Both of these topics have been covered here before, try searching to read the older threads.
I used to have a pretty well equipt workshop years ago. After going on disability, I was forced to sell of much of what I had collected over time. Now, in
better shape all around, I find myself putting back cash for tools and test equipment, as well as for the projects that I'm involved with and planning for the not to distant future. I'd like some advice on a couple of items. Concerning a soldering iron specifically for soldering chassis. In my younger days I did this with a 40 Watt iron. There was no doubt that it was under powered, but I made do successfully. However, I no longer plan to nap as I solder. Gerald Weber of Kendrick amps related in one of his books
that he used a 175 Watt plumber's iron. I've never even seen one of these, perhaps because I don't haunt plumbing supply outfits. 175W. seems a tad overkill to me. I
don't need max speed. I'm not saetting up for mass production. Any opinions appreciated. The other item which I will be in the market for is a good quality scope. I had
a B-K Precision dual trace, 40mhz, if memory serves me, back in the early 80"s. I'm sure that it was analog. Audio frequency is the only level that I will be needing in the near future. Any suggestions are most welcome. I'd like to keep from going over say...$750.00 if that's even possible. Thanks in advance for any opinions. tonequester.
Both of these topics have been covered here before, try searching to read the older threads.
Thanks much 52 Bill. 80 Watts would be double the heat that I made do with in the past, and if that has worked well for you I'm sure that it will for me.
I'll bet the difference in price between the 80W and the 175W is considerable. I've been wary of eBay,up until this point, but I've heard some good things about Craig's list.
I hadn't even thought about a used scope, but under $500.00 and perhaps as low as $200.00 is mighty enticing. The money saved would go along way in making it possible to obtain alot of other odds and ends that I can see needing sooner or later. Sooner is better. The B-K was my only experience with a scope and it never caused me any problems in "the day". I will check this out dor sure. Thanks again for your reply. tonequester.
How often do you really need to solder to chassis? If you are cloning old Fenders, get the brass strip and solder to that. If you need to ground something, comsider drilling a hole and putting a solder lug under a nut.
For actual chassis solder, I usually get out my ancient but reliable old Weller solder gun. I forget, 100/140 watt? They made a larger one that went to 200 watts. Hey, it is a chassis, it isn;t like you will overheat it with too many watts. Plus it is useful for wiring larger things. SOldering wires to speakers or something. Pot lugs, jacks, things that are not sensitive like tiny diodes might be.
Those guns heat up in seconds, and better yet,cool back off pretty quick, so you can get it out, solder, and put it away without warm up and cool down waiting.
Soldering gun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For chassis work, the hotter the better in my book. Lower wattage might get you there, but while you are waiting for the spot to get hot enough, the heat has time to spread to everything around it. "Overkill" doesn;t apply to chassis work. Hell, one of those little microflame butane torch thingies would even work.
Guitar amps are about the LEAST demanding thing in terms of scopes. You surely do not NEED to spend $750. I bought a brand new Tenma scopoe a couple years back, from MCM. Thought I would give it a try. Seems to work just fine - $300 range new. You can certainly find used scopes darn cheap, and they will be perfectly fine. I don't think they ever made any scopes that did not have enough bandwidth. Even an old 500kc scope (500kHz or 0.5MHz if you prefer) is plenty. ANything with megahertz in the number will be fine.
In the old days they made some scopes with "recurrent sweep." That meant the beam swept at a steady rate as set. That worked, but sometimes youo had to fiddle to keep the display from drifting. But in recent decades, almost aall scopes are "triggered sweep." That syncs the display to the waveform so it is steady. You'd have to really look to find a scope that was not triggered. You want triggered sweep unless you are getting a recurrent sweep scope for free.
Even single trace scopes are pretty rare these days. I very rarely NEED a dual trace scope, but most are dual trace today. I find the two traces convenient for various things, not the least of which is X-Y mode so you can get the cool displays like Loudthud posted in another thread and now uses as his avatar. But if you find a real deal on an old WORKING single trace scope, it will do.
One local place to find scopes cheap sometimes is the local Ham Radio community. They have "ham fests" now and then, and they have a flea market setup where they swap stuff and sell things.
Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.
