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wonko
01-12-2011, 12:21 PM
Not sure if this is the right place for this or not. In the past I always used paste flux or a flux pen on all my parts when soldering anything. I use 60/40 solder and have never had a problem. My question is, what do you all do? The adding flux and clean up afterwards is tedious and time consuming and just plain gets old. I'm wondering if anyone has noticed a definite advantage to using extra flux, or should I trust the flux in the solder. I've always liked the way the solder seems to flow more smoothly and evenly with less heat when using the flux. Am I being too cautious? Is it possible to get the same results without using flux? I've been soldering for over 15 years and have never dome it without flux, so I really have no experience soldering without it. If I could get away with soldering without it (and save some time) I would love it. So what do you all do?

Thanks... Brian

bobkeyes
01-12-2011, 01:31 PM
Brian,

I don't add anything. I just use rosin core solder. Occasionally I will have a tough joint and will add a little flux, but that is rare.

mikentn
01-12-2011, 01:33 PM
I've always used flux-cored solder, and never have had an issue. The only time I'll use extra flux is if I'm soldering on bare copper clad vs tinned.

dmcole
01-12-2011, 02:58 PM
I don't add anything. I just use rosin core solder. Occasionally I will have a tough joint and will add a little flux, but that is rare.

+1

\dmc

Entropy
01-12-2011, 03:51 PM
For through-hole - I rarely add extra unless I encounter a problem.

For SMD, I have typically applied flux in advance, assuming I'll encounter a problem otherwise. (TSSOP without flux = almost guaranteed problems for me)

g2ktcf
01-12-2011, 04:30 PM
Brian,

I don't add anything. I just use rosin core solder. Occasionally I will have a tough joint and will add a little flux, but that is rare.

Another +1

wonko
01-12-2011, 06:59 PM
Thanks guys. I've been doing a little practicing today without flux paste, and although it's not the same "feel", I'm not having any problems. The only problem I have now is I ran out of the .035 I had, so I've been using something like .075...WAY to big to try and get a good joint without bridging. Guess it's time to head out to my local electronics store (shields electronics) and pick up some more. Thanks again for the reassurance.

Brian

dmcole
01-12-2011, 09:10 PM
I use 60/40 solder and have never had a problem.

BTW, I use RS 62/36/2, .022" ... that little bit of silver seems to help a lot.

\dmc

teager23336
02-12-2011, 06:16 PM
I used to be a solder instructor for NASA and we had a saying for what a good solder joint should look like Bright shinny clean with smooth concave fillets. I use a rosin core 63/37 solder because it has the lowest melting point about 360 F and has a small "plastic state" that means that it goes from a solid to a liquid very fast. I clean the boards with alcohol after soldering and clean the bare board before to help remove contamination. (some people bake the bare board to remove all the moisture) Hope this helps

dirknerkle
03-20-2011, 11:25 PM
Here's an opinion on SMD.

Last fall I got some of the LED Strobe kit parts, the nuds, pics, resistors, the mini-circuit boards, etc. I have a lighted magnifier, clamps to hold the boards, I have some tiny .015 silver solder, liquid flux and solder paste, too. I have a CSI solder station with a very fine point and tweezers. I have a comfy chair and the workspace is at a comfortable height. I even have soothing music playing in the background (Rimsky-Korsakov tonight...). Thus, armed with all the requisite tools, I figured that at best, I could make a few of the tiny LED strobes, and at the worst, I could use these little gizmos for practicing my SMD skills after which I'd just toss them in the circular file.

Turns out I have no SMD skills, so it's even worse than I originally imagined. I also do not possess the manual dexterity (otherwise known as "a steady hand") to place the parts on the right pads, even looking through the magnifier. On the plus side, I was able to identify the parts (through the lighted magnifier of course), so I've got that goin' for me.

So SMD is, for me at least, exactly as I originally imagined it to be: a PITA. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

smartalec
03-21-2011, 09:27 AM
I got them exact same boards an parts, i managed to build them, but at a very very slow rate, I too Shake when i solder, thats when i use anything i can to help assist me. i have a 10boards work 3 boards stuffed rate so far, they do take along time for a shaker tho.
have fun an try it again.. dont let it be the better of you,
prove it to yourself no board is going to stop you.
i have a rate of say 10boards a month..lol


Here's an opinion on SMD.

Last fall I got some of the LED Strobe kit parts, the nuds, pics, resistors, the mini-circuit boards, etc. I have a lighted magnifier, clamps to hold the boards, I have some tiny .015 silver solder, liquid flux and solder paste, too. I have a CSI solder station with a very fine point and tweezers. I have a comfy chair and the workspace is at a comfortable height. I even have soothing music playing in the background (Rimsky-Korsakov tonight...). Thus, armed with all the requisite tools, I figured that at best, I could make a few of the tiny LED strobes, and at the worst, I could use these little gizmos for practicing my SMD skills after which I'd just toss them in the circular file.

