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How to Solder, beginners guide

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Forum Name: General Discussion
Forum Discription: General Mobile Electronics Questions and Answers
Printed Date: December 03, 2022 at 11:56 PM

Topic: How to Solder, beginners guide

Posted By: mikeshonda750
Subject: How to Solder, beginners guide
Date Posted: January 03, 2004 at 6:38 PM

Soldering is a useful skill, even if you dont use it. Its like knowing how to drive a forklift. Yeah, you may never want to do it, but its nice knowing you can.

First of all, you will need a quality soldering iron or gun. Soldering irons are long and look something like a screwdriver, have a plastic handle with a long rod sticking out of it. Soldering guns look more like a hot glue gun. Pistol grip with a long rod sticking off of it or sometimes a metal wire that makes a horseshoe shape comming off the end of it. In the automotive/mobile electronics field you will want a soldering iron. Having both is just something "extra" Since i perform my job outside sometimes, or in places where A/C power isnt an option, i chose a Matco butane model. T110k and PPSK are both great choices. A can of butane costs 2$ and lasts me weeks. These get really hot really fast and have adjustable heat output and specialty tips that come with them.

Next is to choose a good solder. We can debate all day about lead free/leaded solder... this is your own choice. Lead/Tin solder melts faster, but does contain lead which has health risks. Leadfree/Tin solder is usually much more solid (as in, harder to bend/stiff) and takes longer to heat up, but has no health risks (that i know of). Either way, you want to choose a solder that has a "rosin core".

Now you want to take your soldering iron out. If its new, fill it up/plug it in and away you go. If its an old one, you will want to heat the tip up slightly (not even enough to melt solder) and take a wet sponge and clean the crap out of the tip. If anything is burnt onto the tip, such as wire insulation, this will work against you and the tip should be replaced.

With your iron plugged in and just hot enough to melt solder (not too hot) you want to "tinn" the tip of it. Take the solder and apply a small ammount of solder to the tip of it. Not enough so the solder drips off, but enough to cover the tip.

Tinning the tip does 2 things, and should be done before you make a connection, and before you put your iron away for a while. Doing this before you make your connection helps to heat the wire up faster, by making a complete "iron tip to wire" connection. Doing this when your done ensures that the tip will stay clean and stop it from getting scratched and make the tip last alot longer.

Next you need to prep your wire. If your making a repair to an old connection, or something that wasnt done correctly, you will want to use a little bit of flux paste on it to clean it up and make it ready for solder.

Doing remote starters for example, you dont have to "cut" the ignition wires to make your connection. I wont reveal how i do it, but will say there is a tool you can use to strip the wire without ever cutting it. Most people use a sharp knife or razor blade and strip back about an 1 1/2inch of insulation. Here, you can use an awl and poke through the bare wire, being careful not to damage the wire. Next you will slide your R/S wire through the "eye" of the exsisting wire and wrap it around. You must be careful not to slide through too much bare wire but must use enough so the wire, while wrapped around it can hang there freely and not move AT ALL. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to squeeze it down tight.(also gives you 2 sides that are flatter than the others)

Now, you are ready to apply heat. If its a 10-12gauge wire, it will require a little more heat than if it was a 14-16gauge wire(which takes seconds to heat up).

Tinn the tip of the iron. Hold it to the bare wire for a few seconds. Touch your solder to the opposite side of the wire (the other flat spot), and after the wire gets hot enough, the solder will SLOWLY start to melt into the wire. This is easily seen because the solder that is slowly melting  will quickly cover the wires.

After the wire is completely covered in solder, your ready to remove the heat.

Let the joint cool for several seconds. If your joint is "GOOD"  you will be able to see every strand of the wire, twisting and turning. The joint will also be very shiny, and free of "globs". If the joint is bad, it will look more grey/blue and be very dull.

Your basic solder joint is complete.


If using a portable butane model, leave the iron on "low" the entire time, it will go much faster and you wont have to wait for it to get hot ever.

If using either matco model above, take the little steel tray inside the car with you so you can rest the iron in it when your not using it and not burn anything in the car. If your particular model doesent have a tray, you can fabricate one yourself. I used a metal sunglasses case and simply snipped an opening out of the end for the handle to rest in. I also made a holder out of a few coat hangers that i hang off of the brake pedal for use in vehicles with small floorboards.