Thanks for the advice on irons AND scopes. I had never thought about taking too much time with an underpowered iron causing a heat related problem with some component in proximity to the work at hand. I had also forgot all about those soldering guns. It brought back the gun my dad had at home when I was a kid. he worked at Western Electric for some time, and may have "picked it up" there. I do remember how fast it heated up, and that it was cool to the touch pretty quick as well. I have to admit that I never heard of "Ham Fests", but I used to know an old tech who got his education through ham radio. He told me it was a good way to go except for the fact that "you have the old bugaboo.....the code."
I'll do some checking around to see if any of these type of events are held around here. I've always enjoyed the swap and shop type thing anyway, and if ham fests are anything like that there is bound to be some good seals on all kinds of equipment and only God knows what else ! Thanks again for the reply and the sharing of your experience. Peace Bro'.
Some of the best advice I read and then tried was to use two soldering irons to heat your work. However, it is difficult to do this alone, but with another person to help it can be a useful tactic in certain situations. Also, this is only necessary in more trying circumstances. I also keep an iron that has a larger tip for those larger jobs that need way more surface contact heat. One thing I can say about having lower wattage iron is that I tend to not over heat things. Personally, I find a 40 watt soldering station is all I need for 99% of all my basic jobs. Most of that is PCB type boards, but w/ older hand wired amps it pays to have higher wattage irons on hand. My rule of thumb is make sure the tip is clean and hot as hell before I do any soldering.
Thanks for your reply DrGonz78, and glad to make your aquaintance. The advice given is recieved. It's a pretty good ides as well, that I had never thought of.I always have someone hanging around to help me with an extra iron. Have a "great one". tonequester.
A plumbers Soldering Copper as they call them are big tipped electric or passive soldering irons that are dirt cheap at hardware stores, for $20. But look in garage sales for old ones like the series from American Beauty. They make one that is 550watts but more likely a used one in the 200-300 watt range would be better for chassis. They never wear out so offer $5. Used tool stores will have them for $20. You do not need it often but when you need heat that does not drop too quickly when the tip contacts the chassis, more solid connections can be made.
Soldering guns by Weller or Wen are also available used since few people use them nowadays but they were in everyone's garage workbench 40 years ago....good estate or garage sale prospect. The only downside is you need a large power rating than a soldering copper because the guns have so little thermal mass, they retain so little heat. It is easier to get a "cold" solder joint with a gun where the solder forms a crystalline structure that is mechanically fragile. They are convenient however since they cool so fast you do not need an iron holder. The tips need frequent maintenance however.
Your day to day soldering will be done with a smaller iron, 40-80 watt range. Used Weller solder stations last forever but even used are more than the new Chinese solder stations with variable calibrated temperature controlled tip. $40-50 new. Weller, $150 new, $50 used.
An old B&K 1470 dual trace scope would still be very useful and was made pretty well, certainly a good deal used for $25-100. Call the local ham radio club, they will know of recently deceased hams(all of those guys are getting pretty old now, they started when it was the most exciting hobby for kids in the 30s-50s). The ex-YLs(wives in ham lingo) don't know what to do with all the electronics tools and equipment he had accumulated so they usually turn to their local ham club for help getting rid of it or to donate it. The equipment sells pretty quickly but things like old scopes and soldering irons, meters and such are often given away. The ham club will know of who has a stash of these gear, often they have it themselves in a clubhouse stored until the next Ham Fest or swap meet.
You will need a good signal generator and if working on tube amps, am old HP, Heath, Eico or other brand of VTVM since they are perfect for tube gear. They are tube themselves and are immune to the types of overloads and arc-pulling that kills little digital meters. Besides, most digital meters have a highest voltage input level of 300-600 volts. A used VTVM at a swap meet should be $10 but you might have to pay $40 on eBay. B&K, Heath, HP, and other brands of audio signal generators are common in swap meets and ham estate sales.. It should have calibrated frequency scales and output step attenuator or calibrated variable output level control.
A dummy load would be useful also. Big power resistors of 16, 8 or 4 ohms might be harder to find, but new from larger component catalogs like Digikey have them for reasonable prices. Check at swap meets for adjustable power resistors which have a sliding contact that allows adjustment to the resistance you need. A 20 ohm 200 adjustable resistor is about $18 new. That will be large enough for any amp with 4 power tubes or less, or a SVT for shorter burn-in times.
