Soldering/Electronics/Raspberry Pi help

furbatfurbat Registered User regular
edited April 2017 in Help / Advice Forum
Greetings, I recently purchased one of these.

https://learn.adafruit.com/pigrrl-zero/overview

I was enticed by claims of moderate difficulty and it being a reasonable project for someone new to soldering.

6 hours later...

Yeah, this was the most frustrating thing I have ever done in my life. The worst part was trying to get tiny little wires soldered to previously soldered connections.

When I turned it on, of course I get a red blinking light and the thing starts to overheat. Is there any way to salvage my project or do I just chuck the whole thing. Also, I bought two.

I teach a computer science class and was interested in doing something like this as a project. Now I just want to buy 20 of them and smash them with a hammer.

Suggestions?

Also, who the #$#^# thought this was moderate difficulty? You have to solder 40 connections on something smaller than a stick of gum. What the hell does hard look like?

furbat on

Posts

  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    Yeah, it doesn't seem like the best intro to soldering project, but it also doesn't seem all that bad either. Soldering isn't the most fun thing, but if you are into doing these types of projects there should be a decent amount of youtube tutorials on intro to soldering. I'd suggest starting with something like that, maybe headphone repair, couple other beginning level projects just to get you comfortable with it as a concept.

    PSN: jfrofl
    dispatch.otynicZilla360
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2017
    furbat wrote: »
    Greetings, I recently purchased one of these.

    https://learn.adafruit.com/pigrrl-zero/overview

    I was enticed by claims of moderate difficulty and it being a reasonable project for someone new to soldering.

    6 hours later...

    Yeah, this was the most frustrating thing I have ever done in my life. The worst part was trying to get tiny little wires soldered to previously soldered connections.

    When I turned it on, of course I get a red blinking light and the thing starts to overheat. Is there any way to salvage my project or do I just chuck the whole thing. Also, I bought two.

    I teach a computer science class and was interested in doing something like this as a project. Now I just want to buy 20 of them and smash them with a hammer.

    Suggestions?

    Also, who the #$#^# thought this was moderate difficulty? You have to solder 40 connections on something smaller than a stick of gum. What the hell does hard look like?

    Has anyone shown you how to solder or are you just kind of trying to figure it out on your own via tutorial videos?

    I recommend you buy just a big blank pcb and a spool of wire and go to town til you have it down, then try something like this again. Once you are in a groove and have figured out how solder behaves you'll have a much better time. There was a time I'd just say, "Go to Radioshack and ask someone about solder learning kits!" but alas, Radioshack is dead. No one will ever really understand how awesome it was to have a place that sold the kind of cool things they did for electronic hobbies. Everyone just remembers them as a subpar phone and computer retailer now.

    I learned way back in high school on a guy like THIS and my project partner and I still fucked it up pretty good initially and had to learn how to repair severed traces and melted pcb material. Would recommend you get a clamp like THIS to make life easier.

    Edit: It takes a lot of practice to figure out just how little solder you actually need to hold something to a board.

    dispatch.o on
    KetBraBetsunitynicZilla360MrVyngaard
  • KetBraKetBra Dressed Ridiculously Registered User regular
    edited April 2017
    So, without more details its hard to tell exactly what the problem is, but if I had to guess, I'd say you've probably accidentally created a short with a solder bridge. This is caused by too much solder blobbing from one joint into another, creating an electrical connection that can cause excess current and overheating. I would check that you don't have any blobs connecting your solder joints together, and try removing the excess solder with a clean tip or a wick if you have it.

    As Radiation says practising up your soldering skills is probably your best bet. Starting with trying to solder some stripped wires together, and once you've got your basic skills down solid, try your hand at this again.

    As mentioned, it may be best to try buying something like this:

    https://www.adafruit.com/product/1609

    And just soldering wires to it until you can get reliable, solid, solder joints

    Adafruit has a page on soldering problems that you can use as a reference:

    https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-guide-excellent-soldering/common-problems

    KetBra on
    KGMvDLc.jpg?1
    dispatch.otynic
  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    edited April 2017
    Thank you guys for the help, I think i fixed it!

    I never removed the usb hub from the powerboost 1000, Because of this, the + and - signs were covered up and I soldered the positive and negative wires in reverse.

    I now have power and a blue light!

    Edit: Shit

    I just get a white screen and the no led on the pi to indicate that it is trying to boot.

    furbat on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Keep in mind no matter what happens here, you can practice your soldering and repair skills. Learning to wick solder and clean up messes is oddly satisfying as long as you don't get too hung up on perfect results.

