Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

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Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mad_ady »

Since my soldering iron is already out, I planned on fixing this:
Image

The board was connected to a C4 and a HDD when it took a fall causing the connector to snap off the board. The pins on the connector and the traces on the board look fine, so I think it's salvageable (and I hate throwing anything away!).
So I tried to solder it with my soldering iron by heating the connector "legs", but it doesn't seem to stick to the PCB... I wonder if they're using a different (lead free?) solder on the PCB and my simple soldering iron isn't producing the correct heat to melt it?

Any suggestions on fixing it with household items? :lol:

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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by odroid »

We've used lead-free solder paste from almost 10 years ago.
You had to check whether your soldering iron can heat 280~290°C or not.

I bought a relatively cheap(<$50) KSGER T12 soldering station for my hobby at home last year.
It has been very worth since it could generate near 400°C.
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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mctom »

1. Remove old solder from connection pads. You will need something that absorbs molten tin. Normally you would use wick, but if you have any spare flexible cable, there's a high chance it will have a similar structure to wick, but honestly I'd just buy wick instead. :)

EDIT: Forgot to tell how to use wick.
Easy - stretch it out a little so it's wider, put some flux on it, place it on top of a portion of tin you want to remove, and then heat it all up with soldering iron right from the top. This will heat up wick and solder underneath it, and should absorb tin. Remove wick and soldering iron together, as you may end up with wick soldered to a board. :)

Old tin will refuse sticking to anything. That's why you should apply flux on it before proceeding. Flux is a chemical that removes oxides and promotes bonding. I am not aware of any replacements found around the house, unless you have a violin, then you could use rosin as a flux for leaded tin.

2. With your pads clean, you will be able to place a socket where it should be. Solder first pin of a socket in place, and last pin. If you think you did a poor job, you may heat up these two joints, one at a time, and make small adjustments. Remember not to heat up socket pin for too long (count to 4 or something), as socket plastic may melt and deform.

Blowing with your mouth at a freshly made joint actually helps cure it faster, so you don't have to wait 10 seconds in awkward position for the tin to go solid.
If it takes 10 seconds for the bond to cure, you're using too high temperature, by the way.

3. When you are happy with socket position, solder the remaining pins, one at a time. Touch board pad and socket leg at the same time with soldering iron tip, wait 1-2 seconds, and push a bit of soldering wire in there. Solder will stick to whatever is hot, so it's important to heat both parts at the same time, and not adjacent legs or pads.

You will probably bridge some pins together accidentally, ignore that for now.

4. After you are done, inspect which pins you have bridged. There is fat chance some pins that have become bridged are actually supposed to be wired together - no need to fix that. If this is not the case, use flux and wick to remove excess solder and redo these pins.

5. Use leaded tin for your fixes - lower working temperature and won't snap off again after dropping on the floor. :)

By the way if you have ever wondered why in mid 2000s most electronic equipment became notoriously unreliable, keep in mind this is the time when EU banned leaded solder in consumer appliances. The transition was too quick for the industry to learn how to do assembly in a reliable way. BGAs snapping off their boards were a pandemic, including the famous Red Ring of Death.

Leaded tin (40% Pb, 60% Sn) was a standard soldering agent for ages - and for good reasons.
Another fun fact is that leadless assembly needs about 50% more energy to heat up soldering ovens. Environment protection, eh? ;)
Last edited by mctom on Thu Nov 04, 2021 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mad_ady »

Thanks again for your advice, mctom! I'll make sure to re-read it each time I want to solder something to an existing board.
Sadly, it seems I'm ill equipped for this hobby - I don't have whick, nor flux. My state-of-the-art soldering iron is a 25W ERSA (it says soldering temperature of 450C). I will look around, though I haven't found those products in local electronic shops - maybe they go by a different name. Could you link me to some products that you use?

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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mctom »

If this is the same Ersa I'm thinking about, you've got a really good tool. Too bad it doesn't have temperature control, but should be enough for your sporadic use.

All the other things I will suggest are cheap and will last.
These are not exactly the same products that I use, but I'd buy them if I needed. :)

- Leaded tin. 100g will last you for ages. I used 500g in 10 years. 0.5mm thickness should be right for SMD components (such as SATA connector), but of course you can as well use it for through-hole components.
https://www.conexelectronic.ro/ro/aliaj ... CYNEL.html
(and it's Polish, huh. Actually I use this brand.)

- Wick. I suggest narrower type as it is handy to get rid of tin from tight spots.
Before use, stretch it so it has wider surface, and apply a tiny amount of flux on it.
https://www.conexelectronic.ro/ro/aliaj ... -1-5M.html

- Flux
This a subject to a debate which flux is the best. Just go with this cheap rosin based and see if it works for you.
And don't worry about expiration date. Mine expired in 2013 and still works.
https://www.conexelectronic.ro/ro/aliaj ... RINGA.html

- Prototype PCB
This one has holes joined in threes, that should enable you to build most simple circuits by just bending component legs, with no additional wires.
However this board has exposed copper (is not tin plated). You may want to clean it with alcohol before working with it, otherwise oxidized copper may not be easy to solder.
https://www.conexelectronic.ro/ro/acces ... TRATE.html

- Propanol
To clean your board from sticky flux residues. In case of more aggressive flux, cleaning is necessary so the board won't corrode over time.
https://www.conexelectronic.ro/ro/acces ... 00-ML.html
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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mad_ady »

Well, mctom, I'll have to say - you're a special kind of nice! Thank you for the links. I'm sure Santa will find them handy!
I'll report back on the success of the repair next time I get a chance to work on it (which might take a while, because the kids are returning today from their grandparents).

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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mctom »

Train your kids to do soldering for you! I made my girlfriend to assemble a few boards and she was happy to help. ;)
Now we ordered christmas tree shaped PCBs with LEDs so she has something to practice on. ;)
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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mad_ady »

Thanks for the advice, but I'm perfectly capable of burning down the house without any help...

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Re: Broken USB-SATA board. Can I solder it?

Post by mctom »

Ah, yes, I'm not used to having kids around me and tend to forget how reckless they get sometimes..
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