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Sunday, May 14, 2023

SolderBaloney and SolderTruth

This is so nuts that it actually had me checking to see if this was possibly an April 1 joke.  But alas, it was put out on March 30 and is apparently quite serious.  Rogier PA1ZZ sent me this.  I think his reaction was the same as mine.   My message to Rogier: 

Ha!  He misses the key point:  HOW MANY OXYGEN MOLECULES ARE IN THE SOLDER?   Here at the SolderSmoke Laboratories we only use oxygen-free solder.  And wire.  Sounds MUCH better.  Just kidding.  I think this is audio-fool  hogwash.  I'm sure my friend Ron WA6YOU (a real solder expert) will agree.    How dare this guy in the video besmirch the name of good ole 60/40 Kester!   And even at the local high school, Dean and I were pleased to find that all the students and their teacher had already REJECTED lead-free solder.  Also, this guy seems to think that the lead has been replaced by silver.  Dude, that would be some expensive solder!   His explanation of rosin is, I think, kind of shaky.  Thanks for sharing Rogier.   73  Bill 

Next I suppose we'll have recommendations on how different solder mixes can produce different audio effects:  "For a more mellow sound, go with 60/38 and 2 percent copper!"  

I immediately sent this to my friend Ron WA6YOU, a noted expert on this subject: 

Ron's response: 

OMG!!!!!  I don't know where to start and I haven't even had breakfast yet.  First off Sn60/Pb40 contains NO silver and melts at 361 F and yes I do have my irons in class set to 800 F.  Today in my classes I use Sn63/Pb37 since it is Eclectic....it is either solid or liquid and no in between.  For the cables I build for the satelittes (center pin of SMA male connectors), I use KESTOR Sn62/Pb36/Ag02 which is only 2% silver and called silver bearing.  You can still buy it on  Amazon.  As for flux, I use Kester RMA186 liquid and contrary to Paul, it does not "make the solder melt"....it basically de-oxidizes and provides a path for the solder to flow.  The flux inside the solder melts at 347 F.....BEFORE the solder melts at 361 F thus making the path for flow.  Remember when we were kids and had the little round can of Kester flux that you would dip into?
FYI:  To solder the pin of an SMA connector I do NOT rely on the flux inside the solder....Prior to inserting the center conductor of the RG-316/DS (mil-spec double shield teflon)  I apply a "dropllet" of RMA186 on the 7 stranded wire tip and insert it into the pin.....next I apply another "droplet" into the inspection hole (not called a solder hole).  Then I put a droplet of silver bearing solder on the PIN TIP of my iron and apply it directly to the hole in the pin.....magnification is definitely needed.  The solder flows into the hole and I tell my students that if you don't see an outline of the inspection hole, then you used too much solder and the pin will not insert into the into the body of the SMA.  I can make 6 to 8 cables an hour and all are within 1 (ONE!!!) MM tolerance in lengths.  If they want a cable 138 mm long from connector front to front, then it can't be 137 or 139 mm.....yep I can do that and I would love to show you all sometime.  And yes I crimp the ferrule.  I have 8 birds in space and the last three have 80 cables each of mine made in my basement.  

I am just waiting for the day when some USG safety officer comes into my class and has me surrender all "lead solder" and have to replace it with SAC305.  See my handouts below from my lesson plan.  Let me demo this for you all sometime.  It is said that I can put a Type-N male connector on a garden hose......HI HI.
Thanks for the link and remember.....The US is one of the few countries still using lead.  Hoard your lead solder.....the day is coming.

73 de Ron, WA6YOU

Solder and flux in use at N2CQR

By Jeff Murray K1NSS (2014)


  1. Kester 63/37 was always my favorite in my working days. I guess I better lay in a goodly supply. Working with RoHS sucks donkey lungs.

  2. That poster of Bill is sooo cool!

  3. Yes, I will agree that MOST lead-free solder is useless, however, I have found that Kester 83-7068-1402 lead-free which contains 3% silver is serviceable for those of us who would prefer to limit their lead exposure, and I believe that is why I still have a full head of hair at age 74...

  4. I've done a bad thing. I actually watched the video. I knew better. I knew what would happen. Had either of my daughters been present, she would have recognized the symptoms: the narrowing of the eyes, the setting of the jaw, the faint bulging of a vein on my left temple, the slight lean toward the screen and keyboard . . . and then she'd rescue me. "Papa, can you help with this trig assignment." At that point, given the choice between being a sarcastic wise ass or being the smartest guy in the room, I'd opt for the latter every time.

    But neither daughter was present, so here's the comment I left on the solder video:

    "If you guys would just listen to the music instead of to your sand-filled speaker enclosures, your special coupling capacitors, your Russian tubes vs. American NOS, your oxygen-free copper wires, and now your solder connections, I think you'd be happier. I have an audiophool friend I no longer invite over to listen to new recordings. It turns out he doesn't give a damn about the music, only the electronics and the "acoustics"--about which he knows next to nothing (not even Ohm's law and not even that capacitors don't pass DC). What he thinks he *knows* is really just *belief* acquired by way of folklore and snake-oil incantations--hot sellers on YT."

    I know I should be ashamed of myself, and I probably will be tomorrow, and then I'll delete the comment. By that time, of course, YT will have already delivered it to the channel creator. Oh well.

  5. At least Harley Lovegrove always ends with "whatever you do, enjoy the music". Despite all the woolly language similar to the words sommeliers utter over fermented grape juice. For him it's about the recording and the enjoyment. But hey he doesn't sell $100 k hifi setups or is a "reviewer" on YouTube making living on paid "reviews" and kickbacks... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaGQLaxOAt4

  6. I am still working from 5 pound reels of excellent solder I obtained as NASA surplus from the Apollo program auctiond off in the 70’s out of KSC.
    Long ago in my years as a tech in an Ampex Service Center we used Ersin Multicore exclusively. I have lots of that on hand also. I will never need to buy another roll of solder again, unless I can continue my electronics work in the hereafter.
    I have probably used up at least a hundred pounds of SnPb solder in my life, and have no concerning levels of metals in my blood. But I have succumbed to severe idiopathic peripheral neuropathy 20 years ago, requiring daily morphene to live reasonably comfortably. Doctors find no causal factors but I wonder. Nonetheless I will not use the Pb free soldiers in my work.

  7. I see that others have already made appropriate comments, so I am not alone on this matter. I will just add this interesting link to NASA's information on Tin Whiskers: https://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/background/index.htm
    Working with Raytheon, we had to pass strict tin whisker tests, that generally required comprehensive process modifications to use any lead-free solder or preferably >3% Pb took care of the problem right off.
    I have never seen any problems using Pb containing solders, but just use some ventilation for the fumes.
    The rosin chemistry is interesting!

  8. So does this guy Snort Rosin Smith get the same headaches I do?? Inhaling lead might be the cause

  9. As happens too often, it isn't what is seems. The "Solder Smoke" is actually "Flux Smoke" from the rosin,terpineol and sometimes a tiny bit of ZnCl to activate it "mildly". A senior chemist told me that the ZnCl dissociates, producing HCl to do the job. The lead vapor is very low <450C.

    Bill, you can still keep the blog "SolderSmoke".
    No need to rename it!

  10. Eclectic? Maybe you mean eutectic?


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