    KetBraZilla360Auralynxmosssnack
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Also, you'll get an impressive collection of burn marks on your fingers!

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
    dispatch.oMrVyngaardTheBlackWind
  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    Already got a couple! I'm putting the project on hold until this weekend. I'm also seeking the help of the material science teacher at my school.

    dispatch.oZilla360
  • MugsleyMugsley Registered User regular
    He's going to try to teach you about the phase diagram for solder. RUN AWAY if this happens.

    DevoutlyApatheticZilla360tynic
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    furbat wrote: »

    Yeah, this was the most frustrating thing I have ever done in my life. The worst part was trying to get tiny little wires soldered to previously soldered connections.

    To ask some obvious questions.

    1, you are using solder on the wires right, not just trying to melt the wire?

    2, do you have a third hand with clips to hold stuff for you?

    third_hand_parts_holder.jpg


    3, are you using a solder sucker to clean off failed attempts at soldering spots?

    AX-808.jpg

    4, are using an always on soldering iron, not one where you have to press a button or pull a trigger? You cleaning the tip with a wet sponge/rag?
    Also, who the #$#^# thought this was moderate difficulty? You have to solder 40 connections on something smaller than a stick of gum. What the hell does hard look like?

    The guy who ran the electronics lab at my college was an old navy vet, and one day told us how in their training they'd have to repair multi layer circuit boards by lifting traces off of one board and putting them onto the broken board, and then solder replacement components to them. This would have been like the 70s, so the traces were bigger than now, and it could of also been pure BS, but ummm that would be in the hard category.

    How do you spell Justice?B D S Non-Violent Resistance to Israel Apartheid & Occupation.
  • mbannickmbannick Registered User regular
    edited April 2017
    I love doing little projects like this so I'll add my advice but keep in mind I myself am not an expert but more of a hobbyist. After looking at the project page the circuit diagram is pretty straight forward so you should have no problems following that. My suggestions are:

    PRACTICE
    Seriously if you've never done any decent amount of soldering you should be practicing on something you don't mind ruining before you start on something delicate that you want working. My suggestion would be to grab an old pcb that you don't care about and go to town. Practice desoldering components and soldering them back in. If you don't have something like that laying around then buy a small bit of prototyping board and practice on that.

    HEAT
    Remember that soldering is heating the copper contact on the board along with the component while applying the solder (Never try to drag the solder on the iron to the board). Having a heat regulated iron helps tremendously as you can work faster and get good results. If your iron is too hot or cold you will have a terrible time trying to solder anything. If the iron is too cold you will make dry joints and if its too hot you will end up scorching the board if you leave the iron on for too long. Since this is a small board a 15-20w iron should be fine to work with. Keep in mind that the flux in the solder is what allows it to flow on the joint and reheating the solder several times will burn off the flux leaving you with a crummy joint/dry joint.

    TIN YOUR IRON
    What you always want to do before you start soldering is tin the tip of the iron, which is basically melting a bit of solder to the tip and wiping it off so you have a nice shiny tip that will let solder flow on to it. If your iron had a dull cruddy tip the solder will not not flow very well and the tip will actually lose a bit of it's thermal mass as its surrounded by burnt up solder that's insulating the tip.

    HELPING HANDS
    These can be had for as little as $5 at your local generic tool store (harbor freight in the U.S.) or online if you don't have a local shop that sells these. These will be a life saver if you have a hard time holding multiple things in both hands (which is pretty much everyone unless you're some sort of ambidextrous mutant person)

    1. What type of solder are you using? If it's lead free toss it and use some lead based solder with a flux core 60/40 is pretty common (this will allow the solder to flow on to the contacts and create a nice little weld). If for some reason you live in an area where you cant get lead based solder keep in mind that lead free solder needs a bit more heat (and patience) than leaded solder so it isn't useless it just harder to work with.

    2. What type of wire are you using? My suggestion is a simple copper core as some wire might be aluminium or some other harder to solder alloy (those little dupont jumper wires for arduino projects seem like a good fit and are cheap, color coded too).

