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gdavis



Joined: Feb 27, 2013
Posts: 359
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Don't know why you'd want to buy a soldering iron you have to replace every couple years. If you're confident you'll be doing soldering for a long time, a good iron is a worth while investment IMO. Same goes for things like multimeters, bench power supplies etc. I can understand buying something cheap if you're just getting your feet wet and not sure, but if you've been in it long enough to be buying these things repeatedly, it's worth investing in better quality that will last.

I have two Weller temp controlled soldering stations, one is over 10 years old (probably closer to 15) and works perfectly, but obsolete and I can't find replacement tips for it so I bought a WES 51 a few years ago (should have just gotten the WES 51 in the first place). The WES 51 is very popular, easy to find, reasonably priced and has many replacement parts available. Should last you a very long time. I've never owned one but I also see the Hakko FX-888 recommended a lot.

Tip selection is also very important. I use a small tip for small parts (most PCB work) and a larger tip for larger things like power and soldering to ground planes which can act like a heat sink (hence having two irons). Even with a high power soldering iron, if you use a small tip the heat can be quickly sucked from it by larger parts, making you hold it on there longer and possibly doing damage as Jan explained. A larger tip will hold a larger reserve of heat allowing you to make the joint more quickly. I'm not saying you necessarily need to have two irons, but having the two tips available for your iron is a good idea. Two irons is a luxury convenience Smile

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AlanP



Joined: Mar 11, 2014
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I probably should get a good quality station setup, but can't bring myself to spend the money while my pencil iron still goes okay.
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Grumble



Joined: Nov 23, 2015
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have this one, it temp is controlled by the type of tip I place in the holder.
Usually a 7, thats 370 C


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alanwilder81



Joined: Sep 03, 2016
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Location: italy

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks guys. plenty of advices Very Happy Very Happy

In good hands, a 30 W iron is more likely to do less or no damage than a 15 W iron in a beginner's hands. I get that it's all about technique. The faster the solder is made, the less the component is exposed to heat.
And a small 15 w iron takes more to do the job and, as counter intuitive as it may sound, it can screw up the components.
hard choice really.
anyway, to minimize risks, i will use sockets for IC s and trannies, and possibly a heat sink alligator for other components Smile Smile
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alanwilder81



Joined: Sep 03, 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hello chaps Smile
since i have a fixed temperature 30 w iron, i was suggested that i use a AC voltage regulator in order to lower the voltage the iron is fed by.
in italy the AC mains is 230 V, so a simple trick may be bringing down the voltage in order for the iron to produce less heat.
isnt'it the principle that regulates the fancy and expensive temperature controlled irons ? just a wild guess,i wait for advice Smile Smile

thanks
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gdavis



Joined: Feb 27, 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Why are you still worried about lowering the power of your iron? You need to go back and re-read your post from the day before Razz I actually used to have one that was switchable between 15W and 30W and I never used it on 15W (I tried it once but it was too feeble).

Temperature controlled irons cycle the power to the heating element on and off as needed to maintain the proper temperature, they don't change the power going to the element when it's on. In fact, they usually operate at higher power (50W+) which is nice because it heats up nice and fast Smile

The power rating isn't about temperature, it's about the heat capacity available. And as we've explained, there's really no reason to be trying to lower either. What you really want is to heat things up quickly to the solders melting point so you can get in and out before the heat conducts it's way into the part where it can do damage.

Stop worrying about the iron and start practicing your technique, that will be much more valuable. The worst that can happen is you burn a part worth a couple dollars or lift a trace (save the expensive parts until you've developed more confidence).

