making your own solder tips...

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Hi there

I have been wanting to make my own soldering iron tips for as long as I have known how to solder.

There is always an odd shape that I can think of that is not available.
For instance, how about a tip that is forked, the distance between the forks being "just right" to enable you to heat up both ends of an SMD resistor at the same time.

Now I have been trying to find out what exactly is the magic plated substance at the end of a solder tip that works so nicely.

Has anyone done this? Did you make your tip form bass/copper steel? did you plate then end of the tip?

regards
Carel

www.pteq.net
Home of:
- Polygon Technologies CC

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I've seen it done by making the tip out of brass and then covering it in silver solder. Works a treat and lasts a long time.

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Brass seems like a good choice since it unlike copper does not dissolve in tin lead alloy as readily.

The magic coating on the copper soldering iron bits is an alloy of iron / nickel which does not disolve at all in thetin lead eutectic.

Once the coating is breached the coper core will dissolve and a protective shell only is left behind.

I have made brass U shaped tool t unsolder so ic packs by heating the adaptor on top of the ICs.

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Thanks for the replies!
Brass I will try then..
The silver solder sounds like a very good idea.

regards
Carel

www.pteq.net
Home of:
- Polygon Technologies CC

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I assume that you want to remove the smd resistor. If so, you can do it with a normal soldering iron.
Apply lots of solder to one side of the resistor, then quickly melt the other side, and flick it off. Applying lots of solder, gives it more mass, and a longer cool time.
If you see any solder splashes after, just flick it off with you finger nail, not the soldering iron.
Works on smd ics too with some practice.
From the "dodgy brothers school of repair technicians".

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If you want something really versatile, why not just get a hot air gun? I use mine for everything from SMT resistors and caps all the way up to the Mega128 64 pin TQFP. They are not that expensive either; I just checked on ebay and there is a 1500W unit with two temperature settings and two blower settings, with four nozzles, for $9.99 US (they show 59 available).

Dave

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I guess you are talking about a tip like this:
http://www.cooperhandtools.com/b...

This is from Weller, there's plenty of these kind of tips in all shapes and sizes in the market, so why make your own one?

You never mentioned which solder iron you have.
This is very important. Some Weller solder irons for example uses a magnetic material in the tip to swithc of and on the heater. When the temp is under the threshold level of the tip, then then it's magnetic an attracts the spring loaded heater. When the tip gets hot enough the material on the solder tip loses it's magnetic force and the spring will make the heater remove from the tip. When the tip gets cold again it becomes magnetic again and the process will start all over again. This is the technology used in the 24V Weller solder irons without a thermostat controlled solder station (the ones with temperature regulation on the solder station).
You can get these magnetic tips for different temperatures. You can see the temeprature code numbers like 6, 7, 8 and 9 at the end of the tip. (6 meas 600°F, 7 means 700°F and so forth).
Look at the end of this tip, you can see the heat sensitive magnet at the end:

Quote:
Product Features:
Tips are solid copper plated with iron all over
Nickel and chromium behind the working surface
Designed to provide maximum heat transfer from the heater to the tip
Individually bagged

I was a professional electronics repairman for several years and I have removed and soldered many SMD resistors, didoes, capacitors, transistors and IC's but I have never felt the need to use a solder tip which fitted at both end of a SMD resistor.
It's no problem to buy such solder tips and I have tried some, but I find it much easier to remove and solder SMD resistors with a normal thin tip.
To remove a SMD resistor, just heat it up at one side and move it to the other side and heat it up, then move to the first side again and heat it up and so forth. If you do so a coulpe of times then then press lightly at the end of the SMD resistor with the tip while you heat it, then you will feal when it hot enoguh that both sides are melted at the same time, then the SMD mill move and stick to your solder tip. Just remove the tip and knock you hand lightly in the table and the SMD will fall of the tip again.
Remeber to move the tip quick from one side to the other, then you only have to do it a cople of times.
It's quite easy when you first get the hang of it. It's actually easier than using a special fitted SMD tip.

However, you can get special SMD double solder irons like this one:

I have tried this one too, and it's great, just squeeze the solder iron around SMD and remove it once heated. Very very easy. You can also use it for SOIC SMD IC's with broader tips as shown in the picture.

I have tried several different soldering/desoldering stations, some with hot air too and the best I have tried is by far the Metcal Solder Stations: http://www.metcal.com/
They have "pencil grip" which make it very easy to handle and control.
There's a coil inside the tips that tranfers power to the tip end by a patented induction system.

