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I'm having problems when I try to solder anything to my PCB. The solder doesn't come off the iron. I can't put nice solder dots like all the people in the videos do. It is really hard for me to put it on the PCB but when I try to put solder on wires/switches I do it pretty easily.

When searching the Internet for a solution for my problem I found this: Solder won't stick.

There it is said that there should be "a nice little blob of solder on the tip of the iron", but when I touch the solder with my iron it just go to the side of the iron (not the plastic handle) and it doesn't stay on the tip. Furthermore, I cannot remove the solder from the tip of my iron, like it's not even hot. I can only remove the solder from the side of it (not from the tip, and it doesn't come off well at all).

The solder iron I have looks like this (mine is 30W):

My solder iron

I want to mention that the solder iron is a problem for me. I've used it for about 3-4 months and I don't have $300 to buy a nicer one. But I know I should have a better, more expensive one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Problem number one: That is a cheap, junk iron. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Jun 12 '14 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I put an edit about it in the end \$\endgroup\$ – MyNick Jun 12 '14 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure it heats up at all? Maybe try swiping it on a wet sponge as see if you get a little steam and that might help clean the tip too. They're not very good as Matt said for electronics work but do work OK. Cheap ones can also take a while to warm up so give it 5 minutes or so. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Jun 12 '14 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean the solder goes to the side of the iron and doesn't stay on the tip? The solder just falls off? When you touch the solder to the iron, the solder should melt quickly and coat your tip. It shouldn't form a ball on your tip. Also, the answer to the question you link is pretty spot on for how to solder, you need enough heat. Another question, are you by chance soldering to something large, like a ground plane? The size will act like a heat sink and will not get hot enough to accept the solder. In all these cases, it sounds like you need a better iron. You can get one sub $100 \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Williams Jun 12 '14 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like the Analog Weller soldering station here: amazon.com/Weller-WES51-Analog-Soldering-Station/dp/B000BRC2XU/… I have this one and it is awesome. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Williams Jun 12 '14 at 13:18
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The iron you have should do the job if you use it once in a while. Although, if you plan to use if often, you should get a better one. It's worth it. The quality of the solder and flux also matter. All these will determine the quality of your work.

  1. Try a different solder. I purchased a chip one. It melted well, but I could not solder anything with it. Getting a more expensive solder worked well. Also, check out the metal composition ratio 60/40...??
  2. The tip of the iron might not be properly coated/wetted, so nothing sticks to it. When I had an iron similar to yours, I often had to scratch the surface of the tip with a fine file and use some solder and flux to coat the tip before soldering.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ 2. Is spot on. Had the exact problem with a similar cheap iron. Guess the plating is really bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Dejvid_no1 Jun 12 '14 at 19:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I use tip tinner even on good irons. Keeps them happy. Worth every penny: ebay.com/itm/… \$\endgroup\$ – SDsolar Apr 25 '17 at 5:14

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