(Topic ID: 78163)

Soldering tips and help.


By Pinfidel

6 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 34 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 years ago by terryb
  • Topic is favorited by 12 Pinsiders

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    #1 6 years ago

    Hi and TY in advance to all of you who I know will give me awesome advice in this thread.

    I am new to the world of pinball, but want to fix my own machines myself. I am ready to buy some things on Amazon now. As for a soldering gun, I have a Weller WLC 100 40 watt solder station in the cart. Is that a nice one? Seems it from all the review I read and especially for electronic board needs.

    Also, what kind/types of solder and flux do I need and should I use? Tin, silver solder, lead based solder? I like the liquid flux I saw. Is that good stuff? What brands do I want to buy? Soldering gun tip sizes? How about a good solder sucker? Anything else?

    Again, thank you all for your help and expertise in this area. It's much appreciated.

    #2 6 years ago

    Lead based solder is the way to go, but I think it is getting harder to find.

    If you can afford it, the Hakko 808 is absolutely phenomenal for a desoldering tool. Other than that, I used to use a cheap radio-shack desolderer that had the rubber red suction ball on it.

    I don't know much about your soldering station, but it looks fine to me. Are you planning on doing a lot of boardwork?

    (I use a Tenma soldering station that I love so much I'd make out with it....if it weren't for the horrible lip burns).

    Pete

    #3 6 years ago

    Go to the search forum box at the top right of the Forum page and type in "group buy". The first three returns are for solder guns from Hakko with great descriptions and pics. Choose one or two and enjoy.

    #4 6 years ago

    TY Wolf. I will check them out. Not looking to spend a lot of money, just some good quality (not great/expensive professional) tools to fix and repair any damage one of my HUO machines should ever encounter. The nearest guy who repairs pinball machines is a full 45 minutes away. What I'd pay him for 1 trip out to me to fix something would pay for all the tools to do it myself. I just need some decent tools and some know how so I can fix w/e problems should arise. Minimal board work for sure.

    As far as your Temna, what model is it? I'll look it up and see what it costs.

    Thanks.

    #5 6 years ago

    TY Big B. I'm going to do that right now.

    #6 6 years ago
    Quoted from BigB:

    Go to the search forum box at the top right of the Forum page and type in "group buy". The first three returns are for solder guns from Hakko with great descriptions and pics. Choose one or two and enjoy.

    Wow! Those are expensive! LOL Yeah, those are the professional daily use tools. Definitely overkill for my occasional needs. Especially that solder suck. Almost $200 bucks! What a really nice one for like $50? Are those tube suckers like Wolf described good?

    Thanks to you both.

    #7 6 years ago

    The soldering iron you have is fine for playfield work (turn it down to 20 watts). For board work you really want to go with a temperature controlled iron. Weller has a good one and the Hakko 888 is very good. Tenma is acceptable, but a step below a Weller or Hakko. Just depends on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend.

    See the following article for info on tip sizes, solder, etc.

    http://pinballrehab.com/1-articles/solid-state-repair/tutorials/161-basic-soldering-tutorial

    A cheap solder sucker or solder wick will work find for doing board work, just takes a little more skill and patience.

    #8 6 years ago

    The spring loaded solder suckers work fine for the occasional small job. I have an 808, and I sometimes still use a cheap solder sucker.

    #9 6 years ago
    Quoted from terryb:

    The soldering iron you have is fine for playfield work (turn it down to 20 watts). For board work you really want to go with a temperature controlled iron. Weller has a good one and the Hakko 888 is very good. Tenma is acceptable, but a step below a Weller or Hakko. Just depends on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend.
    See the following article for info on tip sizes, solder, etc.
    http://pinballrehab.com/1-articles/solid-state-repair/tutorials/161-basic-soldering-tutorial
    A cheap solder sucker or solder wick will work find for doing board work, just takes a little more skill and patience.

    Hey! Thanks for that link Terry. I'm going to read the whole thing now. I appreciate it.

    I did find the Hakko 601 in the group buy forum. Looks perfect for my needs. In the group buy it was $79 bucks. I found it on ETSY for only $63 shipped. However, the Hakko 801 Solder Station is $100. At least that has the holder on it. Which one do you think is the better deal for me?

    Thanks,
    Derek.

