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Spring Edition 2011

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Reaching Out - Kudos to WAMAS Members

WAMAS members after working hard to provide a local high school Oceanography class with a reefRecently, WAMAS member Dave Sun was asked to help save Joanna Kulczak's tanks, an avid aquarist who recently passed away. Arrangements were made for one of the tanks to be donated to a local school. On February 26, a team of WAMAS volunteers consisting of Dave Frederick, Brain Ward, Steve Repp, Hilary Foster, Chip Frederick and Dave Sun dismantled the tank and brought it to a staging area.Former Chantilly student and WAMAS member, Josh Langland heard about a tank needing a new home connected his teacher and Doug Arthur, WAMAS President. Mr. Arthur, an electrical engineer, immediately contacted Ms. Gerbasi, a date was set, and the donation moved forward quickly. Then on Saturday, March 19th, Chantilly Oceanography teacher, Ms. Susan Gerbasi greeted additional WAMAS volunteers Dan & Dean Castro, Rob Gillette, Dave Lin, and Eric Wendling at the school to accept the tank and assisted in the set-up process. "It was a very long and complicated process," Gerbasi said, "It only took an hour or so to break-down the tank, but nearly 4 hours to set it back up again. Still, the results are fantastic!"The WAMAS mission statement in part states: "To further our understanding of the oceans and ocean life by providing education on the current status of the world's coral reefs and ongoing research in the scientific community regarding coral reefs." Toward that end, many of the organization's outreach efforts include assisting local educators with a variety of resources to further understanding of the world's oceans and the husbandry of the marine life therein."Including the tank and all the necessary equipment to operate it, WAMAS also provided a host of live coral and fish. Thank you WAMAS, again for this extraordinary gift, for years it will provide hundreds of students with a window into our beloved world of coral reefs."

Chad

Chad

 

Reef Photography (part 1)

"Sorry for the bad pics-my fish wouldn't stand still for me.""These pics don't do my tank justice.""Corals look much better in person."How many times have we read posts like this while viewing a fellow reefer's attempts to faithfully capture a view of their favorite fish or coral? Why is it so difficult to take good reef pictures? It's not for lack of information. There's no shortage of reef photography articles available throughout the hobby, and a quick search on Advanced Aquarist or ReefKeeping turns up many well-written, thorough articles on marine photography. But despite all this information, people still struggle to take good pictures of their critters.Photography is a full hobby on it's own, and a detailed discussion of optics, exposure compensation, and other "basics" will quickly overwhelm the reef hobbyist who just wants to take better pictures. This guide will take a different approach. Instead, we'll view basic reef photography as a recipe to follow, and look at a simpler way to approach improving the pictures you take of your tank. I'm not a professional photographer, or even an advanced amateur. But I've learned some techniques and tips over the years that can help other photographers take better reef pictures, whether they're newbies or old salts.Taking a focused imageOne of the most noticeable problems with reef photography is blurry pictures. No matter how beautiful your tank is in person, you'll be posting "sorry for the lousy pics" if your photo is blurred. This is usually a much bigger problem when taking pictures of fish than corals, because fish tend to move more, especially when you're dancing back in forth in front of your tank trying to take their picture. Start by switching to Shutter Priority or Sports mode, and set your camera's shutter speed to something fast enough to stop the motion: Why can't you make things simple and always shoot at 1/500 or even faster? Because those faster shutter speeds don't always give you time to collect enough light, and the picture turns out too dark. You can compensate