Feel free to add anything else..or make it sticky whatever

Good luck!


Posted By: mindctrl
Date Posted: January 05, 2004 at 11:10 AM

Awesome guide!!  Thank you very much!


Posted By: jb30
Date Posted: January 09, 2004 at 12:27 PM
I find that poking a hole in the wire and then passing the RS wire through it is unnecessary.  Strip the wire and twist the RS wire around it.  No need for an awl or anything.  Pick up a good set of strippers at the local harware store, that can strip the wire without cutting it. 

Posted By: mikeshonda750
Date Posted: January 09, 2004 at 6:30 PM
That is correct, simply informational on how to solder, how you connect the wire is up to you. I find that if you strip and poke the wire will hang there alot tighter, allowing your solder joint to be a solid as possible, to where if you just wrap the wire around the bare wire, the RS Wire can still move on it own, creating a cold joint


Posted By: PuppyDawg
Date Posted: January 13, 2004 at 2:46 PM
yea that was very educational.....thanks bud.

*paw print*

Posted By: beyondamfm
Date Posted: January 30, 2004 at 3:11 PM

Thanx for the info. As they say you learn something new everyday.

The Clear Bra Guy
KCs premiere paint protection guru

Posted By: Mad Scientists
Date Posted: February 08, 2004 at 1:00 PM

 The butane soldering irons are nice, and the hot exhaust is handy for shrinking the heat shrink, but a trick I use sometimes is powering my 35 watt electric soldering iron with an inverter.. You can pick up a 350 watt inverter at BJ's or Sam's Club for less than $30. Handy for doing remote work where you need some A/C power, and no outlets to be found.



Posted By: Teamrf
Date Posted: February 08, 2004 at 7:26 PM

Yea this is  a good guide too bad I use my Snap On torch that does the job in a few seconds. posted_image

~The Rookie~
Rookie of the year that is...
Don't let the smoke out of your doesn't go back in.

Posted By: SVrider
Date Posted: February 09, 2004 at 12:00 PM
I find this guide to be very helpful, though I still have a few questions.

Q 1: I need to connect 12 gauge wire to the male end of a butt connector. Should I use another butt connector or is solder going to work better?

Q 2: I have two ends of wire that need to be connected so that they stay straight with no bends or anything. Do I strip insulation off both ends and inter-twine them and just solder?

Q 2a: How do I insulate the connection? It is going to be in a warm environment.

Q 3: Why is solder better than butt connectors?

Q 4: What is the purpose of dielectric compound, and is it conductive?

2001 Suzuki SV650

Posted By: mikeshonda750
Date Posted: February 09, 2004 at 8:09 PM

male end of a butt connector? Butt connectors are females, if your dealing with a "male" its not a butt connector.

Regardless of what situation you are in, solder = higher quality, more conductive, longer lasting joint period. The ONLY connectors i have in my collection anymore are ring terminals and spade connectors. Hell i retired my crimping tool because i dont even crimp the ring/spade connectors, i solder them.

So you want to take 2 seperate wires, connect them together, and make 1 solid strait peice of wire out of it? Strip back both ends, connect the 2 wires together, either by wrapping it, or by fanning our the strands and forming a "handshake" with the wires. Solder them together, and cover it and you will only be able to tell something is there by seeing what you covered it with.

Covering. Heatshrink would be your best friend. In situations where you dont actully cut the wire, 3M/Scotch Super 33+ tape is most excellent. Either way, if you use quality tape, or quality heatshrink, in combination with solder, The joint will be a permenant as you need it to be and last forever.

Why solder over butt connectors? Because over time butt connectors tend to corrode, sometimes dont make great contact, look like crap, whatever... plus you dont have to buy anything but a roll of solder every now and then


Posted By: kkid
Date Posted: February 12, 2004 at 12:23 PM
I agree that soldering is best. Most cars these days have sensitive electronic equipment which can be damaged very easily and many of us, I'm sure, don't disconnect the battery everytime we play with the electrical system in the vehicle. So, while a butane powered iron would be ideal, is the electric iron something to be cautious about? ESD, etc..?

Posted By: Ravendarat
Date Posted: February 23, 2004 at 11:45 AM
I solder everything, all the time, but as far as butane or electric solder gun, Well, you can pry my solder gun from my cold dead hands. Just a personal preferance.

