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Soldering Course & Competition at EE Live! 2014?

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Max The Magnificent
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What competition circuit
Max The Magnificent   11/26/2013 3:26:26 PM
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Now I have the idea of a small soldering competition circuit board floating around in my head. It woudl be great is we had a tri-colored LED (or maybe a number of individual LEDs) and we could arrange it so that bad solder joints affected the LEDs in some way ... but maybe I'm over-thinking this...

zeeglen
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Re: What competition circuit
zeeglen   11/26/2013 4:22:53 PM
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All this talk about soldering reminds me of Day 2 at college.  The instructor passed around squares of plywood filled with nails along the edges.  We had to create a criss-crossed array of bare wires using the nails as anchors and solder them at every junction.

Many folks learned soldering through building of kits, Heathkit included a soldering how-to manual with every kit.  Funny how the worst solderers were TV repairmen, followed by ham radio operators.  Most first-timers followed the tips and did a decent job.

Rcurl
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Re: What competition circuit
Rcurl   11/26/2013 4:51:31 PM
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@Max:"It would be great is we had a tri-colored LED (or maybe a number of individual LEDs) and we could arrange it so that bad solder joints affected the LEDs in some way"

Practical Components: http://www.practicalcomponents.com/ offers some soldering training kits.  Some of their kits come with a PC board and a special quad flatpack "dummy" chip that has some pins internally connected to each other. The idea is that you solder it to the board and then check the continuity between two pads on the PCB.  The circuit zigzags in and out of the chip package through all of the pins, so if you've got continuity, you've either got all the solder joints right (or at least conducting), or you've got a solder bridge.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: What competition circuit
Max The Magnificent   11/26/2013 4:57:10 PM
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@Rick: Practical Components: http://www.practicalcomponents.com/ offers some soldering training kits.

That's an interesting idea about the special quad flatpack thingies ... I shall ponder furiously on this...

David Ashton
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Soldering
David Ashton   11/26/2013 3:56:52 PM
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Max - "....if we were to hold a soldering competition at EE Live! 2014,"

If I make it I'd give it a go.  Time us Aussies took something else off you guys besides the Americas Cup :-)

I recently constructed a 4x4x4 tri-colored 3D LED cube kit that required 400-plus soldered joints... needless to say it worked the first time I powered it up (well, actually, if truth be told, this was the first project I've ever built that worked the first time, but let's not rain on my parade as it were)."

Rats!  I was looking forward to you sending it to me for final commissioning..... :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Soldering
Max The Magnificent   11/26/2013 4:58:33 PM
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@David: If I make it I'd give it a go.

I cannot imagine anyone I'd prefer as my "runner-up" LOL

steveDS
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Soldering challange
steveDS   11/26/2013 7:30:22 PM
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To make it really interesting you need to dead bug a chip on the board with blue wires!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Soldering challange
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:23:41 PM
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@SteveDS: To make it really interesting you need to dead bug a chip on the board with blue wires!


Good idea -- if we do go ahead with this, maybe we should form a group to come up with a special competition board and associated tasks.

antedeluvian
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Getting nasty
antedeluvian   11/26/2013 7:33:28 PM
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If you want to separate the wheat from the chaff, try getting them to solder magnet wire.

zeeglen
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Re: Getting nasty
zeeglen   11/26/2013 11:29:13 PM
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How about ultra-fine-ptch SMT with a 3/16" tip 'cuz the boss won't invest in a real soldering station - and without a microscope!  The ultimate soldering challenge!  (And yes, been there...)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Getting nasty
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:29:04 PM
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@zeeglen: ...And yes, been there...

The main thing is you aren't bitter :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Getting nasty
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:24:37 PM
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@Antedeluvian: If you want to separate the wheat from the chaff, try getting them to solder magnet wire.

Ooohhhhhh, you are a cruel man!

