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Not soldering on

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michelleobrien
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Username: michelleobrien

Post Number: 18
Registered: 03-2017

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Posted on Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 05:30 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A quickie before we vanish down the plughole ...

It's no wonder many electronics hobbyists (people
like me) these days refuse to have anything to do
with solder and soldering if at all possible.

The stuff I have from Maplin (labeled "Rosin
cored solder wire ADEPTO Flux-class 5A Grade KP
BS219 Dia 1.2mm Flux content 2.2% BS 441 60% tin
40% lead ... made in Taiwan") is USELESS.

I say this after wasting time and cash using it
to try to put together a Velleman self-assembly
kit.

I must admit Velleman didn't help in this
instance - some of the solder points on this
particular self-assembly-only item (a Velleman
MK162 2-channel IR remote transmitter) are
near-impossibly close together on the printed
circuit board that comes with the kit.

But the main problem was the quality of the
Maplin solder. It simply will not run and adhere
properly as solder used to. There never was this
problem I seem to recall before the health and
safety people ordered the lowering of the lead
content in solder.

Cue at this point for all the wiseacres to step
in and tell me THEY never have this problem with
modern solder and I "must be doing it all wrong."

Meanwhile, can anyone please point me in the
right direction where I can still buy some DECENT
solder?

Michelle
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dave_squibb
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Username: dave_squibb

Post Number: 386
Registered: 04-2005

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Posted on Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 10:33 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Michelle,
I'm guessing that you've been able to solder ok previously so it's just this particular solder giving you grief. 60 /40 solder still has the same amount of lead as before (40%), it's the new lead free that's changed.
I buy my solder from Warton Metals Ltd direct, a UK manufacturer of solder. https://www.warton-metals.co.uk/
Chris Ward (christopher.Ward@warton-metals.co.uk) is very approachable, knowledgable and helpful.
I have no connection to this company other than as a customer. Dave.
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gordon
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Username: gordon

Post Number: 1169
Registered: 05-2005

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Posted on Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 11:00 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Multicore solder is another good brand I have used over the years. 1.2mm is a bit on the large size for general PCB soldering, 0.8mm 22swg should be easier to use. You can buy a small quantity from eBay to try.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2-Metre-Multicore-Solder-0-8mm-22Swg-Circuit-Board-Electrical-Soldering-Repair-/361471925718?epid=1754842968&hash=item542967ddd6:g:87g AAOSwFe5XzdIm
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dreamrm
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Username: dreamrm

Post Number: 45
Registered: 03-2014

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Posted on Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 11:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm currently using the exact same brand as you, Adepto, from Maplin. I've had this reel for years while I try to switch to lead-free solder, and I only use it for things like audio and midi plugs (I'm using lead-free on pcbs). The only difference, apart from it's age, is that it is 0.7mm. However, it works fine for me. Maybe you have a bad batch.

Two questions. Firstly, are you sure the soldering iron is okay? It may be hot enough to just melt the solder but if not enough heat is being transferred to the copper then the solder won't flow.

Secondly, how long have you had the Velleman kit? If it's old you may need to clean the solder pads using, for example, a flux pen. Try using this solder on a piece of clean, new veroboard.
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tandy
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Username: tandy

Post Number: 74
Registered: 12-2012

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Posted on Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 12:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe Adepto is a maplin own brand as I have a reel of solder from them from back in the 80's. The actual manufacturer will vary depending on what is available for the best price at the time.

There are big differences in quality from manufacturers, and it is not uncommon for cheap materials to be used by unscrupulous manufactures. If companies like Maplin buy on price only as I suspect they do they are likely to get substandard products from time to time. Maplin isn't run by electronics experts any more, it is owned by a private equity firm.

That being said, if you haven't done any soldering for a long time there are other factors that may be the cause as dreamrm says.
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trevor
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Username: trevor

Post Number: 51
Registered: 06-2016

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Posted on Tuesday, 25 July, 2017 - 03:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It is always worth investing in a Rosin flux pen ... I'm not convinced that modern solders have sufficient flux in them despite the labelling.
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joe
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Username: joe

Post Number: 1554
Registered: 05-2005

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Posted on Tuesday, 25 July, 2017 - 06:20 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Many people stay away from the lead free solders. I tried it and never took to it though I probably should have persevered longer. You hear horror stories of lead free joints failing and whiskers forming. I'm old enough now that a few more years of lead based solder fumes isn't going to make my memory any... ermmm... anyway...

Rapid electronics stock traditional 60/40 lead solder. I use their own brand, have done for years and never had any issues. 22 SWG is nice and thin and great for PCB work.

My initial thoughts reading your comments were the PCB needed a clean and/or your soldering iron tip temperature wasn't high enough.
I found a picture of your PCB on-line and it doesn't look particularly cramped as PCB's go, so if you are having problems maybe the iron bit you are using is too large as the Velleman PCB's are usually pretty good quality, tinned, with a soldering resist mask making assembly fairly easy and reasonably resistant to solder bridges and shorts.

As others have said, a flux pen or a can of spray on flux is always handy to have around.
https://www.rapidonline.com/stannol-830321-mini-fluxer-x33s-07i-flux-pen-10ml-50-4053

or this if you want to quickly cover and protect an entire PCB.
https://www.rapidonline.com/kontakt-chemie-207456091242-flux-sk10-spray-200ml-87-0715

For quickly cleaning a PCB or Veroboard before soldering I like PCB scrub blocks
https://www.rapidonline.com/mega-electronics-900-009-seno-pc182-scrub-block-34-0295
Just rub it over the PCB lightly and it makes the board shine by removing any surface corrosion.
Quick spray of flux and solder away.

