Monthly Archives: February 2014

  • What soldering tip do I need?

    Solder tip finding toolSoldering can be at once an incredibly rewarding and fun thing to do and a complete hassle. Without the right information, finding a tip that fits the job you are completing may be difficult. There are a few different tips that are specific to certain jobs and knowing a bit about them can make all the difference.

    Chisel Tips- chisel tips are perhaps the most common soldering tips on the market. They are easy to use, easy to come by, and are an all around great tip that fits plenty of different needs. For those just starting out, this type of tip is almost always best to get a feel for your soldering iron and your solder tip. This tip is good for creating smooth joints, smoothing over solder deposits, and more. This is truly the all around tip and should be part of any kit.

    Pointed Tips- This type of tip is almost always best for pin point work. This means that it is good for small detail work. This type of tip is good for moving the solder around after it has been deposited on the area you are going to be working with. It is perfect for creating small solders and pinpointing where you want your solder material to land and ultimately stay. This type of tip is great for both advanced and beginning users and is great for any soldering station. The Edsyn LT602-1LF tip is a fantastic pointed tip.

    Rounded Tips- these tips are great for depositing solder and for creating strong joints. This type of tip is great for beginning users and for advanced users and are perfect for depositing solder. If you are looking for a good solid soldering tip, round tips are great and offers stability in soldering for those that may not be all that sure about what they are doing.

    Mini Wave Hollow Tips- hollow tips are great for depositing solder and for moving around solder material while it is still hot and creating smooth joints. Hollow tips are great for both beginning and advanced users and are a great all around tip. Hollow tips generally feature a small well that can hold solder material at the tip to make for easy depositing.  One of the most popular Mini Wave tips is the Pace MiniWave.  Pace originated the patented tip design and we feature it on our site.  Keep in mind, the Pace MiniWave tip can only be used with the Pace soldering stations.  If you have a different soldering station brand, call (800) 521-9197 or email us for options.

    Solder tips do not have to be confusing. It takes just a bit of practice and a bit of information and you can easily and quickly find the tip that is right for your job. The tip makes all the difference and can make soldering much easier.

    Soldering tip locator

     

     

     

     

     

  • What is a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and interesting facts about PCBs

    03-03-2012-09Although most people may have heard the term “printed circuit board,” many people do not know what they are, how they are used or why they are so important. These are the most basic facts to know.

    What Are PCBs?

    Used in most electronic products, PCBs provide support and connect the often-tiny electronic components that power or run electronic products/devices; in essence, they create electronic circuits. Some of the most basic components found on PCBs include:

    1. Capacitors (store energy)
    2. Resistors (protect devices from excessive energy flows)
    3. Relays
    4. Integrated circuits
    5. Diodes (make sure energy flows in one direction only)
    6. CHIP Holders

    How PCBs have been made has included hand-created designs but, most recently, they involve computer-developed models (which allow for on-screen testing before the use of actual components). Models have included copper tracked plastic with glass reinforcement; the tracks replace wiring and connect components through the use of holes on the board. The board, in essence, provides a map for the placement of electronic components atop the board.

    Related Terms

    You may also run into terms like printed wiring board (PWB), a board with no electronic components but, rather, just copper connections. If electronic components are added, the terms printed circuit assembly (PCA) or PCB assembly (PCBA) are sometimes used. You may even see circuit card assembly (CCA) for completed boards. The important thing to remember is that PCB is used interchangeably and is accurate to use in most cases.

    How PCB Technology is changing

    Although PCBs may still be created using time-consuming, error-prone tools like breadboards, most PCBs today are created/tested using computer software like Crocodile Technology (Yenka Electronics). This process allows circuits to be tested both to look for operational errors and to cut down on the use of materials and time.

    PCBs may be considered the heart of electronic devices and their parts must function exactly as diagrammed or expected. If one component malfunctions, the whole circuitry may be affected and, ultimately, the whole device powered/directed by the PCB. Because of its reliability, most PCB designs, production, and function are computer directed.

    ThinkingEngineer

  • Safely Cleaning PCBs -- Most Important Considerations

    Cleaning printed circuit boards is always fraught with some risk; consequently, you need to weigh the need for such cleaning with the possibility of damaging the board. Naturally, if you suspect that the messiness of the PCB may be the reason behind or may lead to malfunction, then, by all means, clean away.

    If you must clean a PCB, then you need to follow certain precautions. Other considerations that should apply include:

    • What type of debris are you dealing with?

    The easiest PCB debris to get rid of is, of course, free-flowing dust—especially if you remove socketed components from the board before proceeding. Dust and particles can easily be removed with pressured air (preferably from a low-power vacuum cleaner) and a gentle brush. Grime, on the other hand, presents a more serious, albeit manageable problem. Removal thereof (especially if wax or oil is involved) may require some scrubbing and, possibly, the use of water and liquid cleaners.

    • Does the board have components that may be especially vulnerable to liquids?

    Things like cardboard-contained components, carbon film/open-frame potentiometers and older-version, water-vulnerable crystals may be especially vulnerable to liquids (including water); that goes for paper stickers. Some such items might be de-soldered/removed to make the cleaning process more feasible/easier. By all means, properly dry out the board after such cleanings—possibly with the use of the oven set at a low temperature (i.e., 170 degrees).

    • Should you consider using professional cleaning supplies, equipment and techniques?

    In addition to special cleaning agents (i.e., “Brasso”), there are special techniques/services that you can employ, including media blasting, ultrasonic cleaning, and media tumbling. You can also hire people who specialize in such services or avail yourself of the literature on PCB cleaning fundamentals.

    Conclusion:

    Dealing with unclean PCBs is not just a matter of aesthetics. Debris and gunk in PCBs can hamper performance and, in the long run, lead to malfunction. By following strict protocols and cleaning PCBs only when absolutely necessary, though, you can avoid unnecessary, possibly expensive trouble.

    If the board is tainted with left-over solder flux, then you may use either flux remover or rubbing or anhydrous alcohol, making sure to dry the surface with lint-free towels/tissueThinkingEngineer

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