Basic Stuff 4 – Twist and Tin

Getting them fiddly stranded wires through them pesky little holes in the PCB can be a right bugger.

messy-wires

Aye! Poking many tiny strands into that wee space is a proper nightmare. So why use stranded wire?

I think most people in the stompbox community tend to use around 22 or 24 AWG (American Wire Gauge). The bigger the number the smaller the diameter of the wire. Pedals get hoyed in bags, they are subject to vibrations when on stage or in a practice studio, and we smack our size 12s on them repeatedly. After years of abuse solid core wire will tend to break, stranded wire has more flexibility.

So stranded wire it is, we’re all agreed, and that’s why for offboard wiring we do the twist and tin. Twist means twist, and tin means add a wee bit of solder so the strands stick together, making it easier to feed them through holes. Firstly, strip the wire. Then pinch the stranded bits that are sticking out, and twist them. Then you tin them like in this video, thus.

‘But what if you glob too much solder on?’ I hear you mumble. At this point you probably realise that you’re not gonna get it through that hole in the PCB. Well you have three options. If you have plenty of wire and the glob is at the top just snip it off with wire cutters. If you have desoldering braid you can suck it off by heating the solder and applying the braid. If not you can get it off with the soldering iron. Just be careful, flicking molten solder at your face is really not advised, not even in the interests of having a story to tell.

In this case I clean the soldering iron tip to make sure there’s no excess solder on it, then I reapply the iron to the underside of the wire. Move the iron towards the tip of the wire and roll the iron clockwise. The reason you should do it this way is firstly to make sure if it’s going to ping solder somewhere, that the somewhere is away from you. Rolling the iron helps to get purchase to remove the glob, like in this delightful video.

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