Soldering basics

@marvin_martian wrote:

@tenzip wrote:

@hulksmashnow wrote:

@marvin_martian wrote:

@hulksmashnow wrote:
Very nice, Marvin. Are those KSC-75’s the ones with the in-line volume control?


Yes, they are…and frankly, I would just as soon they didn’t. One day I thought my Clip was dying on me and it turned out I had accidentally lowered the inline control. Also, the control is a big heavy thing that flops around. But hey, they were only $5.47, so I really am in no position to complain. :smiley:

Message Edited by Marvin_Martian on 04-24-2009 03:00 PM

You’re welcome! I paid the same price for mine, and I agree that that that volume control does get in the way. But, jeez, when they’re that cheap and still sound as good as they do, you just have to grin and bear it!

About 5 minutes with a soldering iron and some heat shrink tubing will fix that.  Although as I recall, the wires in the stock cables are like 36 ga or some such horrendously small size.  Very difficult to strip without losing 1 or more strands, use extreme care with sharp instruments when stripping.  You may want to just melt the insulation off if you want to try this, and then tin the wire carefully.

I thought about this, but I don’t have a soldering kit, have never used one, and wasn’t sure if the expense of getting one would be worth it or not. Are they expensive, and how much skill is involved?

You should be able to do it with a low-watt soldering pencil/kit from Rat Shack.  If you are reasonably dexterous, it doesn’t require anything special.  Google basic soldering for lots of info and videos.  Here’s one, and another, with good pictures.  The NASA page has LOTS of pictures, and I’ll post a couple here.

The important things to remember are, IMO:

  • Always clean and then tin components before attempting to solder them together.  Tinning is heating the individual component, and applying solder to it so that it is coated.  This accomplishes 2 things, it gives you a layer of solder that will ‘attract’ other solder later when connecting, and it assures you have a clean part, as the flux in solder will clean off oils, oxidation, etc. that may be on the part.
  • Have a good mechanical connection if at all possible before trying to solder components together.  Bend wires around each other, in this case, so that they stay hooked together.
  • Apply heat to both components, then apply solder to the components, not to the soldering iron.
  • Make sure the components don’t move while the liquid solder is solidifying.   In this case, tape the wires down after making the mechanical connection, and when you take the iron away from the joint, do it smoothly, using a wiping motion.  The wires will move a little, but as long as they aren’t ‘springing’ or bouncing, the joint should be fine.

For wires the size we’re discussing, about 1 second of heat should be a great plenty.  Longer and you’ll start melting insulation up the wire.

Here’s a good solder joint:

Notice the solder isn’t a lump or mound of solder, it smoothly blends into the components, and is smooth and shiny.  Solder connecting the components should be concave.

Here’s a cold solder joint:

 Lumpy, grainy texture/look.  Re-heating this joint can fix this.  Keep in mind if you have to re-heat, you have to re-heat the components, not just melt the solder.

Not enough solder:

 The solder should fill the gap between the components smoothly, as in the first picture above.

Find yourself some little wires to practice on, and then go ahead and try it.  I ended up wrapping each individual joint in my KSC cable in a little bit of electrical tape, then using a piece of heat shrink tubing over the whole mess.  It’s a little lumpy, but still fairly clean looking.  (I don’t have a camera or the 'phones handy, or I’d post a pic.)

Well, I am going to pick up a small, basic soldering kit today, and see if I can eliminate the clunky volume controller on the KSC75’s. I have an unused set of headphones to practice on before I do any modding of the Koss. I’m sure I will be referencing your links here later!