by opening the aperture wider (which lets in more light but restricts the depth of focus), or increasing the ISO (which effectively lets in more light but makes the picture grainy). The photographer has to balance the combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to create an appealing photo where the subject is sharply focused and not too dark or too light. Fig 3: Note that f/2 is a larger diameter aperture, and f/22 is a smaller diameter aperature. It's a math thing. The aperture setting controls the depth of field, or the amount of your picture that can be in focus if everything else is correct. Large diameter apertures let in a lot of light, but the background will be out of focus. You may want the background out of focus to make a fish stand out nicely from a cluttered background, but too large an aperture setting and much of the fish will be out of focus. The bottom line is that you have to have at least one of the speed/aperture/ISO trio be in the "Provides more light" column to avoid a crummy picture.f/1.8, 1/80sec. The large aperture lets in more light, but only a small range of distance is in focus. Everything outside of this narrow band is blurredf/10, 1/60sec. The smaller f/10 aperture limits incoming light, but more of the picture can be in focus.Here's some example pictures and how I prepared to take them. My copperband butterfly is constantly moving, so I needed a relatively fast shutter speed to keep her from being blurred. I set the camera to shutter priority, speed 1/160sec, which locks in the shutter speed and lets the camera decide on how to adjust aperture and ISO. I knew it was ok for the camera to pick a larger aperture, because I wanted the background to be blurry to make the fish stand out more. Plus I was taking a profile shot, so the whole fish was at the same distance from the lens and could all be in focus. If I had been using a point and shoot camera, I would have selected Action, Sports, or Kid mode because they typically have a fast shutter speed preselected. f/1.8, 1/160sec, ISO 200 with Nikon D40 w/ 50mm f1.8 lensAn f/1.8 is a pretty large aperture setting, and not all lenses are able to get that large. If that's the case, the camera will likely make the aperture as large as possible, and then raise the ISO (making the picture grainy) until it gets enough light to take the picture. If you run into this problem, try slowing the shutter speed a little bit and see if you can still get a sharp picture. You may be able to slow down to 1/125 or even 1/60, so that your camera doesn't have to raise the ISO. If the fish had been a blennie, goby, or something else that stays still, I could have used a much slower shutter speed and the camera would have been able to use a smaller aperture, making more of the fish in focus without raising the ISO and making the picture grainy. If your camera doesn't have Aperture priority mode, see if there's a Portrait mode available as it is likely preset to a large aperature.Taking a closeup of the gorgonian required a different strategy. Because the coral is almost completely stationary, I could use a much slower shutter speed, giving me the freedom to select a much larger aperture setting. In this case I used aperture mode and set f/22, which lets in very little light but gives a larger depth of field. This allows me to have more of the coral in focus, while still nicely blurring the background coral and not having to increase ISO much and get grainy. On a point and shoot camera you can try using macro mode, or landscape mode if you don't have macro. f/22 1/2sec ISO 400, Nikon D40 w/ 50mm f/1.8 lensDon't have a fancy digital SLR camera and a bag full of lenses you say? Fear not, because these days most point and shoot cameras give you at least some control over the camera. I've taken some very satisfying shots with my old Nikon 4500 4MP camera. Most cameras now have preset modes or "scenes" like Action/Sports, Landscape, and Portrait. You'll have even more control if your camera has Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Macro modes. Other important factors affecting focusNow you have a basic recipe that allows the camera to take a focused picture