 

dgreigml1
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Re: Getting nasty
dgreigml1   11/28/2013 2:52:35 PM
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CO2 fire extinguisher and a jar of acetone. Enamel off the end in one go. Solder dip or crimp with haste and no flux (the acids erode over time, that's the advantage of a crimp air tight contact).

Cooner Braided Wire, stretch between the tow bars of 2 cars, one anchor and other the pull so as to braid it tight. At least as good as Litz once stretched.

antedeluvian
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Re: Getting nasty
antedeluvian   11/28/2013 2:57:54 PM
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@dgreigml1

CO2 fire extinguisher and a jar of acetone

Do you just take the cylinder off the wall and shpritz it into a container? LOL

 

dgreigml1
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Re: Getting nasty
dgreigml1   11/29/2013 1:25:07 PM
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Just fired it off at the wire end and sploog ends into a mug of acetone.

Power electronics lab style - we went thru several CO2 extinguishers per week.

The Cooner was for for large air cored toroids - just don't forget the anti-poloidal turn!

Having over 24 TO247 mosfets blowing up behind your back was a wee bit of a regular nuisance, and that was regular. Not my design but an inherited inverter that was sacrosanct. I came up with an cheaper IGBT version, ~200kHz switching, ~100kHz PLL resonant ZVZC switching and then quitely walked away from that job. That was 18 years ago.

As to why Radiologists' wanted 150kV @ 80kW, no idea. A zoo VET might need such a thing, but for humans?

 

antedeluvian
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How would you judge?
antedeluvian   11/26/2013 7:39:19 PM
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If such a competition were to take place, would you be interested in taking part?

How would you judge the solder joins? neatness, connectivity, symmetry, strength, "blobiness"? Seems a bit subjective, like gymnastics. "A 7 from the Russian judge"

I would take part, but I have no illusions about winning!

Duane Benson
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Re: How would you judge?
Duane Benson   11/27/2013 3:05:16 AM
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AD "How would you judge the solder joins?"

It can be fairly subjective, but much of it can be measured. The IPC 610 standard describes things like fillet height, distance for fillet to clipped lean, part position on pad and such.

You could also judge to differnet levels of expertice so the experience folk wouldn't always runaway with the prises. The same standard has different levels: Class I (the minimum acceptable), Class II (appropriate for consumer goods), Class III (military & hi-reliability).

Crusty1
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Re: I remember it well
Crusty1   11/27/2013 3:52:35 AM
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Soldering with the 300 watt had soldering iron was a real pain at 10 years old the Iron was so heavy to hold.

Multi strand Litz wire tails from a tuning coil were the killer of dry joints for me, until dad showed me the trick of soldering it. Dip the cotton and shelac coated wires in alcohol, set light to the end and wait for a lovely bright glob of copper to form and then blow the flame out and then solder. Oh what lovely mini fires I had with this.

It seems to me basic soldering skills are something that needs to be taught on the bench, preferably in a flame proof room.

David Ashton
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Re: I remember it well
David Ashton   11/27/2013 4:17:50 AM
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@Crusty....working on military radios I had similar problems with the "Tinsel" wires used in handset and microphone curly cords.  The trick was to get a strand out of multistranded wire, and use it to bind up the tinsel cores.  You could do a very neat job with practice.

Crusty1
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Re: I remember it well
Crusty1   11/27/2013 4:35:03 AM
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@David: Oh how I had forgotton those horrible tinsel wires. All my headphones were government surplus from a shop called Job Stocks.

Manganin resistance wire needed a trick which I seem to have forgotten?

David Ashton
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Re: I remember it well
David Ashton   11/27/2013 4:50:42 AM
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@Crusty....Manganin.... can't help you there....nor can google, much.... some suggestions on iron temperature and usng a special flux?

Crusty1
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Re: I remember it well
Crusty1   11/27/2013 6:55:44 AM
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@David: I think my first head of department at London Underground Research Labs showed me how to do it and it mainly concerned getting the oxide coat off with fairly normal lab reagents, and then quickly soldering.

