Soldering help

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KI7TGX, Jul 26, 2021.

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  1. KI7TGX

    KI7TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been (trying to) solder for as long as I have been a ham (~3 years?). I really suck at it. I am beginning to suspect that maybe my equipment is part of the problem. I use a smaller Weller 40W iron.
    I know "heat the work, not the solder", but when I try to solder, say a pl-259, I end up super-heating the connector and the solder still doesn't seem to flow. Surely not very good for the coax. I have yet to make a connector that I am confident in. (Which is why typically I used DXE crimp/solder connectors, which I think are more reliable than my solder jobs! Nonetheless, I'd like to make a solid solder connection when needed.) I wet and replace my tips as needed.

    Would upgrading the solder station help. Say to one of these?

    If so, which size is best for amateur radio purposes (40W?)
  2. KK9W

    KK9W Ham Member QRZ Page

    For heating large items the widest chisel tip available works best. The same pencil tip used for soldering components isn't what you want to use. American Beauty makes some long lasting kit. Also look at Hakko and compare prices.
  3. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's not just a question of tip size.

    I use a 100w Weller soldering gun for coax connectors. This heats the connector quickly and the solder flows.

    A smaller iron takes longer to bring the same mass to temperature. (The connector is a heat sink...)

    I also have a Weller soldering station, but I don't use it for coax connectors.
  4. KA8NCR

    KA8NCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    What are you using for solder?
  5. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a large soldering iron designed for soldering stained glass widows. It is temperature controlled.
  6. KI7TGX

    KI7TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kester rosin core.
  7. KI7TGX

    KI7TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes I use a chisel chip. Would you say the size of the 60W American Beauty station would be better for soldering the holes of a PL-259?
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd say a 120W version is an even better idea.

    I've used the Weller SP-120 for years and years and years.

    Large mass, takes 5 mins to get hot enough to melt solder. Which is good, because it also takes 5 minutes to cool down. This allows it to retain and transfer heat to the connector very well and very quickly.

    Place tip in the "groove" of the PL-259 where the soldering holes are, "rub" it there against the connector slightly (for like 2 seconds), flow solder on the connector. Rotate and repeat. Rotate and repeat. All soldered, with all four solder holes neatly filled with solder and flowing onto and bonding to the connector body very well inside of about 15 seconds.

    Remove iron, place it on a stand where it can't burn anything (it comes with one), wait for connector to cool off (a few minutes). To accelerate the cooling off process, I keep a large, damp sponge handy and after about 20 seconds, just press the sponge to the connector; then it's cool enough to touch about 10-15 seconds later.
    KF5QZM, W6MK and KI7TGX like this.
  9. KI7TGX

    KI7TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a SP-175 which I have never used, seemed too big for any radio job. Would you recommend it for the holes on a PL-259? Or too big?
  10. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    "Amateur radio purposes" covers a lot of ground, from delicate SMT work to copper pipe J-poles, and more.

    I was not familiar with the American Beauty brand name of soldering stations until just now. I'm not impressed. They appear to have a dial to control the voltage to the heating element, but that's not nearly as effective as having a temperature control.

    If you just have an adjustable voltage, the iron will get too hot while it's resting in the stand, and become too cold when it's asked to heat up a big piece of metal. But a temperature controlled iron has a sensor in the tip, and a feedback circuit that applies the right amount of power to keep the tip temperature right. This makes soldering much easier.

    For general purpose electronic soldering of small components and PC boards, a temperature controlled iron is the starting point. I have an antique 70W Weller that's no longer in production, but I've used some irons by Hakko, which aren't too expensive and work well.

    Soldering PL-259s onto coax is a bigger job, though. I've tried a 200W Weller soldering gun, but I'm happier with the DXE connectors that call for crimping the braid. I can solder the center conducor with a gun or iron.

    I've also used a propane torch for soldering a J-pole together out of copper pipe and plumbing fittings. With no delicate components to be damaged, there's no need for precise temperature control here, but it takes a lot of energy to warm up thick-walled copper pipe.
    W6MK likes this.

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