My leadless solder is going to the back of the tool drawer

Anyone else find lead-less solder much harder to work with than the good old fashioned poisonous stuff?

I've given up and bought a big reel off the good stuff before it is completely banned.

That and an ever decreasing depth of field with my eyes makes soldering a lot less fun than it was when I was a youngster.

Anyone got any tips for better visibility on close work? I have tried a magnifying glass on my 'helping hands' but it keeps getting in the way.

I need new eyes!

There are reasons why military electronics products are exempt from lead-free solder regulations.

I was given a large roll of lead free and used maybe 30cm or so of it before I gave up and went back to leaded solder.

Visibility can be an issue and the lighting on your work area can make a large difference here - what's your bench lighting like? Perhaps consider a nice bright LED lamp for illuminating what you're soldering.

Also, perhaps you could get a larger higher magnification magnifying glass and have it further away.

Anyone else find lead-less solder much harder to work with than the good old fashioned poisonous stuff?

You have to get the good stuff ;) For us that's the Sn100 alloy (Kester calls it K100 I think). Solders beautifully even at low temperatures (my iron is set to 650F), wets well, leaves a nice shiny fillet. Stay away from the SAC junk.

Anyone got any tips for better visibility on close work?

An industrial inspection microscope. A good one is upwards of USD$1000 but is well worth it. Some brands are Luxo, Amscope, Omano, perhaps others...microscope.com is a good place to start looking:

http://www.microscope.com/industrial-inspection-c-72.html

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You have to get the good stuff

Well that does help…

Anyone else find lead-less solder much harder to work with than the good old fashioned poisonous stuff?

No! I have always used the lead free stuff, and never encountered any dificulty. My solder joints are nice and neat usually, but at least I have something to blame them on if they go wrong! XD

Onions.

Si: Anyone got any tips for better visibility on close work? I have tried a magnifying glass on my 'helping hands' but it keeps getting in the way.

My arms are getting too short, too. I'm using one of these: http://www.all-spec.com/products/Lighting_and_Magnification|Magnifiers|MAG-03/230-103.html along with a Panavise Jr http://www.all-spec.com/products/201.html

If I had it to do again, I might get the 3-diopter model instead, though. With this one, for me, the work has to be fairly close to the lens, and it can take some jockeying to get the soldering iron in there as well.

Haven't tried leadless solder and hope I never have to.

Regarding the vision aspect, I use one of these http://www.harborfreight.com/magnifier-head-strap-with-lights-38896.html, it has flip-in-place lenses that let me see the smallest detail and the lights actually work. However, they go through batteries really fast so I quit using them in favor of an overhead light (with remote control of course). The glasses serve multiple purposes around the house also, checking out that blemish that showed up yesterday on the cheek, getting a piece of sand out of an eye, inspecting that bug that just walked across the patio, and tweezering out that stupid cactus thorn that is driving you nuts.

At around 6 bucks, I keep a few pairs around the house strategically located for maximal availability. Never can find them though.

I hate lead free solder also.

Anyone else find lead-less solder much harder to work with than the good old fashioned poisonous stuff?

I have had two problems...

I was afraid of damaging components from the higher temperature so I started the soldering iron just barely above the melting point of the solder. That just does not work. I think I have the iron adjusted to melting point + 10%.

The higher temperature is very hard on tips. If I'm not soldering at that moment, I turn the iron off. Immediately after soldering, I make certain the tip is tinned. I probably waste more energy and solder than the tip is worth but the tips are lasting.

The process goes much smoother if I use a tiny ball of molten solder on the tip to heat the lead and pad.

The alloy I'm using seems to work well. It flows a bit differently than tin-lead; not better or worse just differently. It's physically much stronger (and harder) than tin-lead solder (which I like).

I have not had to de-solder. I suspect that would be a nightmare.

I was afraid of damaging components from the higher temperature so I started the soldering iron just barely above the melting point of the solder. That just does not work. I think I have the iron adjusted to melting point + 10%.

That is still much too low! Even if you start with a temperature of 250C (plenty high enough for lead-free solders) that's only 482F. My soldering iron is set to 650F (343C) and others will complain that is still too low.

Don't worry about damaging components. Just limit the time you spend applying heat. If you can't get the joint soldered in 3-4 seconds at 650-700F then either a) the tip isn't massive enough to transfer the heat (soldering an 0603 SMT resistor takes way less heat transfer than soldering a DO-41 diode lead to a ground plane!), or b) the tip isn't clean and tinned.

I have not had to de-solder. I suspect that would be a nightmare.

It's definitely harder and takes practice, but realistically the difference between leaded and lead-free solder is 20-30C of melting temperature. In the grand scheme of things (340C irons) it is not such a big deal.

-- The Flexible MIDI Shield: MIDI IN/OUT, stacking headers, your choice of I/O pins

I need new eyes!