Posted By: shawn62
Date Posted: February 23, 2004 at 8:15 PM
thanks that will make it a lot easer now that i hnow ho to

Posted By: markcars
Date Posted: February 24, 2004 at 8:41 PM
If you touch the soldering iron to a metallic part of the car before you do anything, you will remove any ESD. Also you can wear a wrist strap that is connected to the chassis, to make sure ESD doesnt build up during the soldering project. We do that with computers for the same reason where a few millivolts can be hazardous to some micro chips. I guess cars too have computers/microchips in them and the same principle applies there too.

Posted By: mikeshonda750
Date Posted: February 27, 2004 at 6:15 PM
Actully ~ A conventional soldering iron creates no ESD, so wearing a ground strap will do you no good, same with grounding your workpeice beforehand. The problem is elecrtical bleeding or "Electronic Leak", where the electricity used to generate the heat can actully pass through the heat exchange and out the tip of the iron/gun. This can be solved by grounding the head of the iron or using a "leakproof" iron. Can also be solved by using a butane model = ) just some info


Posted By: bryceyaworsky
Date Posted: March 04, 2004 at 5:33 AM

I've got a question:  I've done soldering over the years and it's nothing new, but I've forgotten some of the basics.  Perhaps you could refresh my memory.  If I decided to solder my speaker connections instead of standard crimp connectors , would I fry the voice coil?  Do I need to heat sink, and if so, where?

The reason why I ask is becuase I fried a 12" sub of mine 8 years ago when trying to solder the wire from the vc back on to the connector.

Posted By: stro720
Date Posted: March 25, 2004 at 2:24 PM
butane, definitley butane. and if you can't get to a matco truck, radio shack has an awsome mini butane model 64-2188 for around 25.00. it works great. i use on all installations in the bay.

what do you think would happen if you hooked that wire to that wire :D

Posted By: markcars
Date Posted: March 25, 2004 at 9:29 PM
Why does it say that the product contains, or when used for soldering and similar applications produces, chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects (or other reproductive harm)?
If it can cause cancer in Califirnia, it is not a safe product anywhere, is it?
I would definitely want this because that way you don't have to be near a power outlet for soldering. Only the cancer thing makes me worried. I have only one life. And I am not specially fond of doctors or hospitals or chemotherapy either.

Posted By: sjunction
Date Posted: April 01, 2004 at 4:41 PM

bryceyaworsky, whenever I have room, I use hemostats on either side of my the solder connection to be made to act as heat sinks, thusly protecting any nearby heat sensitive components. another tip is when working on tightly packed circuit boards, use box cutter blades to act as shields by laying them between the solder point and sensitiveparts (chip legs, etc)

also, you can buy tinning compound, very cheap in a solid form contained in a small tin. it doubles as a tinner, and a tip cleaner. when doing a lot of soldering, or for extended times, use a wet sponge (wet with water), occasionally wiping the tip over it to keep it clean. It will temporarily cool the tip but keeping it clean will result in far less headaches and faster solder times.

an awesome tool is the vacu-suck (lol, made that name up) used to remove old solder. simply depress the plunger which remains c**ked and ready. heat up the solder to be removed and then hold the sucker's tip directly over. press the button and bam, the liquid solder is sucked into the unit for easy disposal later. no batteries or external power needed, yay!

flux-paste.. USE IT! you will fall in love but it is a good idea to remove any excess after through soldering

Posted By: Lifesavermobil
Date Posted: April 23, 2004 at 4:59 PM
Wicking! Thats when your solder flows under the insulation. usually caused by keeping the iron on the wires to long or when your in a hurry to repair a joint you just made and instead of waiting for it to cool, you immediately hit it again with the iron. Also, resin or flux is toxic and very corrosive. That's why it is used, it cleans the metal surface just as you're making the joint. solder in a well vented area, don't breathe in the fumes, and clean the resin/flux from your work with alcohol that doesn't contain water or something similar.


Posted By: davethieben
Date Posted: May 09, 2004 at 9:32 PM
when I heat up a larger gauge wire, like 14 ga., the wire doesn't ever get hot enough for the solder to "flow" into the strands.  i've tried with two different plug-in irons, one is brand new.  is it just not hot enough?

