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What am I doing wrong? (Soldering Advice)

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Hey folks, this is going to be a long one.

So a while back I decided to start dabbling into micro-soldering. Not going as planned. I’m having quite a few issues here. The first and biggest one, why is my solder not melting??

When I touch my solder to the tip of the iron, it takes a good amount of force for it to melt, then immediately hardens (ish). It will turn into a paste of sorts. It’ll move, but not very well. The exact same thing happens when I apply it to boards. It clumps up and refuses to flow (See attached picture). The only way for me to get it to do anything is to point my hot air gun at it at the same time as I try and apply it to pads. Like I previously said, it clumps up and usually falls off the iron so it doesn’t get very far. Another major issue I have (Still related to the previous one) is it won’t stick to the pads at all. Well, it’ll go on them but bridges them all and doesn’t go on each one like they should (See photos). I apply a good amount of flux so my only guess is a crappy iron? My soldering station is a cheap $100 unit from china, so I’m assuming that’s playing a big part in my troubles.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some issues I’m having, so I will most likely update this post as time goes on.

Should I go out and spend a decent amount of money on quality Hakko equipment? Not to mention my “microscope” is a Galaxy S10 Plus attached to some sort of a stand with elastics. I have attached multiple photos of my setup and equipment.

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Any and all help is appreciated. As I said, I know nothing about this so even the most basic stuff may help me tremendously. Thank you all!

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Can you give us some more info?

·         What temp have you got the iron set at?

·         What solder are you using?

·         What flux are you using?

·         What size tip is that?

I have never seen solder wire turn into paste before. That tip looks way too small to attempt any soldering work on a MAC besides running small jumper wires. If you are trying to tin pads I would suggest using a BC2 tip.

Besides skill there are also other factors that come into play which you need to be aware of.

You could start by researching ground plains and what effect they have on microsoldering.

 I have a spare station like yours and with the proper tip I have no worries tinning pads. You need to learn why your solder is acting this way; I think you know the answer as you mentioned what you have to do to get it to flow.

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You will not be able to tin pads with that iron tip and as Dan suggested get some decent solder. If you need to get into tight places on a mac or Phone you will probably need micro tweezers as they can produce enough heat.

If you are serious about board repair you might have to upgrade your equipment but with the right accessories for your current station it should be adequate for learning. If you are looking to upgrade I recommend the Hakko FM-203 as this allows for the mini hot tweezers as well as your iron.

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I would use solder wick to fully remove the lead free solder Apple uses. It's a low melting very soft solder which don't mix well with good quality solders (leaded).

I have my iron set at ~450C as if it's any lower it does nothing to the solder. The solder is some Chinese stuff that came with the station. Not quite sure what it's called but I've uploaded a picture of it. The flux is "Mechanic No.225" from MobileSentrix. As far as the tip size I have no clue. I've uploaded a picture of it on one of the MacBook's keys so you can get an idea of size. I thought it was too big lol it can barley fit between some chips when trying to put solder on a pad for something like a resistor or capacitor. What do you mean by "researching ground plains"? Is that the ground pad on the board? I wasn't lying when I said I know nothing hahaha. I'll try and upload a video of what happens when trying to apply solder to the iron, although I'm not sure how. Thanks for the response!

I would throw that solder and flux away as the stuff the iron has packaged with it tends to be low quality.

I use Kester solder 44 Flux-Cored Wire

I also use both a flux paste & liquid: Chip Quik SMD291 flux paste and Chip Quik CQ9LF-0.5 liquid flux

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