    #10 6 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    The spring loaded solder suckers work fine for the occasional small job. I have an 808, and I sometimes still use a cheap solder sucker.

    That's great to know and encouraging. I mean if you have the 808 and you'll just use the spring loaded one for quick use, that's probably the one for me.

    Let me ask you all this though...If I want to RE-flow solder over all the older solder, can I just go right over it or would you need to remove the old solder and then re-flow the new?

    I'm gonna read Terry's link now and then I'll come back to read replys.

    And again, I really appreciate everyone's help and tips on this. Thank you so much for all the great info.

    #11 6 years ago
    Quoted from Pinfidel:

    Let me ask you all this though...If I want to RE-flow solder over all the older solder, can I just go right over it or would you need to remove the old solder and then re-flow the new?

    I am hardly an expert on the subject, but I generally heat up the old solder, and then add a little fresh solder to the mix.

    #12 6 years ago

    I'd get the spring loaded "solder pull-it" rather than the red bulb (and for .35 cents, buy a few) :

    amazon.com link »

    I'd also get some solder wick:

    amazon.com link »

    And you will want a can of solder flux:

    amazon.com link »

    #13 6 years ago

    This was the cheap desoldering iron that I used for many years before upgrading to the Hakko808:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062731&CAWELAID=120125420000031237&catargetid=120125420000031799&cadevice=c&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CO2VhcPwlLwCFQsSMwodsSYAoQ

    While I made due with it for a long time, it wasn't ideal. The Hakko 808 makes you realize how inferior the tool really is.

    I'd have to look up the model of my Tenma. I'm certain there are better stations out there, but it was very reasonably priced, and it works fantastically. I BELIEVE it is this one: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/TENMA-21-147-/21-147 ....or at least an earlier version of that one. (They make a digital-readout one, too).

    I think the one you have is just fine, though. Have you used it yet?

    Pete

    #14 6 years ago

    Unless you intend to get involved in extensive board work, a simple, retively cheap iron, some good rosin cored solder and a decent spring loaded solder sucker will suffice. Even some of the more basic board repairs can be done with these simple items. I use a cheap Weller, that I can replace the tips on...sorry I don't recall the model. A solder station/ fancy desoldering tool is not usually ideal when doing underplayfield work, but would be ideal when working on boards at a bench. You will fund though, that unless you have a game that was heavily abused and not properly maintained, 90% of pin repair is mechanical, and underplayfield work, and soldering wise involves soldering to lugs or tabs on coils, switches, targets, etc. So generally you do not need to spend a ton of money on soldering equipment.

    Also depending on the game, many boards can be rare or expensive to buy should you mess up things to a point past your experience level when trying to fix something, so it is always a good idea to question is it worth the cost of attempting to fix something and having to buy a new board vs simply paying a pro to do the work. By no means am I trying to discourage you from learning and getting to a point of being able to do certain work, but be realistic and aware of the costs and risks associated with taking on a solder job before you are comfortable doing it.

    #15 6 years ago

    Also, not only can you search this site, you can use almost any search engine that will lead you to great soldering learning tool. Youtube itself has many videos, specificly made as education tools that cover basic soldering and basic electronic repair.

    When it comes to board work, before risking screwing up your expensive, sometimes rare boards, many will recommend practice on an old junk board, this is good info. I would also suggest you could try your hand at building a small electronic kit of some sort, there are many out there, many currently involving LEDs. These kits are usually not too hard to spot in an electronic store. And unlike spending time on a junk board, when you are done, you will have some funky gadget to keep or gift, as well ad a sense of acomplishment that you might not get from putzing around on a dead board.

    #16 6 years ago

    Here is mine:
    http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/just-got-a-new-and-first-soldering-station

    And for the price I don't think you could possibly beat it. I've used it a lot and it has been fantastic.

    #17 6 years ago
    Quoted from pmWolf:

    I think the one you have is just fine, though. Have you used it yet?

    Hi Pete, thanks for that info and no I have not ordered it yet. I've ordered a few things but I'm just trying to figure everything out exactly.

    Thanks for all your help though. Much appreciated.

