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Old Nov 05, 2010, 10:46 AM
real name: simon
Austria, Tir., Innsbruck
Joined Sep 2010
63 Posts
Cool
crikey, i feel stupid… (noob's first attempt at soldering)

[this is a newbie's random stream of thought, if this isn't desired, feel free to tell me]

well, i'm totally new to this electric flying lark. bought my first battery and charger this week. [i was good, i went to the LHS]. was given some EC3 connectors to go with the battery (for a parkzone plane). the charger is a single battery 2-3 cell charger thingy with integrated balancer (multiplex LN-3008). once i got home, i realised a few things:
  • i need a power supply for the charger (not mentioned in the LHS)
  • i have no clue of batteries and electric r/c
  • i know how to solder, but not well

first one was solved fairly easily – i work at uni, we have a load of power sources for banana plugs hanging around in the labs and electronic desks. i can borrow one until i've finished building my own from a PC power supply (components are ordered, but won't be delivered until next week).

second problem. hmm, i'm still working on that. i know what an mAh rating is, i more or less know the principle of LiPo batteries and why they need equalising, but that's about it. i'm still reading up on what all of the other numbers and letters mean, but RCG is a great source of infomation for that. i'll get there.

third problem cost me nearly two hours this afternoon. i found some tutorials on the web on how to solder up EC3 plugs. i have a weller WHS 40D soldering station which i think i know how to use. i can melt solder with it. so, armed with the foreknowledge of the web, i attempted to solder the two EC3 contacts onto my battery. how hard can it be? damn hard is the answer. i nearly gave up and asked one of my electronic friends to help me out, but i finally got it to work by ignoring the tutorials and using some common sense. solder melts on the soldering iron, so stick that into the solder cup and fill it with solder. keep the soldering iron in there then quickly swap the iron for the wire. it worked, but it's not pretty. next time, i'd probably manage to do it quicker.

i then decided to have a look at RCG and see what you guys all think of EC3 connectors. don't worry, i'm not going that route. some of you like them, some of you hate them; it's almost a religious discussion...

but, google did help me by turning up this link:
http://www.maydayrc.com/neat-way-to-solder-ec3-plugs (pure genius).
[via http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1319440 ]

damn, do i feel stupid. 10" of gaffer tape and i'd have saved myself almost 2hrs. i'll be trying this trick next time i need to solder up some batteries.

so, thanks to killioughtta and iflyforfun for the link and the video respectively. next time before i do something i have no clue about, i'll ask here first.

sorry for wasting your time.

regards,
sb
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Old Nov 05, 2010, 11:15 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
United States, CA, Bear Valley Springs
Joined Feb 2000
26,499 Posts
People use what connectors they like, are available easily and that work. I started with APPs but migrated to Deans early on.

Amphours is the capacity of the battery itself. Just like gallons of gasoline. Mah is thousanths of an amphour. Most of us will say 5000 milliamphour vs 5 amphour since there are lots of smaller batteries rated in milliamps. A lot of this is simple mathematics. You'll see why soon.

You're on the right track with your soldering. Heat the solder cup itself to make the solder flow smoothly. The cup should almost suck the molten solder in if it is done correctly and will yield a good connection.

Welcome to the insanity and don't be like Sit-N-Fly.

mw
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Last edited by Mark Wood; Nov 05, 2010 at 11:23 AM. Reason: read the link and couldn't help myself
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 12:54 AM
Expo is built into my thumbs
Hance's Avatar
USA, ID, Niter
Joined Jul 2008
4,507 Posts
After you have solidered a few connections it will come natural. I did a lot of circuit level soldering in high school and was pretty good at it. I didn't pick up a soldering iron for a good ten years after high school and really struggled when I started doing rc connections. Now I can bang out connections like like a pro.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 01:12 AM
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10x8's Avatar
Australia, NSW, Petersham
Joined Sep 2005
1,252 Posts
Plenty of irons went flying out the window in the beginning days of solder for me, lol, plenty.

My boss made me sit down until I got it correct.

Not wasting anyones time buddy, hang in there, you'll get it.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 01:22 AM
Expo is built into my thumbs
Hance's Avatar
USA, ID, Niter
Joined Jul 2008
4,507 Posts
Speaking of soldering I did something stupid today. I started to put a male deans on a battery today. I got one wire soldered on and looked at it. I just said you idiot
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 02:30 AM
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10x8's Avatar
Australia, NSW, Petersham
Joined Sep 2005
1,252 Posts
I hate it, after a perfect job, I forget the heat shrink on deans. Jeez, especially with say, a G3 6s with thick wire.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 03:46 AM
Park Stormer
United States, NJ, Brooklawn
Joined Jul 2008
825 Posts
lol, I've made both of the above mistakes more times than I can count.


And as said above, your not wasting anyone's time. This is what forums are for.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 07:19 AM
real name: simon
Austria, Tir., Innsbruck
Joined Sep 2010
63 Posts
thx for your comments, guys.

well, after about 10 plug cycles while putting my new model together yesterday, the positive lead broke out of the plug. so much for my soldering technique... so, down to the LHS, got some new EC3 parts and redid the whole plug, as the negative broke on closer inspection too...

the technique in the video worked quite well for me. i think. it at least seems more stable and cleaner than the connections yesterday. slowly getting the hang of it, but i may need to get a different, slightly smaller tip for my iron.

actually, i lie. i redid it twice. the first time, the solder joins broke off as i was fixing the plugs in the outside connector. probably used too large a screwdriver. :/ so that's one plug that went in the bin. the second one looks fairly stable for now.

as soon as my heat shrink is delivered next week, i'll be putting a sleeve over the plug to stabilise it. i'm also getting another couple of batteries next week, so that will give me more practice.

now off to finish putting my stinson together.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 07:56 AM
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ggcrandall1's Avatar
USA, GA, Marietta
Joined Aug 2005
5,894 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiamak View Post
<snip> google did help me by turning up this link:
http://www.maydayrc.com/neat-way-to-solder-ec3-plugs (pure genius).
[via http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1319440 regards,
sb
Pure genius? I disagree. I don't know if your read the whole thread you linked to but I made a comment there about the possibility of creating a "Cold" solder joint. And apparently you did just that as indicated in your last post here.

