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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 kaladorn (514293) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:18AM (#40385629) Homepage Journal

    You can do much better work with a high quality soldering station. Good temperature range, temperature control, and a fine point on your iron will compliment good technique.

    Soldering surface mount stuff is a bit more finicky.

    I always liked wave soldering as a neat scientific application.

  • by StatureOfLiberty (1333335) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:04PM (#40386311)

    It was a kit. KD1JV produces the kits. They are wonderful little radios. He makes limited runs of each model. When a new radio comes out, they sell out in days and sometimes hours. Mine is an Appalachian Trail Sprint 3A. The newest version is the AT Sprint 4B. But, it is not available right now. I'm not sure if he will make another run of them. He has another recent radio that is two bands I believe and is called the Mountain Topper. Both radios are a little larger than the 3A. Here is a link to his site. He is hiking the Appalachian Trail (and using his radios) right now. There is a yahoo group but I don't have the name with me and can't access it now to get you a link.

    Here is his web site
    http://kd1jv.qrpradio.com/ [qrpradio.com]

  • by Xerxes314 (585536) <clebsch_gordan@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:22PM (#40386563)
    Back in my grad student days, we saved the early hardware for our supercomputer (a BlueGene precursor) by programming and soldering an EEPROM to every daughterboard. On a massively parallel machine, that was quite an undertaking, and given that we were all *theoretical* physicists, it was kind of a miracle that the thing worked when we were done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:42PM (#40386849)

    You can do much better work with a high quality soldering station. Good temperature range, temperature control, and a fine point on your iron will compliment good technique.

    And soldering stations are much cheaper than they used to be. Gone are the days when a hot air rework station cost $500. If you're willing to compromise a bit on principle, Chinese knock-offs can be had Stateside through reputable channels for $200 or so, and will contain everything you need to work with through-hole or surface mount technologies. (OK, so the BGA would be pushing it, but just about everything else is doable.)

    My advice for anyone unsatisfied with their solder skills - practice on expendable gear. There's spare electronic junk everywhere. Next time, before you throw out that old radio, CD player, or PC, take some parts off, and put them back on. See if it still works. If it works, try another part or two, maybe a chip. If it lets the magic smoke out, you've lost nothing, because it was going to Calculator Heaven anyways.

    Spend a weekend or two at it, and you'll have as good a parts selection of basic resistors and capacitors as Radio Shack. Utterly uneconomical ROI for the time you'd put into it vs. what a grab-bag of parts would cost to order, but absolutely worth it if you want to build your skills for the time when you need to fix something.

    Most of the time, electronic faults are caused by crappy soldering at the factory, or by solder joints that have broken due to rough handling (like that iPod that landed on its headphone jack while it was plugged in.) A $20-30 iron with a clean sharp tip, and you're up and running in 30 minutes - 20 to open the thing without scratching or breaking it, 5 to resolder the broken connector, and 5 to put it back together again.

  • by mk1004 (2488060) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:34PM (#40387503)

    Most of the time, electronic faults are caused by crappy soldering at the factory, or by solder joints that have broken due to rough handling (like that iPod that landed on its headphone jack while it was plugged in.) A $20-30 iron with a clean sharp tip, and you're up and running in 30 minutes - 20 to open the thing without scratching or breaking it, 5 to resolder the broken connector, and 5 to put it back together again.

    Absolutely. I just fixed a friend's TV. It looked like a power supply problem, opened the back of the TV, and there was a large electrolytic cap with two ugly solder blobs on the terminals. Hit them with a soldering iron and the TV was back in operation. A few years back I repaired the power connector on a laptop--repeated pressure on the connector from the power adapter's plug had broken the solder joints. A guy I worked with some years back said he had repaired three items, a garage door opener and a couple of other items I don't remember. All he did was reflow the solder joints on each PCB.

    I still think that we haven't seen the tip of the iceberg as far as failures resulting from the switch to lead-free solder is concerned. Getting good solder joints when you run a batch of boards through IR reflow is as much art as science, and the switch shook things up a lot more than most people know.

  • When I was a lad ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:10PM (#40387935)

    .. when I bought my first home computer in 1978 (a 1MHz Z80-based NASCOM 1) it came as a bare motherboard and a bag of chips (ICs, not potato) and you had to build it yourself.

    Then we memorized the Z80 assembler op codes and wrote programs directly in hex, poking those codes into the chips we'd just soldered in.

    And we liked it like that.

