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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 04:49

If you have spent any significant amount of time dealing with electric airplanes you will most likely come across a need to do some soldering. Soldering is one of those skills that looks easy enough to do, but when you start doing it, things can go from frustrating to raging in 3 seconds. It always starts simple enough "Oh I have a new battery with the wrong plug on it, all I need to do is connect the black wire to the negative side and the red wire to the positive...simple!" But then you find yourself trying to hold down a wire, plug, solder and the iron all the while trying to get everything to mesh together...it can be quite challenging!

My experiences all started out this way, me fumbling around with the stupid black and red wire ending an hour later with either a poorly soldered deans plug, a melted deans plug or a battery with a bunch of cold solder on the ends of the wires with no deans plug attached. After watching and re-watching videos on You Tube I realized that I was doing everything correctly according to the instructions but my success level was still somewhere near zero.

I finally wisened up and realized I needed a third hand. Instead of trying to grow a third hand I opted to get Heads Up RC's Soldering Jig. This mundane looking block was quite helpful in securely holding deans plugs, wires and bullet connectors in place while I melted hot smoldering solder over them. When I received the Jig I did my own jig before excitedly trying to solder again. My happiness was short lived as I ran into the same problems as before. The solder would only melt when I touched the iron directly to it and it never wanted to stay on the wire or connector that I intended it to. After 45 minutes of trying to solder one wire to a deans plug I was done. The jig was great and did its job of holding everything in place, but even with the third hand I was still unsuccessful.

The next day I walked into the local hobby shop to buy some knick knacks. While standing around and BS'ing with the guys behind the counter I watched as one of them pulled out the soldering station and begin soldering some deans plugs on another customer's battery. Like Bob Ross on an empty canvas he expertly soldered the plugs to the battery and in the process created a thing of beauty. This all happened in 45 seconds and in complete bewilderment I asked how he did it so easily. I explained to him all the troubles I was having the previous night and he told me that I needed a hotter soldering iron. I looked and showed him that I was already using the exact same one he was! Then he asked a question I wish someone would've asked months earlier.

Solder King: "Oh, well what kind of solder are you using?"

*Blink Blink*

Me: "Uuuhhh....I don't know it is gray, comes in a coil and melts when I put an iron to it, some guy at another shop sold it to me"

I searched around the store and noticed they had some of it for sale.

Me: "This stuff! This is it!"

Solder King: "Oh yeah, I wouldn't use that at all, especially not for soldering batteries and motors, that is for soldering landing gear together and big type of jobs. You'd need a much hotter iron to work with it, and once it sets it is nearly impossible to melt again."

My mouth hit the floor, for my entire soldering career I had been using a type of solder that would only make my job harder. I was using 3% silver solder which was much too thick for the delicate jobs I was trying to do. In a wonderful gesture the solder king gave me a 9" strand of the stuff he was using so I could test it out to see if it made a difference.

I went home and tried it out on the battered battery from the previous night. To my utter amazement when I touched the iron to the wire and fed in some solder, it melted like ice cream on a summer day! Within in record time I had the battery soldered to a deans plug with clean solid joints. I was amazed. In a burst of excitement I hurriedly chopped off the EC3 connector of another battery and began stripping and pre-tinning the wires of the new battery. Again in even faster time I was able to solder the battery to the deans. It was in that moment that I would forever be known as the Supreme Soldering King.

Patience and perseverance finally paid off and it opened up a whole new fairly enjoyable side of the hobby. To hopefully save others the frustrations I had, here are the tips to becoming a successful solder soldier listed below:

  • Patience

  • Soldering Iron, sponge and steel wool

  • Good Solder! (60/40 Rosin-Core...aka light duty)

  • Jig

  • Steady Hands

  • Patience

To all my friends out there, keep soldiering forward with the soldering and you too can become a king!

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