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'[EE] Solder question'
2007\02\10@120206 by Timothy J. Weber

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I've used the old 60/40, 1/16" diameter, rosin-core solder for years.
But I wanted something smaller gauge to use for SMDs.  And I figured I
should transition to lead-free.  So, I've been trying Kester lead-free
0.02" no-clean solder.

I'm having a hard time with it.  Basically, the iron tip doesn't wet - I
can't tin it with this stuff.  After the first few joints, I can't even
melt the solder by pushing the tip against it hard.  Re-tinning with the
plain old lead stuff resuscitates it for a little while.

Should I not be mixing both types of solder with the same iron tip?

I'm using a Kester Flux-Pen to flux the components and pads, but very
little of that may be getting on the iron.  Is there some way I should
be getting flux onto the iron?

Or... am I missing something else?

I'm prepared for lead-free solder to look a little duller, but not being
able to get it to flow at all seems like a show-stopper.  For now, I've
gone back to the 1/16" diameter stuff for SMDs; I end up getting too
much solder on the joints, but at least the darn things stick where
they're supposed to.

Open to any suggestions.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\02\10@121352 by Herbert Graf

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On Sat, 2007-02-10 at 12:02 -0500, Timothy J. Weber wrote:
{Quote hidden}

When lead free first started to become an issue the wisdom at the time
was you had to keep two sets of tips, one set for lead, one set for lead
free. You could not mix the two.

I do not know if that has changed, still I think it's a good idea to
keep them separate.

TTYL

2007\02\10@122337 by Neil Cherry

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Herbert Graf wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Doesn't your soldering iron need to be hotter for lead free?

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2007\02\10@132943 by Timothy J. Weber

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Neil Cherry wrote:
> Doesn't your soldering iron need to be hotter for lead free?

Looks like about 15-20 C hotter at most from a quick Google.  I've got a
cheap iron with an unlabeled knob for temp control.  I have turned it
up, and it didn't seem to help, but I'll try it again.

Is it worth getting a digitally-controlled iron just for this?

Herbert Graf wrote:
> When lead free first started to become an issue the wisdom at the time
> was you had to keep two sets of tips, one set for lead, one set for lead
> free. You could not mix the two.
>
> I do not know if that has changed, still I think it's a good idea to
> keep them separate.

I'll get a new tip and keep 'em segregated.

Does anyone here think that's NOT necessary?
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\02\10@134221 by peter green

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: .....piclist-bouncesKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu [piclist-bouncesspamKILLspammit.edu]On Behalf
> Of Timothy J. Weber
> Sent: 10 February 2007 17:02
> To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
> Subject: [EE] Solder question
>
>
> I've used the old 60/40, 1/16" diameter, rosin-core solder for years.
> But I wanted something smaller gauge to use for SMDs.  And I figured I
> should transition to lead-free.  So, I've been trying Kester lead-free
> 0.02" no-clean solder.
lead free plus the modern safer fluxes seems to be a bad combination, it doesn't flow well at all ;)

lead free rosin cored is fine provided you have a nice hot iron (i solder at 350 celcius) even if there is a bit of lead contamination around.


2007\02\10@153426 by Timothy J. Weber

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peter green wrote:
> lead free plus the modern safer fluxes seems to be a bad combination, it doesn't flow well at all ;)
>
> lead free rosin cored is fine provided you have a nice hot iron (i solder at 350 celcius) even if there is a bit of lead contamination around.

Interesting!

I may have chosen my small-gauge lead-free solder poorly - it's a
"no-clean" variety.  So maybe I should try another flavor.

I'm seeing "48" vs. "331" and other options, and I think this refers to
the flux - is that right?  Anyone have a favorite?
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\02\10@164427 by Robert Young

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> Interesting!
>
> I may have chosen my small-gauge lead-free solder poorly - it's a
> "no-clean" variety.  So maybe I should try another flavor.
>
> I'm seeing "48" vs. "331" and other options, and I think this
> refers to
> the flux - is that right?  Anyone have a favorite?

Kester's "331" flux is an organic core, water soluble.  It MUST be
cleaned off the board after soldering as it is hydroscopic and will
continue to attack the metal.  Generally wets quite well though.

Rob

2007\02\10@175000 by James Nick Sears

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> > I'm seeing "48" vs. "331" and other options, and I think this
> > refers to
> > the flux - is that right?  Anyone have a favorite?
>
> Kester's "331" flux is an organic core, water soluble.  It MUST be
> cleaned off the board after soldering as it is hydroscopic and will
> continue to attack the metal.  Generally wets quite well though.

I've not used 331 in lead free, but the switch from 44 to 331 in
leaded has made an enormous difference in the appearance of my PCBs
(and in the amount of nasty solvents I am subjected to).  As already
stated, you do have to clean it, but the first time you clean a board
under a faucet with nothing but hot water and see how easy it is,
you'll probably wonder why you haven't been using 331 all along.  I
recommend it now to everyone (only in situations where you can clean
the joints after soldering, of course).

-n.

