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A disastrous soldering session last night

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A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:49 pm

Last night for the first time in a long time I did some soldering.

I soldered a male XLR plug onto an audio cable. The cable is a stagg brand but the xlr fitting was not. Anyway as soon as I soldered the 3 wires on, I realized I forgot to replace the old sleeve and holding nut that was already on the cable; so I had to solder the 3 wires off and start again. But the inside of the pins where full of solder and I had to keep the solder iron inside the pin as I tried to remove the solder onto the iron and wipe off with a sponge but I never touched the plastic with the iron. The fitting got that hot that the plastic housing holding one of the pins started to melt and the pin moved and hence was so bent it would not fit inside its female XLR fitting. I continued again to reheat the pin in an attempt to remove the solder and heat the plastic so I could line it up. I could not get the solder out of the pin and I had heated the plastic up now so I could reposition the pin and I inserted them into a female xlr to use as a base as it cooled down.

I soldered the 3 wires back on again but the blue one with all the solder still inside the pin did not solder well that I had to do it twice. And because the plastic housing got melted, inserting it back into its metal sleeve was a real challenge and required rescolpin with a knife.

But anyway it all went back together again, but I am worried about the blue wire snapping at some stage while I am on a job or something. Is there a way I can test this cable now? Anyway this XLR connector was not a stagg it was something I got from ebay, but you would not expect the plastic housing to melt from the heat of the pin it holds and you would at least expect a screw or clip to hold the wire in place as well as the solder
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:53 pm

Testing XLR cables is very easy. You just buy a cable tester. Or if you have a digital multimeter you can use the continuity mode of that to check for connections and shorts between each pin at each end... But a proper cable tester is the quickest and easiest.

This manual one from studiospares is easy to use and very versatile. It's also available from oter suppliers... And other automatic cable testers are available too, but cost more.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/studiospares-ultimate-cable-tester

As for the melting connectors... The substrates in some cheap knock-offs can be pretty poor like that... But I sounds like you did overheat it quite severely. Soldering is a skill that needs regular practice. And for desoldering, learn to use a desoldering wick or desoldering pump.
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:00 pm

A pair of lockable needle-nose pliers or tweezers is a useful addition to a toolkit for these situations as well. Clip them onto the other end of the pin and they'll act as a heat-sink.
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Kwackman » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:27 pm

night ans day wrote:Anyway as soon as I soldered the 3 wires on, I realized I forgot to replace the old sleeve and holding nut that was already on the cable; so I had to solder the 3 wires off and start again.
That is a ritual that everyone who solders has to go through! ;)

night ans day wrote:so I had to solder the 3 wires off and start again. But the inside of the pins where full of solder and I had to keep the solder iron inside the pin as I tried to remove the solder onto the iron and wipe off with a sponge
You don't need to get all the solder out of the pins, only heat it so the cable comes off. The solder can stay there. When you're ready to re-attach the wire, you reheat the solder in the pin again, and push the wire in, adding more new solder if you think it needs it.
This works for me, YMMV.
You could use a solder sucker gun if you really wanted the solder out of the pins.

night ans day wrote: I inserted them into a female xlr to use as a base as it cooled down.
It's not a bad idea to put the male XLR (if that's what you're soldering) into a female XLR when you begin soldering at the start of the job. If you're likely to be repeating this type of work, it might be worth buying a chassis mounting male and female XLR just for doing this. They're easier to hold in a vice.

Others on here have soldered things for most of their careers, so hopefully you'll get better advice soon!
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:18 pm

I'm not too bad at soldering now, but it's been a 45-year road!

I've found it's helped enormously to have a swivel vice to hold the work at just the right angle and an illuminated magnifier.

... and the, "Hmmm, I didn't make too bad a job of that" and then noticing the shell still lying on the bench is a road some of us have been down many, many times.

Back in the day a colleague had similar issues to me with soldering adeptness. He had a maxim which was all too true (then): "It's not proper soldering unless you've burnt yourself at least once during the process." :lol:
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:56 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:As for the melting connectors... The substrates in some cheap knock-offs can be pretty poor like that....
Do you think I should buy a proper stagg XLR fitting and start over again or leave it as it is?
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:57 pm

Kwackman wrote:You don't need to get all the solder out of the pins, only heat it so the cable comes off. The solder can stay there. When you're ready to re-attach the wire, you reheat the solder in the pin again, and push the wire in, adding more new solder if you think it needs it.
But I needed the solder out of the pin so the wire would fit inside
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:59 pm

Entirely up to you.

