Friday, August 21, 2009

A neat little soldering iron

I needed to solder a USB jack back onto a printed circuit board in a printer the other day. I'm more comfortable soldering big ol' resistors and tube sockets in antique radios, and my gigundo Weller soldering gun which has served me so well for decades looked just a little too big for the job. Well, actually a lot too big; the Weller tip would have covered both traces on the board at once! I have several soldering irons too, but each of these also dates back to the day of large, dicrete components and wasn't going to be any more useful here.

So I figured it's time to buy a new, small soldering iron for delicate work. Most folks seem to recommend a 30 watt iron for small work. I found a fifteen watt soldering iron at Radio Shack that seemed like it might be just the thing for dealing with smaller parts in computers, transistor radios and the like.

I worried that it might be too small, but it was perfect for dealing with these tiny parts and wires. For only nine bucks, it seems like a great deal. It's got a grounded tip too, which is probably a good thing when dealing with static sensitive chips (and maybe not so good a think when dealing with AC/DC AA5 radios that are still plugged it! :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul (1915 - 2009)

Today we lost Les Paul. Les was an inventor and musician and wove those two talents together in a remarkable way. I had the good fortune to spend some time with Les a while back as part of an InfoAge project. Besides being an innovator, one of the most famous guitarists in history, and someone who people like Paul McCartney held in awe, Les was also a "regular guy" who, somewhat incredibly, would actually take my telephone calls! I only regret that although he had agreed that it would be great fun to reprise his disc-based sound-on-sound multitrack setup at a New Jersey Antique Radio Club meeting we never got to do it.

Listen to Les Paul's Music