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Soldering advice

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by BosonMichael, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    So... here we are. My 20,000th post. And I'm going to do something I rarely do: post a thread asking a technical question I know very little about. Here's the deal:

    I have an Inspiron 5160 that is starting to have trouble getting power. If I wiggle the cord and/or hold it in a certain place, it gets power. But it's getting harder and harder to find that "sweet spot". So all I need to do is to replace the DC jack in the laptop. Right? Only one problem...

    ...I don't know how to solder. :oops: And the last time I tried (about 13 years ago), it wasn't pretty. Despite loving PC games, I don't have great dexterity.

    The laptop's not worth the $125 repair cost for a "professional" to repair it. So... having little to lose, I plan on doing this on my own. I come to you looking for whatever advice you guys can give me. I hope to also use my newfound soldering skills on my Amiga 500 that has a failed (and soldered) chip.

    I've done my research, and I've gathered the following info:

    - I need to get a soldering pencil, somewhere between 20-40W.
    - I need to use rosin core solder, between .75mm and 1mm diameter.
    - I can use a "solder sucker" or desoldering braid to desolder.

    I've found a "Learn to Solder" kit by Elenco, here: link

    Any tips or tricks? Things to watch out for?

    Thanks in advance, everyone. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
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  2. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    Just take it very very easy. I have a shaky left hand when doing things like that due to nerve damage and I have managed to solder points on motherboards. Just take easy just like when your applying thermal compound (in the horizontal line way) to a cpu.

    Think of the soldering iron as the same as the thermal compound syringe with the only difference being that it doesn't get hot :D

    That soldering kit looks quite good.
     
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  3. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

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    Heat up the area around where you are trying to solder first, then apply the new solder hold it there for about 5 to 10 seconds then the joint should be good. Then again I could be completely wrong as its years since I did any soldering :D
     
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  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Number one thing is to get a temperature regulated soldering iron with some good tips, this could easily cost over $125.
    Look up Metcal STSS/MX-500 on ebay...
    http://www.pacedirect.com/product.php?id=1740
    http://www.hakkousa.com/detail.asp?CID=49&PID=4800&Page=1
    http://www.amazon.com/Weller-WESD51-Digital-Soldering-Station/dp/B000ARU9PO

    Its good to attach something to act as a heat sink to remove the heat if possible. Wizard, certainly don't try to heat up a board populated with IC's.

    There are special chip de-solder adapters(shoes) that help you heat all pins at once. Also there are special de-solder air guns. Some cheap hacks involve wallpaper strippers but I doubt this is a good idea.

    There are chemical solutions that are supposed to make re-work easier, might appeal to you as a chemist...

    Definitely buy quality solder, some wick/braid too and a pump.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
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  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Since I don't plan to do much soldering, this would be more of an expense than the laptop is worth. If I can't do it for cheap, I won't be doing it at all. :)

    If I were going to be doing more soldering on a regular basis, I'd definitely invest in something like the one you mention.

    I wouldn't know what to use or where to attach it. :oops:

    I'm a clumsy chemist. You should have seen my lab coat! Covered in liquid crystal! :biggrin

    I wouldn't know quality solder from horrible solder. :oops: What should I look for? Again, cost is a consideration; I won't be putting a lot of money into this project...
     
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  6. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Thanks for the advice so far, everyone. :) Keep it coming!
     
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  7. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Well apparently you can rig a light dimmer to a low wattage $10 soldering iron. Lead based solder melts easier and some people consider it better, but its worse for the environment...

    This ones only $55...

    Don't forget to tin your iron as well to keep it in good working order, other than that I'd recommend an electronics forum or radioshack etc, electronics nerds who solder all day will have more to say about it I'm sure...
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
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  8. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Sadly, all the Radio Shacks around here are staffed by teens and twenty-somethings who barely know how to operate a cash register. Gone are the old, crusty enthusiasts who could grab the right electronic component from a mixed box while blindfolded. :(

    I don't personally know anyone around here who can solder, so I've had no luck getting any hands-on tips or purchasing advice. Those repair shops that I've called don't want to give up any soldering advice; they just want to cash in on a $125 repair (and I'm not about to spend that much).

