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v3ck1n

Soldering Newbie Asking for Guidance

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Hi all. I'm looking at buying my first soldering kit from ebay and I'm looking for protips from experienced modders

What are the necessary things I need with my soldering tool? I'm definitely considering buying a magnifying glass and possibly a stand as well. What is the right type of solder and flux I should want to use with my hardware? I plan to start with making USB adapters and repairing frayed controller cords but I want to gain the ability to do things such as repair dead traces and install chips.

I understand the meticulous nature of this activity and that's why I'm asking for some guidance first before I jump in feet first like I normally would. Thanks! - Jake

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Hello v3ck1n

I would suggest that you get a temperature controlled soldering station with a small and medium size tip.

Get some flux paste and for solder I use a leaded solder 0.8 mm diameter.

You will also need desoldering Braid/wick to remove solder and to remove large amounts of solder a desolder pump.

1273165112_solderwick.jpg.71734f437a400ecbfbdd8c0ed8f8e54f.jpg  Solomon_Solder_Sucker.jpg.08f1471da5b0558b82885b31500d066e.jpg

A magnifying glass and light combo is the way to go and a small vice to hold small parts while soldering is also useful.

2042451787_light.jpg.ecf01591bb8092055f44e31bcd7cd457.jpg

You don't need to spend a fortune just get the best you can afford .

Then  get some old circuit boards to practice on 1st

 

Cheers

SS Dave


Soft modding is like masturbating, It get's the job done but it's nothing like the real thing.
 

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Soldering is a fun hobby and staying safe is important. I don't want to scare you in any way, but simply provide some tips on how to minimize health risks, kind of like a list of things I wish someone had told me when I was getting started.

Like SS_Dave said, leaded solder is the best (lower temp, better joints), but since it contains lead it can be hazardous to your health. Lead is a heavy metal that accumulates in the body (and can lead to lead poisoning). And it's not just the lead that can be hazardous, but also the flux / rosin found in solder paste and inside the solder itself too. This is essentially what the fumes from soldering is composed of. But you don't need to worry about breathing in lead as it won't vaporize at regular soldering temperatures (at least not in significant proportions). Also keep in mind, lead-free solder is not really safer, it has worse chemicals that are vaporized when soldering.

To combat lead accumulation in your body it's important to at minimum wash hands thoroughly after handling leaded solder. It's also good to be mindful on what surfaces you're using it. A good way to protect your surfaces is a soldering mat, they are heat resistant and will protect both your components and your table or what not. One option could also be to use disposable gloves while soldering (although I haven't tried this myself). One reason I recommend gloves is that it's found that at least organic lead can be absorbed through the skin, however, I'm not sure wether or not this applies to lead found in solder (better safe than sorry, no?).

To combat fumes, at minimum make sure you are in a well ventilated area (crack a window open). You can also practice blowing fumes away with your mouth if you need to get close (magnifying glass helps here). Better if you're using a fan to blow fumes away. And the best option would be to use a mask (only protects you) or get a solder fume extractor. Extractors can be bought for ~$20 and they use an activated carbon filter to trap the harmful fumes from soldering. These can be DIY'ed quite easily as well, I'm currently building my own extractor with a 140mm Noctua industrial fan and filters from AliExpress.

Things to look out for which indicate you might need to stop for the day or need better protection: Metallic taste in mouth, nausea, pain in stomach (probably more).

Here's my TL;DR list of safety items:

  • Solder fume extractor (or mask) ~$20
  • Soldering mat ~$15
  • Disposable gloves (cheap)

May be overkill for one-off soldering jobs, but for a hobbyist, very good.

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Edited by CorpusDeal
Added images of soldering mat and fume extractor
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Wow! Thank you for the response CorpusDeal I haven't even considered the lead poisoning aspect. I ordered my soldering tool and all the necessary pieces yesterday.. along with another Xbox.. whoops :]

I'm excited to make a USB adapter and start transferring over some softmod files. I'll make sure to keep the air ventilated and my hands clean while working. As far as a soldering mat goes, I was just planning on working on my kitchen table maybe with some newspaper down. Would this be adequate? -Jake

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Get a cheap soldering iron station with adjustable temperature and maybe hot air too like a cheap 898D+ station sold on ebay and amazon for around $50. It comes with many different tips and has everything you need to get started the right way, also get some flux the no clean kind like Kester brand liquid flux from a flux pen. The AMTECH VS-213-A-TF No-clean flux is the best kind of flux I have ever used and i have 20+ years of soldering experience, get that if you can afford it.

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18 hours ago, v3ck1n said:

Wow! Thank you for the response CorpusDeal I haven't even considered the lead poisoning aspect. I ordered my soldering tool and all the necessary pieces yesterday.. along with another Xbox.. whoops :]

I'm excited to make a USB adapter and start transferring over some softmod files. I'll make sure to keep the air ventilated and my hands clean while working. As far as a soldering mat goes, I was just planning on working on my kitchen table maybe with some newspaper down. Would this be adequate? -Jake

Glad I could help. Regarding the newspaper I'd avoid it and try to look for some less-flammable material. I don't think there's a high risk of the newspaper catching fire, but the soldering iron is going to be very hot.

It's also quite common that tiny balls of solder jump out when soldering. So if you don't use any protection for the table, keep that in mind when wiping it down (you'll need to use isopropyl alcohol to make sure you get any flux of the table as well).

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On 3/19/2020 at 2:13 AM, v3ck1n said:

Wow! Thank you for the response CorpusDeal I haven't even considered the lead poisoning aspect. I ordered my soldering tool and all the necessary pieces yesterday.. along with another Xbox.. whoops :]

I'm excited to make a USB adapter and start transferring over some softmod files. I'll make sure to keep the air ventilated and my hands clean while working. As far as a soldering mat goes, I was just planning on working on my kitchen table maybe with some newspaper down. Would this be adequate? -Jake

I would suggest an offcut of plywood about 50% bigger than the Xbox rather than news paper.

It's cheap and non conductive also if it get stained or dirty it's not a big loss.

As for  a fume extractor unless your working in a confined space soldering for hours on end I think is a overkill and wearing latex gloves while soldering it's not for me.

 

Cheers

SS Dave


Soft modding is like masturbating, It get's the job done but it's nothing like the real thing.

 

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  1. I would recommend  a Weller soldering station. If you're going to be doing different jobs requiring different heat levels and different tips. Printed circuit boards generally require small tips. I work on many things from vintage TV and radio to computers, and the Weller station has served me very well for over 50 years. If i can be of any help, just ask

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I bought this a couple years ago. I am very happy with it.   $175.00

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^ A significantly more sophisticated set up than you actually need but nice, very nice. Serious kit: hot-air, soldering iron, vacuum pickup and smoke absorber.

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