    #18 6 years ago
    Quoted from caligirl:

    Also, not only can you search this site, you can use almost any search engine that will lead you to great soldering learning tool. Youtube itself has many videos, specificly made as education tools that cover basic soldering and basic electronic repair.
    When it comes to board work, before risking screwing up your expensive, sometimes rare boards, many will recommend practice on an old junk board, this is good info. I would also suggest you could try your hand at building a small electronic kit of some sort, there are many out there, many currently involving LEDs. These kits are usually not too hard to spot in an electronic store. And unlike spending time on a junk board, when you are done, you will have some funky gadget to keep or gift, as well ad a sense of acomplishment that you might not get from putzing around on a dead board.

    Hey CaliGirl,

    Thank you for all the tips and advice. I'm trying to decide exactly what I want to buy. In fact, after reading your post I think I'm going to wait till the game gets here before I order a gun. That way when the game gets here, I can look it over and check and see if I think it needs a lot of re-flowing. If it's just a few things here and there, I'll go with a cheaper iron. If it extensive, I'll get the real nice iron.

    I LOVE your idea of practice soldering, but I don't have anything to practice on. I already have watched a lot of YouTube vids on soldering. That's why I feel like I may be able to do it. Between the vids and all the reading I've done, I think it would be a really fun project to take on.

    I just wish I lived near someone from Pinside who knew all this stuff. I'd rather pay them to do it and even teach me how to do. Vids are one thing, but you can't beat personal hands on training.

    Thanks again Cali and have a great day.

    #19 6 years ago

    Hey Astro, thanks for that link. That is a real nice set-up. I can't believe the price! Well done. Depending on what I decide when I look at my machine, I will have to look into that one for sure. Although for now, I love the Hakko FX-888D package offered by Amazon. Let me know what you all think of that. Hope I pasted that link correctly. Let me know if I didn't.

    amazon.com link »

    #20 6 years ago

    Pinfidel,

    I'm a beginner also, got my first machine a year ago. I've had to do some board work. I watched some YouTube videos and even practiced a bit. It looks sooooo easy but for me it isn't as easy as it looks. I used a cheap Radio Shack soldering iron and a solder sucker. I ended up sucking the ?eyelet out of the board trying to get some header pins out. I was lucky I didn't end up ruining the board. As it was I had to jump that pin somewhere else. It was a learning experience and I told myself I'd do much better the next time. Well, that time is now so I bought the Hakko 808 using the pinside discount. I haven't used it yet. I decided to get a better soldering iron before I take on a major (for me) project. I'm not going to screw it up this time. So I guess I'm saying that you have to be very careful. There is a skill set to soldering so what some people can do easily with simple tools can end up being a costly board replacement if you aren't very careful.

    #21 6 years ago
    Quoted from Pinfidel:

    Let me ask you all this though...If I want to RE-flow solder over all the older solder, can I just go right over it or would you need to remove the old solder and then re-flow the new?

    Clean the connections with a fiberglass pen, add some good quality flux and heat the connection until the solder flows. If you're having trouble just add a touch of additional solder (this forms a solder bridge and helps with heat conduction). 90% of the time this will do it without having to remove and resolder.

    For practice, pick up an old computer or VCR. Minknan is correct that an expert can make the soldering process look like the easiest thing in the world, but it's not. 1/2 science 1/2 art.

    #22 6 years ago

    As suggested, you can buy a junk board, or any piece of electronics that will have parts and trash it to use the boards to practice.
    However, the kits that I am suggesting you can use to practice on range in price. Jameco classifies them as 'educational and hobby kits'. You can make anything from cute little LED decorations with or without timing circuits, or you could build a radio or an amplifier, or you could build miniature robots. You may very well choose not to go this route, but I am going to toss it into this thread as it may help someone searching this subject in the future.

    Again, just a really good way to practice board work, and and perhaps if you do it right, gain a great sense of accomplishment if you do it right. Yes of course you could mess it up and be out $15-$20 bucks, but that is a heck of a lot cheaper than ruining or doing more expensive damage to a card.

    Here are some examples of cheap kits:

    http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_200336_-1

    http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_2136964_-1

    http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_2187260_-1

    And one not so cheap ($35), but cool and actually useful:

    http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_2171516_-1

    There are all sorts of kits out there.

