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Solder/wire tips and tricks for speaker jacks?

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by King Fan, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Reading the excellent thread here about ¼" phone jacks, I thought how much I like 'em but dislike soldering 'em. I'm looking for your pointers. Issues:

    18ga wire is heavy but the coating melts easily. To avoid shorts, I only strip and tin a little wire, so it melts more. Putting a heat sink on it makes it even harder to heat. The short tip lug is especially hard to heat sink, and putting a heat sinks on both sides that little joint really slows solder uptake.

    Then, too, you want these joints extra rugged; lots of possible pulling and dropping. But passing the 18ga wire physically through those little holes in the lugs is tricky. (OK, the commercial ones I have usually don't do that.)

    Finally, as in the useful thread about the jacks themselves, flat speaker wire does avoid the 'is it a guitar cable' issue, but it looks kind of like Dad repaired Mom's old lamp. A round cable might look better and maybe work better in the crimp/clamp on the sleeve lug.

    So what wire works best and melts least? (I've used the Teflon-coated pre-tinned black/white twisted stuff for my tweed clone -- nice -- but it would look weird after about 1959.) Any jacks easier to work on? (I've used Switchcraft, which I like a ton in principle.)

    Top tips on the physical connection and soldering?

    How about strain reliefs that look more pro than my heat-shrink?
     
  2. Cleeve

    Cleeve Tele-Holic

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    Use a real iron- if the cord comes out of the handle and goes into the wall with no base station between the handle and the wall outlet, you'll have problems.

    First flow some solder on the stripped wires, then flow some solder on the terminals.
    Wipe the iron tip on the moist sponge then flow some solder onto the tip where so its wet with solder, just not so wet it's dripping. With put the tinned wire to the tinned terminal and melt the two together with the wet-with-solder soldering iron. At no time will you have to hold the iron, the solder, the wire, and the terminal bearing jack all at once.
    The thing with terminals needs to be secured to a clamp or panel or otherwise not moving, the wire held with one hand, the soldering iron with the other, the trick is to apply solder on the surfaces individually, then bring them together after they have a fresh coat of solder.

    I was shown this method by a guy who's job it was to make "snakes" for a PA rental company.
     
  3. VintageMike

    VintageMike TDPRI Member

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    Watch "expert level soldering#1" on youtube. If its good enough for NASA, it should work for you. Very detailed.
     
  4. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I got an 18$ Stahl soldering iron that gets real hot, I can solder to any lug, back of a pot, in just a few seconds.
    You need more heat.
     
  5. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a 100-140 watt pistol grip Weller from the 60's that I use for basically everything that's not on a board now. Pull the trigger, a flashlight lights up what I'm working on, and in 10 seconds the joint is hot enough to solder. For PC boards I have a multi wattage pen type Weller, and a RadioShack 20/40 watt station. For speaker cables, I like pancake jacks in amps or big giant barrel (thanks RadioShack for clearing these out at the end) looking ones that have screws and room for crimped cable ends. Pre-tinned wire is very nice to use, and gives me good looking joints. I use car audio speaker cable, but regular stranded wire works in low wattage amps, and 2 conductor heavy duty lamp cord or extension cord wire works great.
     
  6. Cleeve

    Cleeve Tele-Holic

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    The wire meant for low voltage landscape lighting is excellent for speaker leads, it is sold at Lowes type places. The copper stranding is very fine, the insulation is good too, It's designed to be able to survive being directly buried. It's more flexible than lamp cord.
     
  7. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    These are excellent tips, everybody, thanks. No doubt I should turn my iron up even more for this kind of work. Clint, your 'all-wet' technique is a great idea -- I've been trying to hard too make a good mechanical connection. I'll look at those cable options, too. Anybody tried the Amphenol jacks compared to Switchcraft? Some sites say the lugs are easier to work with...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
  8. jb12string

    jb12string Tele-Afflicted

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    Never had problem with switchcrafts. I always do them like Clint describes thought, put the solder on the componets, put the components together, add heat.

    For speakers, I like using SpeakON's the best.
     