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alanwilder81



Joined: Sep 03, 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks gdavis Smile

nice supporting words of yours.Yes, i should probably shut up and start practicing instead of worrying about soldering iron specs.
But, trouble is, i have mixed feelings about the whole matter.
i've heard very different ideas as to what the right wattage should be, and also whether or not use a temperature regulated device, and so on.... so i am still very confused.
On this topic there are once again different schools of thought, and mostly based on individual skills and experience.
Each and every engineer recommends different approaches, so.you now...i'm just trying to get my head around it
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ah, "Alternative Facts", yes, that's bothersome Confused
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alanwilder81



Joined: Sep 03, 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

lol Smile
what do you mean by alternative facts?
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gdavis



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This is what happens when you try and learn from the internet. Everyone has their own opinion based on their own experiences and backgrounds, but you usually don't know what their experiences and backgrounds are or how they will apply to you (pro-tip - some of them are very ill informed. If you're bored and curious, google dunning-kruger, the internet is rife with this effect Smile).

That is why there comes a point where you just have to start trying things yourself and see how others opinions work for you. That is how you truly start to understand and gain a sense of what will work for you and what won't. But take small steps, don't overwhelm yourself. The wealth of information available on the internet can be a wonderful thing, but collecting information is far from all there is to learning.

It sounds like you have an iron that is OK for general purpose work. Start working with it on some basic stuff and see how it works for you.

You don't have to have a temp controlled iron for most DIY synth type circuits, but it's a very nice thing to have if you're going to be doing a lot of it. I made due with a 30W iron all through childhood doing RC cars and stuff. It wasn't until near the end of college when I got a job where I did some work in an electronics lab that I learned the benefits of a nice station.

Wattage depends very much on what you're doing. The smaller the work, the less you need, but you can't really have too much (within reason of course). Kind of like a 100 horse power truck vs a 300 horse power truck. You may only need 100 horse power, 300 horse power won't hurt, but 50 horse power will get you in trouble. And you probably don't want a 400 ton dump truck.

What you'll typically find with a lower powered iron is that you're holding it on there longer waiting for things to heat up to the point where the solder will flow. While you're waiting, that heat starts to conduct to other places you don't want it. If it's under powered the excessive wait will lead to things like burnt finger tips, melting PCB and other heat damage.

With a higher power iron you just poke, dab, remove. 1-2-3 quick and easy.

Realize that even a higher power soldering iron is still meant for soldering, meaning that it's going to be designed to give you roughly the temperature needed to melt solder. What's going to vary is the amount of heat energy available to heat up the mass of metal you're joining. The larger the mass of metal, the more heat energy will be required to reach the temperature in a reasonable time.

This is all just part of where the different opinions come from - soldering 0603 SMD is very different than soldering 0 gauge power cables, and there's an entire continuum in between. Only you know where you fall in that.

I assume you know how to ride a bicycle? Can you imagine trying to learn only by reading other peoples experiences? There's no way you can develop the sense of balance and instinctive reactions required without actually doing it. It's intimidating at first, but you just gotta jump on, start out slow, fall down and get back on until you get it.

Wow, that was long. I really should go to bed Confused

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alanwilder81



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hey gdavis ! thanks for the long, passionate reply ! Smile Smile

it drips wisdom and common sense. You nail it when you say internet research helps but there's not real substitute for experience on the field in point. Getting advices is useful,sure, but only up to a point.
Afterall, it 's all about getting one's hands dirty with the subject, and i do believe it applies to any circumstance,be it synth DIY,other hobbies or pratically every matter in our life.

True, the amount of internet infos is overwhelming , and often confusing,and it's only by making real experience that confidence can build up !! Cool Cool

gosh i bless this forum every day for the technical and motivational support i get from it. Hadn' t this existed, i could only dream and drool over analog synthesizers. Now thanks to EM, though, my dreams are becoming real Wink
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alanwilder81



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

i owe you guys a lot.i hope one day i'm be able to give something back to this wonderful community Smile
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Grumble



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

alanwilder81 wrote:

isnt'it the principle that regulates the fancy and expensive temperature controlled irons ? just a wild guess,i wait for advice Smile Smile

thanks

No, the tips I,m using will loose its magnetic strength once the temp is reached. This is called a magnastat.
http://codeandlife.com/2012/03/06/weller-magnastat-autopsy-and-repair/
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alanwilder81



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks grumble Smile
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fonik



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

If i have to take a measurement inside a running unit with main in there, i put the unused hand in one pocket.
This way this hand cannot touch anything by accident and uncontrolled.

