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Learn How to Solder From a Legend

Do you shy away from soldering? Do you wonder if you are doing it right? Lean from the master!

Splash

Learn to solder like a pro from a pro - Mr. LA Johnston.

My second airplane was a Zagi wing. This was my first electric and required soldering. I needed some parts so I loaded up my bird and took a trip to Hobby Lobby. I laid my Zagi on the display case and was looking at the extremely cool nickel metal batteries that were the hot ticket of the day. An older gentleman in glasses walked up behind the counter and pickup up my Zagi. He made a close inspection of the wiring, looked disgusted and then said to me, "Who the hell taught you how to solder?!"

I wasn't sure how to respond. I figured all I needed was a soldering iron and some solder. The man said, "Well the phones are down anyway, come back here and I'll teach you how to make a decent solder joint." I followed him through the isles of parts that I had memorized from the Hobby Lobby catalog, we passed through shipping and finally we arrived at his work bench.

I found out later this was LA Johnston. He was the lead tech for Hobby Lobby International. He has been building models for over 70 years, he attended the first AMA Nationals in 1945, and worked in the full scale aircraft industry designing ground support equipment for planes like the B-2 Bomber and the F-16.

LA had me solder everything on the Zagi until it met with his approval and sent me on my way. As I was leaving I thought, "I would like to work here one day" and I did. LA was a great friend to me in my early RC career. One other thing - the work bench that he taught me how to solder on is now the desk I work from everyday. Life is funny.

I was reminded of this story when I stumbled on this video tutorial on how to solder from LA himself. Now you can learn from the master that taught me so many years ago.

Part 1- Learn to Solder with Hobby-Lobby and L.A. Johnston (6 min 7 sec)

Part 2 -Learn to Solder with Hobby-Lobby and L.A. Johnston (5 min 43 sec)

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Old Dec 05, 2013, 04:34 PM
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Taurus Flyer's Avatar
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Jim

Old School don't need a Master, only have to smile!

Taurus Flyer
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Old Dec 05, 2013, 04:39 PM
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United States, AZ, Chino Valley
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Great 2 Videos

I passed these videos on to my club members and students. We are never too old to learn!!

Randy
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Old Dec 05, 2013, 06:19 PM
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United States, MN, Andover
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Very good clear info. He contradicted a lot of stuff I've read and I bet he's rite. Thnx for the info!
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Old Dec 05, 2013, 10:46 PM
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United States, MO, Stockton
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old school

great videos, haven't had to solder things in years but now changing some of my planes to electric, I'll definately be soldering more
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 09:33 AM
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Jim T. Graham's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Mar 2002
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I spoke with LA for the first time in years yesterday after I published the article. I sent him a link to this thread and he wrote back with some updated info. I will paste his response here. Note that LA types in all caps. I asked about this a long time ago. It seems to be the way engineers write. Here you go:

I AM GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING. THAT IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE EVER WATCHED THE VIDEO WE DID ON SOLDERING!!! DON’T KNOW WHY I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN AROUND TO IT, BUT I JUST NEVER HAVE. ALL THE INFO IS STILL GOOD, “EXCEPT” NOW WITH THE NEW “NO LEAD” SOLDER, THE MELTING TEMP IS A LITTLE HIGHER THAN THE OLD TIN, LEAD SOLDER. WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT THEY WERE DOING AWAY WITH THE OLD SOLDER, I WENT OUT AND BOUGHT SEVERAL ROLLS OF THE OLD STUFF, JUST TO MAKE SURE I HAD ENOUGH TO LAST FOR SEVERAL YEARS.
WITH THE NEWER HIGHER MELTING TEMP, YOU HAVE TO BE A LITTLE MORE CAREFUL ABOUT SOLDERING TO THE DEANS CONNECTORS, OR YOU MAY GET THE BODY OF THE CONNECTOR HOT ENOUGH TO MELT THE PLASTIC IN THE BODY. IF YOU DO, IT WILL BE OK WHEN IT COOLS, “BUT” IF THE CONTACTS MOVE WHILE THE PLASTIC IS STILL SOFT, THE CONTACTS WONT LINE UP CORRECTLY, AND YOU CAN GET A HIGH RESISTANCE JOINT BECAUSE THE CONTACTS ARE ONLY MAKING LINE, OR POINT CONTACT!!! AND THE CHINESE KNOCK OFF CONNECTORS WILL SURE AS HELL MELT AND GIVE YOU PROBLEMS. THAT MAY BE ONE OF THE REASONS THE BULLET TYPE CONNECTORS ARE GETTING SO POPULAR NOW.