For a really useful addition, get a Variac with a current meter if possible. Look in ham swap meets but new Chinese models can be had for $100 that will handle any projects you wish to power up slowly to watch current draw.
Add a monitor utility speaker and you have a complete competent work bench for tube gear and stay well under your $750 budget.
Good luck and good tinkering....
About 3 or 4 years ago I gave myself a Dremel mini blow-torch(don't know how you call them in English - later edited, found it on Amazon, see below, it's called a blow torch indeed). It lights up just like a regular cigar lighter, by clicking a lever the side, you then use a single hand to lock the lever on, then unclick it to cut the gas supply and turn it off, all with one hand. You fill it up with regular butane gas canisters used for all refillable lighters.
Something like this: Dremel Versaflame Gas Blow Torch + 7 Accessories : Tooled-Up.com but mine doesn't stand up like that.
I apply a little soldering flux to the chassis so that oxidizing doesn't get in the way, then the blow torch solders any thickness chassis in 2 to 3 seconds it's absurd really. The problem with the blow torch is you can probably only use it for new builds. When the amplifier guts are in, if you blow torch it you'll carbonize wires and components around the target.. Also terminal strips and similar will carbonize if you blow torch them, so I use a 2mm(about 3/32") thick leftover scrap brass sheet as a shield which I put in place in front of other components before blow torching. Carbon is a good conductor, so if you happen to blow torch terminal strips and even so slightly carbonize them, they can't be used for high voltage any more. Take it from me, I've blown things up that way.
For the jobs where the blow torch won't do and you still need power, I own one of these: http://best-b2b.com/userimg/545/546-...g-iron-677.jpg - They're cheap around here, and do the job quickly as well. They just take a long while to heat up, but once that massive head is hot it can white-solder two trucks together.
For circuit/delicate solders, this is an investment I made and I never looked back: Amazon.com: Weller WTCPT 60 Watts/120V Temperature Controlled Soldering Station: Home Improvement - These things heat up in 10 seconds, and the temperature is controlled. During a bit larger solder, the thing hums and pulls a boatload of current and keeps the tip hot no matter what. A friend of mine underestimated this little beast because it looks delicate and works on 24 volts, after he used mine he also went out and got one.
Scope: I bought one of these in 2008 or 2009. Amazon.com: Tektronix TDS1001B 40 MHz, 2 CH Digital Storage Oscilloscope w/Monochrome Display: Industrial & Scientific It's the simpler one from the Tek's digital lineup and it does everything you'll ever need in audio and then some. If you're not going for digital, there are millions of great analog scopes on eBay, remember for audio work you don't need the 2 billionhertz bandwidth models, though class D amps may require some more speed but then again I still can't get class D out of my hot bottles
Just throwing my 2 cents in, hope this helps.
Soldering iron: It depends on what you are planning to tackle. If it's cables, connectors and point-to-point chassis wiring, a Weller gun plus a 40W pencil iron should cover everything.
If you plan to get into replacing components, especially surface-mount parts, you'll need 1 or 2 temperature controlled pencil irons with a lot of interchangeable tips and possibly a hot-air gun made for this sort of work and a low power microscope.
Greetings jmaf, pleased to make your aquaintance, amnd many thanks for your "2 cents worth" I have not seen a Dremel versaflame, but i'll sure be looking for one. it sound like the ticket for thoise high temp. soldering jobs. Sort of one of those, one use and it pays foer itself things. I took down all of your advice concerning needed tools, I've gotten some great advice on this forum from folks like you. Yhe more I "meet", the more good things I learn. Here's looking forward to further meetings "at the crossroads". tonequester.
Qoute : "Always do whatever's next." George Carlin.
thanks for the advice on soldering philbo, and pleased to "make your aquaintance". I've got the small stuff covered. i used to be an electronics assembler in my youth and even back then(early 80's) I had to hand solder 80 pin I.C.s. We had to do our own re-work as well, so if you were going to be able to not only build a board, but tear it apart and build it again, ad infinitum, until it checked out 100%, you needed every kind of tip and temp. available. i've neve had to deal with the big stuff very often, but i do know that what i had to work with was forever under-powered. nothing will cause problems like faulty chassis grounds in amplifiers. I've had several folks recommend the Weller guns, so I'll be checking into them.
Thanks so much for your tips(no pun intended). Have a great day. tonequester.
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