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Grumble



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

To add to fonik's tip:
Ground the hand you are working with, yes even when working with mains.
The reason for this is that, if you happen to touch a "hot" wire, the current will flow thru your hand to ground.
And the worst you will have is a sore (maybe even burnt) hand or finger(s), but it will prevent the current flowing thru your heart which can cause fibrillation and even death!
It happens that the human heart is susceptible to the 50 Hz which will start the heart to fibrillate, even if the current is not high enough to be lethal.
(not sure about 60Hz though...)
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fonik



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Grumble wrote:
(not sure about 60Hz though...)

I would not test it... Very Happy

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PHOBoS



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

fonik wrote:
If i have to take a measurement inside a running unit with main in there, i put the unused hand in one pocket.
This way this hand cannot touch anything by accident and uncontrolled.

a variation on this: if you are working on a mains powered device that doesn't have to be powered on, put the mains plug in your pocket.

And somewhat related: power indicators (LEDs) on a PCB can be very useful.



interesting magnastat btw. I knew the temperature could be changed by using different soldering tips,
but I had absolutely no idea it worked like that. I have a cheap AOYUE 936 myself (similar to a Hakko) which
does the job just fine. Maybe someday I can afford a Weller which do seem to be cheaper than I remembered.
(maybe it's a Fl -> € thing)

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Cfish



Joined: Feb 24, 2016
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Seeing we got on mains power.

Never wear a ring or watch of any metal while working around mains power.

Watched a guy melt his wedding band to his finger once. Was not pretty. He lost the finger.


Anouther good practice with mains power is after insuring the power is off with a meter, turn your eyes away and short it with an insulated screwdriver.

Had a meter fail while I was using it more than once. ( I frequently work on 480 volt+ equipment at work.) one day I had a disconnect pole fail closed and luck made that the exact time the probe wire failed on my fluke meter. Sounded like a shot gun going off and lit the room like a bolt of lightning when the screw driver hit it. But it probably saved my life.
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g.gabba



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cfish wrote:
turn your eyes away and short it with an insulated screwdriver.


(In Germany) for that purpose comes the young guys very handy who are in job training, they normally dont need to pay for burned tools
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AlanP



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For SMD work.

Get a white margerine container (an empty one.) Cut the top half off, so that you have a shallow white dish.

When opening SMD parts, empty them into this (doing only one type at a time -- sometimes the parts have labels on them, sometimes they do not, and even if they do, good luck on actually reading them.)
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gasboss775



Joined: Jan 02, 2016
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Grumble wrote:
I'm sure I have posted this link before, but this looks like a good place to spam it again:

http://sim.okawa-denshi.jp/en/
A great site where you can interactively do calculations on opamps, filters etc.
I use this a lot when designing electronic stuff...


This is a great site, I've used the filter tool several times. Didn't know about the others until reading this, thanks.
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Grumble



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

especialy in combination with this site: http://www.falstad.com/circuit/
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g.gabba



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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Regarding Sprint layout schematic capture

first: thanks again to phobos for reminding me on "sprint-layout", ive forgot about it cos i found it not usefull back in the days. Only now i can appreciate the usefullness and the freedom it gives you.
I bought the 6.0 (german) version.

there you find under "extras" a menue point that is called "Vorlage" (in english it should be something like "template" ), there you can load a (schematic)Picture.
then you can just put your components on top of the pic, conect them with air-wires. Use the dpi value to adjust the dimensions.
Then just discard the pic and the fun can beginn!


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gasboss775



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Not necessarily fun but incredibly useful in my opinion:

Keeping a workshop Diary;

Make notes of what you've been doing and any problems that you've encountered.
Take Note of electronics related purchases, parts, materials and tools
Keep schematics of anything you've been experimenting with ( I like to do paper and digital versions, though if you have a printer this duplicity can be avoided )
Make a note of any parts you may be running low on.
Make a note of any discussions you've had with others about electronics either face to face or online.
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