solder choices

by spacewalker0720 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:58 pm

Hi. I'm new to actually doing electronics after thinking up ideas for years. So on to soldering now. Which solder to buy?

I read in http://www.adafruit.com/datasheets/hakkotips.pdf that "no-clean" fluxes can lead to dewetting issues, and the whole idea of inhaling leaded solder (like in the good ol' days some would say) makes me hesitant.

So between the typical 60/40 ( http://www.adafruit.com/products/145 ) and lead-free (but with "no-clean" rosin core) ( http://www.adafruit.com/products/734 ) I'm not sure which to purchase for home electronics just starting out.

Initial projects include fixing the firmware in my bricked Linksys WRT54G (which requires desoldering some filled holes and installing pin headers) and a kit or two besides that.

Suggestions welcome (and maybe a plan on how to build a little exhaust fan to pull the vapors from the soldering area. Hmmm, maybe a little fan and some dryer vent hose...)
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Re: solder choices

by franklin97355 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:25 pm

I'm not sure which to purchase for home electronics just starting out.
I'd go with the tin/lead solder if you are in a country where it can be used. It's easier to use and wets better for a beginner.
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Re: solder choices

by spacewalker0720 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:00 pm

Yeah, after reading about solder at Hakko's site I agree. And I found out Lead doesn't give off fumes at soldering temps, but the flux is something you should suck out of the area.
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Re: solder choices

by john444 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:50 pm

Hi SpaceWalker,

The easiest solder to use would be 63/37 with a multi-core rosin flux.

The 63/37 means it is 63% tin and 37% lead.
This ratio of tin to lead 'freezes' at the lowest temperature of any of the tin/lead mixtures.
The "multi-core" means that the solder has multiple, tiny tubes filled with flux.
Rosin flux is the preferred flux for electronics use (unless the flux needs to be removed)
Generally, hobbyists have no problem leaving the flux in place on PC boards.
Fabricators that need to remove flux from PC boards may prefer "no-clean" or
water-soluble fluxes. I would advise a hobbyist to avoid these types of flux.
They do not work nearly as well as rosin flux.
It is also easy to get low quality solder so unless you have had good experience,
stick with a major brand like Ersin or Kester.

There are many other ratios of lead, tin and other metals as well as different fluxes.
They all exist for specific reasons. Wikipedia has some good info.

For soldering electronic parts onto PC boards, I use 63/37 with rosin flux.
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Re: solder choices

by adafruit_support_mike on Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:55 pm

spacewalker0720 wrote:Suggestions welcome (and maybe a plan on how to build a little exhaust fan to pull the vapors from the soldering area. Hmmm, maybe a little fan and some dryer vent hose...)


A CPU fan is a popular choice, but a banned 4" 'personal fan' from Walmart will do the job too. You really just want airflow across the board moving away from you.

As others have mentioned, lead doesn't fume to a noticeable degree at soldering temperatures, so don't worry about that. The common fluxes won't hurt you chemically either, but "breathing smoke for an extended period of time" is your basic bad idea.
When you void a product warranty, you give up your right to sue the manufacturer if something goes wrong and accept full responsibility for whatever happens next. And then you truly own the product.
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Re: solder choices

by spacewalker0720 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:27 am

Thanks. I hope to at least vent this outside rather than just "around the room" where I'm at.

(And interesting signature too. I had recently thought, as I opened my very old Linksys WRT54G Version 2, that since the warranty was many years over, then I guess I wasn't really voiding anything after all! (Besides tearing the sticker that says I was.))
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Re: solder choices

by mikeselectricstuff on Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:56 pm

The flux fumes from leadfree solder are typically more unpleasant then leaded, so leaded is probably less bad for you as well ass being nicer to use.
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Re: solder choices

by spacewalker0720 on Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:40 pm

Thank you all for your feedback and sharing your experience. It helps.
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Re: solder choices

by Agent_24 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:49 pm

I've tried the 63/37 stuff and I actually prefer the feel of 60/40. Maybe just more used to it but still.
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