    The other plus of building one of these kits is that all the electronic components come loose, so that if you really want to learn electronic repair, as you go along, you might want to look up what a particular component is and it's function. Electronic repair is not simply about desoldering out a part, getting a replacement, and putting in the new one. Sure there are many applications where this is all a fix will be, but having a basic understanding of the component you are dealing with will be very helpful, and could easily save you lots of headache in the future.

    #23 6 years ago

    One other tip for folks on this subject.....if you seriously want to learn, you can always check with your local community college for an intro electronics course. Sure it might end up costing a few hundred when you are said and done (tuiton, books, lab fees, etc) but $400 on a course could also end up saving you from messing up a $400 board in the future.

    #24 6 years ago

    Here's what I started learning on:
    amazon.com link »

    It was fun. While I mainly use the hakko now, if I want to do something quick under the playfield, I can still grab this one that came with the kit.

    #25 6 years ago
    Quoted from Miknan:

    Pinfidel,
    I'm a beginner also, got my first machine a year ago. I've had to do some board work. I watched some YouTube videos and even practiced a bit. It looks sooooo easy but for me it isn't as easy as it looks. I used a cheap Radio Shack soldering iron and a solder sucker. I ended up sucking the ?eyelet out of the board trying to get some header pins out. I was lucky I didn't end up ruining the board. As it was I had to jump that pin somewhere else. It was a learning experience and I told myself I'd do much better the next time. Well, that time is now so I bought the Hakko 808 using the pinside discount. I haven't used it yet. I decided to get a better soldering iron before I take on a major (for me) project. I'm not going to screw it up this time. So I guess I'm saying that you have to be very careful. There is a skill set to soldering so what some people can do easily with simple tools can end up being a costly board replacement if you aren't very careful.

    I hear you bro and thanks. I watched a video on soldering and a guy did the same thing to his ringlet. What he did was take a piece of solder wick, snip it in half about 1/4 inch. Then he cut it just beyond the snip line, about 1/16th of an inch beyond. Then he wrapped it around the hole and tinned it in. Good as new. Could be something worth practicing on as well.

    I just wish I could find a spare mother board to fool around on. I don't even have a trash dump or recycling place near me. I think I'll find one though. Maybe I can call and ask if they can give me a few junk boards just to practice on. Thanks Miknin.

    #26 6 years ago
    Quoted from terryb:

    Clean the connections with a fiberglass pen, add some good quality flux and heat the connection until the solder flows. If you're having trouble just add a touch of additional solder (this forms a solder bridge and helps with heat conduction). 90% of the time this will do it without having to remove and resolder.
    For practice, pick up an old computer or VCR. Minknan is correct that an expert can make the soldering process look like the easiest thing in the world, but it's not. 1/2 science 1/2 art.

    Hey Terry, I'd like to thank you for the link you sent me. That was just amazing. A plethora of awesome info. I watched the vids and read almost all the lessons. Very interesting read. I spent so long on the first lesson. I would read, then take what was used and find it on Amazon. Forget that multicore flux wire though. That's like $60 bucks!!!
    LOL.

    Again, thanks for all the tips and have a great weekend.

    #27 6 years ago

    CaliGirl...THOSE ARE AWESOME!!! TY for your contributions on here. I totally love that Idea. I'd love to try the traffic light out, but it looks so small. You think a beginner could do that? I'd love to do the speaker, but not only would I probably destroy it, but you need a bunch of other stuff to go with it that probably costs $50-$60 bucks.

    Let me ask you this, if I get a couple of boards, is there a way to test them before and after? To elaborate, let's say I found 2 boards from a recycler. Is there a way to check to see if it is in proper working order with some kind of tester? Or could that only be found out by having a computer or something to hook it up to and then turn it on to check it? Cause if I could find one that was working, then I could purposely messed it up by desoldering some chips and breaking some traces and then I could try to repair them all. Then check it to see if it worked again. That would be cool.

    Thanks Cali.

    #28 6 years ago
    Quoted from Pinfidel:

    Hey Astro, thanks for that link. That is a real nice set-up. I can't believe the price! Well done. Depending on what I decide when I look at my machine, I will have to look into that one for sure. Although for now, I love the Hakko FX-888D package offered by Amazon. Let me know what you all think of that. Hope I pasted that link correctly. Let me know if I didn't.
    amazon.com link »

    The Hakko package is nice and very compact (if that's important). Otherwise you're going to get a lot more "bang for your buck" with the 898d+. The heat gun can be handy on the larger jobs as well as other things like shrink wrapping wiring....etc....

