Worklog The Beginning: a.k.a. I dont know how to solder

Discussion in 'Nintendo 64' started by KamenSqwirl, Jul 15, 2019.

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  1. KamenSqwirl .

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    So I started work on my N64P (yet to be named). Its been slow going, but I'm making a bit of progress each day. I've ordered/found (most of) my parts and so far I've only broken down the board. In the pic, I've marked (a tiny bit of) where I'm going to cut. But I want to get the cart relocation finished first so I can check if the board is still working as I go.

    I started on that a few days ago and realized that I don't actually know how to solder (correctly). Or, more specifically, I didn't know how to tin things correctly. So I stopped and watched a few tutorials on it and researched it during a slow day at work. It's not much, but its a start. Tonight I'll jump in to it again. *crosses fingers*

    Any tips/ideas/help is appreciated. I take criticism well. Also, if you see any glaring errors, don't hesitate to point them out.

    Thankies~

    EDIT: I also have a question about my screen, but I'll post that here after work when I have the model number handy.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  2. Stitches 2 and a Half Dollarydoos Staff Member . .

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    FLUX BOY
     
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  3. KamenSqwirl .

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    Bruh.

    Untitled.jpg
     
  4. fibbef Wizardry V Completer .

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    That’s a very safe trim, but I fully support your decision to do the slot relocation so you can test functionality at every step.

    Find some junk electronics and just practice soldering wires to it. You’ll find what does and doesn’t work well.

    Also, and I realize this is a HUGE rabbit hole, get decent equipment. I started off with a terrible radio shack soldering iron and something like 18-gauge spooled wire. That combination made modding a painful experience, mentally and physically. I moved on from that super thick wire to salvaging thin wire from dead USB mice (I worked in IT at the time), but that was time consuming and wasteful. I finally took the advice of other modders and bought a spool of magnet wire, which is a lifesaver for wiring data lines. It can be tricky to work with at first, but that’s where the practice comes in.

    Good luck on your portable! I love it whenever someone is working on the same type of portable as myself, although I’ve been working on my N64p off and on for a very long time.
     
  5. KamenSqwirl .

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    Oh, don't worry lol, Im gonna trim it further than that. I just got another motherboard recently, so I feel a bit more at ease about making mistakes. xD

    And yes, I'm working with a super cheapo Wal-Mart soldering iron and (rather) large wiring lol. Guess I should step up and switch to magnet already. Maybe I can get my internals to look like GMan's one day.
     
  6. Reverand_Cletus .

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    yay!! Good luck, and welcome the club!!

    Flux is an excellent point. For me (and maybe this is overcompensating for being a rookie?), temp makes a difference. RadShack's and Amazon's basic, single-temp $20 irons are fine, but I recommend one with a variable temp. Got a Hakko FM-202 from a used surplus shop on ebay and it has been a GODSEND (just needed to get a new tip for it).
     
  7. KamenSqwirl .

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    I've made progress with the soldering and got some practice in on other (work-related) projects recently, I'll update the worklog on that soon. Next I want to work on the wiring and battery. Now, I've seen the BOM and know what I can purchase one, but I have a big slew of electronics just sitting around my garage that I could probably use. So my questions are these: Looking for a barrel plug, could I just take one (for instance from a rechargeable phone) to use? Is there anything I should keep an eye out for if I want to use recycled items?

    Edit: I have say Im proud of myself, this is the first "mod" that Ive completed on this project and my first real soldering attempt. And it got better each time! :D I'll have to go back and clean it up later, but my cart location is almost done....
     

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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  8. Stitches 2 and a Half Dollarydoos Staff Member . .

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    Quite good for a first relocation job. I'd recommend shortening the exposed sections of wire for your next one to prevent possible bending, but otherwise very well done.
     
  9. StonedEdge .

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    Reminds me of the finest Spaghetti. I’d be careful for shorts, and do what Stitches recommended. Looks good though for a first soldering attempt.
     
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  10. Cradiak .

