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Author Topic: What guage wire do you use in PC boards?  (Read 412 times)
AG4DG
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« on: May 29, 2002, 11:34:19 PM »

What thickness of wire do you use in PC boards?  What guage has the flexibility I need?  24-guage?  28 guage?

I know from current experience that 20-guage solid wire doesn't work.  I feel like a Chevy Chase character when I try to use this wire for my small PC board.  Although it is very flexible for a wire antenna for HF, it is too rigid and bulky for a tiny PC board.  It's hard to get it to bend, it extends to the next hole just a few mm away, and it requires too much solder.  I've already burned away the copper trace.
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WA5EE
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2002, 01:30:57 AM »

Your comment "...and it requires too much solder. I've already burned away the copper trace" leaves me suspicious that there may be problems with your choice of equipment , your technique , or both .
 
First , if this is manufactured gear that probably has a multilayer board ,call a pro before you do it irreparable harm , if you haven't already .Second, if you're trying to use a $4 iron , or anything over 30 watts , set it aside .Once you have a temperature-controlled soldering station between 30 and 15 watts(used to be less than $100 for a good one at Jameco , or Radio Shack had an adequate one for less than half that)check your basics .1) Make sure everything is CLEAN.Your tip should be bright and covered with a very thin layer of solder.Make sure you've removed the protective coating from your trace and you're seeing bright copper,the color of a NEW penny.Use a little emery cloth to be sure.2) Be sure you're using the right solder.You need resin-core,60/40 tin/lead solder,the smaller diameter ,the better.The lead-free stuff is useless.3) Get as good a mechanical connection as possible .If you're able to loop around a component lead at each end,great.If there's no way to do that try using a NON-conductive means to clamp your wire in place , so you're not pulling heat away from the connection with pliers or hemostats .If you use hemostats , you might try insulating the jaws with a bit of matchstick or something . Once you have everything clean and the wire firmly held in place ,wipe your iron once on a wet sponge,hold it so it has maximum contact with the joint ,and feed your solder .Remember the rule...the iron heats the JOINT....and the JOINT melts the solder.If everything's clean and the right temp,your tip shouldn't need to be on the joint more than 3 seconds.Your solder need never touch the iron tip...the foil and the wire should melt the solder, and you won't be on there long enough to peel any more foil.Once you have the basics covered , any of the wire sizes you mentioned will probably do ok for signal-level circuits.If the price of a decent soldering station sounds high , remember , it'll last a lifetime, and it'll turn soldering from a chore into a pleasure .It's like adding power steering,cruise control AND tilt seats ,it makes that much difference.Good luck,and let me know how it works out .

Russ,WA5EE
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AG4DG
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2002, 01:49:20 AM »

< First , if this is manufactured gear that probably has a multilayer board ,call a pro before you do it irreparable harm , if you haven't already . >

No, I'm building a circuit from scratch.  20-guage wire is too big for jumpers between unconnected traces on a PC board.

< Second, if you're trying to use a $4 iron , or anything over 30 watts , set it aside .Once you have a temperature-controlled soldering station between 30 and 15 watts(used to be less than $100 for a good one at Jameco , or Radio Shack had an adequate one for less than half that)check your basics . >

Actually, I'm using the 15W setting on a 15W/30W soldering iron and a Radio Shack 276-150 PC board.

< Remember the rule...the iron heats the JOINT....and the JOINT melts the solder.If everything's clean and the right temp,your tip shouldn't need to be on the joint more than 3 seconds.Your solder need never touch the iron tip...the foil and the wire should melt the solder, and you won't be on there long enough to peel any more foil.>

OK, perhaps this is part of my problem.  I don't know.  I'll try this AND thinner solid copper wire.
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VK2GWK
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2002, 02:59:01 AM »

For wiring pc boards (perfboard with copper islands) I use wire wrap wire. The insulation can be "stripped" by pinching it with pliers until it splits and then cut the insulation strips away. It is thin, reasonably flexible and very easy to solder.
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W9GB
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2002, 08:44:56 AM »

Amateur 101 web sites

EPE Soldering Basics

http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/solderfaq.htm

Mike, WT9W and Marshall, W1FN suggest a Weller/Ungar or radio Shack iron

I prefer the Weller WTCP series (WTCPT is the latest)
(Also recommended by the Elecraft kit builders)

http://ww2.netnitco.net/users/wt9w/kit%20building.html

http://www.mtechnologies.com/building/atoz.htm

http://www.web-ee.com/

Look under builder resources, for tips
http://www.elecraft.com

73 de w9gb

PS  Many local amateur clubs have kit building groups that can provide quick tutorials.
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W0FM
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2002, 10:16:12 AM »

For PC board jumpers (shorter than an inch or so) I have always used bare wire leads that had been trimmed off a previously installed resistor or capacitor.  I save all the resistor/capacitor clippings during a project so that I will have material to make board jumpers.  Toss what you don't use when the project is completed.  These leads are small diameter and easy to work with.  For signal level jumpers, I can't see any reason to use anything else.

73 de Terry, WØFM
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2002, 10:49:23 AM »

The real, honest answer is: Every hole in a PC board has a fixed diameter.  The diameter of the hole determines the proper wire gauge to be used.  Since a .050" wire won't fit through a .048" hole, that's obviously a misapplication.

WB2WIK/6
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