'05 Hemi Ram
'86 Olds 442
'74 AMC Javelin AMX

Posted By: harry hey
Date Posted: May 30, 2004 at 9:24 PM

Great guide  -  thanks budposted_image

Posted By: Manoftools
Date Posted: May 30, 2004 at 9:57 PM

How many watts are the soldering irons?  You should be using at least a 100/140 watt.  What kind of solder are you using?

Posted By: c7iq
Date Posted: July 27, 2004 at 3:37 AM
so your supposed to let the heat suck the solder to the iron through the wire kinda? damn i always just melt the solder into stuff by touching solder right to the iron touching the wire..


Posted By: ice4life8269
Date Posted: August 02, 2004 at 1:12 PM
so lifesaver, are you saying flux is kinda like an acid? i had no idea why that stuff worked.. this thred id very useful


Posted By: tombrooklyn
Date Posted: August 05, 2004 at 1:58 AM
I was trying to find that Matco soldering gun. doesn't seem to work.  Is it working for anyone else?     TomBk

Posted By: Lifesavermobil
Date Posted: August 06, 2004 at 8:35 AM

To the folks asking about solder iron watts and not being able to heat large gauge wires. For most of the soldering I perform, 15-30 watts is enough. The problem with not being able to heat a large gauge wire is probable a small tip on your soldering iron. The tip should match the job. Small tip for say a lead on a transistor, 1/4 watt resistor, 24 awg wire. The larger the wire or component, the larger the tip should be. For tinning 16 - 10 awg I have a wedged tip thats about 3/16" wide.


Posted By: Einzee
Date Posted: August 23, 2004 at 12:37 PM
hello   that was an excellent tutorial on soldering!

It is best to remain silent and thought of as being stupid, rather than opening your mouth and removing all possible doubt.

Posted By: auex
Date Posted: August 23, 2004 at 9:45 PM
tombrooklyn wrote:

I was trying to find that Matco soldering gun. doesn't seem to work.  Is it working for anyone else?     TomBk

It is not net

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Always check info with a digital multimeter.
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Tell Darwin I sent you.

I've been sick lately, sorry I won't be on much.

Posted By: kel789
Date Posted: August 28, 2004 at 11:45 PM
how does one solder while wires are hanging from the steering column and etc....?

Posted By: markcars
Date Posted: August 29, 2004 at 7:04 AM
You'd have to hold the wires steady with your left hand(assuming you're soldering with you right hand) or you could use some long nose pliers to hold the wires steady just for long enough time for the soldering to flow and dry, which is really just about a second or 2.

Posted By: flynntech
Date Posted: August 30, 2004 at 9:42 PM

I think it's very unsafe to solder if you have to be underneath your work. Soldered connections are good, but no installation is worth taking molten solder in the face.

In cases like this, it's better to get the wires down where you can work with them or work without being directly under what's being soldered.

just my .02 on that.

markcars, I like to use the chrome aligator clips for that kind of stuff. I find them very helpful, the chrome doesn't tin very well, so typically you can feed all the solder you want and still remove the clip without trouble. I've only had one stick once, but there was lots of heat and extra flux involved.

Posted By: kel789
Date Posted: August 30, 2004 at 10:03 PM

Soldering appears to be a mess for me. I plan to use plugs. What do you folks recommend?


I have access to wire for indoor buildings. Wires appear to be a bit stiffer. Can I use it?

Posted By: kel789
Date Posted: August 31, 2004 at 6:59 AM

Soldering appears to be a mess for me. I plan to use plugs. What do you folks recommend?

I have access to wire for indoor buildings. Wires appear to be a bit stiffer. Can I use it?

Posted By: Lifesavermobil
Date Posted: September 01, 2004 at 8:02 AM

Soldering is the most permanent install. It's more reliable. Had a customer that insisted on crimped connectors and plugs. He came back twice because a speaker wasn't working. That's what happens when you have an offroad vehicle with tunes and no solder. We went back through and soldered the speaker connections, all 14 of them. I always guarantee my work, but this customer thought they knew better, this correction cost him extra. Solder first, Ask questions later! If you are refering to crimp connectors, the crimp itself is more consistent from one crimp to the next. Soldering requires a little more consistancy and skill. If you are using plugs and recepticles, the wires connecting to them may require soldering or crimp pins.