Jon Lazar

Jon Lazar

 

Saltwater Fish Keeping Was an Adventure - Paul Baldassano

Saltwater fish keeping in the seventies and eighties was an adventure. It all started in 1971 when Peter Wilkens published his book in Germany titled "Saltwater Aquarium for Tropical Marine Invertebrates" (unfortunately it was not translated to English until the mid 80s). Very few stores sold saltwater fish and if they did, it was just Blue Devils, Dominoes and Sergeant Majors. The places that did offer salt water had just one small tank of saltwater fish and a huge sign outside that read "We have Salt Water". If you had never seen saltwater tropical fish before, the sight of a blue devil was awe inspiring.The animals came out before any of the devices to keep them alive arrived. Powerheads were mainly for fresh water and none of them were submersible. They were designed to sit on top of under gravel lift tubes, and the first ones were made out of aluminum. That is not something you want to see in a freshwater tank, much less saltwater. There were also no GFCIs so we would have to unplug the powerheads before we put our hands in the water. The lighting was not much better. You had a choice of those long skinny incandescent lamps or fluorescent lamps which you had to push in the button and hold it until it lit. The first canopies to hold these lamps were metal, so after a few nasty shocks we learned to turn the lights on with a stick.By the eighties we had plastic powerheads but most of them were not yet submersible.Sanders sold a skimmer in the seventies but it was only about 12" high and was a counter current skimmer, meaning it worked with an air stone. The only air pump available to push enough air into it was a piston pump. The piston pumps cost more than the skimmers and they used a leather piston which had to be oiled about once a week. Some of the oil always managed to find its way into the water and the motors for these pumps were made very badly causing them to overheat. I always fitted them with a fan. Of course, I always managed to stick my hand into the fan blades. The pumps were also noisy and had to be placed in a closet or insulated box which made them even hotter.The fish were amazing. A person was looking at my tank once and asked me how I got the paint to stick on the fish. He was referring to a percula clownfish, and he was serious! One big problem was getting a healthy fish because there was no such thing. All of the fish had ich. If it were not for copper, there would be no saltwater fish hobby. The fish were shipped, sold and kept in copper treated water. We bought copper like we buy artificial saltwater today. We thought ich was just a part of life.Another bane of hobbyists was cyanide collected fish. Cyanide is a poison that was very commonly used to collect fish. The cyanide procedure called "blue stoning" was accomplished by squirting the chemical around a coral head causing the stunned fish to leave their hiding places and become lethargic so that they could just be hand caught and put into containers. Many of these fish lived for a long enough time to be shipped to retailers to be sold - the rest died. Unfortunately, even the ones that lived for a few weeks died soon after for no outward reasons. There was an article written about it in a 1974 issue of TFH (Tropical Fish Hobbyist) magazine. The chemical was banned in the Philippines in 1980 although it is still being used in some areas. Things stayed like that into the eighties when something drastic happened in the hobby which changed everything. The German government banned the importation of all butterflies and angelfish to appease environmentalists in that country. With those beautiful animals banned, people started to try to keep corals, which were legal to import. The Berlin Aquarium Society was instrumental in introducing high intensity lighting and the discovery of what supplements were needed to keep these unusual creatures alive.Also created by the Germans was the first HQI bulb which was 6,000K - it could keep corals alive but its color left much to be desired. Luckily they also came out with an actinic o3 lamp in the 420 nm range which offset the awful color of the high intensity lamps available. Actinic lamps were borrowed from hospitals, where they were used to cure infants of jaundice.In the US we still had no live or even dead rock. All tanks were decorated with dead coral skeletons, which were not cheap. When the nice white dead coral would get a little green tinge, we would remove them to soak overnight in Clorox. The tanks were filtered with under gravel filters and maybe a canister filter filled with floss and maybe some carbon. Now we all know that anemones can't survive in a tank with copper so we had a rough time there for a while. We had to get the copper out of the water along with the ich so we could keep anemones. It was not easy and we lost loads of fish. A blue devil was about $7.00 then, which is about $30.00 today. We eventually learned that if we fed the fish something besides flakes and we cultivated some bacteria while letting some algae grow, we could get the fish into a state of health where we could eliminate the copper.Of course any new fish had to be quarantined in copper treated water for a month or so.You have to remember this was way before internets or even computers. Very, very few people kept saltwater fish and the stores that did stock them had no knowledge of them whatsoever. The only magazine available was "The Marine Aquarist", and it was hard to come by and had limited information. Most of the foods available were designed for freshwater and even artificial saltwater was scarce. I first used "Lampert Kay's Marine Magic". It came in a small green box and was also not real cheap. Luckily for me, I lived near the sea and could at least collect water.Gradually more animals became available - coral banded shrimp and arrow crabs were starting to be common, as were yellow tangs. There were many fish for sale that even now we have a hard time keeping - fish like Moorish Idols (I had a few of them in the eighties), shrimpfish, clingfish and orange spotted filefish. Tanks then were fish only and many of those animals had a tough time in a reef - they had almost no chance in a fish only especially with the foods we had available.Corals were also frequently offered for sale. Going to an aquarium store was always a great day as you never knew what new animal they would have that you never saw before. By the nineties we had submersible powerheads, larger skimmers, powerful air pumps and other means to purify the water. Wet dry filters were state of the art and a variety of systems were replacing under gravel filters. We had the natural system which was invented by Lee Chin Eng in the sixties, the Jaubert system, and then we had plenums, pushed by Bob Goemans, the sterile system and then deep sand beds used by many people today.To me reefing was much more challenging in the seventies and eighties, although it was also more nerve wracking. You had to really take your time with any new animals you purchased because of the lack of information or just wrong information. We even considered ourselves lucky if we could get aiptasia anemones to live. Today I feel we have too much information, most of it conflicting. Much of the information in this hobby was created in Germany. Eventually it got translated to English but by the time that happened, a lot of the information was already outdated. Today millions of people enjoy this wonderful and educational hobby. The animals are easier to keep now but I feel there is a lot more that we don't know. -written by Paul Baldassano (Paul B)

Chad

Chad

 