@Max; While thinking about a soldering competetion you could make life interesting by getting the contestants to measure the resistance using a slide wire potentiometer and Weston Cell. How many have used similar old kit?

I used, once, a Cambridge optical pyrometer at college, but I have never seen another one to put my hands on.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I remember it well
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:32:11 PM
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@Crusry: It seems to me basic soldering skills are something that needs to be taught on the bench, preferably in a flame proof room.

I'm getting the feeling that there's a tale to be told here...

Crusty1
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Re: I remember it well
Crusty1   11/27/2013 2:12:59 PM
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@Max : How do you think I went from being an Electronics Engineer to an Assurance Engineer for Fire Safety, in one of the divisions of an English Underground Railway system?

Probably this knowledge must remain undisclosed, due to the Offical Crusty Secrets Act, which can only be broken with large libations of alcohol.

Crusty :LOL

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I remember it well
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 2:24:48 PM
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@Crusty: ...The Offical Crusty Secrets Act, which can only be broken with large libations of alcohol.

We MUST get you out to EE Live! 2014 -- if there's one thing Adam and Duane and myself excel at, it's consuming large quantities of alcohol :-)

David Ashton
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Re: How would you judge?
David Ashton   11/27/2013 4:14:29 AM
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@Max - I reckon Duane would be a good judge for your competition?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: How would you judge?
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:30:50 PM
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@Duane: The same standard has different levels: Class I (the minimum acceptable), Class II (appropriate for consumer goods), Class III (military & hi-reliability).

Maybe keep it simple like "Professional" and "Hobbyist" -- but it does sound like you would be a good man to be in charge of the judging criteria :-)

Duane Benson
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Re: How would you judge?
Duane Benson   11/27/2013 12:35:59 PM
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Maybe the best criteria would be to count the number of finger burns. Whomever has the most burnmarks on their fingers wins.

Crusty1
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Re: How would you judge?
Crusty1   11/27/2013 2:18:09 PM
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@Duane: In my case the burns would be palm prints, as that 300 Watt soldering iron I mentioned, used to rest on a bunsen burner tripod. Two of us working at one bench, it had to happen, my co-worker put the iron the wrong way round, so i got the heating element embossed in my closed hand. Ouch. After nearly 60 years the marks are almost gone, but the memory lingers on.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: How would you judge?
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:26:02 PM
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@Antedelivian: How would you judge the solder joins? neatness, connectivity, symmetry, strength, "blobiness"?

Well, this is something we would have to decide beforehand.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: How would you judge?
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:27:04 PM
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@Antedeluvian: ... I have no illusions about winning!

That's good to hear, because I plan on entering also :-)

kfield
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Tsk tsk Max!!
kfield   11/27/2013 12:29:59 PM
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Sheesh Max, here you go again threatening to make our lawyers' heads explode hosting a soldering competition at a live event. But (and it's a big but) if our readers want, er demand it, I will start looking into it. I'd hate to face your wrath if I didn't deliver.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Tsk tsk Max!!
Max The Magnificent   11/27/2013 12:33:55 PM
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@kfield: ....threatening to make our lawyers' heads explode...

Ever heard the expression "two birds with one stone"? LOL

David Ashton
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Re: Tsk tsk Max!!
David Ashton   11/27/2013 4:00:36 PM
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@Karen.... "....threatening to make our lawyers' heads explode"

Wait till they hear there may be non-US / Canada residents there!!

antedeluvian
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An additional test
antedeluvian   11/29/2013 10:45:53 AM
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How about adding another test? Being able to strip a wire with only a pair of cutters?

zeeglen
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Re: An additional test
zeeglen   11/29/2013 10:56:18 AM
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Cutters?  REAL engineers use their TEETH! (just kidding) :^}

antedeluvian
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Re: An additional test
antedeluvian   11/29/2013 11:03:19 AM
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Now that's something I should've thought of 3 weeks ago. I am having a denture made- If I had allowed for a gap between two of the teeth and had the edges sharpened I could probably claim the denture as a work expense!

zeeglen
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Re: An additional test
zeeglen   11/29/2013 11:20:30 AM
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Why stop at just 2 teeth?  Go for AWG 18 through 30!

antedeluvian
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Re: An additional test
antedeluvian   11/29/2013 11:22:21 AM
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zeeglen

Why stop at just 2 teeth?  Go for AWG 18 through 30!

