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Author Topic: Solder Connections  (Read 3987 times)

aviator

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Solder Connections
« on: April 18, 2004, 09:33:29 pm »

Hi, I'm new to this forum so please excuse me if this is the wrong place to ask this question. I would like to know of the best technique of soldering the small diameter wire used in audio cables, usually 20-24 gauge wire, to XLR type connectors. I was always taught that a good mechanical connection makes a good solder connection. With the small diameter of the wire and the typical size of the terminals on XLR connectors, its almost impossible to get a good mechanical connection and avoid a dull looking solder joint. I have been soldering for 40+ years but mostly building radio kits, etc. Any suggestions?

Thank you!
Garry
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Tom Roche

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2004, 12:05:24 am »

I sure wish they'd change those wide-open terminals on XLR connectors.  I just soldered 24 channels of a 32-channel snake into stage pockets for a church stage.  Besides the fact that I wasn't given enough slack in each of the wire bundles to perform the work on top of the stage, it still made for an especially difficult time working with small diameter wires and those XLR terminals.  So I experimented with crimping the wires prior to soldering them, but that exercise was a disaster.Embarassed    I spoke with a local sound company tech who said he gets best results by pre-soldering the terminals.....tinning them, if you will.  That seemed to work best for me too.  Then tin the leads and properly solder them as you would any electrical connection.  You just need to be careful not to overheat the terminals as they can soften the XLR plastic, possibly opening the pin holes and causing intermittent connections.  I have years of soldering experience on high tech weapons systems, but this was my first with these XLR connections.

Another thing....I noticed a lot of folks don't use flux, instead relying on the embedded flux in some solder wire.  I always use flux (I prefer liquid type over paste) and found this to help make great joints on the XLR connections.  Since flux is corrosive to solder joints, be sure to clean well with alcohol.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2004, 12:14:55 am »

aviator wrote on Sun, 18 April 2004 20:33

Hi, I'm new to this forum so please excuse me if this is the wrong place to ask this question. I would like to know of the best technique of soldering the small diameter wire used in audio cables, usually 20-24 gauge wire, to XLR type connectors. I was always taught that a good mechanical connection makes a good solder connection. With the small diameter of the wire and the typical size of the terminals on XLR connectors, its almost impossible to get a good mechanical connection and avoid a dull looking solder joint. I have been soldering for 40+ years but mostly building radio kits, etc. Any suggestions?

Thank you!
Garry


If you've been soldering for 40+ you should be giving us lessons. Agreed, the basis for good solder connections is a mechanical connection first, but many modern connectors are designed to just let the solder hold a wire lead in a cup and then rely on separate mechanical strain relief to prevent joint stress from leading to ultimate failure.

As you surely know a dull looking solder joint is caused by heat application for too long, burning off the flux. You may need to consider a lower wattage iron.

There have been many discussions of general soldering techniques in the main LAB archives. If and when the search capability is happening you will find plenty there on the subject.

JR
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Dave Stevens

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2004, 01:00:00 am »

JR wrote on Sun, 18 April 2004 21:14

If and when the search capability is happening you will find plenty there on the subject.


Oh ye of little faith....     Razz

Dave
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Tim Padrick

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2004, 02:23:17 am »

Tom's description is what I believe is called a sweat joint: two pieces are tinned, then are heated until the solder on both melts.  They are placed in their final positions and held motionless, the heat is removed, and the joint remains motionless until it has cooled to the point that the solder is once again solid.  This works fine.  For every such joint I have seen fail, I have seen several failed crimps and several failed faston connections.

Lee Patzius

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2004, 10:21:54 am »

aviator wrote on Sun, 18 April 2004 20:33

I was always taught that a good mechanical connection makes a good solder connection.


Hi Garry,

Connect the un-soldered connector into a spare mating connector for stability. Then use vinyl electrical tape, and tape the connector pair down onto a clean surface, such as Formica, or anything clean for that matter. The connector will be able to "rotate" as it slides on the table, but sticks to the tape. Rotate into position where the solder cups are up.

