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Temperature Regulated Soldering Irons

Old 12-29-2012, 01:01 AM
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kyleservicetech
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Default Temperature Regulated Soldering Irons

I've had a few comments from my club members on soldering RC equipment, and what kind of soldering equipment is recommended for this purpose. This resulted in an article in the Racine Radio Control Club newsletter on this subject. Soldering our RC equipment wiring is not difficult, and is even easier with the proper equipment.

The portion concerning soldering has been pulled out of the newsletter, and put into a PDF file.

Take a look at the attached PDF file on this subject.
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Soldering Info - WF.pdf (683.7 KB, 267 views)
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:11 AM
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Beemerider
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Weller is good stuff. All my irons and guns are Weller. I've got irons from 12 watts up to 250 watt. And 2 guns 100/140 watt. I've got an off brand temp controlled iron that works really well for small pcb stuff. Digital temp display that goes up past 800 degrees I think. I usually run it around 450-600 degrees.

I know you can spend more and probably get maybe a more precise temp regulation (necessary for certain applications) but for our use as hobbyist's I don't see the point.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:30 AM
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hayofstacks
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where do you even get a decent soldering iron anymore? I gave up after hitting radio shacks for a quick auto project, and gave up. I eventually found a cheapie 40w iron in the discount bin at wallmart, and that's all I've had for the past 4-5 years.
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:11 AM
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fhhuber
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Temp regulation is a good idea soldering near IC chips or other stuff that can be damaged by overheating...

Also use of some form of heat sink can help protect easily damaged components.

Most of our soldering is just connectors onto wires. More often our biggest issue is providing enough heat to do the job. For this issue a larger, unregulated soldering iron works well. Getting the joint hot enough faster will often prevent the need to apply heat for an extended time, conducting the heat down the wire further.

It all comes down to: Use the right equipment for the job you are doing.

For soldering heavier gauge wires (90%+ of what I do) I use a Weller SP80L (not SPG80... not the same), available through many sources as low as $20
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:30 PM
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Turner
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Originally Posted by fhhuber View Post
...Most of our soldering is just connectors onto wires. More often our biggest issue is providing enough heat to do the job. For this issue a larger, unregulated soldering iron works well. Getting the joint hot enough faster will often prevent the need to apply heat for an extended time, conducting the heat down the wire further....
You don't need higher temperature for that you just need more watts. People using too small an iron pushed to too high a temperature is what creates the problems you describe. A larger 80-100 watt iron regulated to 700˚ is perfect for the job. It has the mass to solder almost instantly without overheating. That's the whole point of controlling temperature.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:02 PM
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Beemerider
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
You don't need higher temperature for that you just need more watts. People using too small an iron pushed to too high a temperature is what creates the problems you describe. A larger 80-100 watt iron regulated to 700˚ is perfect for the job. It has the mass to solder almost instantly without overheating. That's the whole point of controlling temperature.
I completely agree. More circuit board and component damage is done by using too light an iron or gun. You need a good 100 watt iron or gun with a clean, broadsided or flat tip. Weller makes some good 40 watt irons with broad tips that are ideal for Deans connectors. I think RS has a small selection of irons and possibly guns but honestly I don't think the quality is all that good. It doesn't cost that much more to get a good quality iron. My Weller 100/140 watt gun is near 40 years old now and is still going strong. You want enough surface area to effectively and quickly transfer heat. Also a clean tip transfers heat much faster than a dirty one. Make sure your work (wires to be soldered together) is clean as well. When you heat your work, flow your solder from the side of the work opposite the iron or gun. The heat from the iron will pull the molten solder thru the work and ensure a much better connection.

Ok--so much for Soldering 101 ..........

Here's a link to Weller products at Grainger.com

http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/wwg...130827160104:s
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:16 PM
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kyleservicetech
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
You don't need higher temperature for that you just need more watts. People using too small an iron pushed to too high a temperature is what creates the problems you describe. A larger 80-100 watt iron regulated to 700˚ is perfect for the job. It has the mass to solder almost instantly without overheating. That's the whole point of controlling temperature.
Yup

My 100 Watt Temperature regulated soldering iron makes quick work of soldering any #10 or #12 wire to almost anything. And, soldering 3/16 inch diameter music wire for landing gears is a piece of cake.

Some of those unregulated soldering irons can hit 1000 degrees F just powered up while resting on your soldering iron stand. And, they cool down quickly when trying to solder something heavy duty. This over temperature can cause problems while soldering some of those connectors such as the Deans units that have the connector pin permanently part of the plastic housing. Even still, a well practiced person with a lot of soldering experience can do a fairly good job of soldering these #12 wires with a quality 40 watt iron. It's just so much easier to solder this stuff with a 100 Watt regulated iron. Nice thing about these regulated irons, the Weller unit has an iron plated tip, and with temperature regulation, that tip does not "Burn Up" after long periods of being left on while not being used.

And NOT a 100 watt soldering Gun! I just checked my Radio Shack 100 watt soldering gun with my $$$$ Fluke 87V digital multimeter and its thermocouple temperature sensor. After powering it up for 60 seconds, that RS soldering gun tip leveled off at 1250 F! It's interesting. Before retiring, those soldering guns were NOT allowed on any shop production lines.

I've seen that Deans housing overheated to the point of affecting contact pressure. Last year, we had a problem where one loose Deans connector failed on the receiver battery in a $$$$ wet turbine model. The turbine owner was lucky, the receiver shut down on takeoff, the model coasted to a stop. A quick inspection showed that while inserting just one Deans pin into the two battery connector pins, one at a time, one of the two pins had virtually zero contact pressure. You could see where the Deans plastic housing had been melted. Someone really messed up while soldering this connector. The receiver battery CAME with the Deans connector installed.

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Old 08-27-2013, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
where do you even get a decent soldering iron anymore? I gave up after hitting radio shacks for a quick auto project, and gave up. I eventually found a cheapie 40w iron in the discount bin at wallmart, and that's all I've had for the past 4-5 years.
It's going to be a few $$$$. But this will likely be the last soldering iron you need to buy for a long time.

http://www.amazon.com/Weller-Solderi.../dp/B002I7X7ZS

Or here that also includes two different sized tips available for this soldering iron. I've had mine for two years, same tip, shows little wear.
http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/...K0eRPSlgu4Q%3d

Last edited by kyleservicetech; 08-27-2013 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:01 PM
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Agreed Dennis, nice irons !
Also, for those interested check out www.electronicstheory.com
Good refresher on electronics AND a good soldering tutorial.
Remember soldering is (suppossed to be) an electrical connection NOT mechanical-lol
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:06 PM
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I've had nearly the same one Denny, for about a 100 yrs except mine is the 80 watt version. It's about 50 yrs old. Great for soldering up heavy piano wire landing gear but a little much for Deans plugs. I've had this one I picked up at Princess Auto up here a few yrs ago, but I believe Radio shack carries them too. Dial temp up to 60 watts on the handle. Works very well. I made my own copper tip on the lathe. Lasts much longer than those Mickey Mouse plated iron tips they use now.
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