Low quality solder makes soldering tremendously harder. If you have trouble soldering the reason is most likely to be the solder you use. If you want to have better quadcopter building experience, invest in good quality lead solder!
New to soldering? Please take a look at our guide on buying soldering equipment and the best soldering practices.
Do Not Buy Unknown Solder on Ebay
One time, I had 2 quads I urgently need to build for a coming race, but I ran out of solder. Due to the time constraint, I randomly picked up some solder from eBay, two random brands I’d never heard of. Although both claimed to be 60/40 lead solder, they turned out to be total garbage and gave me terrible result.
I was working on Betaflight F3 AIO and Kakute F4 AIO boards, both have integrated PDB. When I was trying to solder the XT60 pigtail to the solder pads on the FC, the solder hardly melt after applying heat the joint for 10+ seconds at 400°C (752°F). It was a massive PITA.
I knew it was something wrong with the solder I bought. So I borrow some brand-name 60/40 lead solder from a friend, and the difference was day and night. The solder on the same joint melts right away within seconds.
I’ve heard many complaints about how difficult these AIO boards are to work with. They usually point their fingers at the large volume of copper in the board. They are partly correct, the big amount of copper requires more heat for soldering. But the real issue for most could have been the low quality solder they are using with too much impurity in it.
Good Solder and Bad Solder Differences
Bad quality lead solder with too much impurity behaves a bit like Lead-free solder, and good quality lead solder is better because:
- it melts at lower temperature than lead-free or low quality solder
- it solidifies much quicker after heat is removed
All these mean quality lead solder is easier to work with, especially with large gauge wires or PDB where a lot of heat is required.
How to Tell Good Quality Lead Solder
Firstly, look at the solder after it’s been melted and cooled down. Solder with lead looks shinier while the lead-free or low quality lead solder looks dull and matte.
The second way is by checking the melting temperature. What I normally do is setting the soldering iron at around 240°C (464°F) and see if the solder melts nicely.
Normally, 60/40 (tin/lead) solder should just melt right away. Lead-free or lead solder with too much impurity would turn into something pasty and doesn’t turn into liquid completely.
Good 63/37 solder melts at even lower temperate at about 230°C.
If you have experience with any good quality solder, you should be able to notice the difference immediately :)
If you are buying randomly branded solder on the internet, chances are it’s crappy and purely a waste of money and time. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you are getting the real deal until it arrives on your desk.
The types of lead solder I have been using are 63/37 and Sn60/Pb40.
I strongly recommend getting brand names from a trusted seller. The two brands I personally use and would recommend are:
Choices for 63/37:
Choices for 60/40:
Apart from Amazon, you can also try your local hardware store. And avoid getting solder from Banggood at all cost!
- Jul 2017 – Article created
- Apr 2018 – Updated “Solder Recommendation”