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    Tips for a clean PCB

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    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:30 pm

    I buy my boards prebuilt from VTA – Tubes4HiFI - Tube Nirvana.

    Here is my question, how do I get my boards to look as clean as theirs?
    I know that they are so much better than me, that is indeed why I buy them prebuilt!

    *If that is a trade secret, then so be it.*

    I am using Kester 44 off of a 1 lb. spool. I ‘try’ to keep the spool in a plastic bag, then I peel off a foot or so, clean the outside with a fresh cloth.
    I’m trying my best to not be heavy handed on the solder, just enough to flow.

    As I'm trying to better my skills, I ordered a couple of Surface Mount practice boards. I thought I would practice installing SMC’s, SMR’s, Chips, etc. Then disordering them, cleaning them up and connecting up through hole caps and resistors with short leads on top of the pads. These have LEDs that light up if you do it right and if the mods are done correctly too.

    I’ve been inspecting my work with one of those magnification visors, you can really see what you are doing that way, great for troubleshooting too.
    This is for a DAC I am working on. I want to butcher some training boards before I butcher the DAC.

    So, I just ordered up some 99% isopropyl alcohol, some horse hair acid application brushes from that river website in South America.
    The plan is to try to clean up the leftover rosin with this.  Any pointers?

    Thanks,
    Blue

    MontanaWay

    Posts : 781
    Join date : 2014-02-06
    Age : 58
    Location : Brookings, Oregon

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by MontanaWay on Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:14 pm

    the soldering iron I use is a higher end Weller model WES51 with adjustable temperature. I set mine to about 750F.
    The solder I use is Radio Shack 60/40 Rosin Core 0.032" diameter.
    And I only ever use Weller tips for the soldering iron.
    When I solder a component, I start off with a small amount, and if most of the solder has flown into the hole, I add a little more, to get that nice 'peak' of solder around the component lead.
    I also ALWAYS clean the solder iron tip on the wet sponge that comes with the soldering iron holder, and I also use a brass steel wool cleaner as well.
    It is absolutely vital to keep the solder tip clean!
    I never use any kind of solvent cleaner, either before I start soldering components onto the pcb or after, I find them too messy. If there is some small rosin splatter on the pcb, I use a toothbrush to clean it up, that is all I use.
    Hope this helps.

    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:34 pm

    Oh, the ol' Montana quick with the toothbrush trick.

    Thanks for the soldering tips too!

    I have a Weller WLC100... I guess Cheap-'O'. Can't control the temp by degrees.
    I'm a clean tip fella and use the Weller tips only.

    I will be looking into temp control Weller.

    Thanks - that helps a lot,

    Blue

    peterh

    Posts : 679
    Join date : 2012-12-25
    Location : gothenburg, sweden

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by peterh on Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:33 am

    Alcohol and a paintbrush is all that is needed to remove solder remnants. ( if using leaded solder, i
    think leadfree has other types of resin that needs other/stronger solvents)

    deepee99

    Posts : 1333
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by deepee99 on Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:56 pm

    The cheap Wellers are junk. Either too hot or not hot enough. Gave me fits building the M-125s. A soldering gun is handy for multiple connections like at ground lugs.

    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:04 pm

    As I shop for the WES51, analogue has a temp scale with a x10 on it. Is the digital readout worth $40?

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1310
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by sKiZo on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:47 pm

    Same here ... keep the board clean and no cleanup required, right?

    Your tools will make or break the job there. Here's my gadget assortment ...



    It's all about transferring the heat to let the solder flow without overheating the connection.

    - A good hot iron (for me, a Weller WES51 at around 720F) is a must. Use a cheap iron, and your results will show it. A soldering station tends to have much better recovery time too. Each connection will cool the iron for a short bit - any decent soldering station will monitor that and let you know when you're ready for another go. The Weller is almost instantaneous.

    *EDIT > The WES51 analog station is the same iron as the digital version except for the display. I find the vernier scale to be more than accurate enough for setting the temp, and the indicator light is a no brainer, letting you know when it's ready. The standard tip that comes with the station is nice for most anything you'll do, but there's other tip types available. I've also got a couple screwdriver flat types that are handy if you're doing a lot of point to point or heavy ground connections.

    - Tip tinner. Oft overlooked, but a quick plunge will resurface the metal for better heat transfer. Mine's hiding in the pic next to the flux. I'll usually tin the tip with every session - you'll know when it's needed once you get used to your setup. You'll want to clean off any residue prior to soldering.



