How do you solder pots?

giovanni

Well-known member
I have been soldering pots inside the enclosure, after all the other components, so that I can make sure they are in the correct position and orientation. However, depending on the build, it can be hard to get to the leads with a fully populated board. I haven't burned anything yet, but I feel like it's just a matter of time... How do you guys do it?
 

Big Monk

Well-known member
I have been soldering pots inside the enclosure, after all the other components, so that I can make sure they are in the correct position and orientation. However, depending on the build, it can be hard to get to the leads with a fully populated board. I haven't burned anything yet, but I feel like it's just a matter of time... How do you guys do it?

I usually look at the board, particularly around the pot pads and plan on whether they can be soldered right away, or whether they will get in the way otherwise.

Whatever plays out, I don’t usually solder them inside the enclosure.
 

Kroars

Well-known member
I have been soldering pots inside the enclosure, after all the other components, so that I can make sure they are in the correct position and orientation. However, depending on the build, it can be hard to get to the leads with a fully populated board. I haven't burned anything yet, but I feel like it's just a matter of time... How do you guys do it?
I’ll populate the pcb, including all wiring then clean the entire board front and back with QD Cleaner (spray, toothbrush then spray again). Then I’ll install pots & toggles onto the pcb, put into enclosure, tighten nuts finger tight to ensure everything is lined up perfectly -then solder pots & toggles onto pcb while in the enclosure. Then depending on led indicator location, I’ll remove pcb with soldered pots, install led and slide pcb back into enclosure to solder led. Then tighten everything up. Probably takes a little longer, but I like the end result.

When I first started building I probably burned (slightly) a component here or there. Although with more practice it’s been quite some time since that has happened and I don’t have the steadiest of hands.
 

giovanni

Well-known member
That's pretty much what I do, @Kroars. I was working on a Captain Bit last night and I was having a bit of a hard time soldering the pot between a line of caps and the transformer. And my iron tip is quite thin!
 

Kroars

Well-known member
That's pretty much what I do, @Kroars. I was working on a Captain Bit last night and I was having a bit of a hard time soldering the pot between a line of caps and the transformer. And my iron tip is quite thin!
I started a few years ago with BYOC kits, I think I may have gotten that method from their build docs and it just stuck. I hear ya, some pcbs are easier than others for sure. On a side note, I’ll solder all the component and wires using the pointy iron tip, once the board is done I switch to the small flat tip for the pots, footswitch and jacks.
 

SYLV9ST9R

Well-known member
For a build with a symmetrical pot layout, I will solder the pot on top of the enclosure (with the washers between the pots and the enclosure face) to make sure they are aligned and to make soldering easier.
I'll do that sometimes for non-symmetrical layout. I'll solder what I can on top and the rest inside the enclosure.
 

carlinb17

Well-known member
I populate the entire board, and run as much of the wiring (footswitch and leads off the top of the board) first. Then solder all the pots in the enclosure, solder power and jacks... then hope I did it correctly so I don't have to take it back out of the board...
 

giovanni

Well-known member
I populate the entire board, and run as much of the wiring (footswitch and leads off the top of the board) first. Then solder all the pots in the enclosure, solder power and jacks... then hope I did it correctly so I don't have to take it back out of the board...
Same!
 

Diynot

Well-known member
I do the “in enclosure” soldering as well. Sometimes it’s kind of a game to figure out the best approach to not burn components. One thing you might do if you are worried ab angle of approach while the board is in the enclosure, just hit the easiest to reach leg on each pot, then pull it out and solder the rest of the pads.
 

Harry Klippton

Well-known member
How do you guys do it?
Very carefully 😂😂

I dry fit everything several times to check fit and alignment to determine what should get soldered in what order. I often solder wires to the board before doing the pots too if I think it's gonna be an issue
 

PedalPCB

Admin (Robert)
Staff member
I solder all components and hardware except toggle switches outside of the enclosure. Occasionally I will install toggle switches outside of the enclosure as well but it's easier to ensure they're sitting straight by mounting before soldering.

In cases where the lugs are tough to reach you can solder the pots from the opposite side of the board.

As for a narrow tip, the Pace ADS200 iron is thin and easy to maneuver into tight spaces. The Hakko FX951 has a similar style tip.
1640622141556.png

Another bonus of this type of iron is the availability of wide blade tips. These make removing pots a breeze. Heat all three lugs in one go and the pot will just fall out of the board. Much less thermal / physical stress on the board compared to desoldering the lugs individually. I've also used it to remove inline pin headers (like the Belton Brick module) in a matter of seconds as well.
1640622315213.png
 

Stickman393

Well-known member
If alignment is an issue, here's a tip:

Solder the center lead on your potentiometers to keep them in place. Manuver the shafts into place, get everything where it needs to be, and slap on the other two joints.

I very rarely use conical tips for soldering...personal preference. I find that a *small* chisel tip tends to strike a good balance between maneuverability and efficient heat transfer. The rounds of a conical tip tend to be too finicky, and provide too little surface area for conduction. Good for little smt bits where the heat must be controlled and precise, but for everything else I'll use a chisel tip and utilize the flat end to maximize my conductive area against the component lead and pad.

Then again I'm using an induction iron...where my tip temperature tends to stay pretty damned tight. Makes life easier, bigger components only need larger tip sizes.
 

Stickman393

Well-known member
Another bonus of this type of iron is the availability of wide blade tips. These make removing pots a breeze. Heat all three lugs in one go and the pot will just fall out of the board. Much less thermal / physical stress on the board compared to desoldering the lugs individually. I've also used it to remove inline pin headers (like the Belton Brick module) in a matter of seconds as well.
View attachment 20379
Shoot I need to find one of these for my FX100...
 

Coda

Well-known member
I mount the jacks to the outside of the enclosure (so, reverse of what you’d normally do. Then I line everything up, solder, and then flip the enclosure over and install normally.
 

PedalPCB

Admin (Robert)
Staff member
Shoot I need to find one of these for my FX100...

You can do the same trick by laying your iron sideways across the lugs, I've done this for years, but the blade makes it so much easier.

It's useful enough that if I didn't have hot swappable tips I would probably buy a dedicated iron just for that purpose.
 

giovanni

Well-known member
Line up how? They flex enough that alignment should never be an issue.
For example, with the Captain Bit, the transformer is right underneath one of the pots so it forces it to be slightly higher than the other 5. Without the enclosure holes as reference I find it really hard to make them all the same height.
 

giovanni

Well-known member
I solder all components and hardware except toggle switches outside of the enclosure. Occasionally I will install toggle switches outside of the enclosure as well but it's easier to ensure they're sitting straight by mounting before soldering.

In cases where the lugs are tough to reach you can solder the pots from the opposite side of the board.

As for a narrow tip, the Pace ADS200 iron is thin and easy to maneuver into tight spaces. The Hakko FX951 has a similar style tip.
View attachment 20378

Another bonus of this type of iron is the availability of wide blade tips. These make removing pots a breeze. Heat all three lugs in one go and the pot will just fall out of the board. Much less thermal / physical stress on the board compared to desoldering the lugs individually. I've also used it to remove inline pin headers (like the Belton Brick module) in a matter of seconds as well.
View attachment 20379
Nice, I gotta check that out! I am due for an upgrade after 10 years after all...
 
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