    #29 6 years ago

    Pinfidel, as for the kits...other than building an amp from a kit, for an electronics class, I have no experience with them. a few of the guys in the class I was in took initiative and bought some led based kits and built them to help improve their soldering before the working on the amps, which was part of our final project. I have seen them in stores, and some are smaller than others. If you do not feel you would be comfortable with the smaller kit, then by all means, pick a bigger one.

    As for buying scrapped boards... my thought is this: more than likely if it is being scrapped, someone has determined it is not worth fixing, or is outmoded. If you wanted, you could get out your handy dandy multi-meter and use it to test such things as continuity and resistance, and diode testing. But I sure wouldn't be investing in some means of testing boards that are outdated or not worth fixing.

    If new at soldering, start with the basics. what you really want to be practicing on is control of solder flow, and how to identify a good or bad solder job. Heat control is a factor to learn too, but with a non-variable iron, heat control is dictated by how long you hold the iron to whatever you are soldering, and how well you control heat will be obvious by how well your soldering job turns out. The other thing when working on boards, is too not lift traces or the 'pads' (the little circle or square around a mounting hole of a component). None of the things I have mentioned practicing on even remotely involve having some sort of 'tester' to test your work.

    Good luck.

    #30 6 years ago

    Would something like this work fine for just under playfield work?

    Thanks

    amazon.com link »

    #31 6 years ago
    Quoted from caligirl:

    One other tip for folks on this subject.....if you seriously want to learn, you can always check with your local community college for an intro electronics course. Sure it might end up costing a few hundred when you are said and done (tuiton, books, lab fees, etc) but $400 on a course could also end up saving you from messing up a $400 board in the future.

    uh, that's not always the case. I took a college electronic course and it was 95% book work. Oh, we did learn to build a circuit on a bread board, and how to use a multi-meter, BFD, I learn more here on pinside and youtube then that class.

    #32 6 years ago

    True. Everyone learns differently. And every electronics class is not the same. Some schools feed into electronic engineering, others into IT/networking, and others into other programs, so it does depend. One can easily contact the school and/or proffessor to see if it is right for them. And one should expect 'book work' it is after all a college course.

    I didn't present the option as a 'must' but simply as an option worth looking into that maybe beneficial to some. Sure you can learn from many sources. The plus of a class that does provide hands on experience is that, with a good professor you have instant feedback on wether you are doing it right or wrong, wether your understanding of electronic concepts and law are correct, and ways to improve on your mistakes and misunderstandings.

    The problem with so many people relying on the web for info these days is that there is a lot of mis-information. While there are pleanty of very helpful, knowledgable people on Pinside, I have also seen some seriously poor tech advice on here, likely given by someone who got their 'education' from you tube and trial and error on their own work. Sure they may have reached the end result they desired based on their repar method, but it often is not the more correct, long term solution that one would desire.

    In my experience, the best learning is done hands on, and ideally with guidance from someone who has gone before.

    #33 6 years ago

    Whatever you get, pitch the sponge and get soldering iron cleaning wire mesh like below to keep your soldering iron tip clean. Much easier to keep the iron tinned without the water from the sponge.

    amazon.com link »

    I use the spring loaded solder suckers when soldering on switches and solenoids to clean out the lug holes to make it easier to mechanically connect wires and diodes.

    I started using the mechanical suckers when replacing transistors and chips on boards and I must say.... they just don't work that well. I picked up a Hako 808 and honestly wouldn't attempt chip repairs without one. If you don't want to spring that much cash to repair boards yourself, you need to practice A LOT on junk boards to see if you can be successful there. I was never able to master it. I did get lucky a few times but I was repairing system 6 boards which are much more forgiving. You can be successful fairly easily replacing transistors with a solder sucker, IMO.

    Get some 91% isopropal alcohol and a small squirt bottle to clean the rosin off the board when you are done for a professional job.

    #34 6 years ago
    Quoted from Force951:

    Would something like this work fine for just under playfield work?

    Go with the Weller Professional 25 watt. It has much better performance. Unfortunately Weller has felt the need to sell at the low-end and produces some irons that aren't any better than the cheap stuff.

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