Soldering frustrations

Discussion in 'Wii - Hacking' started by ZeeMox, Apr 3, 2007.

Apr 3, 2007

Soldering frustrations by ZeeMox at 8:05 AM (2,001 Views / 0 Likes) 21 replies

  1. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    Using the advice from the stickied threads and various other ones, I've been practicing soldering on an old video card with 60/40 rosin core solder, and a 6 watt (but 900 degree) iron, and every time I solder a wire onto something, the wire comes out with a soft tug. I've tried wiping it down first and making sure it's clean, but it just doesn't seem to make a difference.

    The steps I'm taking:
    1. Heat up iron (this takes about 19 seconds for this iron)
    2. Tin video card solder points
    3. Tin iron
    4. Dip wires in the iron tinning to tin the wires
    5. Connect.

    Is there something specific that you guys use to clean this stuff that won't own the Wii? It always looks successfull, but then I give it a few seconds and blow on it and *plunk* it comes right out when I test it. Note - just the wire comes out, the solder stays on the components.

    I'm going nuts here. There's no way I'm willing to try this on my Wii at my current level of suck [​IMG]
     


  2. Redsquirrel

    Member Redsquirrel GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    dunno but is 6w iron really gonna be suitable for this?
     
  3. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    The 25w iron at Fry's only went up to 750 degrees. The 6w goes to 900. Seemed to me like a win/win. Plus the tip was thinner on the 6w. It's far more than suitable for liquifying the solder, I can't really imagine what going hotter would accomplish.
     
  4. FAST6191

    Reporter FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I find tinnning a wire easier if I fix the fire and drag an iron and solder along the wire personally.

    I am with Redsquirrel, 6W does sound a bit low but it should still work (lead tin solder melts at 183 celcius with others not normally being more than 220).

    If the wire comes out the penetration usually is not deep enough, some people like to bend the wire slightly to give a large cross section covered by the solder and any forces experienced reduced to a component of them.
     
  5. nevixa

    Newcomer nevixa Advanced Member

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    Make sure you do not solder at too high temperatures. I did mine at 250-300 degrees celcius and burned of the solder points. I had to solder the wiikey directly onto the chip on the wiidrive!

    So be careful with that.
     
  6. klyick

    Newcomer klyick Advanced Member

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    I've been doing my practice on a old modem that has pads nearly identical in size and position to the pads on the wii dvd. Let me share some of the things I learned with you, and maybe it will help.

    When I first tried to do the solder points, I didn't wipe off the iron every time I went to solder. This resulted in the tip turning a ugly browinish color, and I was having the same problem you were.

    Actually, I was lifting pads almost every time, by trying to add some solder to the pads on the drive. After some experimentation, I discovered that the best method for me was to first wipe the iron on a wet paper towel(sponges are probably better) which turned the color of the tip to silver for about 3-5 seconds. In this window, I tinned the tip of the iron, and basically wiped a small blob of solder on the tip of my wire. If I waited too long, the solder on the tip would darken, and get kind of chunky, not shiny or smooth.
    After I have the small blob on the end of the wire(the blob should be about the same size as the pad, maybe smaller) I would let it cool, and touch it directly to the pad. I wiped the iron's tip again, making it once again a silver color. I then touched the tip to the blob on the wire(not the board) and the solder would flow and melt the solder on the pad. I did not keep the iron in contact with the blob for more than about 1/2 or 1/4 of a second.

    This method made great looking, strong solder points on my practice board.

    I plan on installing my Wiikey today. [​IMG]
     
  7. cory1492

    Member cory1492 GBAtemp Maniac

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    One word comes to mind. Flux. Do not use tip tinner to solder with. Tip tinner is meant to tin the tip of your iron when it gets to a "burn out" condition (all black and solder will not "stick" to it) (actually termed "wetting"), and once you tin it with tip tinner you are supposed to clean, tin with your work solder, then clean and tin again. You do not really want tip tinner mixing with your regular solder, it is not meant to hold wires on but it is meant to extend the life of your iron tip.

    If you are baking pads off of a PCB, or watching oxidization occur in a matter of seconds, sorry but your iron is too hot. It was probably designed for industrial applications, like AC (house/shop) wiring. Too hot also can mean that solder will not "stick" to where you want it to, but usually to the iron tip instead. A quick hand can get around it, but don't expect NASA quality non-cold joints this way.

    If solder isn't sticking to the wire, either your aren't heating the wire enough, or you didn't use flux. Flux is a godsend for quick, reliable, solid solder work (I prefer electronic resin flux, it is cheap, gets the job done and once you use some isopropyl and a Qtip to clean it up, it usually has no down the road type problems). If you are using a low temp iron, you can simply hold it on the joint longer until you visually see the solder flow around and up the wire a bit.

    All said and done, although a bit technical, have a look at online soldering guides like this:
    http://www.circuittechctr.com/guides/7-1-1.shtml
     
  8. klyick

    Newcomer klyick Advanced Member

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    Yup, what Cory said is right. My Iron is probably too hot, I have a 40 Watt Weller with a thin tip. Also, Flux is Great. I would suggest getting the lower temp iron for those who are inexperienced. If you are stuck with a iron that is doing this to you, then what I learned might be helpful.