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    This is what I use for soldering. I highly recommend it, they go for around $50 and are really nice. There are several different styles and brands, this isn't the best by any means, I just go it because it fit my budget at the time but honestly I have zero complaints. Having hot air gun makes desoldering large ports much easier (just be careful not to damage the board or blow components off the board...practice!). It's definitely nice being able to control the temperature of your soldering iron.
    As stated above, magnet wire is a heavenly tool sent from the gods. I love it, that is a must have. And flux is good. The other thing is to use a good soldering wire. Solder should have flux in it, but all solder is not made equal, so buy one with good reviews. If you have good solder your shouldn't need to use a ton of extra flux. Technique is key too, if you tin the soldering iron tip and wait a few seconds before trying to solder, all the flux will have burnt off, you pick up on stuff like the more you solder.
     
  11. KamenSqwirl .

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    I have another question (im still working on the cart, and my next step is to start trimming), about the screen this time. I ordered this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019GQS3UC (because cheap), and it seems to work well (so far). I'm curious as to whether or not the board can be trimmed/modified/whatever as well. I had honestly never considered it until now.

    (I'll edit this post with pictures of the pcb when I'm back at home).
     
  12. Cradiak .

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    You can trim any board as long as you don't trim off a necessary section, or (if you do) wire the necessary components back to the board. Just be sure on multi-layer boards you sand it really well so there aren't any shorts. I've used one of those screens before (not that exact one but all those cheap 5" screens are basically the same) and the video board is pretty small, only about 20-25% the size of the screen, so you may not need to trim it. Although I believe it isn't an actual PCB board, I think it's on a ribbon cable.
     
  13. KamenSqwirl .

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    Turns out its both lol. And now that I look at it again, it seems small enough to be redundant to try and trim it, I guess....

    EDIT: [Added new photo]
    I did some more soldering last night and I have another question. First, I'm likely going to have to re-solder parts of it as I trim and test, so its no big deal for me to try and improve on it. It looks pretty rough now, any pointers for me? Secondly, I notice that there is a joint pair (i guess its called) there in the middle (circled), am I correct in assuming that I'm supposed to skip it??

    EDIT2: oh.... yeah..... i'm going to redo all of those. That's.... not right lmao
     

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    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  14. KamenSqwirl .

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    So.... I rewired/redid my cartridge relocation and finally plugged it in and started it up. There was a little 'POP' and then the red indicator light slowly faded away....

    Looks like I shorted it... :<

    Next I'll try to see if I can bring it back and try my best to fix the solder joints that I made.
     
  15. Stitches 2 and a Half Dollarydoos Staff Member . .

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  16. The_Smeags .

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    If you tin your wires and the pins you don't need any extra solder, It makes wiring a lot easier, just keep the wire stripped at like 2mm and keep your tip clean.
    Also, you could also use a desoldering iron to pull the pins out from the back of the board so you can actually solder into the vias. Guaranteed success first try (unless you mess up on the slot side which is why you should keep the wires stripped really short). I personally think 28 awg is the best for this as it works well for 3.3v and gnd
    I recently tried 30awg wrapping wire and even at 1 inch the job failed.
     
  17. KamenSqwirl .

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    Thanks Smeags, I appreciate the info. I'm going to try it when I rewire it.

    So! I haven't given up. I'm currently (like right this second) desoldering my mess and cleaning the board. I'm pretty sure I shorted it, and unless I fixed it without noticing when I desoldered the cart relocation attempt, I might have to look for it (I guess???). I've got a multimeter and everything but I don't know how to hunt for a short. Any advice you guys? Do you think it's even necessary?
     
  18. jefflongo Broke BitBuilt Staff Member . .

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    Usually there is a continuity function on the multimeter (which is the same as measuring resistance, it just gives you audible feedback when the resistance is less than around 50 ohms). Place a probe on each of the things you think might be shorted (usually an adjacent pin or ground). If it beeps/less than 50 ohms resistance, then you probably have a short. In that case usually reflowing with flux is enough. If it's not, some solder wick can fix most things.
     

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