    3. Strip the wire so you expose a short length of copper (don't strip the wires long or you will have strain relief issues) basically strip them to the length where a small amount of wire is poking through the hole on the board and you can make a nice solder joint to hold it tight. Also, using a decent wire stripper will make your life soooooooooo much easier, I would suggest an adjustable manual stripper but the little automatic ones work ok. If you have nothing to strip the wires some finger nail clippers will work (just nibble the wire gently and pull the sleeve off with the clippers)

    4. Twist and tin your wires. Simply strip the wire and twist the strands until they are held together and resemble a small bit of rope. Then hold the iron to the bare wire while you feed a small bit of solder to them (you can apply a tiny amount of flux to get the solder flowing if you're having trouble and remember you want it to be shiny not a dull grey).

    5. Make sure your wires are cut to the correct length BEFORE you start. If you have a bunch of random sized wire that you're trying to solder to a tiny board, then connecting to another tiny board it makes the process much easier than having a bunch of random sized wires getting in the way.

    6. Apply heat to the solder pad and the component (this case the wire) while you flow the solder on to them at the same time (get some helping hands) remember you don't need a huge blob of solder to do this just a small amount so it covers the wire and the pad making a nice little shiny mountain (not a grey blob)

    7. Take your time, seriously. People tend to get impatient and try to do everything in one go. Solder a few wires and inspect them afterward (check the solder joint and give them a little tug to insure they are properly bonded).

    Desoldering

    A pump was suggested but I would say stick to a desoldering braid (the pumps are nice but more suited to larger joints not the tiny through holes on a pi). When desoldering you want to flow a bit of fresh solder on to the joint before you place the wick on the joint to desolder. Lay the wick over the joint and apply heat to the wick with the iron you will notice it will absorb the solder like.. well a wick. I would also like to stress that if it doesn't completely remove the solder in the first try start over from the top (apply new solder, etc.)

    If you have managed to get through this giant wall of text and found it helpful then great! If not, then keep trying. Soldering is quite easy once you get a feel for it so work at your own pace and don't give up!

    mbannick on
    mosssnackBolthornSmrtnikBouwsTAuralynx
  • mosssnackmosssnack Yeah right, man, Bishop should go! Good idea!Registered User regular
    @Mbannick has posted some super good advice and information all around. That is the majority of what I learned when the Navy taught me to solder.

    XBL: mosssnack12
    bnet: moss*1454
  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    I had to go field artillery instead of learning something useful in the Army lol

  • Sir Red of the MantiSir Red of the Manti Registered User regular
    Learn some basic multimeter diagnostics if you haven't already, some simple resistance checking will help clear up questions you may have about whether that not so shiny joint actually flowed correctly or not.
    Also if you're attempting to use a "Cold Heat" soldering iron, chuck that in a bin. Personal experience with those has led me to believe that they're purposefully designed to lift traces and destroy boards.
    As for your current issue, if you haven't already destroyed something by throwing too much power into it my best guess would be to check for solder bridges as you're dealing with a project with bundles of wires and solder points clustered fairly close to each other.

  • mbannickmbannick Registered User regular
    You can put a small amount of flux on all the contact points you soldered and reflow them to clear up bridges. If you notice a bridge that wont reflow you will need to wick it and start over. Also, make sure there aren't any tiny bits of solder hanging around between the pads (usually you can scrape them off with a fingernail if its on the protective screen between the pads).

    With those cold heat irons I think you're basically closing a broken circuit in the pen itself with the component to get it to heat up. From what I've read the the contacts are isolated so there shouldn't be any leakage (I still wouldn't use it on electronics). I actually own one of those pens and it will work ok with soldering small bits of metal together but remember its running on two AA's so it's going to be slow and not very hot (which is not super great for any sort of soldering). People tend to fall down with those irons because you have to feed everything into the gap of the tip and hold it there to complete the circuit.

    If you're still having problems you can post a picture of what you've done so far that way someone else can check your work.

  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    How do I know if I have applied too much heat and damaged the board?

  • mbannickmbannick Registered User regular
    If you don't see something obvious like scorching or a lifted trace or pad you will need a multimeter to test traces.

  • mosssnackmosssnack Yeah right, man, Bishop should go! Good idea!Registered User regular
    edited April 2017
    The board will start to discolor or the pad you're working on will lift from the board.

    With the right heat on your iron, you shouldn't be putting your iron to the board for more than a couple of seconds.

    mosssnack on
    XBL: mosssnack12
    bnet: moss*1454
  • LulaNordLulaNord Registered User new member
    Hi...i am a new user here. As per my knowledge Soldering isn't the most fun thing, but if you are into doing these types of projects there should be a decent amount of youtube tutorials on intro to soldering. I'd suggest starting with something like that, maybe headphone repair, couple other beginning level projects just to get you comfortable with it as a concept.

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