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Soldering Help?
#3035494 03/28/20 05:45 PM
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Hello. I while back I got myself a soldering iron so I could repair some of the non-functioning patch chords in my studio. I got one of these modern digital soldering irons that has an adjustable temp/voltage control. Well, I got lots of time now to take care of this chore, but lack some knowledge. What temp/voltage setting do I use for soldering 1/4" jacks onto audio cable?

Thanks.


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Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035514 03/28/20 06:52 PM
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First and most important, make sure you have a supply of thin rosin core solder. Do NOT use acid-core solder, that is for plumbing.

If you are replacing jacks and not plugs, first try cleaning them. Sometimes that is all that is needed. I just roll up a small piece of 180 grit sandpaper so it can be "plugged into" the jack and rotate it while moving it back and forth. Won't take much of that to remove corrosion. Others prefer to use Caig De-Oxit and you can't go wrong with that either, just make sure you have adequate ventilation.

A system for stabilizing your components while soldering is worth it's weight in gold. I use an X-acto with 2 alligator clips, like this one - http://xacto.com/products/cutting-solutions/tools-accessories/detail/X75140
It works well and has saved me a ton of frustration.

Surf the web for information on "tinning" the tip of your new soldering iron. This will be an opportunity to adjust the temperature. If your kit included a sponge to wipe the tip of your soldering iron be sure to keep it moist when using it and quickly wipe the tip. Otherwise you will burn something stinky, not nice!

Are you soldering the cables to jacks or to plugs?

For best results, carefully dress the leads on your cable, make sure to match to wiring on both ends! There are 2 common types of 1/4" cabling for studio - TS = Tip (positive or +) Sleeve (ground or -) and TRS = Tip (+ signal) Ring (- signal) and Sleeve (ground -).

I would highly recoomend using Switchcraft plugs and jacks, they've been an industry standard for a LONG time with good reason. Ma Bell used them in patch bays for phone systems, during WWII the Military used them for communications equipment, virtually all US guitar companies (Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Guild, even inexpensive Silvertone Danelectro) used them well into the 1970s. There are other good options but Switchcraft has worked well for me for a long time, every guitar I own has been retro-fitted if it doesn't have one.

They are durable and easy to solder, they can take a lot of heat!

If you are unsoldering and replacing then the leads should be dressed to correct lengths and tinned already.
If any of your cords are of questionable quality in any respect, toss them and get some quality cable (Belden is one good brand) and make your own custom length cables.

Dress your leads, remove a small amount of insulation and tin the multi-strand wire (solid core wire is not the best choice for audio cables).

Next, tin the area you are going to solder the wire to, if you have everything clamped and ready to go keep the soldering iron on the area you've just tinned, slip the wire into the hole and allow the tinning on both parts to melt together. You may need to add a small amount of solder to get that to happen. When there is a shiny, single, small blob of melted solder, carefully remove the iron. You do not want anything to move while it cools, this is why the X-Acto "extra hands" or something like it are needed. Once it's cooled it should still be shiny and smooth.

That will be a reliable solder joint.

It is a good idea to practice first and get good at it. Soldering is cables is really simple if you use the correct procedures.

Circuit boards are another matter entirely, don't assume what you do with cables will be best practice for that.
You'v reminded me that I need to go through all of the cables in my studio rack that are too long and re-work/replace them with custom lengths. Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035520 03/28/20 07:21 PM
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All good advice. Practice, practice, practice... you WILL make a few cold solder joints at first, but you'll get the hang of it. I need to do some of that myself.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035539 03/28/20 09:25 PM
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Thanks so much guys!! Exactly the kind of help I need. Yes, I need to get or make a clamping rig: great suggestion. I'm doing cables and jacks - all TS style - and I have a bunch of these to do, enough to practice on and get up the skills to do more demanding jobs. Thanks again.


J.S. Bach Well Tempered Klavier
The collected works of Scott Joplin
Ray Charles Genius plus Soul
Charlie Parker Omnibook
Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life
Weather Report Mr. Gone
Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035567 03/29/20 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by BbAltered
What temp/voltage setting do I use for soldering 1/4" jacks onto audio cable?

That must be a pretty fancy one if you can adjust the voltage as well as the temperature. Mine isn't so fancy, but I usually keep it set around 375°C (about 700°F) or a tad lower. You'll want to go a bit lower if you're using a small tip and soldering small components, but wire and terminals are pretty good heat sinks.

One thing to watch for is melting the insulation. At that temperature, if you leave the iron on the joint too long, PVC insulation will melt. You want to learn to work quickly.

