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I can't solder pigtails to RGB strips....ARRHHHH!

Discussion in 'Handy Tools & Equipment' started by killaralights, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. killaralights

    killaralights New Elf

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    I've been a 'casual soldering' for about 25 years, and thought my technique was OK. I've mostly put various kits together, from the old 'Dick Smith Funway into Electronics' (anyone remember those!) to more recently various light controllers.

    I've never had a problem until I started working with RGB pixel strips. I can solder reasonably light hookup wire to the pads, but as soon as I try anything slightly heavier (say the pigtails one can get from Ray) I start running into problems. I tin the pads on the strip and the pigtails, but when it comes to connecting the pigtails to the pads I just don't seem to have enough heat and can't get the solder to flow.

    My iron is a little 25W unit from Jaycar. I was wondering if I need more power/a higher temperature? Do I need to invest in a soldering station where I can adjust the temperature up? Any advice is appreciated :)

    -Grant
     
  2. lizardking

    lizardking IT IS STILL ALL BENS FAULT

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    it does sound like a heat thing
     
  3. plasmadrive

    plasmadrive Full Time Elf

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    You can do it with a good 25w iron.. but..... A good temp control iron would most likely help a lot..

    Until you get a new one.. tin them both like you are doing but heat the solder on the wire to the melting point then put it to the board and let them melt together with the tip touching both.. The wire will suck up a lot more heat then the board, so it needs that head start... also, solder is a good heat transfer medium so use some on the tip to fill air gaps from the iron to the wire....

    Just a thought.. I did all the Plasma Icicles with a small iron but it was temp controlled..
     
  4. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass! Community Project Designer Generous Elf

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    A higher wattage iron will work better as you can work faster instead of leaving the iron on there forever.

    Also make sure you don't use lead-free solder. It's useless for general soldering and will cause you no end of hassle. Use a 60/40 (or even better 63/37) leaded solder.
     
  5. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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  6. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus Back again

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    I had the same problem. I found that the solder on the pigtails is quite hard to get heat into. I found that by adding just a little more solder to the wire I was able to solder the wire to the pre-tinned pads quite easily. I only have a cheap 25w ebay soldering iron and it does the job. I'd love a new one, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
     
  7. plasmadrive

    plasmadrive Full Time Elf

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    Ding ding ding... give this man a cigar! RoHs solder is useless!
     
  8. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator

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    A decent temperature controlled soldering iron/station is worth its weight in gold

    A lot of the cheap 25 watt soldering irons use a larger tip so its difficult to solder anything small and get the heat where you want it.
    And as already mentioned, dont use the lead free solder it requires a higher temperature to work with and more skill to use.
    Also make sure the tip is kept clean and pre-tinned.

    A small tip with a decent soldering iron will make the job easy and the joints will take only a second to join if prepared with solder first.
     
  9. dale82

    dale82 Senior Elf

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    My solution to not being able to solder pigtails on well is get Ray to do it while I practice. Lol. ;)
     
  10. scamper

    scamper Dedicated Elf

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    Plasmadrive is quite correct in the method.
    If your iron is a cheap 25w with a big tip and you want to upgrade but are low on funds, you can get a temp controller station from ebay for about $40.
    It is not a top quality, but it is better than the cheap 25w job you have.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    killaralights

    killaralights New Elf

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    Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll start looking at temperature controlled irons and 'leaded' solder!


    Cheers,


    Grant
     
  12. Benslights

    Benslights Dedicated Elf Global Moderator

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    so worth investing in a good soldering iron
     
  13. OP
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    killaralights

    killaralights New Elf

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    Problem solved! I invested in a more powerful iron and some leaded solder. The difference is amazing. My RGB strip connections now look like they were done by a pro :)


    Thanks again everyone.


    Grant
     
  14. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator

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    Great to hear,

    The tools and material you use always make a big difference.
     
  15. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass! Community Project Designer Generous Elf

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    Good news Grant. The leaded (vs lead free) solder would ave made the biggest difference but having a somewhat decent soldering iron is still important.
     

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