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Advice on making own leads - soldering iron

Discussion in 'd.i.y.' started by Amber Audio, May 23, 2020.

  1. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio Trade: Amber Audio


    In my youth I used to make/build my own stuff, modify Amiga computers for mates etc. Age and an accident resulting in the loss of an eye - kebabbed it with a high tensile wire - means I have no depth of field and done nothing DIY for 20 odd years, I've adapted to the eyesight issue and fitted a 10x5 cart the other day so a bit of confidence is back.

    I'm shielding so I have some time to mess about and have a Cyrus amp inbound but no BFA cables. Rather than buying off the shelf cables I am thinking of making some up, if it goes awry I can always buy some off the shelf then.

    Question is do I need and should I buy a cheapo soldering iron. spend a bit more on a station and if so what's decent at the lower end? A search show stuff from a tenner to hundreds, this on Amazon any use?


    Initially I'm thinking Neutrik ProFi + Klotz or Mogami RCA and Van Damme + BFA/4mm Deltron Spkr. I'm assuming a soldered fix is preferable to grub screws?

    Any advice would be appreciated. Extra tools/good suppliers/tips.


  2. Ian G

    Ian G Well-Known Member

    Bloody ouch. Get the best iron you can afford with variable temp control and changeable tips.
    Wear eye protection, I'm sure you do.
    Big John likes this.
  3. Antifon

    Antifon pfm Member

    IMO, you don't really need to solder Deltron BFAs if you're using decent-sized cable - the grub screw thread is good and long, so you won't strip the thread by tightening down hard. They may be ugly, but they are very well made plugs.

    If you have big cable you won't find it at all easy to solder Deltrons with a soldering iron, because there's a ~lot~ of metal in them. On the relatively few occasions that I've done it, I've used a small blowtorch.
  4. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member


    If you fancy a dabble, different sized tips makes for versatility. You need a biggish one for heating a lump like a RCA centre pin, quickly, but a fine one for general component work.

    Not sure of current prices, but Antex used to be excellent value for money for no frills irons.
    cctaylor likes this.
  5. JimmyB

    JimmyB pfm Member

    Have a look at Sommer cable too, very good stuff
    Amber Audio likes this.
  6. Loz828

    Loz828 Member

    For the soldering iron......Depends on how much you want to spend and how much you might use it - The Antex XS25 seems popular for a fixed temp cheaper option, or what I have (the Hakko FX888D) for temp controlled station, all have changeable tips. Never seen the Preciva so no comment but seems kinda cheap for what it claims to be and personally I prefer to go with good reputaion for some stuff.

    Recent thread on PFM aboout soldering irons here -

    Youtube review of Hakko FX888D vs Weller WE1010 here, both about US$110 (dont know UK price) -

    Cables/connectors - I like the Neutrik ProFi great solid RCA connectors. And I use Gotham GAC cable, avail with different numbers of cores and shielding depending on what youre making, it works fine for me even if there might be something better.
  7. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Antex XS25 230V Silicone here. I’m happy using it on cables, audio kit and vintage 8 bit computers, e.g. I’ve soldered DIL chips in with it. I do have a fancy Hakko desoldering gun though, and to be honest that is the hard bit.
    chiily likes this.
  8. Tom Bonjour

    Tom Bonjour pfm Member

    I use a Weller WES51 variable temperature station. I have used it for many years and it has done very well.
  9. chiily

    chiily PFM Special Builder

    I've been using a Antex XS25 for the best part of 17 years for audio DIYing. I'm on my second one now. Great irons. And will take on big jobs like A5 cable into Naim plugs as well as surface mount stuff.
  10. -alan-

    -alan- pfm Member

    I need to get the hold of one too - for some guitar gubbins work.

    25W seems on the low side power wise - would that iron have enough clout for a larger bit to solder the likes of pickup wires to the back of a pot in a guitar ?
  11. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio Trade: Amber Audio

    I'll be wearing safety specs - and a pirate patch :) When you're down to just the 1 eye you get cautious about some stuff real quick.
  12. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio Trade: Amber Audio

    Thanks for all the advice so far - I am getting a list of part numbers together and online suppliers - Studiocare/Studiospares look like reasonable shops. Appears unlikely I'll need to solder the speaker cables using Deltron/Van Damme 2 core 4mm so that stuff is on the way.

    I can see the XS25 Iron on Amazon and can get all the gubbins there in 1 shot - a stand/tips/sponge/solder etc

    The other one I was looking at is on CPC - TENMA


  13. cupples

    cupples pfm Member

    I've been making do with a very tiny Antex with a very short cable, and it's a complete faff - I really should get a decent solder station, with a variable temp, and changeable tips. I've probably done more damage and a worse job trying to make do with an inadequate soldering iron. Maplin used to do a cheap solder station, looked a bit like this one - might get something similar.
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Seems to do ok. I do use the larger contact angled bit that comes with it, I really don’t get on with pointed bits that a lot of people use, not even for board & chip work. I also add flux if need be too. To my eyes most soldering problems are when people don’t get the heat in the right place, e.g. I was cringing when I watched TPS Mick’s wonderful Strat pickup blog on YouTube as he just wasn’t putting the heat where it needed to go and from my perspective was using a hopeless pointy bit on the iron which just made doing it so much harder. I’d definitely have struggled with that bit too!
    -alan- likes this.
  15. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    Personally, I'd avoid anything under 60 W. Soldering irons are like amps, too much power can't do any harm, while not having enough has the potential to cause damage. Regarding tip size, I agree with Tony. Use the largest one that can comfortably get the job done. It's all about transferring heat, and here bigger is better.
    -alan- likes this.
  16. mansr

    mansr Objectionist

    I have one of those cheap Maplin ones that I'm not using. Do you want it? Might not be worth the postage, though.
  17. Loz828

    Loz828 Member

    But which eye do you use the pirate patch on?
  18. cupples

    cupples pfm Member

    If @Amber Audio doesn't want that solder station, I would gladly take it off you, thanks!
  19. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio Trade: Amber Audio

    All your's cupples, I bought a bunch of kit including a soldering station yesterday - the TENMA 60W
  20. cupples

    cupples pfm Member

    Much appreciated! Hope your new soldering iron gives you many happy years of tinkering!

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