As you can see these tip would be impossible to make yourself.
Most of these tips disappers inside the soldering iron.

I have desoldered several hundres of 64-pin PLCC Imicrocontrollers with special Metcal PLCC tips.
(That's what happens when some stupid engineers thinks the firmware is perfect and never needs to be upgraded, so they decide to save the money for a PLCC socket and uses a microcontroller that can't be ISP programmed either). Later they find out that the software needs to be upgraded when it's in for repair and we had to desolder those darn PLLC microcontrollers and solder a new one in instead. But here at AVRfreaks everyone puts in a ISP socket in their design, right?).
When we mounted the new PLCC we started placing it precisely which can be hard enough, then we soldered a pin a one corner and soldered a pin at the other corner. Sometimes this procees had to be repeated a couple of timed to be sure the IC was centered precisely over the footprint in every direction.
Then we used a special Mecal "knife" tip like this one:

We started at one side of the IC, moving it from one end to the other while we were pouring plenty of solder at the same time. The tip will draw the solder with it and only leave the right amont at each pin/pad. This process was then repeated for the three other sides and you were done.
In the beginning this techniouqe is very hard to master and you will get a lot of short circuits between the pins, but with some practice you can become very good at it and solder all 64-pins without any short circuits in less than half a minute I would guess.
Placing the IC precisely and soldering the opposite coners actually takes longer than soldering all 64-pins afterwards.
And the final result actually looks a lot better than when you manually solder each pin one of a time.

It's also very easy to switch the tip in two seconds, just pull out one tip and push in another tip; there's not screws to loosen first.
And the tip heats up within very few seconds.

But Metcalf is soldering stations are rather expensive and probably too expensive for hobby use, unlees you can find a cheap one at eBay or something like that.

For hobby use I would reccomed to use Weller, they are very high quality irons and reasonable priced. Weller is also used by many professionals and we used them until we got a metcal on trial. We all tried the Metcal for a day or two and were all very excited about it, so our boss decide to order one for each of use instead of out Weller.

At home I use a Weller which I'm quite happy with, although I would like to have a Metcal if I could afford it.

You can get 3rd party solder tips for Weller. We have used both original and 3rd party tips at my work. The 3rd party tips are a lot cheaper than the original tips but the durabilty was also a lot poorer than the original tips. So in the end I'm not sure we saved anything by using 3rd party tips, because they din't last nearly as long. I thik my boss decided to switch back to the original ones again because he realised they lasted a lot longer.

I would not reccomend making your own tips. I have tried too many poor manufactured tips for cheap hobby soldering irons, and I don't think it's possible to make a better one at home than the low quality tips in the market, but that's just my opinion, I have never tried to make one.

Here's a good hint I learned once for when you turn off your soldering iron or store your solder tips for a longer time:
Always pour on some solder at your solder tip before you turn off your soldering iron and store the tip with solder on it, this will make the tip last longer because the tip won't be exposed to oxidation because it's protected by the solder.
Most people actually wipe the solder tip clean at the sponge before they turn of the iron; but this is a bad idea. It's okay to clean the tip but after than you should add some fresh solder before you turn of your soldering iron.
If you look at a new Weller tip, then you will also see that it already has solder on it from the factory, which will protect it.

S**t, this must be my longet post so far; probably way to long, but if you don't care to read it, at least you can always look at the pictures :D

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One thing I gotta mention, the 'back-and-forth' method of smd resistor removal seems to me to be best as well... The thing to keep in mind is, unless you're doing something unusual, you're probably only removing a couple at a time, then going back to normal soldering... When you think about it, the time to (if you've already been soldering) let the iron cool, change the tip, heat it back up, remove the resistor, let it cool again, change the tip back, heat it back up again, then back to soldering... Unless you have a complete pencil for each activity... The other tips look cool, but it just seems like the advantages would be outweighed by the annoyance.

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Hi,
For normal work I usually use a JBC 30S soldering pencil. Looks like this:

They have a nice range of tips. Here's the site:
JBC soldering and rework techniques

Same tip composition here:
1- A core of electrolytic copper
2- A layer of iron over the full lenght of the taper
3- A layer of nickel
4- A layer of chrome on the top area of the tip to protect against oxidation
5- Pretinned solder tip

I must say these tips last very, very long and are working like a charm.

Regards,

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