Lost arts (electronic soldering for me)

Sweetie knows how to do electronic soldering. He repaired his nieces’ screaming flying monkey doll (don’t ask) and was Best Uncle Ever for an evening. He repaired a friend’s keyboard and retrofitted it with a couple of potentiometers to take advantage of analog capabilities that the manufacturer left untapped.

One of our next when-we-have-time projects is to collect some garage sale electronic toys and try some circuit bending.

So was that DVD player RoHS or not? RoHS = “Reduction of Hazardous Substances”, a program which eliminated lead and several other substances from electronics.

Older units used lead-based solder which melts at a lower temperature; newer units is a silver-based solder which melts at a higher temperature and needs a different tip on the soldering iron (I think). I know my work went through a vast two-year change redesigning the entire product line to eliminate lead solder, and we got all new workstations and parts.

It’s time for me to get into hardware again.

Soldering is a lost art? Where? Millions of Chinese girls are doing it for pennies per day. And I do it all the time just for fun and tinkering.

Black Knight is the best (oldschool) pinball ever. *Indiana Jones *is the best of all time.

Just so you know…

Funny, I own Black Knight and Black Knight 2000.

Just sayn’…

Lead poisoning is nasty, but I don’t think it causes cancer. Right?

Well, don’t be so hard on the box stores, they are just following the money. It’s far cheaper to just spin a new board than do board level repair on consumer electronics.

I, however, work on medical lasers, and let me tell you, soldering is not a lost art. I do everything from surface mount to through hole, and I have a really nice station for doing it. Certainly, the number of people doing things by hand is going down, but there are still a lot of pros out there doing it.

If you need parts and tools, I’ve found digi-key.com and mouser.com to be good part vendors.

Good work on fixing stuff yourself. Have no fear, if you know where to look, the goods are still there.

So true. I often try to repair things and end up wasting a lot of time for nothing. And even when I am able to repair it the time spent was probably not worth it from a purely monetary point of view.


Part came today.

Let’s see new part X2 =$60. $100 for soldering station, solder, flux, desoldering tool, hobbyholder.

I’m still $100 ahead than if I’d ordered the LED upgrade.

Satisfaction: Priceless.

Come to think of it, while we’re on the subject of soldering, I once had a fellow employee wander into my office clutching a development board and ask for my **bottle of nail polish **as a stopgap alternative. That happened a few times over the course of a week or so. :confused:

Anyone else ever done or heard of anything similar?

It is, innit? :smiley:

Nail polish isn’t conductive, so it isn’t a solder substitute, but it’s useful for:
a) insulating components in close proximity.
b) tacking wire down
c) protecting circuitry from oxidation
d) preventing adjustable components from moving.
I keep a bottle of clear nail polish for those situations.

Oooh, thanks for the explanation! That makes more sense; as you can tell, I was pretty confused about it. I’m sure the board looked a bit amusing with black/silver glitter nail polish daubs on it.

This is my soldering station. I use it at work for not only old school type assembly, but for SMT assembly and rework as well. I rarely use the vacuum attachment, opting for good old solder wick instead. Now, if you want to talk about lost arts, I could prolly still whip out a wire wrapped circuit board if I really had too.

This makes me all teary eyed; I used to be, at one point in my life, a Certified Solderer*, which allowed me to work on some Defense Department stuff I never understood. It was a lot of fun, though.

*This was some home brewed title made up by the company I was working for. As far as I know, there ain’t no such thing in real life.

There are definitely “Certified Solderers”. Up to my retirement some years ago, I worked at a medium sized company that did all sorts of aircraft parts. We had several folks who had gone to an FAA certified training program for soldering, and were therefore allowed to work on aircraft electronics. Without that training, you weren’t allowed to touch this sort of thing.

I used to lay out printed circuit boards using tape, rub-on pads, mylar, and exacto knives. The last time I did this must be close to 25 years ago. Of course, computers have made that art obsolete, and I’ll I can say is I don’t miss doing it that way one bit.

Me too on the tape and exacto knife part. Twenty five years later, I still occasionally lay out boards and yes, it’s now all done via software but it is still very much an art. It takes skill and a keen sense of aesthetic to lay out a multi-layer SMT board with blind and buried vias. No one likes an ugly PC board.

If you haven’t seen this, you might like it. I do.

Junk, by Richard Wilbur

The unusual meter is actually the very old strong-stress rhythm.

Going back to the original question, I think actually DOING many things is becoming a lost art.
My main hobby is building and flying model airplanes, primarily radio controlled ones. Until maybe five years ago modelers took a lot of pride in building…even the ones who weren’t particuarly good craftsmen. Now almost-ready-to-fly airplanes are well enough built and cheap enough that almost no new modelers and few older ones bother to build anymore.
Most pilots don’t even have the building skills to repair minor crash damage, so it’s a matter of pitch it and buy a new one when something unfortunate happens.

I got hit with a freak apartment dust storm, and suddenly my eyes are all watery for some strange reason when I read this line. Just because as a kid I broke a lot of stuff. Never have I gotten a response as eloquent or nicely put as that one you just gave your daughter. I always just got yelled at, and that’s what I was totally expecting from you- just perhaps a sigh and a rant or something like “kids will be kids” and perhaps a muttering on now you gotta go get another one or something. That answer you gave was beautiful, and it BLEW my MIND. My horizon was literally broadened. Thank you, sir.
I hope to use that one someday and to share that perspective with my own kids someday. Thanks for teaching me something new.