Soldering Jig

Tools are an essential item for any construction process. Whether building a house, a Boeing airliner or a radio control model airplane, having the correct tools can make all the difference with having the assembly process come out right.

All metal "The Jigs Up" jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

All metal “The Jigs Up” jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

One very handy tool I recently purchased is called “The Jigs Up.” A task facing anyone who will be flying electric radio control models, whether they are cars, airplanes or boats, is the need to do some soldering of electrical connectors.

Soldering is not especially difficult, but it absolutley requires the right tools and equipment. It is vital that you obtain a soldering iron that generates sufficient heat. Also, be certain to use solder for electronics vs. non-electrical solder used for sealing plumbing joints.

You will have to solder electric connectors to your charger wires as well as connectors to your lipo batteries. Most electric motors will need bullet connectors soldered to the three motor wires.

These electrical connectors must be soldered correctly. If the solder is not hot enough to flow onto the connection the result is a “cold solder joint” that can easily break off in the course of normal usage.

View of my "home brew" balsa and clothing pin jig with "The Jigs Up" metal jig for soldering tasks

View of my “home brew” balsa and clothing pin jig with “The Jigs Up” metal jig for soldering tasks

The result of a bad solder joint could range from the motor quitting in flight to a complete loss of control should the battery connection fail. As we use heat shrink tubing to add reinforcement to the solder joint, oftentimes a bad solder connection cannot be easily seen.

As a gentle reminder to hobbyists soldering their first set of connectors it is VITAL that female connectors be used on the battery side and male connectors be used on the component side.

I use Deans connectors, although there are a wide range of electrical connectors types. The reason it is imperative to use female connectors on the battery is to prevent an accidental electrical short.

There is no difficulty at all with inadvertantly using a male Deans connector on the battery side. But if you think about it for a minute, any metal object that accidentally touches the two metal prongs on the battery due to the improper use of a male connector will immedicately produce an electrical short circuit, with the almost certain result being a lipo fire. The 100% guarantee that this will never occur is to ALWAYS use female connectors for the battery.

View of the main "The Jigs Up" electrical plug holder for soldering tasks, as well as the separate alligator clip unit to hold a wire in place

View of the main “The Jigs Up” electrical plug holder for soldering tasks, as well as the separate alligator clip unit to hold a wire in place

And a final note should be added to ALWAYS observe correct electrical polarity, red being positive and black negative. Getting this step mixed up will result with the immediate generation of a puff of “magic smoke”, in other words an electrical short that will burn out the electronic speed control. Not hard to to, so please pay attention to polarity.

The final step in preparation for soldering electric connectors is to have some sort of holding mechanism for the parts to be soldered. Everyone realizes this as they attempt their first soldering job. The wire must be held closely to the tab on the connector so that the hot solder can easliy flow and complete the joint. This all happens in a matter of seconds.

The key point is that everything gets very hot very quickly during soldering so that any attempt to manually hold the wire or connector in place will not succeed.

When I did my first radio control soldering in 2000 I constructed a holding jig using spare balsa blocks that screwed together and wooden clothes pins. The arrrangement actually worked out rather well.

Recently I did a quick internet search and discovered The Jigs Up metal soldering jig. This was without question the answer for modeling soldering tasks.

The Jigs Up has a wide range of fixtures, clamp holds and “helping hand” alligator clips to assist positioning any sort of electrical connection you wish to solder. The unit is solid and made out of a single billet of metal.

The picture shows how you can position the various clamps and mounting holes for the soldering task needed. The separate helping hand clip is an ideal solution, with just enought weight to hold wires in place on the Deans tabs for a quick and easy soldering joint.

The Jigs up will handle just about any RC connector out there, from XT30 through 90, Deans, Traxxas, Deans micro, etc.

As an aside, any wire soldered to a connector should use a length of heat shrink tubing to cover the joint. The tubing will add strenght to the joint as the wire is moved around as well as adding a layer of defense against an electrical short. The key thing is to slide the heat shrink tubing onto the wire before soldering the joint and to keep the tube far enough away from the heat of the solder iron to prevent premature shrinking of the tube.

In summary, you cannot go wrong with purchasing this soldering tool. The metal construction ensures it will literally last a lifetime. You can be assured of producing proper solder joints with minimal inconvenience. In short, this is really a “must add” item to include with your tool inventory.

I purchased mine via Amazon, but you can order directly from the builder.

Two nice features of Amazon are their user reviews and their list of suggested additional items you may wish to purchase. On my jig order I added an affordable lifetime supply of heat shrink tubing and Deans connectors, most helpful.