Solder Technique

There is an age old question in aircraft building, tip-up or slider....I mean crimp or solder? Everyone has an opinion and there are seemingly justifiable and logical reasons for those opinions.

In my younger days I always dabbled in electronics; from being in a special advanced program in high school to the Air Force working on missile systems and their counterparts on board B-52's I swam in solder, crimps, resistors, capacitors and cable. But I never really knew how to solder. Or at least that's what I found out.

Several lifetimes ago I worked for NASA. Because of my job I needed to become NASA Flight Solder Certified. That certification allows you to solder on satellite components, etc. It was here that I learned how much I didn't know about creating a good solder joint. That's a general lesson that life keeps teaching much I don't know.

So where do I stand on the age old question of solder versus crimp? I can't imagine one of our aircraft, in thier entire lifetimes, going through as much stress and strain as a satellite does at launch. If it does, you've got bigger problems than a solder joint. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the end of you problems, this time around and we'll all be sorry for your passing. However, I don't claim to be an expert nor did I sleep in a ... It's only a guess on my part (notice I left out the word intelligent).

It would be nice to see some empirical testing to the age old question: tip up or slider, I mean, solder or crimp?

We used the 63/37 ratio solder. I was told it was easier to get a good joint, using that ratio, than the typical 60/40 used in the day. Anyway, I found that before being certified I only thought I knew how to solder. Looking back, the soldering I did before I went through the certification training probably created mostly bad joints. Even when I was in the Air Force we were never truly taught proper solder technique. Everyone talks about good technique but there are few resources to get you there. is a link to some NASA video's on proper solder technique. As with anything it’s not the quantity of the solder it's the quality of the soldering. It really doesn't take much solder to get a good joint.

Have fun, whichever way you go!