Turns out I have no SMD skills, so it's even worse than I originally imagined. I also do not possess the manual dexterity (otherwise known as "a steady hand") to place the parts on the right pads, even looking through the magnifier. On the plus side, I was able to identify the parts (through the lighted magnifier of course), so I've got that goin' for me.

So SMD is, for me at least, exactly as I originally imagined it to be: a PITA. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Skunberg
03-21-2011, 01:59 PM
Dirk, Sorry to hear you have so much trouble with it. But it makes me feel better after spending a couple hours on my first one by hand. If I do another by hand I'll try the tweezers that will hold the part in place. If you notice in the strobes for dummies thread (from down under), the pics show parts a little crooked so he had a hard time also. I'm going to try paste and hot air next.

Brian

dirknerkle
03-21-2011, 02:39 PM
Thanks, Brian -- Smartalec, too -- for the words of encouragement.

I'll give it another go and I'm sure that after 20 or 30 hours of practice I'll have acquired better SMD techniques, but I just have a problem with spending so much time to only get a mediocre (or in my case, poor) result.

I understand that SMD parts are generally smaller and less expensive, but for DIY, I just don't think it's a good direction to go. Sure, they allow one to make some very small, compact devices, but I think the downsides to it far outweigh the benefits for the rank-and-file DIY individual. I think the rubber hits the road when it takes an hour (or more) to try to set a half-dozen parts onto a board that's about 1/2" square and for me anyway, it takes all the fun out of DIY. It's just too much effort for what I see is very little return.

Of course, that's one of the considerations a DIY-er has to make -- it always reverts to a cost vs. benefit issue. It just makes me sad that the "sport" of DIY electronics seems to be headed in the direction it is, because as time goes by, I fear it will become a deterrent to future enthusiasts. And that makes me sad. :sad:

mrpackethead
03-21-2011, 03:54 PM
I'd encourage you to keep trying.. But also find someone who is SMD confident to show you the ropes.. A couple of years ago when i first hand SMDed i found it hard work.. Now i'd deliberately avoid TH if i can because the SMD is cheaper, and faster to install.. I can hand solder reliably .4mm pitched TQFP with the right techniques, and 402 packages.. Hang in there, is well worth the hassle.. Yes it is a bit of hassle, but it opens a world of opportunitys to you as well..

budude
03-21-2011, 04:12 PM
Personally, while initially "scared" of them, I found the ACL strobes to be fairly easy to put together once I got into a groove, and I think they represent about the smallest pitch stuff that generic DIY'ers could take on with reasonable results. I think there will be a place for both TH and SM stuff (or both) here for sure. I found I could go just about as fast using my soldering iron or my reflow oven when using solder paste since the time consuming part was putting on the paste and positioning the components. With the reflow I had to be a little more careful in placement while with a soldering iron I could "play" with it enough to get them set right. The key with the soldering iron is "spot weld" the one side/pin of the device to hold it down and then solder the rest down after that. I've completed about 180 of my strobe boards - just another 50 or so to go but the garage has been a bit too chilly lately...

Now - Mike's (n1ist) Color Sticks - - them's parts is small and I'm still scared of those...

wonko
03-24-2011, 08:53 PM
Don't feel bad Dirk, I'm quite certain I would fail at SMD's as well. I would really like to try, and have watched tons of stuff online on how to do it, but I don't have the confidence to try it myself. I guess I need to find something that I can practice on that isn't gonna cost me a bunch of money.

Brian

oldcqr
03-25-2011, 12:47 PM
IMHO, the only way I would even attempt SMD would be the paste & oven method. Even then I'm not sure if I could get the parts down without shaking them all over the place :?.

dirknerkle
03-25-2011, 01:28 PM
IMHO, the only way I would even attempt SMD would be the paste & oven method. Even then I'm not sure if I could get the parts down without shaking them all over the place :?.

This is precisely why I've started a new organization, the OFASM -- Old Farts Against Surface Mounting.

Membership qualifications are simple and of course are found at the bottom of the application listed in fine print. One requirement is that you cannot own your own tweezers -- you are only allowed to use your spouse's. At our monthly meetings we'll wear our special Scotchguarded shirts to prevent coffee stains caused by shaking hands holding foam cups. Our organization's anthem will be based on Martin Luther's famous hymn and entitled, "Thorough Holey, Holey Holey" and our membership will rank in the millions. Our keynote address at our first annual convention will be entitled, "Soldering the Unseen" and delivered by a yet-unnamed individual from either Australia or New Zealand...

rstehle
03-25-2011, 02:54 PM
This is precisely why I've started a new organization, the OFASM -- Old Farts Against Surface Mounting.