    - Paste flux. A quick dip here makes the tip "wet" and lets the solder flow easier in the joint. Also promotes heat transfer, and it's all about the heat.

    - I also touch the solder to the tip prior to each connection to "prime" it.  

    - Quality solder as well. "Green" solder has a learning curve, so leave that to the pros. Good ol' 60/40 lead is a lot easier to work with and makes for more dependable connections. I personally use Cardas Quad - also a learning curve, but better flow and connectivity than anything else I've tried once you get used to it.

    - And throw that stoopid sponge tip cleaner away. The brass thingie in my pick is the real deal for keeping things.

    PS ... the green handled iron is my favorite new toy. The Jameco SA6-R is a real deal in a desoldering tool. Mine rates at 42 watts per the Dial-A-Watt, so plenty of heat and quick recovery so you can move right along. Just set the plunger, set the point on the old solder and twist it a bit to get it flowing, press the button, and the solder magically disappears. Especially nice for PCB work, but also works well on point to point. For $30, which is a whole lot less than a pro station, and for my money, just as good for the hobbyist.


    Last edited by sKiZo on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:55 pm; edited 1 time in total

    audiobill

    Posts : 270
    Join date : 2014-03-13
    Location : Philadelphia

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by audiobill on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:53 pm

    Hakko 888D, best soldering station on market in a reasonable price range.

    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:56 pm

    Thanks SKIZO, I appreciate you taking the time to interject.

    As far as the Jameco SA6-R, when I first got mine, I had it drop a splat of molten solder after a few 'sucks' that had accumulated inside the unit on to the bench, missing the work in front of me. I learned to clear it often and to move the tip up quickly after de-soldering. Then again, I've only used it a few times. Pretty nifty tool indeed.  

    Bill, I just had the web page open for the Hakko something -something 888D - something and it looked like a solid unit.

    Either way, it's digital for me. As far as trying to do some surface mount learning, I need something better for sure!

    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Sun Jul 19, 2015 11:52 pm

    I ordered: a Weller WESD51 Digital Soldering Station and some extra tips, tip tinner and some solder flux. A new 878ad Rework Soldering Station Iron Welder Hot Air Gun & Tip 640w with Iron & Heat Gun with some solder paste for the surface mount learning.

    Thanks for the help getting my tools in order.

    Blue

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1310
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by sKiZo on Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:19 am

    With all that, we'll be expecting to see some right nice DIY projects posted up from you in the future ...

    Don't forget solder!



    aguaazul

    Posts : 45
    Join date : 2012-07-08
    Location : Livermore, CA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by aguaazul on Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:42 pm

    I still have a most of the Kester 44 Rosin Core Solder 63/37 .031 1 lb. Spool I purchased on October of 2012. As I read up on it, it has a 3 year shelf life. No more 1 lb spools for me.

    As far as Cardas, great stuff, great family.... I used to help his dad keep his computer working properly back when I did house calls.

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by tubes4hifi on Tue Jul 21, 2015 12:58 pm

    I use a Weller WLC100, it has a temp range from 1 to 5, and I usually run it at about 4.5 and always use a Weller tip, the ST3,
    which when soldering almost every single day, lasts me about six months.
    I use either Kester 44 or Radio Shack 60/40 solder, they are identical.
    I run the tip over a wet sponge and then apply a tiny amount of solder to the tip before soldering EACH joint, that improves heat transfer,
    and so a good solder joint takes about 2 seconds, 3 seconds max. 1 second to melt the solder and another second to let it flow all around the joint.
    I also have that small tip activator stuff sKiZo showed, whenever the iron gets worn down from being on for long amounts of time.
    I rarely ever have to clean the board, what small amount of residue actually looks worse if I try to clean it with rubbing alcohol.
    But a dry toothbrush works well.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1310
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Tips for a clean PCB

    Post by sKiZo on Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:26 pm

    Yup ... clean old connections well with a good desoldering tool, and use just enough of everything to do what needs doing, and there's really nothing to clean up ...

    Exposed boards like the Dynakit's use do collect grime, but that's a whole nuther story. Those are best removed completely and get a good soaking with mild detergent followed by scrubbing with a soft brush. Goes without saying, you'll want to allow plenty of drying time, blowing out any excess water and then letting them soak in a few hours of sunshine ...

    Once that's done, I'd think adding one of those optional plexy panels over the board would be a good thing. Not a problem for me ... here's the top of my VTA board ... ;-}


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