  9. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

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    Insulation tends to melt on cheaper wire. The better stuff I bought from AmplifiedParts doesn't melt as easier as the consumer grade stuff from RadioShack.

    Another trick is to strip a little more off the end than necessary, then add shrink insulation the same color as the wire when the soldering is done. Shrink insulation, if the proper diameter, can be slipped right up over the lug on the jack, creating a sealed, insulated and tidy looking connection.
     
  10. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've been using "old school" soldering irons since I was a kid. Didn't know any better and couldn't afford any better.

    I still keep a ten buck Radio Shack iron in my roadie kit.

    It's a 30 watter. That's just big enough for some heay duty work while still small enough to repair pedals using a deft touch.

    Another tip... get in, get out. Doing it twice usually doesn't make it any better.

    If the soldering iron is hot, the tip is tinned and the wire to be soldered is tinned it literally takes a second. Trick is to do it quick enough the heat can't transfer up the wire and melt the insulation.

    Heave a cup of coffee while you wait for your iron to heat up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
  11. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I normally either do both things being pre tinned or I just wrap the wire through the lug's hold or a replacement part onto the original part's leads and I get a good connection. Right now I have been using nothing more than a 140 watt Weller that is trigger operated. I can get a good temp and then shut it off and pull away. Key is to heat up first and keep the tip at a good pretty high residual heat.
     
  12. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Wowsers, man! I shoulda tossed a ten buck Radio Shack iron into the last cargo cult crate I sent your way. It's gonna feel luxurious after waitin' for a 140 watt soldering gun to heat up then setting the world on fire with it. :rolleyes:

    Radio Shack makes a ten buck "soldering tools" kit. It comes with a 25 watt iron, a little curly cue of solder you can use if you're rally desperate, a clip- on heat sink and a plastic dental pick thingie that's astonishingly handy until you break it in half.

    Ten bucks! :D

    Pick up a couple spare tips while you're there. The 30 watt tip is the one to have with the soldering tolls kit.
     
  13. Tle4

    Tle4 Tele-Afflicted

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    You better stock up on them while Radio Shack is still around. Been hearing rumors of them going bankrupt and closing stores soon
     
  14. Tle4

    Tle4 Tele-Afflicted

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    For soldering th backs of pots and to stuff with heavy metal lugs that need more time to heat, I like to use some electronics safe soldering flux... U don't solder much though. Just the occasional repair in my own gear
     
  15. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Heh, that Radio Shack kit was my first soldering iron. Still have the toothpick. The heat sink was weak, the stamped-foil stand was hilarious. The iron? Not 'quite' as nice as my dad's .45 Weller automatic. ;-)
     
  16. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

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    I'm going to miss Radio Shack when they're gone.I don't go there much any more ,but they don't carry much anymore ,except for phones.Everyone carries phones now.I remember the days when they sold electronic kits ,like radios to be assembled.
     
  17. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/05/news/companies/radioshack-franchises/index.html?iid=EL

    The Brattleboro store is right off I-91 Exit 3. Been there, bought stuff. It's a franchise and will apparently be open for the foreseeable future.

    Same guy owns another one in Greenfield, Mass.

    I can buy out all the ten buck soldering irons in Brattleboro and still get more in Greenfield. :D

    I could use a few tool kits when I host an Amp Camp.


    I stopped at the one in Newton, Iowa during last summer's Party Like A Rock Star Tour. Stopped at another one in Knoxville, Iowa. Bought stuff at both locations.

    Believe it or not they still have stuff I need...
     
  18. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Amp Camp?

    Did I miss something?
    When is it? Where is it?
    How long is it?
    Muchx, you teaching it?

    Sorry about all the questions, but this is the first I've heard if it.
     
  19. Tle4

    Tle4 Tele-Afflicted

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    I think the ones in my area will be gone. It is a shame because it is pretty much the only place to go to get some basic parts in a pinch. I needed some slow blow 4amp fuses for one of my amps and RS was the only store that carried them. They are good for getting some resistors or caps in a pinch too.
     
  20. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

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    I had that kit, bought at Radio Shack about 15 years ago, since replaced with another.

    Actually, the little plastic pick is the only thing that survived from the original kit. :lol:
     
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