Then tape down your cable too, with the wires forced into the pins. There's your pre-soldered mechanical connection.

I do not pre-tin connectors using this method.

Use a very hot 40 watts (or so) soldering iron. I have way more luck with the hotter irons, than I do with those underpowered irons, especially on large mechanical surfaces. Get in fast and get out fast. And don't let the solder wick up under the insulation.

Make sure you are using rosin core 40/60 solder. Flux? I don't use flux on any electrical connections, all the rosin you need is inside the solder. But you can lightly sand parts to be soldered, if you experience solder repelling off surfaces.

Lee Patzius





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Andy Peters

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2004, 01:13:41 pm »

kickdrive wrote on Mon, 19 April 2004 07:21

Use a very hot 40 watts (or so) soldering iron. I have way more luck with the hotter irons, than I do with those underpowered irons, especially on large mechanical surfaces.


You want an iron that doesn't get cold as soon as you touch the tip to the work.  I don't know my tool's power rating, but I *do* know that the tip I use for building cables is at 700 degrees and doesn't change.

Also, it's important that the tip be the correct size and shape.  Too small and you don't heat the work properly.

--a
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2004, 02:26:59 pm »

Dave wrote on Mon, 19 April 2004 00:00

JR wrote on Sun, 18 April 2004 21:14

If and when the search capability is happening you will find plenty there on the subject.


Oh ye of little faith....     Razz

Dave



OK, delete the "if"..... We all appreciate the work you're doing and have done.

As a serial answerer, I look forward to being able to find and offer links to previous answers.

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Mike Chapin

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2004, 10:04:17 pm »

Hmmm. I just fill each of the little cups almost full with solder, leaving a slightly concave surface. Then tin the wire, reheat the cup, shove the wire in, remove the heat, hold it still, and voila! That's the way I've done it for over 30 years, and have never had a failure or bad connection. You definitely need a good strain relief on the main jacket because, no matter how good your mechanical connection at the joint is, that little 22ga wire ain't going to resist that moron who removes the plug by pulling on the cable.
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Lee Patzius

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Re: Solder Connections
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2004, 11:03:36 pm »

Bullum wrote on Mon, 19 April 2004 21:04

Hmmm. I just fill each of the little cups almost full with solder, leaving a slightly concave surface. Then tin the wire, reheat the cup, shove the wire in, remove the heat, hold it still, and voila!


Hi Bullum,

Some of the guys in our instrument shop use the pre-tinned method succesfully. But I can't do that as well.

I personally like taping down the connectors and wire, while using the "un-tinned" method, especially on pins. The wires will go in deep and seat unobstructed. Plus I can land all of them them simultaneously if there ain't too to many pins, but XLR connectors are easy to land simulataneously, and the pins will only get hot once. Not to mention, my fingers won't get hot either, and the wires are rock solid stable during cooling.

But on non-cupped pins, or tabs with no holes, like you'll find on used connectors, I'll pretty much have alter my method, and tape down each wire individually. Soldering pre-soldered pins and tabs requires me to treat the connector as a "used" connector.

But sometimes I will have to pre-tin the extrememly small, soft, and finely stranded wires, for the sake of stability, or for scraping the enamel coating off, such as in audio xfmrs, or "Litz" wire found in Sony Walkman style headphones, etc. (which I just learned about recently) but 90% of the time, I won't pre-tin wires on any pro cables or wiring, because it's usually very high quality and stable.

But, sometimes pre-tinning the wire causes obstructions in the pins, like little thorns sticking out, which I have to crush with needle nose pliers. I don't know...it's just me.

Like I said, some guys are comfortable with pre-tinning, but I'm not.

Side Note #1 : NEVER blow on a cooling solder joint. It causes cold, ugly, and impure solder joints (breath vapor), and it'll get you (me) in trouble in all the shops I've worked out of, especially by the "old" old timers.

Side note #2 : If I only had a nickle for every backshell I forgot to put on first...

Lee Patzius


 
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