Membership qualifications are simple and of course are found at the bottom of the application listed in fine print. One requirement is that you cannot own your own tweezers -- you are only allowed to use your spouse's. At our monthly meetings we'll wear our special Scotchguarded shirts to prevent coffee stains caused by shaking hands holding foam cups. Our organization's anthem will be based on Martin Luther's famous hymn and entitled, "Thorough Holey, Holey Holey" and our membership will rank in the millions. Our keynote address at our first annual convention will be entitled, "Soldering the Unseen" and delivered by a yet-unnamed individual from either Australia or New Zealand...

Where do I sign up...................:-D

mrpackethead
03-25-2011, 06:02 PM
your a crack up.

wonko
03-25-2011, 08:02 PM
LOL too funny. Sign me up Dirk, I definitely qualify! Oh wait, are there any eye sight restrictions?

Brian

IdunBenhad
03-26-2011, 08:47 AM
Hi:
REF: OFASM


Threatened by dirknerkle:
Membership qualifications are simple and of course are found at the bottom of the application listed in fine print. One requirement is that you cannot own your own tweezers -- you are only allowed to use your spouse's.

You notice he said the qualifications were at the bottom of the application in fine print. He didn't say who supplies the magnifying glass to read them and what lawyer will interpret them.

If he thinks I'm going to even touch Grumpy's tweezers, he's out in left field. My mother raised a coward , but not a dumb one!

Also, he didn't mention who supplies the batteries for hearing aids at the keynote address.

Sorry dirk, there's just too many unknowns here.

dirknerkle
03-26-2011, 09:45 AM
Hi:
REF: OFASM

Sorry dirk, there's just too many unknowns here.

We're still working out the details... :lol:

dirknerkle
03-27-2011, 07:26 PM
I'd encourage you to keep trying.. But also find someone who is SMD confident to show you the ropes.. A couple of years ago when i first hand SMDed i found it hard work.. Now i'd deliberately avoid TH if i can because the SMD is cheaper, and faster to install.. I can hand solder reliably .4mm pitched TQFP with the right techniques, and 402 packages.. Hang in there, is well worth the hassle.. Yes it is a bit of hassle, but it opens a world of opportunitys to you as well..

Armed with the new strength and encouragement that MPH and others have given me, here's an update on my progress...

I spent most of the afternoon here at DIGWDF (Dirknerkle's Inventorium and Generall Worthless Device Factory) working on my SMD skills, and I can say that I am an expert. At a lot of things, but not this. Well, actually, not even at a lot of things. Maybe some things. Well, maybe one thing. Anyway, here are seven tips that I can offer...

Special equipment needed:
* 1 gallon Visine eye drops
* A bottle of Prozac
* Hot cocoa. Several cups.
* Music

What I discovered:
1. You should use a workbench that has a lip on the edge to keep parts from falling off the bench. The bench should be clean but otherwise have a sticky or tacky surface and preferably not be in a room that has Berber carpeting. You drop any of those tiny parts into Berber carpet and you'll never see them again. Total time wasted searching the carpet for parts that fell off the bench: 1 hour.

2. The music chosen should not have strong drum accompaniment. This is bad -- the parts vibrate all over the place. It's hard enough to solder them when they're stationary -- when they're moving around because of the vibrations, they're almost impossible to control. Total time wasted repositioning parts: 1 hour.

3. There may be a better nerve-calming method than mixing hot cocoa and Prozac. More on this later.

4. Loud cursing and the vociferous mention of the familial heritages of various individuals you know (or even those you don't know) can be a helpful way to release pent-up tension and create a steadier hand, although this technique should not be used unless you are the only person in the house. Time apologizing to family members for one's aberrant behavior: 1 hour.

5. Solder paste is best applied to the bench to make it sticky to parts do not slide around. This is far better than applying the past to the solder pads on the board. However, excessive paste invariably will get on one's hands and it is best to refrain from wiping one's hands on one's clothes. Time spent removing solder paste from an expensive pair of jeans: unknown at this point, an hour or more is expected.

6. A high-temperature soldering iron is a must. The tip must be red-hot. Send a self addressed stamped envelope to DIGWDF for DIY directions on making your soldering iron tip glow. A super-heated tip is like a touchless car wash: you never touch the solder or the board with the iron. However, there are downsides. Time spent cleaning up after using the fire extinguisher: 2 hours.