Joe
My projects, technical info and ramblings at www.hobbyelectronics.net/
There are two types of people... those who design aeroplanes, and those who design parachutes.
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grahamrounce
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Username: grahamrounce

Post Number: 156
Registered: 12-2008

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Posted on Tuesday, 25 July, 2017 - 09:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Re lead-free solder, at least it doesn't make your hair fall out!

I spent my teen evenings and weekends doing electronics and breathing the fumes, even holding the solder in my teeth as a third hand. I started going bald at 15-16 and by 21 it was mostly gone on the top.

I thought it was just vindictive Fate, until a light bulb moment relatively recently. It also explained why electronics students at university were so easily identifiable.

While I'm letting it all hang out, it may or may not explain some mental issues, too.
g
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arw
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Username: arw

Post Number: 1857
Registered: 04-2005

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Posted on Tuesday, 25 July, 2017 - 09:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In the late 80s I worked in the lead industry a short while. You haven't lived until you have had to hand-ball 5 tons of lead ingots back from under a fence at 2 in the morning, which were left behind by thieves raiding our factory (a very frequent occurence).

Lead, like many metals, will work its way into the human circulation through the skin, which was why our factory operators were banned from handling it for more than 6 months. Used to be a problem with the ceramic industry too (lead glaze).

HSE info http://www.hse.gov.uk/lead/index.htm
Alan W - EPE
Email alan@epemag.net

More online resources at EPEMag.net
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hackinblack
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Username: hackinblack

Post Number: 799
Registered: 09-2006

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Posted on Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 - 10:45 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i havn't had any luck using lead-free solder;i find it flows very badly and simply doesn't wet anywhere near as well as old 'leaded' 60:40 does.
i have a stash of 20 year old vintage stock;and i havn't gone bald(much) or mad(much)through using it.
regardless of what it says on the label i find liquid flux helps with all solder types;especialy if your using old parts which may have tarnished leads.
The ingredients of solder are relatively simple,if corners are cut it is probably in the make up of the flux;and this will show up in use.
I got a roll of single-core wire from maplin that, although supposedly tin coated, simply refuses to accept solder,old or new!(REALLY handy for link-wire...)
and a roll of good 'old' solder that works well;but smokes like burning tyres...mysterious...
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dave_squibb
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Post Number: 387
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 - 11:33 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have found that 60 / 40 works well at 270C while the lead free I have needs to be 370C to work reliably (as displayed on my solder station)
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atferrari
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Username: atferrari

Post Number: 1798
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 - 02:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In my case I suffered the same because of:

Not enough temperature of my soldering iron and lack of core in the solder (still wondering where it came from).

Using solder flux and going with a new iron, I solved the problem.
Agustín Tomás - Buenos Aires - Argentina
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mikepokeeffe
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Username: mikepokeeffe

Post Number: 30
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Posted on Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 - 02:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I do a lot of soldering on a day to day basis and lead free has been nothing but a thorn in my side. I've found it needs a lot more heat to melt. The added heat isn't good for some components. I've also found it harder on my soldering iron tips, reducing their life dramatically. It also does not like veroboard, my connections always look grubby. I've even found the unleaded will not work on some metal switches. I got a robotic build it yourself kit and I couldn't attach an SPST switch without using the leaded solder. Even with a flux pen, I haven't had much luck.

I much prefer using the old 60/40, which Farnell still sell surprisingly. I know it's lead and bad for me, so I try and minimise it as much as I can. If I'm soldering something awkward, I'll use the lead solder first to hold the component in place and touch up with the lead free. I make sure to use a small home made fan extractor as well. With veroboard I just use leaded as it really is a pain.

I haven't had much luck in finding a decent lead free solder to use, but will try any suggestions here.
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tandy
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Username: tandy

Post Number: 75
Registered: 12-2012

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Posted on Thursday, 27 July, 2017 - 01:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have written an article about selecting solder that may be helpful. http://electronorama.com/all-about-solder/
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grahamrounce
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Username: grahamrounce

Post Number: 157
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Posted on Thursday, 27 July, 2017 - 02:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

@tandy: Thanks for the article. That just about takes care of all my questions, anyway.
(Btw, I think this sentence may need some surgery: "The difference will stop you from successfully soldering something, and in general lead-free and lead-based solders are both useable hobbyist." Would you mind...? Ta again)
g
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tandy
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Post Number: 76
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Posted on Thursday, 27 July, 2017 - 06:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

@grahamrounce Thanks, fixed that and a few other little quirks I spotted after re-reading it.

I believe that the reason lead is harmful is that the human body is unable to tell the difference between lead and calcium. As a result it gets absorbed as calcium rather than disposed of.
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alec_t
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Username: alec_t

Post Number: 835
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Posted on Friday, 28 July, 2017 - 04:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Do those flux pens have a limited shelf life? Any probs with drying out when unused for a while?
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tandy
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Post Number: 77
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Posted on Friday, 28 July, 2017 - 04:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes the flux pens contain a mixture of rosin/resin dissolved in a solvent. The solvent will either be alcohol or water based and can dry out like felt tip pen would.

You want to make sure you put the cap back on and store it in a cool dark place like a drawer for a longer life once opened. It is also good to give them a good shake to ensure the solvent and flux are kept well mixed.

New ones will usually be airtight sealed so it shouldn't be a problem if the supplier has had them in stock for a while before you buy one.
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trevor
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Username: trevor

Post Number: 52
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Posted on Saturday, 29 July, 2017 - 01:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just checked my two flux pens (Kester rosin type RMA #186, Kester water soluable, PH neutral #2331-ZX) and see they were manufactured in June and February 2010 - they both still do the business. As mentioned above, the caps are always replaced and they're kept in a drawer when not in use.

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