soldering tips for y'all

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
xonlocust
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soldering tips for y'all

Post by xonlocust » Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:11 pm

i was soldering 1/4" connectors to an old snake last night, and was pretty astonished about how bad my old work was! it was pretty funny. at any rate, it made me think about the soldering tips i've picked up since then that i thought may help some of you.

1. get the right tools for the job.

what a mess i made with the old standard radio shack 6$ soldering iron. for the love of god, just get a real good weller soldering station. that alone makes your work so much easier, faster and cleaner.

along these same lines is having a proper wire cutter and stripper. my original snake job was done using a steakknife to strip the wire. sure it worked. it also took like 10 hrs longer than necessary. go to the store and get one.

also, mini pliers. same thing. i can't tell you how much fumbling around i did wasting time without these. again, get some and your life will be much, much easier and faster.

and one of those dorky hands free thingies with clamps that look like some kind of robot with a magnifying glass. they will be indespensible.

2. after you strip your wires, prep them with solder. (tin them)

for some reason i never knew to do this. once you have done it, you realize how smart it is. once the wires are tinned, they have much more rigidity and can be easily manipulated and slipped through small holes in your connectors. previously, i just twisted the ends and got real pissed off and frustrated trying to jam the ends through the holes, only to have a big old mess in front of me.

3. *hot tip for connecting ground wires on 1/4" jacks*

take some solder, and get a dab on the tip of your iron. now place this litle hot blob of solder on the underside of the connector, heating it from behind. then, take your solder and touch it to the front where you're going to attach the wire. as it heats up the solder will melt into a nice little pool waiting for your ground wire to be securely surrounded by. i don't know why this works - but for some reason melted solder transfers the heat much more quickly and effectively than just your tip will, so also a sidenote - keep your tip tinned and clean as well.

keep the pool liquified and slide your wire in. most times the first pass will look kinda halfassed, so i'll get everything set, then reposition myself and do a once over, re-liquifying the solder and then it'll give your connection a nice, even, smooth and hell, even professional look. remember to let the solder flow to the connection.

anyway, hope that helps some. i was just remined of how much i DIDN'T know when i made that snake.

as an aside, the snake material was from redco - and while i continue to order from them and love them, i just bought a gepco snake because the pairs are easier to read that the redco stuff i have. my redco stuff is all brown and black (9 black, 7 brown) and just have numbers on it. it makes it difficult to read when screwing around behind a rack. the gepco has a real nice color coded pair and spell out the numbers in addition to giving the numerals.

http://www.gepco.com/products/cable/twi ... ulti24.htm

however, redco is a great company, and the connectors i was using last night are from them.

brian beattie
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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by brian beattie » Fri Aug 29, 2003 2:32 pm

bless you. I just printed this page out, and I'm keeping it in my repair drawer.
brian

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by littlebrothersclothes » Fri Aug 29, 2003 3:32 pm

Yes, great advice all (I solder tons of cables)! My personal soldering iron preference is the Weller WTCPT. You can get tips for it in all sorts of shapes, with (IIRC) three different (fixed) possible temperature values.

Doug

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by aurelialuz » Fri Aug 29, 2003 3:57 pm

i second the WTCPT rec. i think this is the most important point, those red handled unregulated irons are just torture. one minute cold, next minute melting your component.

also, those alligator clip holder dealies are essential, but a good one is better. my rat shack one sucked so i got a pana-vise. it fuckin rocks.

alex
"While every effort has been made to ensure optimum sound quality, priority has been given to historic content and importance."

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by Professor » Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:02 pm

Damn good advice, and thank you.

I'll throw in my two pennies as well:

Make sure you are using a hot soldering iron. I know that one sounds silly, but a lot of people, especially when they only need to do one connector, will not wait long enough for the iron to get to to full temperature. The iron should be hot enough that you can touch the connector & wire, for about a second, dab on the solder and get off the connector in about 2-3 seconds. If you keep the heat on longer, you may damage the insulation between the different contacts. Obviously this is different for the ground connections.

As for the color coding on the Gepco wiring, I thought I'd point out that several manufacturers use that coding and it is not only a wiring code, but also the resistor color code: Black=0, brown=1, red=2, etc. Belden does that too.

And heck, while I'm at it, I will again pay my respects to the Canare 1/4" connectors as being far easier to solder than the typical Neutrik variety. Check them out before buying your next batch of 1/4" connectors. They only make one kind of TS and one TRS, but they are just great to work with.

-Jeremy

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by dwelle » Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:04 pm

i third the wctpt AND the little rotating vices. one more tool i have found invaluable is a pair angled needle nose pliers, the ones that have a 45 degree bend in them.

priceless...

xonlocust
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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by xonlocust » Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:19 am

brian beattie wrote:bless you. I just printed this page out, and I'm keeping it in my repair drawer.
brian
haha! i'm just repaying you for all those hours listening to the dead milkmen as a miscreant teen!

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by cgarges » Tue Sep 02, 2003 4:36 pm

Get one of these, too.

http://mcm.newark.com/NewarkWebCommerce ... 55&x=0&y=0

You will be so glad you did. So much better than those lame sponges that cool down your tips.

