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Thread: Construction Tips

  1. #1
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    Default Construction Tips

    Well, thought I'd start things out here - I have boards and parts in hand, so no reason not to pull the soldering iron out of the fire...

    First item I have found, is that when you install the sockets for the XBee, be very careful when you solder them in. You don't need a lot of solder. It appears that the solder can wick into the hollow tubes that the pins from the XBee go into. Haven't attempted to try to solder-suck it out, yet. It's only one hole, out of 20 on the one board, but it's enough to only allow the XBee to go about 1/2 way in, and when you look down in the hole, it's silver, instead of brass/copper. Pretty sure that's what has happened.

    Perhaps the mod-gods can make this thread a sticky?

    Roger
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    UPDATE - that's definitely what happened. Rechecking all of them, in the light of day, it ended up happening to 5 holes, all together on 2 boards. I have a really nice bead on the back side, on the pad, which is apparently NOT necessary. If you use enough solder to make a nice bead, you probably have too much. I am heating the desoldering iron right now, to attempt to save the sockets, but I might have to replace them. I have to get them hot enough, to turn all the solder up in the "tube" molten, and not sure if I'll be able to save them that way. I'll keep all informed...

    Roger

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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Sticky for now...although I'm not a big fan of sticky threads (especially if too many become sticky).
    Phil

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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Update Two - I tried to suck the solder out, in place. No joy. So, I ended up taking the socket strip out. Very clear how the solder filled the "tube". At first, I removed each brass connector by pulling it out from the pin side, and tried to suck the solder. Worked great, until one of them decided to part company with the pin, before coming out. So, now I have 9 "extra" connectors, and will be buying a few new sockets. However, I am only assembling 3 boards, so I have one extra set, and it won't hold me back. Minor setback...

    I did find that I can leave the brass connectors in place, and use the solder sucker on each individually, and it will remove the solder, and allow it work properly. I am posting some pics, but you can see that it narrows, where it holds the pin of the chip. On some, the solder filled behind the narrowing, but on some, it actually bridged where it narrows. Those are the tough ones, you need to get it all out of there. I tested it with a resistor cut-off lead.

    The important thing is, TRY TO AVOID THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE! The holes in the board are somewhat larger than a lot of boards, on these pins, and by the time you fully fill the hole, as you normally might, it has wicked into the connector itself. I would advise just using enough solder, to be level with the pad on the board, not a nice little mound, as I normally do.

    Hopes this prevents anyone from repeating my errors...


    Quote Originally Posted by P. Short View Post
    Sticky for now...although I'm not a big fan of sticky threads (especially if too many become sticky).
    Thanks, Phil - with the first 30 or so systems being built, I think it's important to keep this one at the top.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Hi Roger -

    Not having the parts in hand it's a bit hard to visualize this. Can you show this from a higher level - that is what the entire socket looks like, etc. I think I understand what you're saying but it would be good to see it from the board level also.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Brian
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Brian - sure. It's really not a socket, per se, but "rails". I am posting several more pics - the first and 2nd are the rail above the board, and two of them installed. These hold the XBee radios. The 3rd and 4th photos are of the back of the board. The 3rd is how I have always soldered pads, nice, clean rounded joints. That's how I did the rails, and that is too much! The 4th photo is ugly, but that's how I ended up soldering them, to keep solder out of the connectors - very minimal solder, just enough to be a good connection. Then test to make sure the XBee will go in. I'm sure it will look a little better, once I clean up the flux, etc.

    Hope it helps...

    R
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Perhaps it would be better to use a machined-pin socket, such as one of the Mill-Max sockets from page 1440 of the current Mouser catalog. They are more expensive, and sometimes break when you split them apart, but there won't be any problem with wicking up the solder.
    Phil

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Make sure you get the right pin spacing - the Xbee is 2mm
    /mike

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Then it's a different page in the mouser catalog...looks like page 1438 for 2mm in-line sockets.
    Phil

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    Default Re: Construction Tips

    Thanks for the extra pix Roger.

    Looks like cutting the Mill-Max parts up is about the only option for those since they don't appear to make a 10-pin version - in fact it looks like Mouser only stocks the 50-pin version.

    Perhaps we can ping Digi as to what socket/header they recommend? (if this hasn't been done already...). This would be good for future buys to nail down.

    *update* - I emailed Digi just for grins - let's see if I get a reply...

    Brian
    Last edited by budude; 06-17-2009 at 10:26 AM.
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