Adam's Algae 1: Overview

Algae Overview and ClassificationThe term "algae" seems like a relatively scientific name for a group of organisms. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Algae are not plants at all. Most species of algae used to be part of kingdom Protista, which has since been broken up into separate kingdom. The word "algae" refers to a group of organisms that spans across different kingdoms and can range from being microscopic to being over 60 feet tall, such as kelp. Only a fraction of these species are found in our tanks, and those are the types that I will focus on first.There are two basic types of algae: microalgae and macroalgae. Microalgae are planktonic organisms, meaning that the spores of algae generally float freely and then eventually settle onto a surface. Some types of microalgae include diatoms, cyanobacteria, and dinoflagellates. Macroalgae, on the other hand, are able to anchor themselves to a rock or substrate and grow from there, like a seaweed. Diatoms are a type of microalgae that are formed of silicon shells. Since they are a microalga, they spend the majority of their time in the ocean floating around resting on sediments. Diatoms are usually brown and are generally one of the earlier types of algae to appear in the aquarium.Cyanobacteria are technically not algae at all, but as the name would imply, a type of bacteria that can produce its own food through photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria can range in many colors, but perhaps the most well known example of it is in the red slime that can cover the aquarium if water chemistry is not up to par.Dinoflagellates are a group of organisms that includes an alga-like group and other species of dinoflagellates that range from parasites to the dinoflagellates that can cause red tides. Dinoflagellate algae in the aquarium are usually photosynthetic and can attach to almost anything in the aquarium, forming a brown, snot-like scourge.The green algae, once called Chlorophyta, have now been separated into many different groups. These algae are green due to the chlorophyll pigments in their cells, such as that found in many plants. Chlorophyta algae are the most diverse, ranging from unwanted hair algae to desirable Chaetomorpha.Rhodophyta refers to a group of algae called the red algae, though not all of the algae in this group are red. This group of algae is generally found in more established tanks. Rhodophyta includes the group of desirable algae known as coralline algae, which secretes a hard calcareous shell, similar to some coral. The final group of algae I will be covering is Phaeophyta, the brown algae. Generally, brown algae are found in the ocean as seaweed, such as kelp. However, brown algae can also appear in the aquarium, generally in newer tanks. All these types of algae and more will be discussed in the newsletter. As always, if you wish to contact me, you may either PM me or comment on this post.

WaterDog

WaterDog

 

A Closer Look: Amphipods

Probably the most common and most visible microfauna of the reef aquarium are the amphipods of the Gammarus genus. There are over 200 different types of Gammarus amphipods and, although I have never looked into which species are the most prevalent in our aquariums, I can certainly recognize one when I see it. The amphipod is one of three members of the group that most marine aquarists refer to as simply "pods", the other two being isopods and copepods. All three of these are crustaceans and are imported into our systems in live rock, live sand, marine macroalgae, and on corals and their mounts. These can even be imported simply through adding water from an existing system. As probably the most commonly seen as well as easiest to see of the group, the amphipod is also an important food source and scavenger in the closed system.The rear segments of the thorax and the front segments of the abdomen. Notice the large walking legs which are hiding the much smaller pleopods.An amphipod has its body divided into three main segments, the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head itself contains the eyes and antennae and is a single part. The thorax is divided into seven different thoracic sections, each of which has a pair of walking legs attached to it. The abdomen has six different segments, the first three having pleopods (often referred to as swimmerettes) and the last three having uropods (basically rigid rods sticking out of them). The first two pairs of walking legs have been modified into pincer like legs which allow the amphipods to grab and hold food. They have a flattened body shape which is laterally compressed, meaning it is flat from side to side as are most of the fish that we keep. All of the anatomy aside, what you'll most likely see is a creature that is perhaps 1/4" at most in your aquarium that scoots back and forth on its walking legs or swims in a sideways fashion for cover when rooted out of its hiding place.The head of the amphipod has a somewhat large eye. The eyes are said to bulge out more when the animal is mature enough to reproduce.Amphipods have a variety of different feeding habits which range from scraping algae or bacteria off of surfaces to embedding themselves into the sides of whales and feeding on the skin of the whales, but the ones we commonly see are detrivores/detritivores, which essentially means they eat detritus and are part of a healthy clean up crew or scrape up algae and bacteria. At the same time they are cleaning up our tanks, however, they are also feeding the other inhabitants as well. They are a favorite food of most fish, but this is also why they stay predominantly hidden during the day and are more nocturnal.So, all of the science aside, do we want these in our tanks? Yes, of course you do! Just like any other creature in our reefs, a healthy population of amphipods will help keep your system balanced. As a valuable member of the microfauna of our closed systems, they help to balance things out and are an integral part of maintaining a healthy marine aquarium through natural means.

