Hello there peeps,
My name is Eddie and i have 2 questions for you.
Ihave recently bought a 12w electronics soldering iron, 98/2 solder and a
practice pcb board. I was really keen to get going, but alas found out that
i have to "Tin" the nib!
I can get some flux from my dad, but it is Plumbing Flux, is it ok to use
this or do i need a special type for electronics???
And how exactly do you tin a nib??
Q2: The practice PCB mentioned above has a few items on it that are quite
big (the transformer for one), and i can not figure out how to get it to
stay still while i would solder it? is there some form of brace that i could
buy, or could i use toilet paper underneath as a "second pair of hands", any
I am sorry if this seems elementary to you all, but i would really
appriciate any advice.
Thank you very much for your time, hope to hear from you soon.
Heck no! Using that kind of flux on electronics is not good :-)
or do i need a special type for electronics???
The solder you bought probably has flux in the middle of it. To tin the
tip, just get a damp cloth or sponge. Turn the iron on, and melt the
solder over the tip. Then quickly wipe the solder off the tip with the
The tip should be nice and shiny.
Does the transformer have pins, or wire leads? EG is the transformer
supposed to sit on the pcb and be soldered in?
I suggest you search google. There ae some good tutorials online.
You will want to switch to a different ratio of lead to tin.
63/37 is the best, but you can get by with 60/40 if you are
very careful to not move the connection while it cools.
Use some thin 'electronic' grade solder like KE1111-ND
Plumbing flux is a big no-no. It is acid based and will turn
your project into scrap muy pronto. Best to go with liquid rosin
flux. First prize is to have a small bottle nearby to daub
on to your cleaned connection. The proper 'electronic' solder
will also have a core of flux encased in the middle of the wire.
All important: A small bottle of 99% alcohol and some cotton
swabs or a brush to clean up your work afterwords. Rosin flux continues
etching your connection if it is left after you are finished.
Tinning the soldering iron tip is really important.
See if you can locate a sal-ammoniac block to rub off the
oxide from the hot tip. After it is clean, dab the end of your
solder on to the tip. It should wet the end. If not, clean
the tip once more and dab with the end of your solder. Wipe
the excess solder off the tip using a dampened sponge or towel.
Your iron should now have a thin silver coating of solder on the tip.
You will need to wipe your iron tip every few minutes to keep
it clean. Re-tin and wipe the tip often.
On the cleaned PCB and transformer, dab a little rosin flux liquid
at each connection point. If necessary, hold the part on to the board
with a rubber band or the end of a screwdriver or whatever comes to mind.
Apply the tip of the iron across both the PCB pad and the component
terminal end. Dab the end of your solder into the joint.
A puff of rosin smoke! Keep your face out of this stuff.
Remove the solder and then remove the iron.
The actual soldering process takes about three seconds per joint.
Let the joint cool naturally without any movement. If you do happen
to move the parts, a 'fractured joint' can occur. You get to do it over.
Use solder braid and your tinned iron to pull up the damaged solder.
Flux and resolder.
After a few moments,clean the joint with alcohol and a swab or brush.
You should now have a thin shiny coat of solder covering the joint.
That's about it.
Also beware of "acid-core" solder, which is even worse than the
typical plumbing solder.
It also can be a focal point for the formation of fungus in the
This applies while it is powered up and heating. Just before
unplugging my soldering iron, I flow a bit more solder onto the tip, and
let it cool in place. This then wipes off nicely when you start it up
next time, thus giving you a head start on having a nice tinned iron.
If he is soldering the *frame* of a transformer to the PCB, I
fear that his 12W iron won't be hot enough to do this for anything other
than a tiny transformer such as a microphone input transformer. The 12W
is probably reasonable for most electronics soldering, but you will want
to keep a heavier soldering iron for things like that. I would have at
least a 25W, and preferably at least a 50-100W one for the transformer.
I've even got a 450W one for extreme things. :-)
If you have asthma, this may trigger it. Keep a small fan on
the workbench, blowing across your soldering area, to move the majority
of the rosin fumes out of the way, so when you *do* breathe them, they
are diluted with a lot more air.
For normal component leads. For the transformer frame mentioned
above, or for an old electrolytic capacitor with the can and the pins
fitting into the PC board, you will need the hotter irons.
You can make the solder braid by taking the braid from a
reasonable size of coax, and dipping it into the liquid rosin flux.
Except for use in nasty environments -- tropical areas in
particular -- a fungicidal varnish or a conformal coating over the
connections or the board in general will help a lot.
Of course -- this is purely soft solder, and will not be much
good for structural joining (which would also want a different flux),
but it gets you started with one form of soldering, at least.
To Al Borowski, Winston and Don Nichols.
Thank You All for the advice, imagine what would have happened if i went
ad-hoc and ploughed straight into it.
You have been very informative, i now have 63/37 solder (part ex'd the 98/2)
the rosin(25ml jar, nice) and an iron weighing in at 25W. Not bad for 45
You have all been 24C diamonds to me, hopefully in a year or so I could
return the favor.
That's one of the reasons to bemoan the passing of the Heathkit
company. Those kits had really good instructions on soldering, and
strong warnings about the consequences of using acid-core solder on the
kits -- a voided warranty. :-)
I started out before the Heathkits, and had quite a bit of
experience (and luckily, good advice from Popular Electronics magazine
before I took a soldering iron to a circuit.)
Later, I was an electronics tech for many years, before becoming
a unix network administrator for a few years prior to retiring.
There will always be someone else needing the information -- so
simply pass on what you have learned when the time comes. And perhaps
something else which you pick up as you are working, since you will have
the fresher memory of what it is like to start out with electrical
A safety point I forgot to mention, Eddie.
Your solder is mostly lead. Please be sure to wash your
hands after soldering. Snacking while soldering is
dangerous because it provides an ingestion path for this