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Author Topic: The Solder Won't Melt  (Read 13204 times)

Posts: 22

« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2007, 04:18:19 PM »

This is actually a 41 Amp rig, not a 20 Amp rig, but I will be sure to crimp it first whether I also solder it or not.  

When used as a base station, it is designed to be powered by two separate 20.5 Amp power supplies.  Instead of doing that, I am using the other alternative  which is to use just one power supply which is rated for 50 Amps (or 37 Amps continuous use).  The instruction manual says to use both power cables, even if only one 41 Amp power supply is used.  It is a 200 Watt radio.

Thanks, for all of the helpful advice from everyone.


Posts: 9930

« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2007, 06:22:04 PM »

a good mechanical connectiion, rosin core solder , for big jobs a soldering gun , like 100 to 140 watts, little jobs the 15 watter iron is fine, and some electronic flux ( I like kester), and don't be afraid to practice. a little time breathing fumes is good for you.

Posts: 6642

« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2007, 05:38:44 AM »

You will want to have...
1. A smaller, 40 watt regulated bench iron with grounded tip.
2. A 100 watt---125 watt iron or soldering gun... for connectors,etc.
3. A torch for anything larger.

My first purchase (1960?) was a 100/140 watt soldering gun.  But, with all the CMOS circuitry around now, it is becoming less and less useful!
It still works, though!



Posts: 2198

« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2007, 08:03:26 AM »

It takes the proper tools.  

1.  Invest in a 1 pound roll of 60/40 Rosin core solder.  Kester or ersin; it IS still available from many sources.    While multiple sizes are a good thing to have, if you only get one roll of small diameter.  It's better than having to try using large diameter solder when making a small connection.  (something similar to about #18 wire.)

2.  Your 15 Watt iron, regardless of the tip size, is inadequate for large jobs.  Save it and treasure it for times when you are working on PC boards; THAT is where it will be indespensible.

3.  A soldering gun IS a good investment, and the dual-100/140 Watt Weller is still one of the best I've seen/used.  It WILL be adequate for soldering the connectors you have.  (BTW, they do NOT handle 40 Amperes.  The power wires on the '480HX each handle approximately 20 Amperes; you need two sets of 20 Amp power leads, as I understtand it.)

4.  You WILL need a beefier soldering instrument then even the Weller gun to tackle big jobs, or soldering antenna connections outdoors.  A 100 (or more) Watt IRON with a large tip is what is called for, with it's large thermal mass, so it doesn't cool down when applied to the item(s) being soldered.  You can NOT reliably install PL-259's with even the 100/140 Watt gun, despite what others claim.  AND I STRESS reliably.  You MAY get away with at times, but at other times you will ruin the end of the coax AND the PL-259.  (While that MAY not be too bad if you are just attaching a PL-259 to the end of a feedline and can just start over, if you are making a phasing harness or balun where the length is critical, it can be a disaster.
    (As said earlier, solder should begin to melt and flow within seconds of touching a conducter/item heated properly, including a PL-259 shell.  THAT is impossible with a soldering gun or small iron.  Even IF such instruments eventually heat a PL-250 shell sufficiently to flow solder, either the connector insulation, the coax insulation, or both will be damaged if not destroyed.)
    Many times, you can find a high-wattage iron at swapmeets or garage sales; or check want-ads for "stained glass supplies."  You DO need the big iron to tackle PL-259's properly and reliably.

5.  Regardless of the size or type of connection, a good, strong, PHYSICAL/MECHANICAL connection should be made, whether or not soldering is to be done.  That means crimped connectors should be crimped BEFORE soldering.  Wires joined together should be twisted together properly, and THEN soldered.  Solder alone should NEVER be relied upon to form a connection.

.  6  Practice, practice, practice.  If possible, ask a mopre experienced person for some help and a demonstration of proper soldering techniques.  That can be better than a thousnad pictures, or a million words of instruction.

    Good luck.

Posts: 3541

« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2007, 09:43:23 AM »

Radio Shack is to technical expertise as Jason Timberlake is to soul...


Posts: 619

« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2007, 10:08:42 AM »

Much good advice from all.  I've been soldering for many many years, both military and commercial.  

IMO Crimp and solder high power leads. Military applications now a days are strictly crimp as it’s less susceptible to fatigue fractures. BUT these connectors are usually gold or silver plated to make a good connection without being susceptible to anodic corrosion (like tin crimp terminals). Carefully make the mechanical connection, then clean, tin your tip and connect between the terminal & wire, start with a small amount of solder there, let the heat build to flow, move tip back the barrel of the connector leaving the solder at the wire pont. This will cause the solder to flow up the connector following the heat making a nice shiny connection. Practice practice practice Smiley.

I use a good quality Weller soldering station with variable heat, a couple extra tips for different job types.  Something like WES51 Weller:

73 and good luck, Dave  KD8GEH

Posts: 128


« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2007, 07:55:22 PM »

Yup- some mighty fine advice given already. We once had an old-timer do a soldering presentation at out local Club meeting. He did it for years for "Halliscratchers". I still remember a couple things he drilled into us:
First, there are 3 rules for soldering:   1. CLEAN  2. CLEAN , and 3. CLEAN!!!!! I hope that I was clear on that point. The other thing I remember is never rely on soldering to make a mechanical connection. Oh-- one more thing.... wire up an outlet box with a dimmer controlling 1/2 of a duplex outlet. Makes a poor-mans "temp controller" for your irons. I've used his tips over the last 10 years, and I'm thinking the ol' feller might have known his stuff!!

Gud Luck-
Greg, KC8HXO

Posts: 828

« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2007, 01:07:58 PM »

Home Depot may have a decent electrical section, but they charge full list price.

DMM from Home Depot: $40.
Same meter from WalMart or Target: $25.

And the classic Weller soldering guns that last forever (with the occassional new tip) turn up fairly often as garage sales, too.

I'll go to Home Depot for the crimp terminals and some of the other wiring supplies, because they carry top quality, but they're not a bargain on any electrical tools.

Posts: 287


« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2007, 08:02:54 AM »

Take a look at and look up the Hakko 936.  It is an ESD safe soldering station for <$100.  I really like mine, it is easily good enough for a home shop and has a much broader range of tips available than the equivalent range in Weller.

The Hakko allows you to get tips well down into SMT range where Weller makes you own two stations to span that same tip range.

The default chisel tip that is roughly 1/8" across allows me to solder 259's with no trouble by turning up the heat to high.
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