davelin315

davelin315

 

Pistol Shrimp Behavior

Crack!It is pretty easy to determine if your pistol shrimp is alive and well, even if you never see it. Do you occasionally hear that pistol crack, and think that something important in your tank just broke? Does your sand bed keep shifting around the bottom of your tank? If so, your pistol shrimp is doing fine.Pistol shrimp with their goby partners exhibit one of the most interesting relationships that can be observed in an aquarium setting. Known as 'mutualism', each partner benefits from the relationship. Take the time to watch the pair. The shrimp spends most of the day cleaning their burrow, bulldozing out the sand that threatens to fill in their home, stacking small shells around the entrance, and generally playing housekeeper. The goby benefits from the clean, safe home, and in return stands guard and warns the shrimp of danger. Watch your shrimp

Hilary

Hilary

 

The "Who's Who of WAMAS"

Welcome to the "Who's Who of WAMAS"! The purpose of this column is to promote the social aspect of WAMAS. We asked members to answer 5 questions, to provide us with information they felt would help other members get to know them better (some people answered more than 5 of them, but we had to set a limit). We present you below with a few of the members who responded (with more to come in the next newsletter!).

treesprite

treesprite

 

Mixed Reef: Tips and Tricks of Soldering

Unless you have been living in your own cryptic refugium, it is unlikely that you have missed the impact that LEDs and other electronic DIY projects have made upon the hobby. Perhaps you have considered trying one of these projects, but are a little intimidated by soldering? Well, I am here to say that soldering is easily accomplished by a few simple techniques and inexpensive equipment. You can do it!To achieve a great solder joint you need to know a few things about what solder is... so, what is solder? Solder is a low melting point metal that is used to metalurgically bond metallic surfaces. In order to achieve proper bonding, the joint must be made on clean and un-oxidized metal surfaces. This is where flux comes into the picture. Flux removes the layer of oxidation that occurs on most metals so the liquid solder can adequately flow into the joint and make a good metal to metal connection.What do you need?The picture below shows everything that you need to make great solder joints on your projects:Soldering iron: For the joints that I made in this article, I used a variable wattage soldering iron. The variable wattage feature is nice, but not necessary. In general, any handheld soldering iron (not the "gun" type) around 25-50 watts will work for smaller electronics projects. However, if you are going to be doing a lot of soldering (especially if you will be working with sensitive semiconductor components), I recommend getting a soldering iron with a temperature controlled tip. In most single-wattage soldering irons, the tip temperature continues to rise until a loss/input equalibrium is reached (sometimes >1300F); this is fine for most work with wires and electrical components, but can damage semiconductor based components very quickly. For most projects, a small, bladed tip like the one shown below will work well; however, if you are doing fine electronic work on a printed circiut (PC) board, switching to a pointed tip will better suit your needs. Finally, ensure that the soldering iron comes with a stand and USE IT! The tip is 650F+ which can very easily burn you, your counter top or the floor; using a stand will minimize the chance of burning you or your stuff. These range in price from $15-150 and can be found many places. Desk clamp: Having an extra hand is usually the most difficult part of soldering, these help a great deal. I found this one for $15 at Radio Shack.Isopropyl alcohol: Cleanliness is THE most important thing to getting a good solder joint, clean everything before and after you solder. Skin oils from your fingers can interfere with getting a good solder joint and flux is corrosive which can degrade your solder joints over time. Rubbing alcohol >90% isopropyl is ok, just check the ingredients to verify the rest is water and it does not contain oil since some rubbing alcohol does.Solder: There are two main choices here: 60/40 or 63/37. This is the lead/tin ratio of the solder mix. Without getting too technical I recommend that you get the 63/37 because the transition from a liquid to a solid occurs at a single point meaning there is less of a chance that a crack will occur while the solder is cooling and transitions from liquid to solid. Also, the 0.032 thickness (the smaller one) is more than adequate for most small project needs. Silver and lead-free solders are safer (from a hazardous material point of view), but are more difficult to work with. Silver solders melt at a higher temperature which presents a higher risk of heat damage to components and lead-free solders have a larger plastic region between the liquid and solid state which results in higher risk of cracks. If you have a specific reason to use one of these alternative solders (perhaps you are soldering on something that you may want to lick?), understand the weaknesses and use it. But otherwise, go with a flux core 63/37 lead based solder.Flux: Make your life easier and get flux cored solder. It works well and is the least messy type. Keep in mind, though, flux is corrosive, clean