Stereo wire has many small strands. Electrical current flows on the outside edges of each strand, there's capacitive/inductive qualities, and a hole bunch more technical guru stuff. The more small strands, the better. There are application exceptions. Solid core building wire is not appropriate for mobil use. The quality (impurities/oxygen content) and flexibility (vibration in all vehicles) just aren't there. You may have noticed the existing wires in your vehicle are all multi-stranded. Take a look at a stereo wiring kit at your local dealers shop. If the wire in the building is for telephones and you're running a remote amp control, that might be okay. In other words don't use it!


Posted By: Drey
Date Posted: October 04, 2004 at 11:52 PM
so, we know the current travels outside the copper, more strands the better, etc.  so, if you're soldering a speaker wire to the terminal... are you losing current there? obviously there's going to be a loss in every "link" but, to try not to self-defeat the purpose... anyway... just curious, and i wonder if this makes sense to anyone  :)

Posted By: Mad Scientists
Date Posted: October 11, 2004 at 6:21 AM

Current travels (on the) outside (surface of) the copper in AC.. current travels inside the copper with DC..

"Skin Effect:
When wire (specifically, solid copper conductors as are used for transformers) is used to carry DC current, the entire cross sectional area of copper carries the current equally. When wire is used for AC current, the current is carried differently. At low frequencies, the current flow is not significantly affected by the skin effect. As you get into the higher frequencies (as those used to drive a transformer in a switch mode power supply), the current flow is carried disproportionately by the outer area of the copper wire (especially for large single solid conductors). This is called the skin effect. If, for example, you are using 14g wire at 100khz, the wire will not be able to carry the same amount of current as it could if it were passing DC. If your calculations told you that you needed to have ~4120 circular mils, you'd have a few choices. You could use 1 strand of 14g wire, 3 strands of 17g or 6 strands of 20g. All would have the same current carrying capacity if you were using it in a DC circuit but... If you were using it for AC, the 14g would only be suitable for frequencies below ~6000hz. Above that frequency, the voltage losses and power dissipation may be unacceptable (it would still work above 6000hz but not efficiently). The maximum frequency that you'd want to use with the 17g would be about 11,000hz. For 22,000hz the 6 strands of 20g would be a good choice. "

 Just something to make your head hurt even more..


Posted By: ty
Date Posted: October 18, 2004 at 3:06 AM

how would I solder to a connector, like say for my battery terminal connector.  would I just use the same method of soldering two wires together?  Should I crimp the connector and then solder?

Posted By: Teken
Date Posted: October 25, 2004 at 9:48 PM
The terminal would be crimped first, then soldered with the appropiate wattage soldering iron.

More mass, requires more heat & time.


EVIL Teken . . .

Knowledge is power. But only if you apply that knowledge in a positive way, which promotes positive results in others.

EVIL Teken . . .

Posted By: ashbyspannerman
Date Posted: November 03, 2004 at 6:49 PM

Nice tutorial!

Soldering's not always the way though! got three mark 3 escorts rallying this year with my wires on them, due to the pressure these motors are under the very first one i did i soldered everything, don't want a rally car with 'wired by CHK' written on the side breaking down in front of crowds cos a wire came loose! BIG mistake!!!

these vehicles have very firm suspension, they're racing over rough tracks at 100 mph +, when you solder a wire you create a rigid section of flex, not good, when that wire flexes normally there is no point where it is totally rigid, crimp connectors having a tapered lead in, and also only connecting by pressure rather than being connected to each and every strand of the flex do not seem to create this weak point.

in cases where vibration is an issue i would always(almost always) crimp! the almost is important, butt connectors, severe conditions, no, those joints have to be soldered, or the complete wire replaced, but for spades or rings i use crimps, not the fully insulated type, use the naked ones, strip too much wire and slide it all the way through, crimp as usual then fold the excess back over on itself and insulate with tape.

not dissing soldering in any way, i use it a lot, but not always!!!

Posted By: Mikeshonda750F
Date Posted: November 18, 2004 at 8:28 PM

In all honesty im flattered that this topic is not only still stickied.. but still active. Been away quite a while and hope you all are doing good!

To the last poster regarding these race vehicles: Im very curious to know general locations of where you had connections fail. In general, if the solder job is done correctly, you end up with a joint that is not only permenant, but consumes far less space than a crimp cap or butt connection. I know with my solder jobs (ovbiously depending on size of wire) the actuall unmoveable portion of the joint is probably half the contact area of a butt connector.

