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Affordable soldering iron or station for surface-mounts?
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Affordable soldering iron or station for surface-mounts?

by ameyring on Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:52 pm

Hi, I need to solder some surface-mount components and my trusty iron is too big. What's an affordable iron with fine tip or soldering station? Thanks.

ameyring
 
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Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Affordable soldering iron or station for surface-mounts?

by adafruit_support_mike on Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:46 am

I've seen videos of people soldering SMT with an old-fashioned 'heat it in a blowtorch' iron, so tip size isn't as much of an issue as it seems. A large tip will probably give you solder bridges between the pins of SMT chips, but that's okay.. bridge away. Just do a follow-up pass with a nice dose of flux and some solderwick to remove the excess.

Our soldering iron of choice is the Hakko FX-888D: https://www.adafruit.com/products/1204 Temperature control is a luxury you'll never want to give up, and this puppy can crank out a lot of heat when you have to solder large parts.

For small work like SMT, the Hakko FX-600 handheld iron is a good alternative: https://www.adafruit.com/products/3037 The temperature adjustment isn't as nice, but it's a solid piece of hardware, and you can swap in any of the tips that work on the 888D.

The next step down in price and power is the Atten 50-Watt: https://www.adafruit.com/products/2163 It isn't quite as temperature stable as the Hakko-600, but it's still worlds better than a fixed-temperature iron and can use Hakko tips.


I personally use a hoof-style tip for SMT work: https://www.adafruit.com/products/1248 It looks big, but SMT soldering is all about playing with surface tension. You want the surface of the iron to make an angle with the surface of the part you're trying to solder, touching at one end and open about half a millimeter at the other. Well-fluxed solder will flow into that gap and give you just the right amount of solder for a good joint. The corners of the hoof are small enough to heat a single TSSOP pin, and the large, flat surface makes it easy to create the right gaps.

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Re: Affordable soldering iron or station for surface-mounts?

by ameyring on Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:57 pm

Thank you!

ameyring
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:50 pm

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.