    -Klyick


    Edit:

    I just slid the tip of my weller out so less of it is in contact with the heat, and boy howdy is it easier. I amend what I said above. Do not attempt to solder with my method. Just get yourself a lower temp iron.
     
  9. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    Thanks for the help guys!

    So the solder I use on the tip of my iron is not to be used on the tip of the wires? How do you guys tin your wires, then? I haven't been using flux because the solder is sticking to the components just fine, and the solder has a flux core.

    If baking and oxidization is indicated by things turning color, then I don't think that's the problem. The solder is remaining nice and liquid silver, and the components don't look like they're frying off either.

    The qtip with isopropyl was very helpful, though. This was the sort of cleaning method I was asking for that I hadn't read anywhere else yet. I saw people recommend sand paper on practice components earlier, then quickly say not to do the same on the Wii, so that doesn't help exactly.

    I'm going to give bending the tip of the wires a shot to get that cross section that was discussed earlier and see if I get better results.
     
  10. instigator

    Newcomer instigator Advanced Member

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    This is how I tinned my wires:

    1. Put the iron down on a stand so that you have both hands free.
    2. Grab the wire in one hand and your solder in the other.
    3. Hold the (stripped) wire against the tip of the iron, and, at the SAME TIME, touch the solder on to the now hot wire (not the iron).

    The solder will flow all over the heated end of the wire.

    With the wires properly tinned all you need to do now is add some flux to your points (minute amount with a toothpick or something) and hold the wire to the point. Take your iron and quickly "dab" it on to the wire. As mentioned, this process takes less than a second to get a good bond.

    It does sound like your iron is too hot and may be drawing the solder to it instead of the point. You'd have to really cool it down with a wet sponge before each and every point.

    Good luck.
     
  11. arthurkok2

    Member arthurkok2 GBAtemp Regular

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    when i soldered it, i tinned my wires first and then used the small tip on my 15W iron to heat the wire so that the tinned solder started to melt, and when it did, i just placed it on the solder pad and let it cool. worked great for me : )
     
  12. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    Ok, so I'll figure out a way to tin the wires first. This is probably my main problem at this point. I can't put down the iron because my iron actually makes you hold down a button to keep it hot =\

    I'm also not sure where to get a copper braid in case I mess up.
     
  13. another

    Newcomer another Member

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    I did mine this weekend, and didn't really know what I was doing.

    I used a 15 watt from radioshack, and ground the tip to a finer point.

    put a little ball of solder on the ends of the wired, put the wire to the point and stuck the tip to it for a second.

    I did have a hell of a time getting the solder to stick to one of the large points on the dvd board, but other than that it worked out ok.

    I also have extra 4-5 screws

    wii still works and plays backups. works for me.
     
  14. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    lol at the extra screws... I know that's going to happen to me. Watching the vids and diagrams of the Wii being taken apart nearly blew my mind.
     
  15. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    Ok, so I've tried again, and now my results are even worse. Since using the isopropyl on q-tips to clean contacts, all the solder just slips right off of them and goes straight to the iron. I suppose I could drop by radioshack and get a cooler iron today, but I'm also wondering what my third-party install options are. Do you guys just call up your local electrician for something like this?
     
  16. Soybomb

    Newcomer Soybomb Advanced Member

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    Clean the tip of your iron really well, use a small amount of flux. Tin both the pad and the wire.

    Your electrician will have no idea what you're talking about, you'd need to find someone on the forums.
     
  17. klyick

    Newcomer klyick Advanced Member

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    Are you wiping the iron between attempts? Is the solder turning gold or brown?

    Does your iron have a tip that is cylindrical and slides in to the base, with a screw at the top of the base? If so, you can cool your iron by sliding it halfway or more out and then tightening the screw.

    BTW, did you read any soldering guides?
     
  18. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    I read so many threads and soldering guides and watched so many videos it made my head spin.

    I just finished installing the Wiikey. First I went to radioshack and got a 15w WIRED (much better) soldering iron and a copper braid. Then I tried everything out on my video card guinea pig. Flawless victory. So I stripped a tiny bit off of six wires with a pocket knife, tinned the wires, tinned the contacts on the wiikey, connected, disassembled the Wii (That was horrific), soldered everything onto the mind-blowingly small points on the Wii, double-checked solder strength by tugging the wires a bit, double-checked to make sure there was no bridging, taped my Wiikey up on top of a mount of electrical tape, then put everything back together.

    Good news: Wii sports still plays fine. Did not destroy my Wii.

    Bad news: Read errors on my two test games. Upon some investigation, it looks like the crappy brand-Z DVD-R's I used might have something to do with it. I'll try some memorex or verbatim tomorrow when stores open. It's frustrating having to sit overnight wondering if I wasted all that time and effort though [​IMG]
     
  19. ZeeMox
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    Newcomer ZeeMox Member

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    I found some Memorex lying around.

    ...holy crap. I actually did it. Just for the record, I think opening the Wii and soldering stuff that small is understated in how genuinely horrific it is, and I hope never, ever to do it again.

    That said, I am extremely happy.
     
  20. klyick

    Newcomer klyick Advanced Member

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    Glad to hear it. I just installed mine yesterday, and shared your frustration/anticipation.
    I burned the wiikey disk, tested it, it worked fine, went to burn my backup, and my DVD drive died. It was pretty frustrating. However, i did have another one, and it works.
     

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