Unless you have the steadiest pair of hands in the world you cannot hold both the wire and the connector without moving one of them. Moving either of the parts to be connected while the solder is still molten will create a "cold" solder joint. (BTW "cold" does not refer to the temperature of the joint, only that something moved before the joint was solid.) A good solder joint will be shiny and a "cold" one will be dull.

So you need some sort of fixture to hold the connector and the wire steady while you apply the heat and the solder.

For years I have used a pair of clothes pins on a plywood base to perform this task. Works pretty well and is cheap. See the attached photo.


Recently I ran across a fixture made for the purpose. at http://www.vigilante-rc.com/

However their fixture only supports Deans, XT, and XT-60 connectors. But check it out. It might give you some tips. There is a video somewhere on this forum.

Glen
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 08:56 AM
real name: simon
Austria, Tir., Innsbruck
Joined Sep 2010
63 Posts
glenn,

thx for your comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggcrandall1 View Post
Unless you have the steadiest pair of hands in the world you cannot hold both the wire and the connector without moving one of them. Moving either of the parts to be connected while the solder is still molten will create a "cold" solder joint. (BTW "cold" does not refer to the temperature of the joint, only that something moved before the joint was solid.) A good solder joint will be shiny and a "cold" one will be dull.
a friend explained the difference between a good and a bad solder joint. both the joins this third time round looked nice and shiny. a destruction test has shown that it's holding. i managed to put the connectors in the wrong sides of the outer plug and have just fried my ESC. not quite sure of the best way to get the plug off the battery – probably cutting the wires and starting over. ah well, more practice and when i get the new ESC, more practice again...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggcrandall1 View Post
So you need some sort of fixture to hold the connector and the wire steady while you apply the heat and the solder.

For years I have used a pair of clothes pins on a plywood base to perform this task. Works pretty well and is cheap. See the attached photo.
that looks quite neat. i'll have to see if i can come up with something similar for EC3s. i read somewhere that drilling holes in a short piece of plywood works quite well, i can see a way to fix a clamp for the wire to the plywood as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggcrandall1 View Post
Recently I ran across a fixture made for the purpose. at http://www.vigilante-rc.com/

However their fixture only supports Deans, XT, and XT-60 connectors. But check it out. It might give you some tips. There is a video somewhere on this forum.
this one?
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1326640

regards,
sb
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 09:31 AM
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ggcrandall1's Avatar
USA, GA, Marietta
Joined Aug 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiamak View Post
Yes, that's it.

Glen
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 11:32 AM
Registered User
Collierville, TN
Joined Aug 2003
391 Posts
The best thing you can do is find a roll of spare wire and some excess copper or brass laying around and practice, practice, practice.
.
The most important part that I've found is to make sure both the tip of your iron and the metals your are soldering are shiny clean. If there is any oxidation at all, the solder won't stick. I don't count on the flux to remove the oxidation, I use either sandpaper, file, or a Dremel with a sharpening stone to lightly buff the metal then immediately coat with flux to keep it oxidation free until I get it tinned (coated with solder). If you're soldering copper wire, dip it in flux immediately after you remove the insulation while it is still shiny, the flux will keep the oxidation off the copper until you're ready to heat it up.
.
Someone else has already mentioned the second (it's also equal to the first) most important factor. Mechanically hold both pieces of metal during the soldering process until it cools using either clamps or a jig. It not only makes it much easier to concentrate on what you're doing with the soldering iron, but ensures that you will have a good joint when you're finished. It also reduces the chance of burning your fingers, but you'll do that anyway . . . its part of the fun.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 11:58 AM
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mumblety-peg's Avatar
USA, CA, Martinez
Joined Feb 2001
1,668 Posts
One hint that I've not run across is to *listen* when you apply the heat. I turn off the radio and ask my wife to stop talking when I solder ;-). I apply the heat, listen for the "crunch" that happen when the wire gets soft from the heat. (this is for a Deans connector, so a round wire is being pushed onto a flat surface). Wait a few seconds with the heat applied, and it's just about perfect.

I use the vigilante-rc jig also.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 01:08 PM
Registered User
Collierville, TN
Joined Aug 2003
391 Posts
One more tip. . .
.
When soldering LiPo batteries, make sure that you only have access to one wire at a time. I even go to the extreme length of cutting one wire, putting a piece of heat shrink over it, then cutting the other wire - all to make sure that there is no chance of having both wires exposed simultaneously. Then when you get the first wire soldered to the connector, double check to make sure it is very well protected from the other wire.
.
Also, use the clock. No working on LiPo's after 10pm. Nothing good can happen when working on LiPo's late at night. Let 'em sit until tomorrow . . .
.
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Old Nov 06, 2010, 03:58 PM
It's just a plane.
ZackJones's Avatar
USA, SC, Goose Creek
Joined Aug 2010
2,104 Posts
I'm a newbie at soldering as well but what I've done that works very well for me when soldering EC3 connectors is to drill two shallow holes in a piece of scrap 2x4 wood. I fill the cup with solder. Tin the wire and then hold the wire on top of the solder in the cup while heating the cup from the side. Once the solder in the cup melts the wire goes in nice and easy. I've done this for 4 batteries and 3 ESCs and so far (knock on wood) things are holding up just fine.
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