To Flynntech: The most unsafe part of the entire job is simply how hot the tip of the iron gets. In a strange way i get the feeling you are talking about hot solder dripping down onto you? If so, this is not the case if done correctly. If you do as i said before, heat the workpeice up 1st, then let the wire "suck" the solder into it, as long as the workpeice is hot enough, you can unravel an entire spool of solder into the wire and it will continue to "stick" to the wire. Where the hot messy and dangerous drippage comes in is where people heat the solder NOT the workpeice.

Drey: I believe you question was addressed by someone else but please let me elaborate, or try to. The tin component in solder is what makes it so conductive. When you heat the connection and apply the solder, the tin connects the peices and forms a permenant bond. If done correctly, the solder will form a perfect bridge between the peices and give you a lossless connection. Simply using crimp caps or butt connectors doesent form this "lossless" bridge, creating a weak point in the system.

TY: It really all depends on what type of connector you are using. Alot of battery terminal ends sold aftermarket are simply large copper ring terminals without the plastic coating. - How I usually do them is: hold the terminal end in a vice or a pair of pliers. I use my Matco soldering iron without the tip in it. This gives me a mini blowtorch. Heat the connector for a good long time, enough so you can melt solder inside it plus time to get the wire inside it. I usually melt about 8-12inches of standard solder into it, place the battery cable in the end of it and let it cool. You end up with a perfect connection every time.

I still see it all the time. Anywhere i go where someone is soldering improperly. Its rather amusing watching someone heat solder up and letting it "drip" onto their workpeice... then claim they are a pro and do it on every job.

In general, select an iron that is appropriate for your type work. I used a Snapon soldering gun that got hot enough to start glowing.. im talking "dont get close to it cuz the pistol grip will burn you!" In an automotive aplication, this is overkill.

Still cant express how touched I am by this.. Thank you all for your great comments and questions and look foward to seeing you on the boards more often!!

Posted By: Hymer
Date Posted: November 28, 2004 at 12:46 AM
What a great tutorial... I love whatching the "pro's" (the guy's with the blisters on their forheads) tell ya they know how to solder.

My best expertise has taught me ( at least in my field) is to solder any taps to the vehicle connection and make your own harnesses with connectors (pins crimped and soldered) for each component you are installing espesially in off road and public saftey vehicles. This tends to prevent any problems with poor connections and vibration. It also helps in warrenty situations, you can always tell when the public works guys have been messing with YOUR contract work, thus getting more bucks from the state from a job they thought would be free...If you have the time and oppertunity give it a shot... Ive done everthing from kingsley coaches to street rods this way and have never had a problem that wasn't created by own stupidity...

Posted By: Xracerx
Date Posted: November 29, 2004 at 6:10 PM
Normal Soldering

<>Probably the most popular manually applied solder for electronics is rosin core 60% tin / 40% lead (Sn60Pb40).  It has a melting point between 361°F and 374°F.  It is suitable for all surface logging electronics, and for downhole tools that will not be run much over 300°F (solder begins to weaken below its melting point, so it is best to stay well below the melting point for an actual maximum working temperature).  But I have never liked the Sn60Pb40 solder alloy; I prefer eutectic solders.

<>In metallurgy, there is a special kind of alloy referred to as "eutectic".  Eutectic alloys exhibit no plastic range upon melting, and the melting point is lower than that of any other alloy composed of the same constituents in different proportions.  63% tin / 37% lead (Sn63Pb37) is the eutectic alloy of tin and lead and has a specific melting point of 361°F (no melting point range as with Sn60Pb40).  Sn63Pb37 is used extensively in printed circuit board (PCB) assembly applications (wave soldering), and I think it is easier to use in hand soldering applications as well.  Try some 63/37 and I bet you never go back to 60/40.  .025 /.028 inch (about 22 AWG) or .032 inch (about 20 AWG) are good compromise solder wire diameters.

Posted By: tombrooklyn
Date Posted: December 03, 2004 at 1:39 AM

Hi Xracerx,

What is a "plastic range?"


Posted By: Xracerx
Date Posted: December 03, 2004 at 8:11 AM
tombrooklyn wrote:

Hi Xracerx,

What is a "plastic range?"


