NYC Soldering Championship

IEEE Spectrum stopped by Ignite NYC, where Bre Pettis and the NYC Resistor hacker collective hosted a contest to see who had the fastest soldering iron in the city. The contestants all raced to build a TV-B-Gone kit http and the first to turn off the TV won.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Advanced surface mount, vertical drag soldering at Washburn Computer Group by John Gammell, Certified IPC Trainer. SOIC 14, SOIC 20 and QFP 80

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50 Responses to NYC Soldering Championship

  1. gbowne1 says:

    they should call this event solder smoke:)

  2. hitachi088 says:

    Can someone tell me why my soldering iron Tip is being eaten by corrosion ?
    this is a cheap tip but i have to grind it to a fine point every 5week …

  3. NeedForMadnessSVK says:

    Next time let us solder our own trophies xD

  4. BCPBLchamps says:

    this is sweet

  5. playaspec says:

    That was the test. You had to be the first to kill the TV with your TVBgone.

  6. playaspec says:

    I think it took me about 7+ minutes. The next winner cam in at about 9+ minutes.

  7. weerpool14 says:

    I’d rather join an NYC gangbang contest … And oh with beer

  8. jerryfudala says:

    i cant believe CNN didnt cover this!

  9. Radiofrio says:

    Are they drunk?

  10. GeorgeBrooks09 says:

    Tom Kennedy – Dave Weckl’s Bassist?

  11. thumbcollector6 says:

    2:12 uber cool

  12. MattWell333 says:

    Ha ha. Well, I am not dumb. Thanks soo much.

  13. FelixTheHouseFreak says:


    Damn i wish they gave the time on the winner! Id be awesome to get into one of these things. Even if you dont win it still pretty fun.

  14. FelixTheHouseFreak says:

    Shes being over protective i started soldering when i was 8!

    If youre not an total idiot you can solder. And by the sound of it you are most definitely NOT a total idiot. It sounds like youve got some smarts.

  15. MattWell333 says:

    Thank you soo much. Your advice is great!

  16. deathcloud33 says:

    Tell her she’s being overprotective and she needs to let you live your life, then chuck some other guilt-trippy stuff on for good measure.

  17. MattWell333 says:

    I think I am going to do that. Thank you again for the advice.

  18. kd1s says:

    Just go rogue, buy it yourself and tell mom to pipe down. When I was a kid I was actively encourage to learn how to solder by my great grandfather.

  19. phillitupp says:

    I love the way at the end he does not look at the trophy for what it is but is amazed by the casting of it, a true technician right there!

  20. jkgamm041 says:


    I heard someone say “speed solder.” At DCTC, we call it drag soldering. Take a look at the video response above and let me know if speed like that with Class 3 quality for high reliability soldering would stir your interest.

    Give us or EPTAC a call if you want professional training.

    John Gammell
    Certified IPC Trainer

  21. MattWell333 says:

    Man, I want to solder and make kits and stuff, but I am only 13 and I don’t know my dad and my mum doesn’t like doing that sort of stuff. And she won’t buy me solder stuff and kits because she doen’t want me to ‘burn myself’. But I did a bit in a school class but, …

  22. roadcrash says:

    nice idea with tv-b gone ^^

  23. aboctok says:

    Yes. But remember they’re only doing it to feed and clothe children. It’s just not as cool as being in a nice big group of self-celebrating hobbyists. This is what the trophy is actually for—it’s the prize for acknowledged status within the social group.

    Regular assembly-line workers, female or otherwise, are just boring. Offbeat dudes living the dream, working on hobbies in basements—now that’s cool!

  24. aboctok says:

    I find it fascinatingly strange.

  25. aboctok says:

    Thank you for making this known.

  26. jkgamm041 says:


    No, it will not. The Metcal large hoof tip is an incredible performing tip, so is the Hakko for the FX-951. Initial cost and cost of ownership: Metcal MX 5010 is $650 retail and tips are $30. each.

    Hakko FX-951 is $250 retail and tips are $10. each and their tips are extremely high quality with amazing thermal recovery and performance. I own one of each and love them both. You can see them in action in my other YouTube videos.
    Stick with flat drag technique.

  27. deweywsu says:

    Will the Metcal large hoof tip fit in the Hakko FX-951?

  28. jkgamm041 says:


    I presented this technique as another way to surface mount solder. As my skills have evolved substantially I now promote what is referred to as “one touch” soldering for minimum thermal stress..

    This technique is quite unorthodox. I recommend using a flat drag technique or if one chooses to do it vertical, do so with one pass.

  29. tataee1990 says:

    @jkgamm041 thank you very much for sharing! keep up with the good work!

  30. jkgamm041 says:


    I use a Hakko FX-951 with 70 watts at the handle. It retails for $250. and is a top performer. I also use a Metcal MX 5010 with 90 watts at the handle. Retail $650. Top performer as well and they both have excellent thermal recovery.

