Here is my first try at a meaningful picture collage to give viewers some update on my progress. However, my work has passed the points shown here now, but you can’t always build and be a photographer. Some are lost due to difficulty or annoyance/burns from irons telling the photographer in you to hush and focus on building not showing. Even with a Weller WES51 + PES51 + some time; the soldering “pen” becomes pretty warm probably up to around 110F or so (not bad). Also with time you get lazy, well, most of us anyway. That is when burns happen, not paying attention to your non-primary hand.

Two tips:

Tip 1: Wear mechanic or temperature proof gloves while soldering, I usually use one hand with a glove (not holding iron) and other hand normal with the iron’s “pen”. This allows me to hold components while the PCB is upside down and ensure correct placement without burning my finger tips (that happens a lot). It’s easy to get components sitting at an angle or just too high from the PCB due to movements during soldering and too hot to hold. Tape is good, but not the best. Bending one of the leads on each works about 80% of the time for me (for correct component placement on the PCB that is).

This shows almost all the pieces of the puzzle. Two more amplifiers are being built!

Tip 2: Have your iron and other tools laid out before you ever take an iron in your hand. Move anything you don’t need out of the way for the time being. Give yourself plenty of room and if you have one, lay down a solder mat that won’t burn due to a soldering or soldering iron lying on them. This makes it easier during building.

If you don’t have the advantage of a high temp work mat, then I recommend putting your desoldering iron on either a simple iron holder, one you’d get for free in a magazine. That kind of stand you can fit in your wallet and then push up later to create a small (and flimsy) stand. It works for a desoldering iron in a pinch.

A better way is to put the desoldering iron’s tip into one of those iron tip cleaners that looks like a dog house and just lay the desoldering on the gold colored bristle pad cleaning thing in the little metal “house”. That way, even if you knock it over it won’t touch anything. It can be easy to leave a desoldering iron plugged in when you jump back over to soldering in new components. So I always tell people to plug in and unplug the desoldering while using, never leave it like a normal iron in a safe holder. That is until you get used to your tools and environment, for some it is completely new.


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Also keep your capacitors away from your soldering irons, same for ICs. Mainly capacitors are at risk due to their size and frequency of use in circuits. It only takes a few seconds of a hot soldering iron on an electrolytic to make it unsafe for long term usage.

Note: For any of the advanced curious readers, that is a Q8 v2.2 ESS board, it can support anywhere from an ES9018 to a $150 ES9038. The ES9028Pro goes for $60 which is pretty reasonable for DSD512, but you need I2S input support on your DAC, which I do have. See below for schematic and the other shows the 3 pins needed for I2S.


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