I was recently trying to resurrect an old laptop that had stopped working. Having tried traditional soldering before, I was not excited about the prospect of melting hot wires over sensitive electronics. I was unable to find any good information on the subject, so I did some extensive research and this is what I learned.
The alternatives to soldering electronics are heatless soldering, the twisting fold-over with shrink wrap tubing method, and the soldering with rosin method. While two of the methods still require heat, I found them to be a lot easier for me compared to using old-fashioned soldering wire.
First, let’s start by covering a method that doesn’t require any heating at all and focuses on sensitive electronics like computers, phones, etc. The other two methods are more about attaching two wires together.
1. Heatless Soldering
I did find some buzz about a rather new method product known as electro-conductive glue. It’s specifically designed to be used as a replacement for soldering on electronics.
Supposedly, this is a relative new product. It is essentially a 2-part silver-infused high-temperature epoxy that is known to work well as a replacement for soldering.
It comes in a two-part mixing pouch (Click to see Amazon Listing) that’s intended for one-time usage. However, it is possible to isolate each part of the epoxy separately in clean perfume tester bottles. The mixing ratio is 100 parts silver to 20 parts activator. So you essentially have to eyeball your ratio. For a small repair, you need just a small smear of the silver base. Use a bit of hardener catalyst dipped onto a long nail or stiff wire.
Mix these two together and you’re ready to do heatless soldering on any circuit board connections. Once applied you let the epoxy cure overnight for 24 hours to see the results. The speed-up this curing you can put the item in an area that’s warmer at about 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cured, this silver epoxy will function as a normal solder without any ill effects. This is the easiest method that works 100% and is great for small electronics.
Here is a video showing a version of this method:
2. The Twisting Fold-Over and Shrink Wrap Tubing
This method doesn’t require any rosin solder but does need a lighter and shrink wrap tubing (Click to find on Amazon). The trick here is to have three times the length of wire exposed that you’ll twist together. You can prep the wire by scraping it with an X-Acto so the copper is shiny. Be sure to put your shrink wrap tubing on one wire beforehand. Lay the two wires side by side and evenly twist the wires together down to the end.
Once you finish this, bend the wires outward so they line up in a straight line. The twisted section also needs to be bent at the halfway point until it folds against the wire. The remaining wire is then bent in the same direction that you bent it in the middle. Now you can slip the shrink-wrap tubing over the wire and center it between the wrapped wire and plastic insulation.
Use a lighter on low heat to shrink the tubing until it’s shrunken onto the exposed wire and wire insulation. The fold-over wrap is now finished.
Check out this video for a version of how to use this method:
3. The Rosin Soldering Wire “Trick”
I put Amazon links on the products listed above, in case you need to pick some up. Make sure you use each item as per manufacturer guidelines.
- Strip wire ends- The first step is to strip where your wires are to be connected. The plastic covering needs to be stripped at least an inch from the end of the wire itself.
- Scrape edges- It’s important to make the ends of the copper wire more conductive. For this, you should scrape the edges of the wire with an X-Acto knife along the outside. Do this on both wires so they are both equally shiny.
- Put heat shrink tubing on- This would be a good time to slip a section of precut heat shrink tubing onto one end of the wires for later.
- Twist wires- Then what you do next is to point each end of the striped wires toward each other. They need to overlap, however, each wire end shouldn’t touch the edges of the insulating plastic covering. Since each time you twist the wires over each other, the spacing will reduce slightly. In the end, you should have two twisted wires that have 1mm of space between the twisted end and the plastic insulation.
- Wrap rosin wire around the exposed wire- Now you can take the rosin-core soldering wire that is one-quarter the size of your electrical wire. Wrap this three times over the very edge of the exposed wire outside the twisted bundle. Then you will bend the wire along the top of the twisted ends and continue with another three loops.
- Remove the excess solder- Cut the excess solder away so this only touches the exposed wire and not the plastic insulation.
- Suspend the wires- The next part is critical so use tape to suspend the two attached wires. The rosin-core wire should run along the very top so it will gravity feed into the twisted wires later.
- Add liquid rosin- Now you add two drops of liquid rosin onto the twisted wires.
Melt the Flux and Wire
- Use a lighter that has a long tip, like the ones used for BBQs and fireplaces. Put the setting on low and concentrate the flame in the very middle of the wire.
- You will soon see the rosin wire melt into the copper wire. Slightly bring the flame to the edges so the wrapped solder also melts into the copper wire wrap.
- Repeat this on the other side so the entire bundle has absorbed the rosin wire.
- Once you’re done let it cool down and slip the shrink-wrap tubing over your soldered wires.
Use the same lighter on low heat to shrink-wrap tube until it’s shrunken over the wires and exposed insulation plastic. The “soldering” for these two wires is now complete.
Here is an excellent video showing a version of this method:
Needless to say, my attempts at resurrecting my laptop were unfortunately not successful. It turns out the motherboard was fried before I even got my hands on it. I ended up taking it in to a local repair shop and he gave me the bad news.
I hope your equipment is repairable and that you don’t waste your time like I did. Oh well, live and learn.
I hope this article was helpful. For more, don’t miss How to Store Electronic Components | Keep Them Safe & Organized.
Legal Disclaimer: Please be careful when applying any of these soldering techniques and follow manufacturer guidelines for any products recommended here. We will not be held responsible for any misuse of said items nor liable for any injuries or burns sustained from carelessness or misuse of products.
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