CBWI August 1996 How To Make The Best Solder Connections
Working on the mic wiring article, I realized that soldering is one of the most important elements in successful mic wiring. It can make the difference between a job that works or not and determines how long the connections last. Many of you are not set up with soldering equipment, so I’ve compiled a list of inexpensive tools you can purchase from Radio Shack to do small jobs. The Soldering iron I selected is more expensive than the others but will work better and last longer than the cheaper version.
Soldering Iron Handle #64-2080 $6.99800′ Heating Unit 33W #64-2082 $8.99
Iron Clad Tips (2) #64-2089 $5.49 Soldering Iron Holder #64-2078 $6.49
Desoldering Tool #64-2098 $6.99 Solder SN 60/40.032 #64-005 $3.49
Wire Cutters #64-1833 $3.99 Wire Strippers #64-2129 $2.99
Long-Nose Pliers #64-1812 $6.99 Mini Vise #64-2094 $4.49
NOTE: USE CAUTION WHEN USING SOLDERING EQUIPMENT, THE SOLDER AND IRON TEMPERATURE CAN EXCEED 800 Degrees F AND CAN CAUSE SEVERE BURNS IF IT COMES IN CONTACT WITH SKIN OR CLOTHING.
When you first buy a soldering iron, you should always “tin” the tip. This is done applying fresh solder to the tip as it heats up the first time it is plugged in (always use SN 60/40 resin core solder). Every time you use it to make a connection, wipe it on a damp sponge and add a small amount of fresh solder to the tip.
Don’t leave it plugged in and unused for any extended period. When soldering wires, first they need to be tinned. Take a piece of scrap wire and strip the insulation back about 1/2″. Twist the strands tight in the same direction they are twisted. Holding the wire in a vise, wipe the iron tip on the sponge and add a little solder to the tip.
Touch the iron to the bare wire near the insulation and as soon as the solder begins to melt run the iron and solder together down to the end of the wire adding very little solder on the way. A well-tinned wire will be shiny and the impressions of the strands will still be visible but it will be one solid wire.
If you bend it and the strands separate, you haven’t used enough solder. If the strand impressions aren’t visible, you used too much solder. Remember, always clean the tip on the sponge before each time you solder. Cut off this section and strip it back another 1/2″ and keep practicing until you are happy with the results.
This is a very important element in making good solder joints. Next take a mic connector, (don’t use a din connector for this exercise) cut, strip and tin enough wires to fill all the pins in the connector. Next, add solder to each of the pin connections.
Then while holding the wire against the concave part of the pin, heat the pin with the soldering iron until the solder melts on the pin and the wire. Hold the wire perfectly still until the solder becomes solid again. The connection should be smooth and shiny.
If it’s bumpy and dull, you either moved the connection while it was still melted or you didn’t use enough heat. There shouldn’t be any stray strands of wire hanging off the connection either. With practice, this skill can be mastered. ©CBW