A heck of a lot of soldered pins

Well Depth Sensing: Soldering, Soldering, Soldering!

In my previous post, I designed a 3D printed sensor junction box for my well tank depth sensing project. In this post I solder… a lot.

I have 36 RJ45 jacks, 36 breakout boards for those jacks, and a pile of break-off headers for those breakout boards. Each breakout board has 8 holes for the RJ45 jack pins and 8 more holes for the header pins. That’s 36 * (8+8) connections I need to make to attach the breakout boards to the jacks. That’s 576 connections to solder!

I started by snapping the 36 breakout boards onto the 36 RJ45 jacks.

36 breakout boards, ready to solder
36 breakout boards, ready to solder

I then used my favorite technique – a lightly-tightened C clamp – to hold each jack in place so I could solder the breakout board to it. The snaps on the jack held the board in place while I soldered.

Using a C clamp to hold the jack in place
Using a C clamp to hold the jack in place

Once that soldering was done (whew!) I broke the headers I had bought into lengths of 8 pins each, then used a breadboard to hold the header pins in place while I soldered them to the breakout board.

a piece of paper protects the breadboard from solder and flux
a piece of paper protects the breadboard from solder and flux

The paper sits over the breadboard to keep solder and flux from getting into the breadboard holes while I solder.

So, 576 soldered connections later the RJ45 jacks are ready to be put into the to-be-printed junction boxes. This exercise in soldering showed me that the most important thing is to keep the tip of your soldering iron clean.

completed jacks, ready for the junction boxes
completed jacks, ready for the junction boxes

As a reminder, all these jacks will be part of the sensor junction boxes that connect the MAX31820 temperature sensors to the 1-wire bus that connects to the ESP8266 Thing Dev board. The whole project code and documentation is at my project github repository.