A eutectic alloy melts to become a free running liquid at a single temperature which is lower than the melting point of any of its component elements. The lowest melting point eutectic cadmium alloy fuses at 46.81' C and also contains bismuth, lead, indium and tin. The rapid fusing characteristics of these and the near-eutectic alloys are useful in many temperature sensitive applications. The non-eutectic alloys melt over a range of temperatures and have a 'pasty' range in which they can be easily worked and shaped as solders, fillers and brazes.

Posted By: azidrane
Date Posted: December 03, 2004 at 7:12 PM

I'm about to buy a cordless iron and i'm trying to figure out what one to get.

Has anyone seen the ColdHeat cordless elecrtic soldering iron? Used it? Opinions?

And what about the afore mentioned Butane ones. What do you like best for a cordless iron?

I have a wired one overpowerd to almost 240watts or something. I burn through a tip in 10 seconds if i keep it on, but it sinks the solder right into the wire. But ive been doing more and more work tucked into tight spaces in cars soldering above my head and its just not the best place to lug a big iron with a cord.

Awesome guide by the way

Posted By: Xracerx
Date Posted: December 03, 2004 at 7:38 PM

I use the Butane Snap-On version "I think they are all made by the same company" I love it for Solder, Heat Shink, and lighting weed when I get pissed offposted_image

I never used the cold heat version. I want to see one work before I buy one.

Posted By: realitycheck
Date Posted: December 16, 2004 at 3:07 PM
Yeah i'm pretty skeptical about that thing.  I'd like to know an actual customer review of that thing. Anyway, I bought a butane tech torch from wal-mart that was a mistake.  That thing was horrible I had to let it set there for like 10 minutes burning before the thing would heat up enough to solder with. So anyway I took that one back and got the one they had that is electrical the gun w/ the trigger. I forgot how many watts it is but it heats up to like 800 and something degrees in like 5 seconds it works awesome. So far the best gun ive ever used.

Learning the trade one fiberglass creation at a time!

Posted By: damn-im-good
Date Posted: January 23, 2005 at 4:15 PM

Has anyone tried the soldering Iron that is sold on tv? It's that one that comes with strippers and is SUPPOSED to work great. Probably another cheap t.v. thing, but I was just wondering.


Alpine CDA-9831, two 12" JLw3's running off of Phoenix gold 500.1 monoblock and 90.2 for speakers!

Posted By: alik
Date Posted: February 01, 2005 at 5:57 PM
Yeah, I bought one of those ColdHeat B.S. last Weekend and i'm returning it....It SUCKS !!! Don't ever Buy It.

It has a tip made of some kind of material similar to leads like in a pencil( might even be it) that come out to 2 ends, so it's actually 2 tips at the end(kinda like this /| |\ ). The only way for it to work,is when there is metal (solder wire/wire) in between them. It does the melting by the heat of the spark that fly in between the tips before contact with metal is made but once connected to wires or anything metal it stops working....I tried to solder some wires in the car but came only as close as to melting some solder balls but not even close to soldering wires.

It completely not worth it in my opinion.

Also it was worth to note that i was amazed by how quickly it cools off (the only thing that seems to be working for it)there's also a led that shows when it's hot and when not... Another thing is that the tip rubs-off and disintegrates in the process of soldering and to replace it would cost you $9.99 + about $6 S&H which makes it completely USELESS.

Posted By: markcars
Date Posted: February 01, 2005 at 6:30 PM
Well that Cold Heat soldering iron really isn't for heavy duty use but just for light and hobbyists' use, as written on the sheet that comes with it. I bought it and at first when I put in some batteries that I could find around the house, I got totally dissapointed so much so I could not wait the weekend to be over to return that thing to the Radio Shack where I purhased it. A day later, I put in some freshly re-charged Alkaline batteries and the thing did work. I soldered some wires to a 12volt transformer to test its efficacity. I was not dissapointed anymore and decided to keep it for it wasn't too expensive even. Try with a fully charged alkaline set of battries and let us know if you find any difference.

Posted By: alik
Date Posted: February 02, 2005 at 8:05 AM
I did use brand new fresh batteries and it just doesn't do it for me...also considering the price of tip replacement, when buying 2 tips it makes more sence to just buy a whole new unit.