it off when you are done. That being said using a separate flux almost guarantees great wetting action, but it will make a big mess to clean up.Misc stuff: Alligator clips for heat sinks, de-soldering braid for poor joint repair, rolled up and taped paper towel to replace the useless sponge that comes with most soldering irons that is used to wipe oxidation from the tip of your soldering iron (I find that using the paper towel you do not need to moisten it since it becomes a disposable tool), hair dryer or heat gun to shrink the heat shrink, masking tape to hold things in place, hobby brushes with the bristles cut short for cleaning and applying isopropyl alcohol.Preparing the soldering iron:The tip of the soldering iron needs to be clean, covered with solder, and shiny. To accomplish this, plug in the soldering iron to get it hot. Once hot, cover it with solder and wipe it off with your rolled up paper towel (throw away that useless sponge that come with the soldering iron!!!). Immediately prior to using the soldering iron, wipe the end with your rolled up paper towl so that it looks like this each time you use it:Tinning:Tinning adds a small amount of solder to the lead that you plan on connecting prior to connecting it. This does three things, it keeps individual strands of a wire together so you can easily wrap the leads, it makes it "sticky" when you solder and it minimizes both the heat input and the solder that you need to use when you are on the component (which is likely to be more heat sensitive than the wire). To tin, wrap some solder around the index finger on the hand that you will hold the lead with, apply heat to the lead for 1-3 seconds (time depends on the wattage of your soldering iron, but NEVER apply heat for longer than about 10 seconds to a wire or 6 seconds to a electronic component). Then apply solder, the solder should not wick underneath the insulation on the wire. You should apply enough solder to cover all of the bare wire, but not enough to prevent you from being able to pick out individual wire strands beneath the solder. To help prevent wicking of solder below the insulation, you can clamp an alligator clip to the bare wire up next to the insulation. Wire to wire connection:Once both leads are tinned, make a hook on both wires and thread a piece of heat shrink onto one of the wires then clamp one of the leads into your desk clamp. Apply heat to BOTH wires at the same time, apply solder, remove the solder, remove the heat (work in a well ventilated area and use a face mask or hold your breath so you do not inhale the smoke because it contains lead oxide and can result in lead poisoning, more info on the hazards of lead poisoning can be found here). You should apply enough solder to make a solid joint, but the shape of the wires should be visible beneath the solder:Clean the joint with isopropyl alcohol. Cleaning can be performed by covering the joint with a paper towl and applying isopropyl alcohol to the paper towl, then blot at the joint through the paper towel using the hobby brush. Visually inspect the joint to ensure it is clean and shiny. Finally, move the heat shrink over the joint and apply heated air from a hair dryer or heat gun to cover the joint:And there it is! Easy, right?PC board or starboard:Soldering to a PC board or starboard is very similar, but the risk of heat damage to components is much more. Use an alligator clip whenever you can as a heat sink (it is under the board and not visible in this picture). Solid leads from electronic components do not need to be tinned and should be restrained such that the lead protrudes through the center of the board. Using masking take to hold components in place before soldering them (just don't forget to clean the residue off when finished!) helps with this. Note: many preprinted PC boards similar to that shown in the picture below are heavily oxidized when procured, using a fine grade steel wool (e.g., 0000) to lightly sand the board will help significantly to achieve proper wetting action. Here is a sample picture (it doesn't take very much solder on a board!):The bad, and ugly:This a picture shows some poor solder joints:The joint on the left uses too much solder, is cracked, dull in appearance and shows heat damage on the board. The joint on the right does not have enough solder and shows poor wetting action (dirty joint).In review:Prepare the soldering iron, clean everything, apply heat, add solder, remove solder, remove heat, clean, done. This cycle should always take less than 10 seconds for wires and 6 seconds for PC boards (or LEDs), but will usually take 1-3 seconds. Clean the flux off and the joint should be shiny, show good wetting action and the outline of the components should be visible underneath the solder. Did I mention you need to clean it? A great solder joint is achieved 95% by cleaning and preparation and 5% by actually laying solder down.A poor solder is dull, cracked or shows poor wetting action. If you do get a poor solder, don't fret too much, you just need to remember a couple of things: minimize heat input by allowing the parts to completely cool before attempting repair, remove the solder by applying heat through the de-soldering braid (wicking action will draw most of the solder into the braid), and remove the component. Clean everything, ensure it is completely cooled and try again. Any Questions?

Chad

Chad

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