Desoldering help


I am aspiring to do electronics repair as a hobby. I am starting out on controllers for now. There cheap, and if I ruin it (which brought me here) I am not out a game system.

So why am I here? I am running into a problem desoldering thumbstics/potentiometers About 30% to 40% of the time, no matter what I use, one leg refuses to desolder. At all. I use a Hako to start with, then try to do hot air. But once the Hako doesn’t get it loose, then its 100% fatal for me.

I started out with a regular solder sucker/iron, but never was able to get it to work.

Second, once the potentiometers have been removed and there is a leg stuck in the hole, how the flip do I get it out? Again, tried an iron, but never was able to get one out. Well, I did, but the via came out with it.

My last attempt was a double whammy……middle via ripped out, and the top leg broke off in the hole.

Any hints/advise?

Flood the joints with 63/37 leaded solder (the real stuff mind… not the fake Chinese junk you get on eBay or Amazon, Chip Quik would be my preference as it’s cheap) after you’ve fully saturated the joint (you can do this multiple times to further “dilute” the lead free stuff on the board) then with a fat chisel tip (D24 or above) use solder wick to suck most of it out, add fresh flux ontop of the wick to add further aid here, at this point you can try to wick it all out in one go or repeat adding more leaded solder before final wicking to make your life somewhat easier.

Solder suckers, either manual or electric pump are largely useless on anything other than single or double layer boards and should be pretty much reserved for vintage PCB’s or PSU boards (which are typically 1/2 layers)

As for stuck/detached pins, if any of the pin is still exposed, you just flood the opposing side of the joint with leaded solder and from the other side grab the pin with tweezers while reflowing the joint and pull it out, then wick the joint to clear out the hole. If you can’t grab the pin with tweezer then it’s pretty much the same deal but you reflow the joint with your iron and leaded solder and just use a dental pick or similar to push the broken pin out.

One thing to note, a lot of times the problems eminate from the soldering station your using, if for example your Hakko station is the old school tip over element style then this is going to contribute to the difficulty and I’d suggest you get a T12 cartridge style station instead (assuming yours isn’t one already) and I’d suggest not buying Hakko either


I have heard of chip quik. I will have to pick some up. Been meaning to change up my solder anyway. It said it was leaded solder when I bought it but I have my doubts. (Thats amazon for you)

I have tried the dental pick thing but not recently. When I did it the via ripped out too. I have plenty of practice boards now to try it again. :frowning:

Hey, thought I would jump in and add my 2 cents. I’m new here and to electronics but have already learned Severence is a goat so in no way am I contradicting his advice but rather giving my own experience.

I ran into a similar situation when I started with controllers. The free solder suckers didn’t work at all because the hard plastic tip just doesn’t make a good enough seal. You could get the sucker with a heat-resistant silicone tip which actually worked pretty well for me. Since it’s soft, it makes a good seal on the join and really does suck most if not all of the solder.

My suggestion, scrap all of that and go straight for the hot air. Mix the lead-free with leaded then hot air it all up. The stick will fall right out (I do mine upside down) and while the board is still nice and hot, wicking is a breeze leaving you with clean vias. Faster and a lot less stress on the board. You also need to protect the plastic connectors around as well as be careful with the heat but that is all part of learning. To speed this up, I made a board shield from a sheet of copper with cut-outs just for the stick joints. I haven’t had to change a stick in a bit but I’ll try to find the shield and upload a pic.

This thread is some months old so if you read my reply, post how things are going and if you have found any different methods. What have you moved on to from controllers?

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