Posted By: aaronU
Date Posted: February 02, 2005 at 9:14 AM
For the price you would pay for that, I bought a butane unit from radio shack ($20). My old one was a 30 watt from the same place. After using the butane I would never go back, no cords, its small, more heat than needed. With the old electric one I could never get the wire heated up enough to solder the right way. With the price and heat that it produces, butane is the way to go, hands down.

Posted By: markcars
Date Posted: February 02, 2005 at 9:30 AM
Well, if it does not work for you, then get rid of it.
Of course I prefer my Weller soldering station with variable heat control a lot better for serious work.

And in regards to the butane unit, I was tempted to buy it many times but ended up not getting it for two reasons, a) it has this "cancer warning" on the back and b) you got to keep buying the butane gas in those small containers. Thats only my opinion.
I know some of you will jump and say "dont all soldering irons have the cancer warning?" of course yes. But this one has the gas component, in addition to the lead in the solder to worry about. A portable soldering iron is always a handy thing to have.

Posted By: squirrelY6382
Date Posted: March 09, 2005 at 12:20 AM

Posted By: alik
Date Posted: March 09, 2005 at 9:51 AM

       I got the butane solderer, after returning back the ColdHeat that didn't do crap for me.  In my opinion Butane is the best way to go : It's portable, light , easy to handle, adjustable heat and less messy.I'm also surprised at the refill need for the unit , it lasts surprisingly long.          

     About the cancer warning...all soldering tools will have it, as you are working with chemicals+heat.     It's same butane gas that fills up your lighter and no one ever had a problem with that.

So for me - I preffer the butane unit, for the ease of use and the performance.

* Funny thing : the label says that the thing is harmful for the people of  CA , i live in NY - so i guess it wouldn't affect me. ......right.

Posted By: techguy688
Date Posted: December 23, 2005 at 8:31 PM
GOOD portable Soldering Iron::
WAHL 7700 cordless soldering iron
It's electric and has a nice light below the tip to illuminate the work area. this one can do 125 solder joint before recharging. I like it because it is not butane. no pesky open flame to bune wires or human flesh.
specialized tools also has this soldering iron. posted_image posted_image posted_image posted_image

Just because you've done something for a long time doesn't mean you're any good at it.
Cable Ties Rock!

Posted By: tbird9290
Date Posted: March 01, 2006 at 9:23 AM
I like the Cold Heat Soldering Gun it's great for beginners and little stuff you have to do. All im doing is 50 LEDS so it's good for me. Had to get one so the Resistor didn't keep sliding off. But agian thats just my opinion...

This is what I Think doesn't mean I am wrong doesn't mean im right. I Make my ride look the way I want it I don't care what everyone else thinks... All Eyes On Me -2Pac

Posted By: KPierson
Date Posted: March 18, 2006 at 1:24 AM

All this talk about soldering and no pictures!!!!


When soldering you need to make sure the final result is nice and shiney, all the way through. Apply heat to both wires and apply the solder to the WIRE, NOT the iron.

Also, when possible, make sure you have a solid mechanical connection before trying to solder.  This basically means wrap one wire around the other wire tightly so that it is snug before its even soldered.  This is practical in 90% of car soldering, but when it comes to some tach wires you have to settle for whatever you can manage.

Another important thing to try and do is keep all the strands of the wire together.  If the strands get spread out when you solder them they will leave single strands standing straight up.  This isn't that big of a deal, but it hurts like heck when you stab yourself with a single copper strand (especially if its hot still).  Also, these single strands will poke through the electrical tape and could potentially short out.

The above joint was made by me (I don't generally take pictures of other peoples soldering...) and was made by a butane iron I picked up at  In my old age I've gotten away  from my Craftsman soldering gun that I cherished as a professional installer because, simply enough, the butane is quicker, easier, and doesn't have to be plugged in.  I don't solder enough to go through a lot of butane, so it works out.

Oh, another important thing is to use the correct heat for the project at hand.  I have a buddy who tried to solder a mod chip on his Playstation using a 30 watt iron (~950 degrees or so).  For most wire (16 ga and smaller) I try to stay around 650 degrees, IF you can control the temp.  My 'nice' iron is a Pace ST45N that features digitally controlled temperature.  You select the temp you want and it maintains it, pretty cool for a soldering iron!

Once you get the hang of soldering you'll quickly see the benefits and will never want to go back to butt connectors.

Remember, when you're done with the joint that shiney solder is good, dull solder is bad!

Kevin Pierson

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