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Basic soldering - what went wrong?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So I just tried my first recable job. It went terrible, and I wanted to learn from that. So I'll quickly post my mistakes and some questions I have about them.


1 - I did'nt clean my iron often, and it was many times greyish instead of silver when I used it. Does this affect the quality of the solder, or just the easiness of working with it?


2 - When I actually tried to clean it up, it barely worked. The solder just formed a bubble that immediately dripped from the iron. I know it's supposed to do that, but I hoped it should stay there a bit more and clean it up in some way.


3 - I had the wet sponge to pass the iron on it, and this was supposed to give me a clean iron, but it just hissed (because the sponge was wet, and the iron was hot...) and it came it grey again. Am I doing anything wrong?


4 - I used Hi-Fi cable, which is 0,75mm thick. This proved very rigid to work it, and bulky. I had a 3,5mm jack and I could  not pass an entire stripped wire through the conductor holes. Is this the wrong size of cable to use? I thought it was the average. By the way, in case this is a weird size, 0,75mm equals around 2,95 inches. Too wide?


5 - Finally, I tried to solder both ground cables, from each channel, into the ground conductor. It was terrible, since this added even more bulkiness and created a wire orgy, in which basically every wire was touching another one. How do I get to turn both grounds into a single ground, and should I even do this? Won't it add more crosstalk?


Thanks for helping the newbies =)


PS: The plug I used was this, but in stereo:



post #2 of 14

Are you telling me you tried to solder a 75mm wide cable into a 3.5mm plug?  Surely you jest?  If you could provide pics of these 3 or 4 75mm cables soldered to a 3.5mm plug that would be great :O


I assume you MUST mean a fraction of a mm wide, in which case that is an okay size for a 3.5mm plug but then it is most certainly NOT 3 inches thick.  25,4mm == 1 inch not ,254mm

Edited by BebopMcJiggy - 1/11/11 at 5:51pm
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Uhm... I'm George W. Bush?

Like I said, I knew it was bulkier than I had seen to be used around here, but let me restate that it was my first recabling attempt.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

It's an incredible mess. You don't want to see it...

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wait... I never said 75mm. I said 0,75mm.

You're right, it's 0.0295 inches thick not whatever I said before =P

Edited by LizardKing1 - 1/11/11 at 5:53pm
post #6 of 14

There is only 1 ground on a single ended connector so yes they are supposed to connect and this is normal.  As with anything practice makes perfect...  the wires can be a pita regardless in these small connectors but you will get better at it.


The tip of your iron is probably oxidized... solder won't stick to oxidized metal.  Mostly just makes it more annoying to solder though.  It will stick if it's not oxidized (the silver you want ;p)



read this.


The width of the wire is probably okay... the way the insides of these 3.5mm connectors are constructed is different from one to the next it is hard to recommend how to keep your wires apart from seeing the outside of a similar connector.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

I just found a store here that sells (miracle) Neutrik plugs, so I'll buy one of those. Since it's one of the most used, I'll try it and hopefully it will work better.


That link was really helpful, thank you. I'll just use some solder on the tip and let it drip.


Also need to get a cellulose sponge...

Edited by LizardKing1 - 1/11/11 at 6:16pm
post #8 of 14

Consider getting something similar to this:




Google "wire solder tip cleaner" for more options.


Cleans as well as a sponge and water without losing heat. Also helps your tip last longer.

post #9 of 14

If your wire felt too thick for your connector you might get a bigger connector some companies make connectors with more/less room than others or smaller wire.   I looked up .75mm on a wire gauge chart and it is small, but a lot of 3.5mm cables use 22 or 24 gauge, which would be slightly smaller.  Sounds like your wire was also solid core?  You might look at stranded wires which generally run smaller and individual strands can split or cut at the end if you need to fit a smaller hole.


Dirty iron just makes it harder/slower to heat up your target surface.  Probably reduces the life of the tip, but those are replaceable.


From your text it sound like you may have been applying solder to your iron directly then apply that to make a joint?   A little bit on the iron helps to transfer heat to your target surface, but you really want to apply solder to the opposite side from the iron of the joint you are making.   The solder will flow toward the heat source.  Applying solder to the opposite side ensures everything in the join is hot enough to make a bond with the solder and when it cools it will be a solid connection.


Make a reasonable solid connection with the wire + post or whatever it is without solder.  Try applying a little solder to the tip (just enough to transfer heat easily), heat up a target area, apply solder to the opposite side.  Once it is flowing on the opposite side add to any exposed areas that it isn't flowing, hold the iron on for a second more, and finally pull away.  Leave the joint to cool before moving it. 


Once it is all cool clean it with high % isopropyl alcohol, usually a tooth brush does the trick.


If your solder does not have a lot of flux or any flux get some flux to prepare connection before adding solder.  It is great, but must be cleaned after.

post #10 of 14

yeah those sponges are stupid and do not help, the brass wire brush thing linked above is what I use and its great!! it sounds like your iron is VERY oxidized. yes you should clean the tip regularly, like after every joint or 2 and if you are fussing and not moving quickly, then definitely at least once a joint, i'm actually a bit compulsive with it and will do it repeatedly. solder should stick to the tip, that is what is called tinning the tip, your iron is probably too hot also. neutrik will not be much better, its one of the smallest common use connectors used around here, try switchcraft, or one of the cryoparts minis as there is plenty of room in them and large terminals to solder to. 0.75 is what 20AWG should be fine in a reasonable size connector, but too large for headphone cables IMO

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wow I never expected so many replies. You guys are much nicer than at the full-size section of the forum. Thanks, I am really excited about making this work, and I already found that that place also sells bigger plugs, that not only look really nice but you can fit my cable mess inside ^^ and I'll remember to keep cleaning the iron. I don't think that solder was much good so I'll probably invest in some 63/37 solder. I'll also keep in my mind to heat on one side, apply solder on the other, as it seems like it would work much better.


Any tips on how to turn 2 grounds into a single ground cable?


Thank you all!

Edited by LizardKing1 - 1/11/11 at 7:10pm
post #12 of 14

When traditional methods don't work out I find puddles of flux and sandpaper make the soldering iron tip work gooder. very_evil_smiley.gif

post #13 of 14

Usually there is enough room to twist them together and tie them to one point.


This thread/walkthrough might be helpful for you to look at:



I believe most of the wires in the pics are 22-24 gauge.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well, I'll have to thank you all again. I never expected so much help under the form of lists of advices, walkthroughs, guides, etc. I kept it all in mind and finally soldered 2 plugs that actually *gasp* were pretty good!


The plugs were slightly larger, but most of all, the wire was smaller (I found this DIY cable that had 2 signals and 2 grounds, and about as thick as each 0,75mm cable I had, so I ended up using only half the space as before. I might upload a photo when the recable is done (now for the easy part, I guess).


Oh and I didn't mention this, but I'm using the Portapros' drivers in an enclosure from a Creative full-sized broken headphone, and so far it sound good, let's see after the recable ^^

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