    Thanks for the reminder on tinning... I've read up on the process, but I'm not sure if I'll be doing it right. :oops: Guess I'll give it my best shot!
     
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  9. LukeP

    LukeP Gigabyte Poster

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  10. dales

    dales Gigabyte Poster

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    I've always used de soldering braid, I've never had much luck with the suckers, braid is much easier, as its just the jack that needs replacing you have to be careful but its not like your resoldering on a chip so you can be a little more rough with those components.

    One thing I always do if I think it might be a bit hit or miss, before switching it on plug it into a circuit breaker. Its not that I dont trust my own work but an errant blob of solder connecting two pins can make quite a good fireworks display.
     
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  11. premier martin

    premier martin Bit Poster

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    Hi boson
    I have my ipc610 training cert and I am a fully qualified at soldering and I would agree with most people giving you advice so I will give some to help you as I change the connectors alot.
    Okay most sockets have two main pins through the board one will be for the pin in the middle and the other will be for the ground. If you have a multimeter you can test which is connected to where. I have noticed that if you test where the centre pin (live normally 19v) the looseness of the pin normally becomes disconnected from the main board hence wiggling it to get a connection. You can either replace the connector which means desoldering the whole connector possibly can damage the eyelets on the board. Of option two the live pin is connected to the board on the board the will be light green and dark green the dark green is the main PCb fibreglass and the light green are tracks which run throughout the board if you get a sharp knife/scalpel and scratch at this to expose the copper you can then rejoin the tracks back together its very cheap saves cost and works only be carful not to short the live to the ground when soldering. Sorry for the long winded version. So all you would need is a soldering iron cheap solder (buy the thin wire easier to work with and that way it's hard to put too much solder on the joints) a sharp knife/scalpel and a multimeter which you can buy anywhere and if you want you can get flux which will help to leave a nice clean joint hope this helps if younger stuck am sure we will all help and congrats on the posting
     
  12. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yep, seen that one a couple weeks ago... that's where I got the .75-1mm recommendation from. :) Thanks for the link reminder, though!
     
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  13. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Thanks. The Dell DC jack has NINE pins. :blink I figured I'd just desolder the old one and resolder a new one in place.
     
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  14. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yeah, I worry about that, considering my lack of skill. :oops:
     
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  15. Bluerinse
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    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    Mike, best advice i can give you is to practise practise practise on something else, that doesn't matter whether you mess it up, until you feel like you have reached a proficient level. It shouldn't take you long to get to the point where you are competent enough to tackle your laptop.

    If you dive straight in to your lappy, the chances are it will be the last time it ever powers up :biggrin
     
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  16. Gav

    Gav Kilobyte Poster

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    I'd make sure you use lead based solder. Yes, it's bad for you and the environment, but it's still much better when working by hand, or at least it was when I last purchased lead-free stuff.

    That said, I'd use it in a very well ventilated area and wouldn't intentionally breathe in the fumes :D
     
  17. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    For the Dell jack theres advice here.

    Note the ID chip issues I've described before.

    Also obviously check its not the cable or adapter psu, or ID link before attempting the jack replacement. The easiest way to do this is to swap out the charger with a known working Dell charger and check to see if you can charge the battery. Even lower voltage Dell chargers will work fine but they will just charge at a lower rate.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
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  18. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yep, I plan on replacing it with (supposedly) an OEM replacement jack, so I should be OK with the ID pin.

    The only other Dell charger I have is for my wife's newer laptop, and I'm not sure they're interchangeable. I'll take a look at them tonight. That said, I'm almost certain it is the jack, because I can get the laptop to charge by wiggling the jack without changing the placement of the cable. Still, it's worth a try.
     
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  19. BosonMichael
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    Yeah, the first project is definitely to solder and desolder the little test project alarm/siren a few times. Afterwards, I'll have to decide which project I'd rather tackle first: the Amiga or the Dell.
     
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  20. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Always keep your gun clean.
    Never point your weapon at anything you dont intend to shoot.
    Never leave a man behind.


    You're welcome! :biggrin
     
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