Are you having trouble soldering? Check your solder first! Lead solder makes soldering a lot easier, and it’s possible your issue is due to having lead-free solder (or mislabelled/fake lead solder).
Recently I picked up 2x 60/40 lead solder from ebay of some random brands, both were not lead solder as they’re described on the package, which I believe they are actually lead-free solder.
I was working on my Betaflight F3 board and Kakute F4 board, both have integrated PDB. And I was trying to solder the XT60 connector to the pads and these “fake lead” solders wouldn’t even melt when I had my solder iron at its max temperature of 400°C (752°F) because there is so much copper in the board. It was a massive PITA.
With the proper 60/40 lead solder, it was an easy one-minute job.
Many people complaint about these AIO boards are difficult to solder, I think the problem could be because they are actually using lead-free solder, or they are simply bad quality solder with impurities.
Differences between lead solder and lead-free solder
Why do I prefer lead solder?
- lead solder melts at lower temperature, while you need much higher temperature to get lead-free solder to work properly
- lead solder solidify much quicker after heat is removed
All these mean lead solder are easier to work with, especially with large gauge wires or PDB where a lot of heat is required. However lead is toxic, so make sure you don’t eat it, and wash your hands after soldering
How to differentiate lead and lead free solder?
Firstly, look at the solder after it’s been melted and cooled down. Solder with lead looks shiny while the lead free solder looks dull and matte.
Second way to check is the melting temperature. What I normally do is setting the soldering iron at around 240°C (464°F) and try to melt the solder directly.
60/40 (tin/lead) solder would melt right away, while lead-free solder would turn into something pasty and doesn’t liquefy completely.
Anyway if you have used both types, you should be able to notice the difference immediately :)
If you are buying randomly branded solder from the internet, the chances are it could be crap and waste of money and time. You can’t tell if you are getting the real deal until it arrives on your desk.
The type of lead solder I have been using is the Sn60/Pb40.
I strongly recommend getting a brand name from trusted seller. The two brands I’ve personally used and would recommend are:
Thanks to Justin Nishida for recommending the MG Chemical one :)
Do not buy solder from Banggood at all! Apart from Amazon you can also try your local hardware store.