I only use Neutrik for XLR connectors. They are very well made, easy to assemble, have secure cable clamps, useful accessories (like colour caps and collars for identification), and last for many decades.
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:01 pm

night ans day wrote:But I needed the solder out of the pin so the wire would fit inside

The solder in the termination bucket will normally re-flow around the wire if you heat it up before sliding the wire in...
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:10 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
night ans day wrote:But I needed the solder out of the pin so the wire would fit inside

The solder in the termination bucket will normally re-flow around the wire if you heat it up before sliding the wire in...
heat the wire up first then?
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:27 pm

Heat the terminal bucket, melt the solder, insert the tinned wire, allow to cool without any movement.
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby ef37a » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:44 am

First of all, the insulating substrate in an XLR should NOT melt for any reasonable heat input.
I first met this problem about 4 years ago with some XLR3 plugs from Maplin. I must have soldered hundreds in the last 60 years as well as vast numbers other audio and video connectors..NEVER used to happen!

I complained* to Maplin head office. Not interested.

But, always mate a connector with its opposite number if you can, if nothing else, if you have a score to do it is much quicker to just plug and unplug a connector from its mate in the vice!

If you make a cockup, don't attempt to remove the whole wire. Chop it off about 4mm from the bucket then heat the bucket and bang it, upside down on the vice/bench/kitchen table. The bit of offending wire will come out and with it the solder leaving a near pristine hole for a re-do. If you want the last word in reliability, run a piece of heat shrink sleeving down each wire and shrink it.

You need a solder iron of 50W minimum becuse that will get the job to temperture quickly and make heat damage less of a possiblity. You can buy a very serviceable 50W solder station from the likes of CPC for around £50.00. Also buy some Lead 60/40 solder. Lead free solder, especially cheap LF solder is bloody awful to work with especially if you are not well practiced at the game.

In the next few days I have to embark on the task of soldering some 24 TRS jacks. I now only have one good mince and "miss" the pins rather a lot. I dare say there will be some choice anglo-saxon phrase flying about as well!

*I also had som XLR3 males that were out of tolerance and would jam in a female so tightly I needed gas pliers to remove them! Once again I go no interest from Maplin whan I reported the matter.

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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Arpangel » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:53 am

Apply heat, then solder. And don't hang around, unwanted heat will melt cable insulation and any plastic in the vicinity. A 15 watt Antex is all I use, for audio cables it's perfect, component/circuit board work just use a smaller bit.
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby ef37a » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:20 am

Arpangel wrote:Apply heat, then solder. And don't hang around, unwanted heat will melt cable insulation and any plastic in the vicinity. A 15 watt Antex is all I use, for audio cables it's perfect, component/circuit board work just use a smaller bit.

We all have our preferences Arp' but I think you would find after 1/2 hour with a 50W Weller Magnastat with a 1.5mm tip, you would never go back to the archaic Antex! An improvement on the Henley Solon I grant you, but not a lot.

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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Folderol » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:28 am

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Apply heat, then solder. And don't hang around, unwanted heat will melt cable insulation and any plastic in the vicinity. A 15 watt Antex is all I use, for audio cables it's perfect, component/circuit board work just use a smaller bit.

We all have our preferences Arp' but I think you would find after 1/2 hour with a 50W Weller Magnastat with a 1.5mm tip, you would never go back to the archaic Antex! An improvement on the Henley Solon I grant you, but not a lot.

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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby blinddrew » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:20 pm

Yep, getting a proper soldering station definitely makes things easier - even when you didn't think you had any difficulty beforehand. :)
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:27 pm

ef37a wrote:But, always mate a connector with its opposite number if you can, if nothing else, if you have a score to do it is much quicker to just plug and unplug a connector from its mate in the vice!

I agree -- and I generally use either the Studiospares cable checker that I mentioned earlier, or an ART DTI box to hold the connector being soldered. The boxes are heavy enough to hold things stable and in place while I solder and, in the case of the cable-tester, when I've finished I can check the wiring immediately!

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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:32 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:But, always mate a connector with its opposite number if you can, if nothing else, if you have a score to do it is much quicker to just plug and unplug a connector from its mate in the vice!

I agree -- and I generally use either the Studiospares cable checker that I mentioned earlier, or an ART DTI box to hold the connector being soldered. The boxes are heavy enough to hold things stable and in place while I solder and, in the case of the cable-tester, when I've finished I can check the wiring immediately!

H
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Folderol » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:17 am

Well, I was using it in the 1970s with DIN plugs - so you prolly clocked me doing so :lol:
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Re: A disastrous soldering session last night

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:05 pm

Now come on, own up...

Who did it in the sixties using a hole in the road? :beamup:


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