7. The hot cocoa and Prozac was a bad idea. Coffee and Prozac would have been a better balance as the natural warming/calming effect of the cocoa can cause one to become drowsy; adding a powerful tranquilizer is like using gasoline to start the coals on your barbecue grill. Further experimentation may be necessary in this arena as there are no FDA advisories I can find about the use of Prozac as an aid to SMD soldering. Total time spent hunched over the bench in a stupor: 3 hours.

Okay, enough of the tongue-in-cheekness... although I'm serious about the Berber carpeting and the music... I actually did manage to solder about 8 of the strobes, and I found that the couple hours of practice was well worth while. I'm still not great at it, but it's passable. I found it easier to use fine gauge solder than the solder paste. The method that worked best for me for positioning components was to first put a bit of solder on a pad, then move the component onto the solder and re-heat it to position it permanently. I used a pin that I'd heated some shrink tube around to hold the part down while I just touched it with the iron. Soldering the remaining pads worked best by touching the pad with the iron and not the component, and the solder would flow right up to the component on its own.

So I haven't given up yet. But I shudder to think of how many little SMD parts are now in my carpet... arghhh...

budude
03-27-2011, 09:00 PM
I'd like to correct you on point #1 - - it's very easy to find the parts dropped on your berber - simply walk barefoot on top of it and they will - with 100% certainy - stick into your foot - easy peasy! Of course the pins will be promptly crushed and/or encrusted with your blood and/or flesh but hey that's part of the fun! Kind of like Where's Waldo!

RPM
03-27-2011, 09:09 PM
This is precisely why I've started a new organization, the OFASM -- Old Farts Against Surface Mounting.

LMAO!!

My problem isn't shaky hands, it's being able to see the darn parts! Using a BIG magnifier (and bifocals) is a plus!

IdunBenhad
03-27-2011, 10:34 PM
Hi:
Started to etch my first partly SMD board today, but got sidetracked. Along with a severe cold (not weather) I didn't get much done.

Dirk mentioned he used a pin to hold down the parts. I have pick I use constantly, for everything. It is very easy to position the part with the pick, hold it down and solder one side. The pick I use is shown in one of the pictures in "FM02 Transmitter Setup". It is one of the handiest tools on the bench.

I'm not going to comment (at this time) on OFASM, but it reminds me of the time when I was first married. We were in Yellowstone Park and this was back when the shorter the shorts, the better.

So Grumpy and I are walking along and approaching us is this knock-out gal, about a size 44 stuff into a 36 bra and short, short, shorts. I'm really looking her over and I get this elbow in the ribs. "You dirty OLD man", she said. My reply: "Where do you get this "OLD"?. I did the dishes for three weeks.

dirknerkle
03-27-2011, 10:57 PM
So Grumpy and I are walking along and approaching us is this knock-out gal, about a size 44 stuff into a 36 bra and short, short, shorts. I'm really looking her over and I get this elbow in the ribs. "You dirty OLD man", she said. My reply: "Where do you get this "OLD"?. I did the dishes for three weeks.

R O F L M A O !!! I can relate. I still have bruises on my ribs from about 3 years ago...

But it was worth it!

IdunBenhad
03-28-2011, 02:40 PM
Hi:
I can now officially join OFASM. I did my first surface mounting today. This is an SO32 package and my first attempt at surface mount. I didn't have to use Grumpy's tweezers and all I had was a small magnifying glass. Used the heck out of my pick, though. .

I etched the board this morning and mounted the TEA6320. This is a combination of through-hole and surface mount. The traces are .025 wide. and spaced .020. All the components except the IC will be mounted as usual from the top and the IC is on the bottom. That's the only way to do it without VIAs in the board, and I can't do plated through holes. The IC is such low profile, it should not present a problem in mounting the board.

This is the first part of a project for control and conditioning of audio. It will be software controlled through the I2C bus. At this point in time, there is no further information on this project.

Just had to show it off and get Dirk going on the details of OFASM.

Edit: I forgot to put the picture in here.

I have no idea what is going on. I'll post the picture later. It doesn't want to load.

EDIT: Finally loaded. The DIYC site went away for awhile.

dirknerkle
03-28-2011, 03:19 PM
I can now officially join OFASM. I did my first surface mounting today.

Knew you'd come around. We're like the mob, only tidier. And maybe a little geekier, too. :lol:

oldcqr
03-28-2011, 05:43 PM
R O F L M A O !!! I can relate. I still have bruises on my ribs from about 3 years ago...

But it was worth it!

If at any point in time you think that THEY are not doing it you are sadly, sadly mistaken. They are just more discrete.

Skunberg
03-28-2011, 07:03 PM
They are just more discrete.

Very VERY discrete! Sure is fun when you catch them (Yes, a rare day I know).

Brian