands free to manipulate the solder / wire / connectors - while the iron sits still. Useful with the tip facing away from you, or straight at you. It's very stable, but small enough to pick up the whole rig when you need to. I don't know how it has any paint left on it, and I don't know what I'd do without it. Good luck finding one.


    This how-to-solder YouTube video that Jammster found for another thread is a good tutorial for anyone who needs a little visual encouragement.

  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Weller (Cooper Tools) has always made nice solder stations
    Kester has high quality solder products for any type of soldering..
    Alphametals (Cookson Electronics) also makes high quality electronic grade solder
  4. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    I hope its ok to post a question on a Sticky.

    I bought a spool of digital quality 2 conductor + ground cable.
    When making cables for guitar, should I connect both leads to hot or should one of them go to ground?
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I'm a bit suspicious of the phrase "digital quality". Does the cable have two conductors with overall braided screen (ground)? If so, I would use both conductors for the signal. If not, tell us what the cable looks like when stripped back.
  6. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    Hi Bos,
    Thanks for the reply.
    The spool is labeled 24g 100ohm from Clark Wire and Cable.
    It looks like good quality to me with foil over braid.
    Its made for permanent applications.
    I rewired my home studio w/ it.
    I know its not the best for live apps (its pretty stiff) but I also play gigs on guitar and I had a bunch leftover.

    I figured the answer to my question is a choice between -
    A. Both conductors hot = better signal
    B. One conductor to ground = better rf rejection
    Unless connecting both leads to hot would create some capacitance situation which I wouldn't understand.

    Your thoughts?
    Thank You Very Much!
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Stabb,

    A) Assuming there is such a thing as "digital quality" analog cabling - there would be a distinction between "digital quality" (again if there really is such a thing) and wire meant for digital applications. I'm concerned that since it's 100ohm cable, it was intended to handle data rather than analog voltage. The impedance of a typical mic or instrument cable would be negligible, but it would probably have higher capacitance. I would think that could be a factor, it may affect your guitar tone due to its different reactance. - or maybe it sounds like a million bucks... no harm in trying I suppose. I can't think of any way it could do any damage.

    This gets way complicated, beyond what I could explain. Good news is, you've come to the right place. Boswell is a genius in such matters and will likely set us both straight.

    B) If it's stiff, and made for permanent installation, it may be a solid core wire rather than stranded. Which means if you bend it a couple dozen times the 24g solid strand will eventually snap.

    C) If you experiment with it, I'd go with your first option "Both conductors hot".

    Good luck.
  8. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    Thanks DVD,
    The conductors are stranded.
    Its mainly the outer insulation that's stiff.
    Still, I know it wasn't made for live use but I've got a good amount left over and I didn't want to spring for another spool.
    I just put up w/ the stiffness.

    I gotta say this cable sounds noticeably better than my other pre-made guitar cables (medium-high quality).
    I think I put together most if not all my cables w/ both conductors hot (its been a while for some of them).
    And everytime I was soldering I wondered, "Hmmm I wonder what's the best way to connect these two."

    Many thanks for your input, guys!
    Now I got one less thing to wonder about.
  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    What sort of temperature setting does everyone use for PCB soldering? I have a Weller Temp control station, the WESD-51, and I use the 750ºF setting. I read that it is good to use a setting roughly 2x the melting point of the solder. Just wondering.
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've used the Metcal MX-500 system ever since it first came out. This system has interchangeable tips for different types of work, and the tips also set the working temperature. Since I use non-lead solder and normally work with PCBs made from FR4 material, I choose the 412 deg C (775 deg F) tips.

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