NOW LAST BUT NOT LEAST!!! I WAS ABOUT 75 WHEN THAT VIDEO WAS DONE, AND I HONESTLY STILL LOOK THE SAME AS I DID THEM. THE YEARS HAVE BEEN PRETTY KIND TO ME!!! I WILL TURN 83 ON THE 14TH OF THIS MONTH, SO, I DON’T KNOW THIS FOR SURE, BUT I SUSPECT I AM ABOUT THE OLDEST “ACTIVE” FLIER IN THE AREA!!! I PUT IN ONE FLIGHT TUESDAY, JUST TO SHOW A NEW FLIER HOW MUCH BETTER BIGGER AIRPLANES FLY IN THE WIND.

WELL THE WIFE JUST CALLED ME TO EAT. BETTER CUT AND RUN!!!

YOURN,
L.A.
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 01:21 PM
Promoting Model Aviation...
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United States, CA, Tehachapi
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Glad to see guys like this still trying to help out and "pay it forward." I hope I still can when I get into my 70's.

Frank
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 02:22 PM
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Years ago I used some very high current motors in a combat robot. I found that solder joints were not good enough. I noticed that automotive starters and alternators used spot welds for joining wires inside the unit. The Denso SC alternators are an extreme example of spot welding. Those alternators have hundreds of spot welds. Actually all high current joints in autos are either spot welded or crimped.

Copper wires can be spot welded with a standard spot welder and the joints are much better then any soldered joint.
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Old Dec 06, 2013, 11:18 PM
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he is right about the Deans connector body getting too hot !
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Old Dec 07, 2013, 03:08 AM
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Cool to see this video here. I remember watching it quite a while back on youtube and it being very sound advice and methods. I don't have a lot of fancy tools and made a soldering jig years ago from left over scrap 2x4 from other projects. I made one for a buddy two but at the time used some small metal clamps i picked up at the dollar store or somewhere for holding wire and drilled holes for soldering bullet connectors. Its time to make a new super deluxe version soon .
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Old Dec 07, 2013, 10:27 AM
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United States, TX, Johnson City
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Very good thank you for sharing been soldering for a long time but I see where and how I can improve. I too am always looking to learn and improve, thanks again

Ken Smith
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Old Dec 07, 2013, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Very good thank you for sharing been soldering for a long time but I see where and how I can improve. I too am always looking to learn and improve, thanks again

Ken Smith

Me Too!

SpadCat
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Old Dec 07, 2013, 11:00 PM
When's the next fly-in?
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Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
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You guys ought to fly with LA sometime. I've enjoyed the couple of times he's been down to my house to fly with us. He's one of those guys that you can just sit around and talk planes all day long. LA has so much airplane knowledge in his head...it's amazing. He cracks me up too. He has big Telemaster planes that he calls his OMPs....Old Man Planes. He says he flies big planes cause they're easier for old men like him to see!

And here's an early Happy Birthday to you, LA. I wish you many more, and I look forward to our next opportunity to fly together.

Andy
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Old Dec 08, 2013, 07:07 AM
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Well well, my pictures shown in Hot Pics.
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Old Dec 08, 2013, 11:17 AM
ago involo ergo sum
MikeAnderson's Avatar
Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
Joined Dec 2000
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A modern HD equivalent

For your consideration, there's this from he who shall not be named:
Soldering basics for RC planes (36 min 42 sec)
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