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Soldering Irons - Ultra fine soldering

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meditatinghamster

from United Kingdom

Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 25
Location: Yorkshire,
United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:58 am Reply with quote

Hi,

Does anyone know the best tools for doing ultra fine soldering. Trying to solder components now is starting to feel like performing brain surgery with a spoon! Everywhere I've googled people talk about fine tipped soldering irons. I already have a fine tipped one though and could do with something that is like a needle. I did try a needle for the tip and discovered that unfortunately they don't conduct well at all and won't even melt the solder.

The kind of components I need to be able to solder are e.g the resistors that are tiny squares on fine circuit boards like those on motherboards or PC PCI cards etc... There's a name for these kind of micro components but I can't remember what it is now.

Any advice anyone can give on where to get needle precision tips or how to make one maybe would be really appreciated. I've read that shaving the conventional tips down is a big no-no because you just take the special coatings off and render the tip useless.

Thanks
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stargazer

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:34 pm Reply with quote

Maplins are good for this sort of stuff if you've got one near you, or have a surf.
For example
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=217761&doy=7m1&C=SO&U=strat15
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BS3036

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:50 pm Reply with quote

We use Weller temperature-controlled irons with a very pointy tip for this purpose. And a good magnifier in front! And set of tweezer types. Good temperature control is essential.

Individual surface mount resistors are not too hard. Things like 208 pin ICs we would tend to run solder round all the edges, joining all the pins together, and then use solder braid to remove the surplus.
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meditatinghamster

from United Kingdom

Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 25
Location: Yorkshire,
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:15 pm Reply with quote

Thanks to you both for your tips on this.

If you're finding that surface mount resistors aren't hard then it must be my technique that is bad, probably in part because I'm not using the right kit.

I have a tip just like the one in the link (I've actually got three irons of various fixed wattages!)

I've been finding that the point of the tip doesn't have enough surface area to touch enough of the solder to melt it, but as you mentioned, temperature control is important and it might be that it just isn't getting hot enough.

I think I will be better investing in a proper soldering station with temperature control. A good magnifyer is definitly on my list!!!! I'm my dream scenario my soldering station would have a positionable magnifyer and four claw clamps to hold four corners of circuit boards. I'll check out the Weller stuff, thanks.
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ban-all-sheds

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:32 pm Reply with quote

meditatinghamster wrote:
I already have a fine tipped one though and could do with something that is like a needle.







Quote:
The kind of components I need to be able to solder are e.g the resistors that are tiny squares on fine circuit boards like those on motherboards or PC PCI cards etc... There's a name for these kind of micro components but I can't remember what it is now.

SMT - Surface Mount Technology

Not really meant for manual soldering, but you can get specialised equipment because things do need to be repaired.

http://www.antex.co.uk/prodtype.asp?strParents=183&CAT_ID=196&numRecordPosition=1

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22smt+rework%22
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Stoday

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:51 pm Reply with quote

You might find a head mounted binocular loupe useful to be able to see what you're doing.
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aptsys

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:10 pm Reply with quote

The super fine tips like the copper coloured ones in bas's pictures are hopeless unless you have an RF iron and those SMT rework tips are for rework rather than soldering.

You should be able to solder components down to 0402 with a standard 1mm tip and a good set of tweezers without too much hassle. I can't recommend magnifying glasses though as I've never got on with them and never really needed them.
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meditatinghamster

from United Kingdom

Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 25
Location: Yorkshire,
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:12 pm Reply with quote

Just done a search for mounted binocular loupe and followed the links to the SMT stuff. OMG! this is like being in heaven!!!!

Many thanks to you both, this stuff if perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had no idea this stuff even existed. icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif
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mattylad

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:13 pm Reply with quote

Forget a conventional soldering iron.

Look for a hot air rework system (although 2nd hand as they are expensive) for proper SMT work.

Components are that damn small these days that as we get older the soldering of them gets harder icon_biggrin.gif
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nozspark

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:41 pm Reply with quote

Also get some fume extraction.

I did electronic rework for 17 years and the solder fumes made my lungs sensitive, so now every time I get a cold it goes to my chest and I cough all the time (it takes about 6 weeks to shake it off!!)

As for the kit, we used the Pace MBT stations with 3 channel digital temperature selection, we generally had an iron, desoldering iron and hot air blower for SMT. We also had a little variable speed drill as a seperate unit for repairing plated through holes and doing multi layer repairs. If I remember we usually had the temp set at just over 400 C for soldering / desoldering and sometimes had to put it up a bit for high temp solder.
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ban-all-sheds

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:06 pm Reply with quote

aptsys wrote:
The super fine tips like the copper coloured ones in bas's pictures are hopeless unless you have an RF iron

Never known Antex products to be hopeless.

Oh - hang on - there is the Pipemaster...


Quote:
and those SMT rework tips are for rework rather than soldering.

My apologies - never done it - looking at the products and the terminology I assumed "rework" meant manual soldering in the process of repairs...
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mattylad

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:01 pm Reply with quote

It does icon_biggrin.gif
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tim west

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:45 pm Reply with quote

SMD soldering is not hard as long as you make sure you apply enough flux on surfaces before applying the iron thats the magic key to soldering SMD, I prefer the brush type applicators you may find the pen type better suited to you?
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ban-all-sheds

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:53 pm Reply with quote

ban-all-sheds wrote:
I assumed "rework" meant manual soldering in the process of repairs...


mattylad wrote:
It does icon_biggrin.gif

Err....
aptsys wrote:
those SMT rework tips are for rework rather than soldering.
icon_question.gif
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THRIPSTER

from United Kingdom

Joined: 21 Sep 2006
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Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:24 am Reply with quote

Is the melting temperature of lead free solder higher than the old lead/tin solder? If so, that would explain difficulties when trying to desolder using a conventional iron on newer boards.

Regards
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