HOW TO Solder Deans Ultra Connectors
AN EASIER WAY TO MAKE SOUND JOINTS
Generally speaking, most newcomers to our hobby don’t really know how to solder. This isn’t that surprising because most of today’s electric-power systems come plug-and-play, and soldering isn’t as required as it once was. There are, however, some occasions when soldering is needed, as when you’re dealing with new battery packs that don’t come with the connectors installed.
Soldering is the fastest and most reliable way to join metal, and a soldered wire joint is both mechanically stable and electrically efficient. Available in different diameters, the standard solder we use for electrical RC wiring is 60/40 rosin core solder. It consists of 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead, with the rosin inside the hollow body of the solder. Koster solder is the most popular, but most building and home-improvement stores carry other brands. The important thing is to use the proper 60/40 type.
Solder is not capable of taking a lot of stress or movement, so it is a good
idea to use shrink tubing over the joint to help support the joint and to insulate it from short circuits. I ran into a problem soldering large-gauge stranded wire to the lugs on a Deans Ultra Connector. The lugs are close together, and I just wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. There was little mechanical connection between the wire and connector’s lug. Instead of trying to tin and solder the ends of the wires to the lugs, I found a better solution: using the EZ Soldering Coupler for the Deans Ultra Connector, available from Maxx Products.
Place the connector into a holder, then place the goldplated couplers on the connector lugs. I like these heavy metal clamp holders as they are steady and do not move around when you are making solder joints.
Tin the ends of the wire. I have found that a holding fixture, like the Handy Helper (available from Home Depot), makes soldering wires easy. It holds the wire firmly and allows you to apply the heat from under the end of the wire and the rosin core solder from the top. When the wire is hot enough, the solder will flow easily into the wire strands. Then, do the same thing to the couplers and the lugs: Apply heat from under the joint, and apply the solder from above. When the parts are hot enough, the solder will flow into the joint. You can see here that I also tinned the inside of the coupler, where the end of the wire will be inserted.
To attach the wire to the coupler, heat the coupler with the soldering pen while inserting the end of the wire. When the coupler and solder are hot enough, the wire will slip into place and the solder will flow to form a perfect joint. Here, you see the complete solder joint joining the wire to the coupler and the coupler to the connector’s lug.
It is important to slip a length of heat-shrink tubing over the wire before your make the solder joint. Slide the tubing away from the end of the wire while soldering so that the heat does not cause it to shrink and make it difficult to slip over the joint.
Once the solder joint has cooled, slide the heat-shrink tubing over the solder joint so that it completely covers the lug. Use a heat gun or a hair dryer to shrink the protective tubing into place.
As an added bit of protection and strength, I slip a larger length of tubing over the connector and the wire leads, then shrink that into place. This takes the strain off the solder joints, so the battery connectors will last a long time.
To make a proper solder joint, you need four things: an adequate heat source, a clean metal surface, a suitable grade of solder, and flux or rosin. Rosin core solder with flux in the core of the solder is suitable for most electrical applications, and the use of additional flux is not required. I bought the soldering station shown here from Hakko (hakko.com), and I highly recommend it. Before you try to make a solder joint, ensure that the surfaces are perfectly clean; I clean the lugs with alcohol.
Here are the Deans Ultra Connectors and the EZ Soldering Couplers. The couplers are made to fit the lugs on the Deans connectors. They are a snug fit but will slip into place without having to spread the coupler open—don’t try, as you can break them.