2007\02\10@180429 by peter green

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> I've not used 331 in lead free, but the switch from 44 to 331 in
> leaded has made an enormous difference in the appearance of my PCBs
> (and in the amount of nasty solvents I am subjected to).  As already
> stated, you do have to clean it, but the first time you clean a board
> under a faucet with nothing but hot water and see how easy it is,
> you'll probably wonder why you haven't been using 331 all along.  I
> recommend it now to everyone (only in situations where you can clean
> the joints after soldering, of course).
i'd imagine if you start using such solders you have to get a lot more carefull about keeping track of which solder is which.

you don't want to go making a field repair with a "must-clean" flux............





2007\02\10@184409 by Bob Blick

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On Sat, 10 Feb 2007, peter green wrote:
>
> you don't want to go making a field repair with a "must-clean" flux............
>

Are you referring to "Job Security" flux?

:) Cheerful regards,

Bob

2007\02\10@192149 by William Chops Westfield

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On Feb 10, 2007, at 1:44 PM, Robert Young wrote:

> Kester's "331" flux is an organic core, water soluble.
> It MUST be cleaned off the board after soldering...

Ok, I think I've lost track.  Originally there was "rosin core"
solder for electronics.  Rosin is non-corrosive and need not be
cleaned off of amateur electronics, but it looks a bit ugly and
"professionals" like to remove it, which required solvents that
were either hazmat (alcohol) or destructive to the ozone layer
(TCE, Freon, etc), so the industry went off in search of new flux.

Next came the organic water-soluble fluxes (citric acid?)  They
had the advantage that you could wash them away with water, but
they gave up some of the non-corrosive properties of rosin; you
HAD to clean the boards after soldering to remove residual acid.

Now, we have the "no clean" fluxes, which apparently aren't so
compatible with each other in some sense.  I guess they're supposed
to be both inherently non-corrosive, low-leakage, and water soluble.

So what's the average hobbyist supposed to use?  Is rosin still a
good choice for general purpose electronics soldering?  Is it compatible
with the newer fluxes that are likely to be found in soldering paste?

Thanks
Bill W

2007\02\10@193022 by James Nick Sears

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On 2/10/07, peter green <.....plugwashKILLspamspam.....p10link.net> wrote:
>
> > I've not used 331 in lead free, but the switch from 44 to 331 in
> > leaded has made an enormous difference in the appearance of my PCBs
> > (and in the amount of nasty solvents I am subjected to).  As already
> > stated, you do have to clean it, but the first time you clean a board
> > under a faucet with nothing but hot water and see how easy it is,
> > you'll probably wonder why you haven't been using 331 all along.  I
> > recommend it now to everyone (only in situations where you can clean
> > the joints after soldering, of course).
> i'd imagine if you start using such solders you have to get a lot more carefull about keeping track of which solder is which.
>

Definitely, but for me the time savings in cleaning the boards and
eliminating the solvent exposure is well worth any small hassle in
this regard.  I was skeptical for a long time - until I tried it.


> you don't want to go making a field repair with a "must-clean" flux............
>
>
>
>
>
> -

2007\02\10@195924 by peter green

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> So what's the average hobbyist supposed to use?  Is rosin still a
> good choice for general purpose electronics soldering?
from a functional point of view the stuff seems fine, but some people (its about 1% iirc) are allergic to the stuff and its long term health effects may be bad too (e.g. it may be carcinogenic) which means if you use it in a company big enough to have health and safety policies you have to use very agressive fume extraction with the stuff.



2007\02\11@202048 by Timothy J. Weber

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Thanks for all your perspectives.  My conclusion so far is to go with
Kester "#48 Activated Rosin" flux, and see if that wets better.  I'll
report back.

(Still open to advice, though.)
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\02\12@102319 by alan smith

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you asked aboout a good digital controlled iron?  Once I used a MetCal, never looked back and I've seen a few on Ebay that are going for good prices.  And as the other commented, yes you need to run the iron hotter for Pbfree

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2007\02\12@103537 by alan smith

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you asked aboout a good digital controlled iron?  Once I used a MetCal, never looked back and I've seen a few on Ebay that are going for good prices.  And as the other commented, yes you need to run the iron hotter for Pbfree

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2007\02\12@120429 by Timothy Weber

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alan smith wrote:
> you asked aboout a good digital controlled iron?  Once I used a MetCal, never looked back and I've seen a few on Ebay that are going for good prices.  And as the other commented, yes you need to run the iron hotter for Pbfree

Thanks - I'll check it out.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\02\12@123629 by David VanHorn

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On 2/12/07, Timothy Weber <EraseMEtwspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTtimothyweber.org> wrote:
>
> alan smith wrote:
> > you asked aboout a good digital controlled iron?  Once I used a MetCal,
> never looked back and I've seen a few on Ebay that are going for good
> prices.  And as the other commented, yes you need to run the iron hotter for
> Pbfree


I'll second that, the metcals are great.

2007\02\23@173619 by Timothy J. Weber

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Timothy J. Weber wrote:
(after much discussion on why his lead-free solder wouldn't wet
anything, ever)
> Thanks for all your perspectives.  My conclusion so far is to go with
> Kester "#48 Activated Rosin" flux, and see if that wets better.  I'll
> report back.

Thanks again, all - using solder with that flux (purchased comparatively
cheaply from All-Spec.com) and a Kester lead-free tip tinner did the
trick.  Wets just as fast as the lead/rosin solder I'd been using, maybe
faster.

This is with the same tip on the iron and not very different heat
settings, so I conclude that those aren't as important as the
solder/flux formula.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

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