    Sn63 Pb 37 (eutectic) tin / lead solder, I use 600 F tip temp. Lead-free I use 650-700 F. Flux is a Kester 959 No-clean with 4% solids. Paste is a No-clean 63 / 37.
    Tip is a Metcal large hoof. Hakko makes awesome drag soldering tips for $10.00 each.

  31. tataee1990 says:

    quick questions 🙂
    what soldering gun do u use? what’s the temp? what’s the tip? flux and soldering paste?

  32. whiskeyify says:

    I’m 60 years old so have done electronic repair for many years, I don’t know anything about surface mount technology. But I wonder if you don’t have to be careful not to overheat the chip with this method. Is it safer to many solder one pin at a time?

  33. whiskeyify says:

    I thought I read somewhere to use silver solder? is there any advantage?
    I do electronic repair and sometimes use it, have never done surface mount components.

  34. jkgamm041 says:


    It is just another way of many. I seldom use this technique anymore as I primarily do my drag soldering with the board flat. This technique is ultra effective for speed and extreme consistency of the solder fillets but you have to control your solder so you don’t splash, hand / tip pressure and speed of travel.

    I have a way to do it now with “one touch” that is more effective.

  35. jkgamm041 says:


    It is, if your technique is refined. Your tip pressure and speed of travel has to be very light and consistent or you are guaranteed to cause thermal damage and lead deformation.

    In using this technique I now make one pass only as I promote “one touch.” One application of thermal energy (heat) in order to create the metallurgical bond.

  36. jkgamm041 says:


    I am using a Kester No-clean Eutectic Sn63 Pb37 (Tin / lead).

  37. danieladamko says:

    it looks easy

  38. Envergure says:

    Why the vertical board orientation?

  39. LauxHawk says:

    Are you using lead solder or lead-free?

  40. PTR2255 says:


  41. jkgamm041 says:


    Thank you. I have worked with metals all my life.

  42. jkgamm041 says:


    Thank you. My new demo reveals multi lead hand soldering techniques which are faster, safer, produce similar results and is consistent with best manufacturing practices.

    My techniques now focus on “one touch” techniques for the highest reliability.

  43. dalchimsky says:

    you’re an artist

  44. josshelito says:

    i would like sold like you, but im fraid for me to follow instruccions could be in spanish….so…..ill still sit watching.

    If u could help me to tell me what r the instruments to use for soldering…. plz…..

  45. onemmatuk says:

    I use “EcoWave 45” soldering flux ( to help soldering a SMT with 176 pins (0.5mm fine-pitch) but I found it very difficult as bridge is formed between pins. I can’t do as what you did in your videos. Do you think “EcoWave 45” can be used for the soldering work as shown in your videos? If not, please kindly advise why and please recommend a suitable soldering flux. Thanks.

  46. jkgamm041 says:

    Tip temperatures: Sn63/Pb37 (tin/lead) should be soldered between 550F – 600F.
    Lead-free: SAC alloy (silver), Sn100C (nickel) & Sn100E (cobalt) should be soldered at 650F – 700F.
    The use of pre-heat on the secondary side of approximately 150F (convective) will allow you to reduce your tip temp (conductive) by 50 – 100F and still achieve a good intermetallic bond. [ Only enough conductive heat to achieve the bond. Get in and get out so you don’t thermally stress the IC and damage it. ]

  47. jkgamm041 says:

    550 – 600 F. Do not try this with lead free. It can be done in one pass if you put some solder on the tip (heat bridge), start out just above the top lead, immediately feed a little solder and lightly drag the hoof tip or single flat on top of the feet of the leads.

    Light even pressure and consistent speed of travel are the key and it can be done in a “one touch” application. Make sure to use flux.

  48. rabethica says:

    What about solder mask? What is the solder mask expansion set to for the PCB? I’ve been hand soldering some fine pitch (19.685mil) and have to touch each pin. My solder mask expansion is set to 4mil. There is only 11.7 mil b/w my pads so the mask between just disappears in production. I probably should have set the expansion to 0 or 1mil long ago. Maybe my next board. Would there be anything wrong with minimizing my solder mask expansion?

  49. viperspec says:

    Sometimes the military goes a little “above and beyond” industry standards, and I was just inquisitive. I still admire your skills, you have great control. Question, did you tack the ends with the iron first, or solder paste? I find solder paste much easier. Also, is that a mini wave tip, or a single sided chisel tip? I would like to get more information, as to become IPC qualified. I am currently in Germany, but want to pursue a career in this when I leave.

  50. jkgamm041 says:

    Excellent points. My skills have evolved very much since I made this demo. High reliability is promoted by using one pass on the drag soldering. I now strive for “one touch.”

    More thermal exposure (heat) can promote thermal shock and latent failure. One pass is most desirable.

    You are absolutely correct about the use of preheat and CTE. Preheat (convective) reduces thermal stress and thermal shock and is the preferred method. It sounds like you were taught very well.

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