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Thread: Probably the worst soldering you've seen today. Maybe ever.

  1. #1
    Professional magic smoke letter-outer cheezmonkey's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Probably the worst soldering you've seen today. Maybe ever.

    Greetings fine, assembled Gurus, Genii and gentlefolk. I present for your viewing pleasure my first ever completed electronics project. Assembled from parts in a meagre ten hours, this incredible device will mesmerise you with its blinking lights and, er, blinking lights. Pictures at the end (yes, I'll make you read my cr@p before you get to the good bit.)

    I bought this silly little set because, other than a couple of simple Spectrum RF bypasses, I'd not picked up an iron in over 20 years. I wanted something inexpensive and with a lot of points to solder and this kit fit the bill nicely. My question, however, is thus: (and I realise it's a doozy)

    What am I doing wrong?! IF you take a real close look, anyone with a clue what they are doing would deem at least half of those joins as "bad" or at least "in need of re-flow" and some of them are downright awful. Though, I am compelled to point out that other than a couple of the LEDS, it worked first try. They were easily fixed in a matter of seconds and we were good. But seriously, I'm obviously doing something wrong - some of those points took a nice "correct" blob of solder in a few seconds, some of them did so after much longer and the ones you can see are really bad, just wouldn't. I know it's me, but I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've tried ensuring I heat both the pad and the leg, as well as one and the other independently. My hazy memory tells me you need to do both though, which is what I did in most cases.

    Tinning - the tip of my iron, I came to suspect towards the end, may be part of the problem. I can't seem to get the very point of it nice and shiny. Does it need a new one? The rest of the tip comes up nice, but the last couple of mm (ie the part usually in contact with the work) will not. Is this the problem? is there a solution?

    I do know I need some better snips, the legs are pretty messy but this was the best I can do with what I had to hand. Seriously, any feedback, tips or suggestions would be appreciated. I'm going to look into buying another project kit for more practice. Does anyone know any simple retro computing kits? Really simple? I'm thinking sinclair joystick interface levels of complexity, max.

    Now for the best part...

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    Last edited by cheezmonkey; 5th February 2019 at 13:54. Reason: Duplicate picture
    Atari 2600jr+woody, C64c, Amiga "franken500", Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive I,II, Mega-CD II, Saturn, Dreamcast, NES, SNES, N64, GC, Wii, WiiU, PS1,2,3,4, XB360, XBOne, GBpocket, GBA, DS, 2DS, PSP, Vita, Blaze Tab, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum and Spectrum + Atari 520 STFM, Spectrum 128 (Grey), Latest: A third PSP (white) and a 3DS.

  2. #2
    hlide's Avatar
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    Problably not the worst soldering but not sure about its WAF.
    [x1] Amiga 500+ [x2] Amiga 500 [x1] Amiga 600 Furia [x2] Amiga 1200 [x2] Amiga CD32

  3. #3
    Professional magic smoke letter-outer cheezmonkey's Avatar
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    Thanks Hlide! As it happens, Mrs. Cheez is a great gal. When I showed her she said "You've missed a trick here, you should have saved that for valentines day." I tried to give it to her then and there and she told me to put it away til Valentine's. So yeah, that's a thing.
    Atari 2600jr+woody, C64c, Amiga "franken500", Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive I,II, Mega-CD II, Saturn, Dreamcast, NES, SNES, N64, GC, Wii, WiiU, PS1,2,3,4, XB360, XBOne, GBpocket, GBA, DS, 2DS, PSP, Vita, Blaze Tab, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum and Spectrum + Atari 520 STFM, Spectrum 128 (Grey), Latest: A third PSP (white) and a 3DS.

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    SolidCore's Avatar
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    1) Temperature:
    Seconds = VCC, signal lanes (not much copper)
    Long period of time = GND plane (thick copper? or w.e ) not enough heat, get better iron, or hold it for longer before applying solder, tin the tip first, possibly introduce some flux to the through-holes where it is obviously gnd plane before holding it down as your flux probably burned away before it got hot enough.

    2) Solder: Cheap solder from china, terrible and hard to flow bad combination of fake or wrong mixture of elements. I recommend going for anything around 60% tin / 40% lead from reputable seller (not flea bay) (Rs-Online, Digikey.co.uk, Farnell...). Some cheap Silverline brand works great but also use 40/60 Felder lottechnik 3.5% flux solder +183C Melting Point 0.5mm 1047432 product code on RS for fine pitch stuff.

