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RC Repair and Modification With Soldering

Learn Soldering and Do Your Own RC Repairs

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Supplies for battery modification

From Left to Right: tube of solder, needle-nose pliers, soldering iron, battery pack, battery connector, assorted screwdrivers

Photo © M. James
Soldering is a method of joining two metals together using a third metal, called solder. Soldering has many applications including assembling electronic components to circuit boards, jewelry making, making some copper pipe plumbing connections, and building or repairing radio controlled vehicles.

For radio controlled vehicle hobbyists soldering is mostly used in making repairs and modifications to electric RCs. Occasionally it might be needed with some nitro RC components. Knowing basic soldering techniques can save money. Instead of replacing a high dollar part, solder a loose wire yourself.

What Needs Soldering on an RC

The RC parts that most commonly might need some soldering are ESCs (electronic speed controllers), electric motor power leads, receivers, servos, and anyplace where wires are spliced together to make a solid connection. Soldering may be necessary when building RCs from kits.

Soldering is not usually a frequently needed repair with most RCs but it is a nice skill to have. Some of these components are relatively inexpensive and it can be much easier to simply replace the part rather than try to repair them. Or, you might find it simpler to purchase quick connect leads to connect some wires instead of soldering them.

Basic Soldering Process

In RC work, hand soldering requires a soldering iron and solder. Before doing any soldering, make sure the work area is safe and well-ventilated. Clear the area of any flammable materials, such as nitro fuel bottles and oil-covered rags. While the soldering iron is heating up, assemble the parts you're working with and get them in position for soldering. Be sure the wires or whatever parts you're joining are clean and grease-free. Even grease from your fingers can cause problems with the solder joint.

Using the hot soldering iron heat the two metal parts to be joined, at the same time. Apply a few millimeters of solder to the heated metal to form the solder joint. The heated metal parts will melt the solder metal to form the joint.

After the joint cools it should have a nice, shiny appearance. If it looks a little clouded it means that the solder didn't flow right and that the solder itself just formed a glob around the parts and that they are not really joined together. Reheat the solder enough to get it to flow and so that it bonds properly to the parts that are meant to be joined together.

Learn to Solder

If you have no experience with soldering, you may not want to try it the first time on sensitive RC components. Instead, you could experiment with old parts and pieces of scrap wire, or get a soldering starter kit with fun practice projects.

Compare PricesSoldering KitsYou can find corded and the oh-so-convenient cordless models. The Portasol Cordless Soldering Iron Kit is a nice starter kit for beginners and intermediate users.

Everything About Radio Controlled (RC) Vehicles
FAQs:Frequently Asked Questions About RC Vehicles, Answered
Basics:Types, Key Parts, and Operating RC Vehicles
Buying an RC:How to Choose the Right Radio Controlled Vehicle
Repairs & Upgrades:Maintaining, Fixing, and Modifying RC Vehicles
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