I use a simple pair of glasses (+2) when soldering (€3 ~ $4) - better vision and eye protection -

furthermore I like to have - http://www.smoothjazz.com/ - on the background as good music makes better solder joints …

furthermore I like to have - http://www.smoothjazz.com/ - on the background

Haha :)

That is still much too low! Even if you start with a temperature of 250C (plenty high enough for lead-free solders) that's only 482F. My soldering iron is set to 650F (343C) and others will complain that is still too low.

I have to admit, I'm feeling a bit lazy today. I didn't bother checking any of the numbers I posted; the actual iron setting or the percent.

I emphatically agree with you. Don't be stingy on the heat. Work quickly but not frantically.

The problem there being that long-term chemical effects deposit lead into the water stream.

I learned at school it killed / drived to madness many Romans as their water pipes were completely of lead...

Lead builds up in your body and affects a.o. your nerval system && brain. And you know when the wiring fails the servo's won't move anymore as programmed.....

Lead builds up in your body

Well it exits your body pretty slowly so can build up if enough is ingested within a short enough time period.

We should be much more worried about the kids using it in school when learning to solder and then not washing their hands or even holding the solder in their mouths (seen that happen many times).

Lead builds up in your body and affects a.o. your nerval system && brain. And you know when the wiring fails the servo's won't move anymore as programmed.....

Water can do the same. Apparently, if you drink more than 1 litre per hour, your body cannot handle it. The cells, and the space between them, start absorbing water. This makes worse contacts between your nerves, no signals can get through, then the bad wiring effect comes in. (Source: BBC science focus magazine).

Humans need water, even if too much can kill you. Electronics people need solder, even if the lead stuff can kill you. Why ban lead solder and allow water? Both can be dangerous if used without caution, but we are careful. Besides, using lead solder can save the planet by using less energy - you do not need to wait ages for the lead-free stuff to melt.

Onions.

Besides, using lead solder can save the planet by using less energy - you do not need to wait ages for the lead-free stuff to melt.

That's a pretty rubbish argument :D

I use leaded solder as that's what I find easiest. I'm not in the market of producing high volume electronic goods but if I was then I'd be switching to lead free as it's better for the environment in the long run.

Who knows, when this roll of leaded runs out I might buy some decent lead free stuff and see how it works (and throw out the Kg of lead free I have sitting around which doesn't work quite so well - if I got a temp controlled iron it'd probably be ok)

I heard the stuff about lead free eating through your iron faster and that it's best to tin with tinning compound after use rather than the lead free solder to minimise this. Anyone (other than me) had their tips being eaten up by lead free?

That’s a pretty rubbish argument

I know. :smiley: My lead free solder does not take long at all to melt. Time for some maths, I think!

1 watt = conversion of 1 joule of energy per second.
My iron = 18 watts.
Assuming lead free solder takes one second longer to melt than lead solder, (just a guess, though - my lead-free solder is quick to melt, but clearly, others are not),

10 joints:
10 seconds X 18 watts: 180 more joules of energy converted.

100 joints:
100 seconds X 18 watts: 1800 more joules of energy converted.

This site says 100g of McVities digestive biscuits contain 470KCal, or 470 000 calories.

470 000 calories = 1 966 480 joules

(1800/1966480) X 100 = 0.915 grams of digestive biscuits. So, for 100 joints with lead-free solder, using an 18 watt iron, and the solder taking 1 second longer to melt than lead solder, you use the same amount of energy as you could get out og less than 1g of biscuit!
Now that is something to think about…

Onions.

Honestly though, is lead really that bad on an individual basis? I know it is bad for a toddler to chew on lead toys and it is obviously bad for someone to suck on a fishing sinker (the lead kind), but for us normal folk, is it really a danger? I grew up around a lot of lead, melting wheel weights to get the lead to make fishing sinkers with, reloading firearm shells using lead bullets because they were cheaper and patching holes in cars with melted lead because it filed away nicely. For that matter, we used to play with mercury and take it to school to show off; without them closing the school and calling the hazmat team. I’m still alive and moderately sane.

Sure a few tons of it in the landfill from the waste of millions of people could present a problem, but will small gauge lead alloy solder hurt us?

For that matter, we used to play with mercury and take it to school to show off; without them closing the school and calling the hazmat team.

Yeah those were the days - mercury is so cool :D

No. Not even if we were soldering on a production line 8 hours a day for decades without extractor ventilation.

Well the lead won't do you any harm there as you're not ingesting it but the flux fumes sure will. It'll do you harm if you start eating it. My friend got hit in the nose by a lead air rifle pellet and got lead poisoning from it so it does actually do something but she was fine again a few weeks later.

I use one of these http://www.harborfreight.com/magnifier-head-strap-with-lights-38896.html

Thanks - I have one on order now. My kids will tease me mercilessly, but it'll be worth it!