ROTFL- Good idea!

antedeluvian
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Re: An additional test
antedeluvian   11/29/2013 11:35:08 AM
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zeeglen

Why stop at just 2 teeth?  Go for AWG 18 through 30!

I guess Terry Thomas had a 10AWG gap!

Crusty1
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Re: An additional test
Crusty1   11/29/2013 11:44:56 AM
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@Zeeglen: REAL engineers use their TEETH!

So do kids with lousy wire cutters, I think thats where I got a taste for chewing sleeving, That was until I got hooked on tabacco.

It w,ould have been better hooked on sleeving as it took 20 years to kick tobacco.

KB3001
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Re: An additional test
KB3001   11/29/2013 2:57:09 PM
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Cutters?  REAL engineers use their TEETH! (just kidding) :^}

 

What has the world come to hey!? :-)


Crusty1
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Re: An additional test
Crusty1   11/29/2013 11:51:27 AM
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@antedeluvian: How about snapping insulation tape with your fingers? Cloth insulation tape was easier than PVC.

Terminating and dressing multicore mineral insulated copper clad cable is a strangly satisfying past time.

antedeluvian
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Re: An additional test
antedeluvian   11/29/2013 12:31:29 PM
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Crusty

How about snapping insulation tape with your fingers?

I guess Max should be organizing a triatholon.

 

Crusty1
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Re: An additional test
Crusty1   11/29/2013 12:54:42 PM
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@antedeluvian : Lets give the new kids on the block something to cut their teeth on and make it a decathlon?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: An additional test
Max The Magnificent   12/3/2013 2:57:46 PM
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@Crusty: Terminating and dressing multicore mineral insulated copper clad cable is a strangly satisfying past time.

You don't get out much, do you? (LOL)

Crusty1
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Re: An additional test
Crusty1   12/3/2013 3:20:36 PM
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@Max: With the thousands of miles of MICC I accepted for the fire alarms at London Underground post Kings Cross Fire, I almost became a world aclaimed connoisseur of MICC cable installation.

I can still walk around the sations and say which crew installed a particular section, just by looking at the way it is dressed into the building fabric. I think LU took the whole output for England for two years, some say the total length used would reach the moon.

If you are going to downgrade a cable then you have to be as good as the men installing, so I learnt to dress and terminate MICC. The Japanese joke that MICC is the English plumbing electricity, it has to be installed at site and can not be pre-constructed in a factory.

I have got data rates of over a Meg across a kilometer of MICC which considering it was not designed for such use is amazing.

But correct after working 7 nights a week for two years installing/accepting the LU fire alarm systems Mrs Crusty does not allow me out that much.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: An additional test
Max The Magnificent   12/3/2013 3:47:37 PM
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@Crusty: Mrs Crusty does not allow me out that much...

She tells me that she has to take you everywhere twice ... the second time is to apologise for the first :-)

Crusty1
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Re: An additional test
Crusty1   12/3/2013 3:56:48 PM
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@Max ; You probably have the measure of it.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: An additional test
Max The Magnificent   12/3/2013 3:59:44 PM
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@Crusty: You probably have the measure of it.

12 inches, but I don't use it as a rule ... I'm sorry, what were we talking about? LOL

anon0050695
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The finalists must make "solder chains"
anon0050695   12/2/2013 5:23:34 PM
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To really find the best of the best, the finalists need to solder 0.7mm (or thinner) soldering wire to itself ie make a loop. Then add another and another to form a long chain. It can be done; I was an expert 35 years ago. Using a modern electronic temperature controlled solcering irons is cheating!

\BR Morten C

 

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