Chris Garges
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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by hulahalau » Tue Sep 02, 2003 5:41 pm

Additional tips, FWIW:

1. Clean the metal of the connectors with Caig Deox before soldering. Removes hidden oxides.

2. Get a good solder sucker, to rectify mistakes (which WILL happen). I use the Soldapult at approx. $20.00.

3. If your business involves soldering a lot of connectors, rig up a small jig to hold the XLRs and 1/4 inch connectors for soldering. How? Just get a small piece of aluminum sheet (it woud be handy if it could fit into the Panavise PC holder arms), punch holes for an XLR M and F chassis mount, and 1/4 inch jack, and mount the chassis mounts XLRs and the jack. Then, just plug the connector you are soldering into the apprpriate XLR/jack, and the jig will steady the connector for soldering.

4. After soldering, spray the soldered connections with flux remover, then treat with Caig Deox and Caig Blue Preserv-It. This protects the solder itself from oxidising. then treat the contact surfaces with Deox and Preserve-It.

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by leigh » Tue Sep 02, 2003 9:50 pm

Here's a nitty detail question: when soldering a balanced 1/4" plug, in what order do you solder the wires? I used to do the tip, then, ring, then ground - the tip required the longest wire, and I would then try to cut and strip the ring and ground wires to the right lengths.

Then I decided that's such a pain in the ass, trying to solder the ground wire UNDER where the tip and ring wires are now running.

So I started doing the ground wire first, then ring, then tip. Still, that way, you gotta size up how much wire to leave for the ring and tip when you cut and strip the ground wire.

Am I making sense here? Which wire do you do first?

Leigh

xonlocust
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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by xonlocust » Wed Sep 03, 2003 1:55 pm

i got ground first and fan the other 2 wires out each way making a little prong type thing. it's probably backasswards - especially now that i hear your techniques and think about it, but i just fold back the ground making a fishhook kinda thing that gets soldered to the body, then after that's anchored solidly, i go for the mini needle nose pliers to bend the others in place.

cutting to the appropriate size seems like a pretty darn smart idea though - i'm just afraid i;ll cut too much and not leave myself enough room.

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by crow » Wed Sep 03, 2003 2:57 pm

my guru alan durham showed me that 1/4"dabbin' trick a few years ago in exchange for a girl's number. now i am an expert solderer and a full-time pimp! ok, maybe i'm not an expert solderer.

i also mimicked him by drilling 1/4" holes in and gluing clothespins to various small chunks of 2x4 and 4x4 wood that i had lying around, in different configurations for holding wires and connectors. very cheap and very handy.

let's also not forget the handiness of those spring-loaded solder-suckers for cleaning up a connection that you've screwed up and need to try over.

now if i only knew why such-and-such wire goes to such-and-such resistor. . .

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by hulahalau » Wed Sep 03, 2003 7:25 pm

leigh wrote:Here's a nitty detail question: when soldering a balanced 1/4" plug, in what order do you solder the wires? I used to do the tip, then, ring, then ground - the tip required the longest wire, and I would then try to cut and strip the ring and ground wires to the right lengths.

Then I decided that's such a pain in the ass, trying to solder the ground wire UNDER where the tip and ring wires are now running.

So I started doing the ground wire first, then ring, then tip. Still, that way, you gotta size up how much wire to leave for the ring and tip when you cut and strip the ground wire.

Am I making sense here? Which wire do you do first?

Leigh
You should cut, strip and tin all wires first, and then solder them to the relevant terminal; it is the height of folly to cut, strip and solder each wire in sequence.

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by jerrymac » Wed Sep 03, 2003 8:56 pm

I'm going to add two more cents to this. Actually four cents.

The first two cents:
Something I learned in school (i went to school for electronics first, then communications/audio) was that the amount of bare wire hanging past the solder joint and the connector should be no more than the diameter of the wire including the insulation. I'm going to go make a photo:

http://www.auroraseven.com/jerry/xlr2.jpg
in the photo bare wire area "B" should be no greater than the diameter "A"

on this one the red wire is a little sloppy, but the others are good and close. In this photo, that connector is using solid core wire, which I normally wouldn't be doing, but those three wires go out to alligator clips, it's just a little test xlr that was nearby (with a good example of slightly sloppy soldering)

The next two cents:
When you are making or repairing a solder joint on a printed circuit board, you should not use too much solder. From the side, it should look like a little hershey's kiss, not blobbed up like an onion.

One more:
If you ever have to solder a lot of wires, like wiring a patch bay, spend the $75 and get a little (3 oz.) solder pot for tinning the wires. It is a little cup that heats up and melts solder into a little pool. You dip your stripped wires into flux, then into the pool of solder, and they are all tinned in seconds. It is much faster than tinning by hand with the soldering iron. Those seconds add up when you are doing three 96 point bays. The only catch is this: you need to use flux free solder in the pot, and it seems to only come in one pound sticks and the cost $8. The flux is about $6 for a 6 oz. bottle. Man, this stuff pays for itself when you are tinning zillions of wires, though...

jerry

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Re: soldering tips for y'all

Post by j.hall » Thu Sep 04, 2003 9:05 am

if you don't buy the tip cleaner, get a pad of course steel wool....it works just as well and get a tinning block for you tip

also, no one has mentioned, or at least that i've seen, buy good solder

don't get the super heavy duty plumbing solder at home depot

go to an electronics supply and but appropriate solder for the job you are doing

i use silver solder for all audio connection.....

i also found out that if you are building really big snakes, it's actually cheaper to have REDCO do it for you......

small cables in low quantities are easily done by yourself

but adding up the materials, and my hourly rate, REDCO beats my price by hundreds of dollars

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