You'll often need a third hand - one to hold the iron, one to feed the solder, and one to hold the part in place while you're soldering. The handiest tool I have for soldering connectors is what's usually called a hand screw - a parallel jaw clamp. The woodworker's version is made of wood so it doesn't conduct heat away from what you're holding. Jorgensen is the classic but these days there are cheaper ones.

[Linked Image from ponyjorgensen.com]

And unless you're in a country where you can't buy lead, don't use lead-free solder, get 60/40 Tin/Lead solder.

Re: Soldering Help?
Mike Rivers #3035606 03/29/20 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by BbAltered
What temp/voltage setting do I use for soldering 1/4" jacks onto audio cable?

That must be a pretty fancy one if you can adjust the voltage as well as the temperature. Mine isn't so fancy, but I usually keep it set around 375°C (about 700°F) or a tad lower. You'll want to go a bit lower if you're using a small tip and soldering small components, but wire and terminals are pretty good heat sinks.

One thing to watch for is melting the insulation. At that temperature, if you leave the iron on the joint too long, PVC insulation will melt. You want to learn to work quickly.

You'll often need a third hand - one to hold the iron, one to feed the solder, and one to hold the part in place while you're soldering. The handiest tool I have for soldering connectors is what's usually called a hand screw - a parallel jaw clamp. The woodworker's version is made of wood so it doesn't conduct heat away from what you're holding. Jorgensen is the classic but these days there are cheaper ones.

[Linked Image from ponyjorgensen.com]

And unless you're in a country where you can't buy lead, don't use lead-free solder, get 60/40 Tin/Lead solder.

Ah, the mighty Jorgensen! I've got 3 that were my Dad's, well used and working perfectly - probably for the next century or two. I've used them for all sorts of things, it never occured to me to included them in my soldering duties. Everybody needs at least one!


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Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035790 03/30/20 07:45 PM
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Heat depends on 1. the gauge of solder being used and 2. the surfaces/items you are soldering to. For pretty much any electronic work around 300c should be fine using .7mm rosin cored solder. You do not want "blobs" anywhere!! Don't forget to twist wires before tinning and then bring the two items/surfaces together and apply heat. Enough so the solder "flows" and creates a smooth join, no blobs...blobs WILL lead to a dry joint! The time for applying the heat to the tinned surfaces again depends of the "thickness" and generally speaking it'd be about 2-3 seconds for most general electronic work, resistors, caps, standard wires, jack connectors etc etc. Once the solder has flowed evenly do NOT move the joint until you see the solder "flash off" IE it will go from liquid shiny to a dullish low sheen glow. But not a "dirty grey look" . If you get that, re-solder the joint after letting it cool.

Always a good idea to have a multi-meter handy to double check your work.

PS: some older wire has a coating on it to resist corrosion so in some cases you need to remove this...it requires way too much heat for a lot of electronic components. AFAIK most modern audio/electronic cabling does not use coated copper.


The trouble with doing the job correctly first time, is no-one will ever know just how difficult it was.
Re: Soldering Help?
miden #3035849 03/31/20 03:14 AM
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Originally Posted by miden
Heat depends on 1. the gauge of solder being used and 2. the surfaces/items you are soldering to. For pretty much any electronic work around 300c should be fine using .7mm rosin cored solder. You do not want "blobs" anywhere!! Don't forget to twist wires before tinning and then bring the two items/surfaces together and apply heat. Enough so the solder "flows" and creates a smooth join, no blobs...blobs WILL lead to a dry joint! The time for applying the heat to the tinned surfaces again depends of the "thickness" and generally speaking it'd be about 2-3 seconds for most general electronic work, resistors, caps, standard wires, jack connectors etc etc. Once the solder has flowed evenly do NOT move the joint until you see the solder "flash off" IE it will go from liquid shiny to a dullish low sheen glow. But not a "dirty grey look" . If you get that, re-solder the joint after letting it cool.

Always a good idea to have a multi-meter handy to double check your work.

PS: some older wire has a coating on it to resist corrosion so in some cases you need to remove this...it requires way too much heat for a lot of electronic components. AFAIK most modern audio/electronic cabling does not use coated copper.

I see my use of the word "blob" has engendered your post. :- D
I understand, if you saw my soldering results you would not see any blobs of the sort you are describing. Yes, they are not a good thing.
My solder joints probably have a little more solder than yours do but they are not blobs, there is a smooth flow from the wire to the component being soldered and everything is shiny.
I certainly have made blobs, I then heated the area enough to remove the excess solder and start over. I mention this in the event the OP does create a blob. I did when I started too.
I always test the joint before proceeding to the next.