    3) Method: apply iron to leg/through-hole pad at same time, after which while holding down apply solder. and pull solder away once filled. Pull iron away 2-3 seconds after.

    Little newbie story (we all start at the bottom, some have good teachers, some learn mistakes as they go on) :
    When I first started soldering, I applied the solder first to the tip (this is a no no except in some circumstances where you want to tack down a IC and only have 1 hand to hold it and another to apply solder iron), as i progressed another mistake I started to make before my Dad rightly corrected me was that I was applying the solder & tip at the same time, this is WRONG and a common mistake because in this circumstance you are melting solder ontop of the hole/leg but not properly soldering it through the hole which is cold, leading to a cold joint or poor connection later on.

    Look forward to an update with the above 3 taken into respect.
    Last edited by SolidCore; 6th February 2019 at 15:20.

  5. #5
    Half-Saint's Avatar
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    There are plenty of soldering tutorials on youtube.

    Get some good quality solder with resin core. Make sure the tip is in good condition and that your soldering iron can get hot enough.
    My main rig is a 386DX-40

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    I could be wrong but... this is usually what happens when you try to 'deposit' the solder instead of doing real soldering.

    Explanation:
    Sometimes, people who solder for the first time think what they have to do is put the solder on the tip of the iron then 'deposit' it at the point of soldering. That's not soldering and it can't work properly because solder has flux inside it which prevents oxygen from getting in the mix but it's effect lasts only 2 or 3 seconds.

    The correct way to solder is to put a very tiny amount of solder on the tip (perhaps 1mm cube or one microliter) to make sure heat transfers well to the point you're going to solder, apply the tip of the iron to that point then very slowly add solder to that heated point. Both hands are needed...

  7. #7
    Professional magic smoke letter-outer cheezmonkey's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your feedback, it's much appreciated, particularly the in-depth explanation from solidcore. For the record, I did once learn to do it properly, it was just long ago. Dropping blobs "deposits" of solder onto my work was something I learned not to do long ago
    Based on the various things you guys have told me, I determined that I did indeed need a new tip for my iron - whatever I did, I could not get it to tin properly/evenly. (To address the points about whether I was using the right temperature, I have an adjustable temp iron, and had it at 350c whether that's right I'm not 100 sure, but it seemed about right.)
    ..So I dug out the manual and it told me "to remove the tip, unscrew counter clockwise. When replacing, screw clockwise" well, I thought to myself, that sounds simple. Two hours later, I'm bleeding and the (warning technical term incoming) shaft of the iron was freely rotating in the plastic handle. The tip is still in, but it's been completely stripped of any coating and is now looking decidedly coppery. Despite the obvious total wrecked-ness of the iron, I persevered, mainly because I've never actually changed a tip before and did, eventually get the thing out. Couldn't get the new one all the way in though, the thread kept jamming, I suspect it was filled with shaved off bits of the original head. I tried a bit to clean it but knowing it was trash already I quickly lost interest. New iron incoming from Amazon. Probably about as crap.

    RIP Parkside SOLDERING STATION PLS 48 D2 - we hardly knew you. Mostly because you only lasted 4 jobs and only one of those was longer than five minutes.
    Atari 2600jr+woody, C64c, Amiga "franken500", Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive I,II, Mega-CD II, Saturn, Dreamcast, NES, SNES, N64, GC, Wii, WiiU, PS1,2,3,4, XB360, XBOne, GBpocket, GBA, DS, 2DS, PSP, Vita, Blaze Tab, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum and Spectrum + Atari 520 STFM, Spectrum 128 (Grey), Latest: A third PSP (white) and a 3DS.

  8. #8
    Confused retro man Amibayer!
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    Haha, i built one of these kit a year or two ago and gave it the wife on valentines day (along with other presents). She must have liked it cause it sits on the shelf pride of place in our bedroom lol

  9. #9
    Professional magic smoke letter-outer cheezmonkey's Avatar
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    Awesome man. I bet it looked better than mine I actually grabbed that from the Maplin closing down sale a few months ago. Noticed today that their website is back up....
    Atari 2600jr+woody, C64c, Amiga "franken500", Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive I,II, Mega-CD II, Saturn, Dreamcast, NES, SNES, N64, GC, Wii, WiiU, PS1,2,3,4, XB360, XBOne, GBpocket, GBA, DS, 2DS, PSP, Vita, Blaze Tab, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum and Spectrum + Atari 520 STFM, Spectrum 128 (Grey), Latest: A third PSP (white) and a 3DS.

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