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Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

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Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby mick.n » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:01 am

I have an old QSC PLX1602 that has the dreaded dodgy ribbon connectors (A well known fault on a certain serial no, batch).

Not had a look inside it yet, but from what i have read its pretty small\close 20 pin connectors. My iron is 25w, IIRC, but was thinking maybe something less brutal?
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:43 am

Power really isn't the issue, it's soldering technique, solder flux, and the tip size that matter!

I use a 48W temperature-controlled iron as standard.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:08 pm

A good temperature controlled iron is really important.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby mick.n » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:50 pm

Thank you gentlemen, all good advice. I have a desoldering pump laying around somewhere that should make removal (hopefully) easier.
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Folderol » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:44 pm

Although it seems counter-intuitive, a lower powered is more likely to damage the board. This is because it takes longer to heat the part you want to work on, so more heat spreads through the components and trackwork.

Generally, if at all possible (with the exception of surface mount) I recommend carefully breaking up parts to be removed in situ then desoldering and removing - I use tweezers - one leg at a time.
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:44 pm

Another vote for a decent temperature controlled iron - I use a 50W one at home and usually an older 60W one at work although various people have tried to tempt me to use those fancy soldering stations which just seem too wimpy to me.
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:28 pm

Folderol wrote:Although it seems counter-intuitive, a lower powered is more likely to damage the board. This is because it takes longer to heat the part you want to work on, so more heat spreads through the components and trackwork.


Interesting. Never thought of that. *starts browsing supplier catalogues* 8-)
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:23 pm

There are some quite acceptable digitally-controlled 50W (ish) Duratool Soldering Stations on CPC for well under £50. Perfectly adequate for light domestic applications.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby ef37a » Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:49 pm

nathanscribe wrote:
Folderol wrote:Although it seems counter-intuitive, a lower powered is more likely to damage the board. This is because it takes longer to heat the part you want to work on, so more heat spreads through the components and trackwork.

Interesting. Never thought of that. *starts browsing supplier catalogues* 8-)

Thought I'd posted this? http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/48w-lcd-display-solder-station-used-b94ln

I was a Magnastat devotee for 30 years but circumstances forced me to buy that and it has served me very well for 3 years. CPC also sell it.
I would not use a solder sucker, I find they can lift print. Wick is the best bet and try to get hold of some 60/40 lead solder.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:54 pm

Yeah, I prefer wick too. Soldamop.
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:22 pm

I'm still using one of these Weller temperature-controller soldering irons that's been going strong for over 40 years 8-)

Image

It's 50 watts, has a fine enough tip to even attempt some SMD soldering tweaks, and you can even still get spare parts for it! :shock:

That's a workhorse for you.


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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:30 pm

I have a similar Weller which is certainly very well made and I do still use occasionally.

The problem is that the standard tips I have for it operate at too low a temperature for lead-free solder work.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby ef37a » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:43 pm

Martin Walker wrote:I'm still using one of these Weller temperature-controller soldering irons that's been going strong for over 40 years 8-)

Image

It's 50 watts, has a fine enough tip to even attempt some SMD soldering tweaks, and you can even still get spare parts for it! :shock:

That's a workhorse for you.


Martin

Yes Martin, that's the one I started with many years ago. I used to maintain about 50 of the stations and about 100 pencils so got to know them quite well!
Spares you say? Well yes but be careful! Weller have changed the diameter of the element barrel and therefore the sleeve and old and new parts are no longer interchangeable.
There is probably no better iron for medium duty work and fine. The pencils are supplied with a #7 tip which is ok-ish for leaded solder and cable work but a much better general purpose bit is a "screwdiver" tip #8 which will work fine for Pbfree small caps and Rs. I had a chunky #9 that I used to extract 6pin switches but had to be wary as it runs at about the ignition point of paper!

So, very good tool yes, but pricey. The pencil alone will set you back more than a modest complete temp'stab' station these days. BTW if any of you have a gash traff about the place that can produce 12-30V at a couple of amps you just need to buy the pencil!

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby Folderol » Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:48 pm

Our ancient workshop iron gave up the ghost about 3 years ago so the nice people got me one of these It's holding up very well, and I like the instantly switchable temperature settings (adjustable). It can also be set to automatically drop to a standby temperature after a while.

Typical of RS though they can't even describe their own products clearly. It gives the impression the iron voltage is 230V AC. It is actually 24V DC :roll:
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby ef37a » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:50 pm

Actually the best solder station I ever used was this one..
http://www.hakko.com/english/products/hakko_fx951.html

Auto shut off when you parked the pencil and even with a fairly fine tip it made easy work of tags and 3mm screens on PTFE cables I soldered for a time in big antennas for J.Beam Ltd.

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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby dmills » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:22 am

I have a rather well used example of the FX951, the tips include the heating element so they are not particularly cheap, but last ages because of the way it drops the temp when put in the stand.
The availability of a 'hoof' tip for doing large smt packages is especially nice.

Great iron.

At work we have a modern Weller station that is also quite excellent (But about 700 quid!).

There is much to be said for high power irons with temperature control, ***MUCH*** nicer then arsing around with oldschool antex non temperature controlled 15W rubbish.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Soldering iron wattage for PCB work.

Postby ef37a » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:33 am

dmills wrote:I have a rather well used example of the FX951, the tips include the heating element so they are not particularly cheap, but last ages because of the way it drops the temp when put in the stand.
The availability of a 'hoof' tip for doing large smt packages is especially nice.

Great iron.

At work we have a modern Weller station that is also quite excellent (But about 700 quid!).

There is much to be said for high power irons with temperature control, ***MUCH*** nicer then arsing around with oldschool antex non temperature controlled 15W rubbish.

Regards, Dan.

Who here recalls the Henley Solon with the split-pin secured bit? (that you could never get out anyway!)
Junk.

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