As I mentioned, circuit boards are a different topic. I mostly don't encounter them since I work on guitars, which mostly have simple components with substatial contact areas. I prefer not to work on them if possible although I have done it succesfully. If all PC boards were single sided with fairly heavy traces that would be one thing, they are not and sometimes it can be difficult knowing what you are getting into.
I can perform basic soldering, this is something to hire a tech for (unless you ARE a tech!). Then my hat's off to you.

Your advice is excellent, adding the bit about twisting the multi-strand wire before tinning is very good. Sorry to create a misunderstanding!

I also see that removing solder should be covered for the benefit of the OP.
Two tools will get you through most solder removals. A "solder sucker" is a small, spring loaded vacuum pump with a heat resistant tip. Cock the solder sucker, heat the solder and when it liqufies put the solcer sucker in proximity, press the trigger and it should remove significant material. If once is enough, stop there and proceed. Usually that's all that will be needed if the solder joint was done well the first time.
The other tool is a roll of fine braided wire - a solder wick. Be aware that it can get HOT so you will want to hold it with an insulator, I use a wooden clothes pin. Ideally, both the solder joint and the wick are heated and the solder flows up into the braided wire. Then you cut that part off, it has served it's purpose.

Last but not recommended, you can attempt to aim towards an areas where random bits of melted solder can land without harm and either blow it with your mouth or use an air compressor nozzle.
Don't do this, you really can't control where the solder will go. I only mention it in case you've got a friend who does it, ignore their advice!!!

Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3035945 03/31/20 08:13 PM
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Yeah was an electronics tech for a few years actually haha!

Good to add the removing solder advice - the braided is very tricky to use well and not damage components and needs practice to get right. TBH I do not really rate it as a solder removal option...but others do and that's fair.


The trouble with doing the job correctly first time, is no-one will ever know just how difficult it was.
Re: Soldering Help?
miden #3035951 03/31/20 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by miden
Yeah was an electronics tech for a few years actually haha!

Good to add the removing solder advice - the braided is very tricky to use well and not damage components and needs practice to get right. TBH I do not really rate it as a solder removal option...but others do and that's fair.

I mostly use the solder sucker. I would never use the braid on a circuit board!!! For getting something apart that was done by a "more solder is better" sort of person, I've had good luck with the braid and a soldering gun rather than in iron. You'd curl all the traces with that rig but a Switchcraft jack is another story!


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Re: Soldering Help?
Mike Rivers #3036136 04/01/20 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
And unless you're in a country where you can't buy lead, don't use lead-free solder, get 60/40 Tin/Lead solder.
THIS. A hundred times this. Lead-free solder is a pox on the house of soldering electronics.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
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Re: Soldering Help?
Dr Mike Metlay #3041180 04/29/20 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
And unless you're in a country where you can't buy lead, don't use lead-free solder, get 60/40 Tin/Lead solder.
THIS. A hundred times this. Lead-free solder is a pox on the house of soldering electronics.
+101. Lead-free solder is v hard to work with, and doesn't tin an iron nicely.

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: Soldering Help?
miden #3041189 04/29/20 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by miden
the braid is very tricky to use well and not damage components and needs practice to get right. TBH I do not really rate it as a solder removal option...but others do and that's fair.

I find that wicking works well for cleaning pads and holes that close with solder after a part is removed. You can use it flat against the board, and, assuming that you have an assortment of rolls of wick, can use one that matches the size of the pad or trace.

I don't remember if I or anyone else posted this tip, but it's fun. To remove a in-line package IC, snip the leads off the the chip right at the body. Throw away the body, then unsolder the pins, one at a time, by heating with an iron and just pulling the pin straight out of the hole using long nose pliers or forceps. You don't bugger up the holes wrestling the chip out a bit at a time, and you'll be sure that you'll never use that chip again - even if it turns out not to be the problem. Chips are cheap, circuit boards aren't. But use your judgment if it's an irreplaceable chip.

And of course we're talking about thru-hole and lug-mounted components here. Surface mounted parts are a whole other world.

Re: Soldering Help?
BbAltered #3044177 05/16/20 09:59 PM
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Having just added 40 or so IC sockets to a Prophet 5 here’s my method. Using a Hakko desoldering gun removes about 90% of the solder. But the chip is still stuck where prying it up may damage the vias/traces. I use solder wick as a follow up laying it flat against all pins of the IC on each side and sucking up the remaining solder. This cleans up the holes and surrounding vias at the same time and is about the quickest way I’ve found to remove chips.


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