  • Re:It's Art! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HappyHead (11389) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:16PM (#40388039)

    Back in highschool, I got an A on an art project that was composed entirely of solder melted and shaped with a soldering iron, and then polished up nice and shiney and sprayed with varnish. It was a . . . you know, I _made_ it, and even I'm not sure what it was, but the teacher liked it. It happened because I had a giant pile of solder, and after I fixed the circuit board for a toy gun that was supposed to make "Zzzap!" noises, but was only making "click" noises instead, I got bored and started seeing how high I could get the pile of molten drops to stick together. Then I made more little towers, linked them together, added cross-bridges, and before I knew it, I had to go out and buy my father a new roll of solder, which he still has, unopened.

  • by strikethree (811449) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:26PM (#40389377) Journal

    You are correct: a soldering iron that has consistent and controllable heat is super important. So is the type of solder and so is the quality of the flux. Those three items, with a generic magnifying/light lens is all that is needed for a skilled person to do a magnificent job of soldering.

    Personal anecdote: I used to work at a company called SCI who were contracted by Apple to build some of their computers. Boards that had a failed CPU on them would need to have a new CPU hand soldered on. IIRC the powerpc 601 had 300+ pins (360 I think) and I could do a perfect hand solder in under 30 seconds. Under microscope inspection, each joint was perfect without excess solder or bridging between legs.

    Was it all skill? Hell no. It was having the right equipment: highest quality soldering iron, flux, and solder. There was some skill involved because some people could not do it, but it was all about the tools.

  • by solidraven (1633185) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:29PM (#40389431)
    After a while you don't need a microscope any more. 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. Smaller SMD components require a few tricks. If you're lazy you can always resort to soldering paste combined with a hot air soldering iron. You need to learn two things: that you should always use leaded solder (seriously, the new lead-free stuff is useless) and how to do fine movements with a large soldering iron.
    Soldering a BGA without a reflow oven is rather tricky though, done it a few times for small ones. You need to drill holes through the board where the pads are, add solder paste and tape the IC on the board in the correct position. Next attach a fine copper wire to the soldering iron (or gun) and prod it through the small holes you drilled. It tends to do the jobs pretty well if you're careful enough. But forget about doing more than 20 pins that way :(
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:15PM (#40390145)

    For quite some time, I pretty much constantly got 15 mod points. Seriously, for like a few months I could not run out of mod points.

    Then, either because I started commenting more, or because I wasn't moderating enough, or because I started doing one or both badly, or because they changed the algorithm, or because I fell out of favor with the Random Number Gods, I started getting fewer.

    And then I got a job, and I haven't gotten mod points since.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:48PM (#40390617)

    For some reason Americans like mangling the pronunciation of good old fashioned, decent words (like how herb is pronounced erb) .
     
    Generally there is a reason for this (although sometimes the choice seems arbitrary - Grand Prix vs Coupe - both french derived, yet pronounced in different manners), so I am looking to be educated as to why Americans pronounce "Solder" as "Sodder". Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] doesn't give much help on the subject.

  • by Manos_Of_Fate (1092793) <link226@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:17PM (#40391683)
    I'm pretty sure that the likelihood of getting mod points is directly related to how much and how recently you spend reading stories (not on the front page, but the actual comment page). The number it gives out is probably based off of how many points it needs to give out compared to how many people it thinks are around to use them. So commenting won't help you, but opening each story and glancing over the comments might.
  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:26PM (#40392165)

    ...To build my own vacuum tube guitar amps like this one?

    http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h103/stratman_el84/Testament%2030/pict0002.jpg [photobucket.com]

    http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h103/stratman_el84/Testament%2030/pict0005.jpg [photobucket.com]

    http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h103/stratman_el84/Testament%2030/pict0016.jpg [photobucket.com]

    http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h103/stratman_el84/Testament%2030/cabhead02.jpg [photobucket.com]

    It produces about 30 watts from a pair of cathode-biased KT66s operating at about 430VDC plate voltage, that are driven by a parallel-triode preamp stage and a long-tailed-pair type phase inverter/driver. Sounds better than most production amps until you get into the high-dollar "boutique" stuff. Cost was about $500 total including the pine speaker cab and Celestion G12T-75 speakers.

    Just to keep my geek card current, in that last pic, on the floor to the left, is a fully operational SGI monitor and SGI Octane hiding behind the collapsible foot stool. I pull them out and fire the Octane up every once in a while.

    Strat

  • Re:missing option (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tastecicles (1153671) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @09:02AM (#40397045)

    there's that, and I can carry out field repairs to radio/computer equipment without having to hunt for a socket, even switch heads and repair a water pipe or (perish the thought), cut through something, and all I need to carry spares-wise if I'm operating for more than TWO WHOLE HOURS is a can of lighter fluid.

    Also handy for melting spent air rifle pellets and moulding mini ingots, later new pellets. Extreme recycling.

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out! -- Ken Thompson

 



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