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Give me a solder gun, and I can produce ...

Displaying poll results.
Nothing useful, to a first order approximation.
  2222 votes / 8%
Clumsy but workable solder joins.
  7254 votes / 28%
Competent, clean, but not beautiful joins.
  7460 votes / 29%
Prettier joins than I see in my OEM equipment.
  2750 votes / 10%
I solder BGA connections for fun, blindfolded.
  676 votes / 2%
An elaborate series of burns (on self/furniture).
  5175 votes / 20%
25537 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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Give me a solder gun, and I can produce ...

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  • by Cosgrach (1737088) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:19PM (#40387293)

    My soldering is quite good - nearly up to MIL Spec. Good tools, steady hands, good magnification (on the small stuff) and good solder. It's amazing just how much the solder alloy and flux makes a huge difference when soldering.

    For the most part, I say 'Stuff the RoHS compliance" on crap like use only lead-free solder and components. Solder without lead is totally CRAP. There is a good article on the lead free solder issues: []

  • Re:Metcal (Score:5, Informative)

    by CaptainLard (1902452) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:59PM (#40388829)
    Gahh, give me a weller any day. Have you seen the WD2000M? You can hot swap tips with no tools or gloves. It knows when you're holding the iron and when its in the cradle and cools it when its not in use. It even has a password function to keep people from using it!

    But the best part are the fine tip tweezers. They let you pick up 0402's (even 0201's if you're careful) and place them down and they're soldered just like that! Maybe metcal has something similar nowadays but I tend to stay away from the black monolith.

  • by Zordak (123132) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:15PM (#40390993) Homepage Journal

    And most EE students end up having to solder a few PCBs per week. By the end of the first semester I was capable of soldering 176 pin TQFPs without any magnification easily.

    What EE program were you in where you soldered several PCBs per week, starting your first semester? My first semester was Physics/Calculus/GE throwaway classes and a one-hour "Intro to Engineering" class. Most of the rest of my classes were math, more math, and yet more math. Even in our labs we mostly used bread boards so we could re-use parts. The only time we soldered anything was big semester-end projects and Senior Design.

  • by Ruie (30480) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:30PM (#40392183) Homepage
    There is a trick for soldering fine pitch cases like MSOP or TQFP: just soak it all nice in solder without worrying too much about bridges. You want to make sure that enough solder gets between the pins and pads. Then use copper braid to soak all the extra solder off. In a way, you are just giving your part a localized solder bath. Make sure to use large tip for your iron - at least a few mm or a knife.
  • Re:missing option (Score:5, Informative)

    by Professr3 (670356) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:53AM (#40394931)
    Google indicates this link: []

    Soldering isn't that hard, especially if you're just repairing audio cables :)
  • Re:missing option (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mister Transistor (259842) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:50AM (#40395515) Journal

    Mister Transistor's 5 Minute Handy Dandy Guide to Soldering with Skill

    Or, How I Learned to Love the Iron

    These are the most important and common tips and issues with soldering, and make the difference between a successful endeavor vs. a smoke fest. I've taught dozens of techs how to solder in my long career in the electronics industry. These are the most salient points I can emphasize...

    1. Make sure the work is clean. If not, try to scrape or scour it to shine up the surface and remove any oxidation.

    2. Make sure the iron is hot enough to do the work, and powerful enough not to "swamp" or lose all it's heat when you touch it to something, I highly recommend Metcal (now OKI) stuff, they can solder a doorknob and not lose heat, they are RF pumped. This is where the Radio Shack pencil irons are a BIG FAIL.

    3. Make sure the iron tip is clean an tinned. This is REALLY IMPORTANT, because the wet liquid solder will transfer the heat to the work. A dry tip will take too long to transfer the heat and overheat the work and cook or melt it. When you first get the iron, apply copious amounts of solder to the tip to coat it thoroughly with solder, and leave a good coat on it. As the tip oxidizes, it will form on the surface of the solder which can be wiped away and re-tinned instead of destroying the tip rapidly over time. This IS PROBABLY THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL EVER LEARN ABOUT SOLDERING!!!

    4. Make sure you have good contact with the wetted tip from #3 and feed solder into the junction between the iron and the work, it will wick into the joint. Don't apply solder to the iron; apply it to the heated work. A tiny bit between the two will start the thermal conduction process. Then, apply the solder to the work.

    5. Make sure you use enough good grade rosin core 60/40 solder for electronics, or even better use 63/37 "eutectic" solder. The latter cools and solidifies faster, that's what they used to use in solder waves before the whole "Pb Free" thing. This prevents "cold" solder joints that look cracked or dull.

    6. Make sure if you are de-soldering, to always only take one shot at it, if you don't clear the hole or feedthrough, ADD SOLDER! Re-apply solder to the hole or lead, as though you were soldering it not desoldering. Then, take another crack at it. If you keep doing this you will eventually clear the hole and not over-cook it or burn off the pad. Use slightly longer heat each time until you clear the hole but try not to exceed 3-5 seconds total time on the joint.

    7. Make sure the component lead is completely free. After #6 above, while de-soldering, after you clear the hole, for a plated-through multilayer board, take a needle-nose and wiggle the lead back and forth to crack if free from the feedthrough wall or confirm it's already free. If you do this on every lead of a component it will simply fall out when the board is inverted!

  • by antime (739998) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @10:12AM (#40397789)
    The technique is called "drag soldering", and you can get special "gullwing" tips designed just for this for most soldering stations.
  • Re:missing option (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrkShadow (72055) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:51AM (#40407827) Homepage Journal

    4. ..... Don't apply solder to the iron; apply it to the heated work.....

    This is the single most worthless thing that is _always_ said. You even contradict it in the sentence before you said this, however given you say this and _everyone_ else says this, this is what will be remembered.

    I can put a hot iron against a component and put solder against the other side of the same component, and it will just sit there all day and do _nothing_. You should _not_ apply solder to the component, you should apply solder to a liquid pool of solder. When you have enough on the tip, it should flow to the component, around the lead, over the pad, and seal the connection. With flux, this happens easily, quickly, and in a very pretty manner.

    Granted, I selected "competent" rather than "BGA Chef" because I tend to apply too much solder, but touching the solder to the component does not work. If you're starting out, get that thought out of your head now.

    8. Use flux. Get a 2$ tub of flux off one of the chinese deal sites (dealextreme, dhgate), and USE IT. It makes a WORLD of difference, both when soldering and desoldering. (You can't use solder wick without flux, In my experience. No one ever told me that, and I could never get wick to work well, so I gave up on solder wick and bought a desolder station long before I discovered the benefits of flux.)

    Then there are the Hyper power supplies that die and I bring home from work. 60W iron, large tip, and that desolder station can't melt a single solder joint, regardless of size. geez. So much for salvaging those components. (Maybe if I add solder _and_ add flux.. hmm. But the components just aren't valuable enough for me to waste so much solder.)

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.


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