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Author Topic: Soldering Guns  (Read 1783 times)
TANAKASAN
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« on: August 15, 2012, 07:56:30 AM »

Just a quick item seem as how this is the Elmers forum. When using a soldering gun on a regular basis you need to make sure that the two chunky screws holding the tip in place are kept tight. A fellow ham was having horrible problems this afternoon with his soldering gun and we cured them with a turn of the screwdriver.

And keep your &%#)# bits clean!

Tanakasan
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W7VO
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 04:19:02 PM »

Keep in mind that a soldering gun is really just a big transformer. 110VAC at low amps on one side, very low voltage and high amps on the other. The high amps is what heats the tip, which is in the secondary circuit. A bad connection causes poor current flow, which means a cold soldering tip. Keep those tips tight!

73;

Mike, W7VO
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W0BTU
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 04:54:46 PM »

I have never actually owned a soldering gun. As a boy, I've soldered many thousands of connections with my dad's and grandfather's heavy Wen and Weller guns. (And yes, we had to tighten those screws more than once.)  But well before I graduated from high school, I switched to 25 to 50 watt pencil-type irons and never looked back. (At that time I used Ungars, but all we use now are Wellers; there are other brands that are as good or better.)

To each his own preference, but to me, most soldering guns are owned by people who seldom solder anything. I suppose they're OK for some people (they can be more portable for service work), but I absolutely prefer a lightweight thermocouple-tip pencil-type iron. They heat almost as quickly as a gun and get in tight places. And just try doing PCB work with a gun! :-)
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 05:16:37 PM »

I've got a big 325W Weller gun that I use ocassionally for heavy work like soldering metal shields or ground lugs (never for PCB work). That little soldering pencil, temperature controlled or not, is never going to work for the heavy stuff.

Because a gun has current flowing thru the tip you never want to use it around anything that has sensitive solid state components attached.
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W6EM
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 06:12:18 PM »

I have several solder stations, but when it comes to soldering coax connectors,  my "antique" 250W Weller gun is indispensible.  Try soldering a PL-259 onto RG-8, or even an Andrew Heliax pin.  Small pencils don't cut it.
 
Over the years, I must have replaced 50 tips.  Corrosion was/is always a problem.  Usually where the tip conductors leave the tip itself.  Over time, even with best tip cleaning efforts, they erode.  Also, as already mentioned, the copper tip conductors tend to oxidize due to the extreme heat.  Even a distance away under the tip nuts.  Copper's a great conductor of heat, so, it's to be expected that over time, you'll need to tighten the nuts to bite through the oxide or remove the tip and clean the wire surface.

I'd be lost without my Weller gun.....
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W0BTU
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 07:50:08 PM »

Try soldering a PL-259 onto RG-8, ...  Small pencils don't cut it. ...

My 50 watt Weller pencil iron does. :-)  That's the minimum wattage for that purpose.

Sometimes, though, I preheat the PL-259 a little with a heat gun so it doesn't take so long to solder the braid through the holes. But it certainly works without the heat gun; eventually, the shell gets hot enough so that RG-213 braid contains molten solder in all four holes at once.

Probably, though, if I had a soldering gun, I would use it for that instead of the pencil iron.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 10:14:27 PM »

Try soldering a PL-259 onto RG-8, ...  Small pencils don't cut it. ...

My 50 watt Weller pencil iron does. :-)  That's the minimum wattage for that purpose.

Sometimes, though, I preheat the PL-259 a little with a heat gun so it doesn't take so long to solder the braid through the holes. But it certainly works without the heat gun; eventually, the shell gets hot enough so that RG-213 braid contains molten solder in all four holes at once.

Probably, though, if I had a soldering gun, I would use it for that instead of the pencil iron.

Eventually - after the little iron has heated the entire connector and the end of the coax at least four times.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K1CJS
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 04:20:13 AM »

....To each his own preference, but to me, most soldering guns are owned by people who seldom solder anything. I suppose they're OK for some people (they can be more portable for service work), but I absolutely prefer a lightweight thermocouple-tip pencil-type iron. They heat almost as quickly as a gun and get in tight places. And just try doing PCB work with a gun! :-)

A good size soldering iron takes much longer to heat up than a gun.  A gun is made for instant heat, irons are not.

My older Weller gun is in use most every day when I'm working.  The thing when using a gun is knowing how they work and how to make them work properly.  All too many hobbyists just don't know how to use a soldering gun.  One thing that is an absolute requirement is getting the copper cast tips instead of the wire type formed tips.  The copper tips have a small mass of copper at the tip to hold the heat better, the wire formed tips do not.

I do have to agree with one thing, though.  The screw type tip anchors are not as good as the older binding nut type.  Both my Weller guns have the binding nuts, not screws, and once those nuts are tightened, they seldom need re-tightening.  Weller saved a few cents when they switched over, but the quality of the soldering gun plummeted too.  I've got a couple of each size with the old nut type tips--I will not buy the newer model.
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 07:03:36 AM »

One of my first purchases was a Weller soldering gun, so this brings back memories.
And after 50 years, it still works great!
However, going from tubes to transistors to CMOS circuitry, it seams there is less and less I can use it on.  That ungrounded tip and low voltage AC can damage certain devices... it still works on wire antennas, though!
73s.

-Mike.
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W0BTU
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 07:19:02 AM »

A good size soldering iron takes much longer to heat up than a gun.  A gun is made for instant heat, irons are not.

Well, that depends on how you plan things. :-)

If I know I'm going to solder something, I switch on my pencil iron first. Then when I'm ready to solder, it's hot. A gun never is, because you have to pull the trigger after you pick it up.

And there are differences in pencil irons. What we use here are temperature-controlled irons with a thermocouple in the tip. Without that temperature feedback loop, the tip would get so hot while idling in the holder that it would burn up in short order.

These Wellers we use here are ready to solder in well under a minute (probably 30 seconds). Some other brands that are better than what we use heat in 10 seconds.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 07:22:24 AM by W0BTU » Logged

K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 03:56:42 AM »

One of my first purchases was a Weller soldering gun, so this brings back memories.
And after 50 years, it still works great!
However, going from tubes to transistors to CMOS circuitry, it seams there is less and less I can use it on.  That ungrounded tip and low voltage AC can damage certain devices... it still works on wire antennas, though!

This is a good point.  I find myself not doing too much with the rigs that have smaller circuitry, my older eyes won't let me!   Cheesy  However, I do have a small Antec 15 watt soldering iron for those jobs where a gun would do more harm than good!  73!
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