Black Lives Matter - Action and Equality. ... Adafruit is open and shipping.
0

Choosing a new soldering iron...
Moderators: adafruit_support_bill, adafruit

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Choosing a new soldering iron...

by TimScampi on Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:14 pm

Hi there :)

So, I've been soldering some simple projects since about 2 month and I need to change my soldering iron. It's just too horrible.
The extremity of the handle is warm when the iron is hot and the tip is really crappy. (Well, it's a 10$ iron after all... You don't expect something really brilliant for that price :D )

So, I was hoping for some help on choosing a new iron (Well, actually, a soldering station :D )
I can spend about 150€ on this (I can only buy it using Paypal...)

I was looking at the Weller WES51 or WESD51 but those aren't available in Belgium (There is a 220v version, however. But I don't know if it's 220v/50Hz (Like in Belgium) or 220v/60Hz (Don't even know if that exists...) I can buy it but I don't know if it would be good to have it at 50Hz if it is actually requiring 60Hz (Which, i know, the 110v version do !)
The plug wouldn't be a problem since i can find a converter almost anywhere. (But those don't turn 50Hz into 60Hz, from what I know)
There is a European-version of that station, but it is WAY overpriced (It's exactly the same as the WES51 and it's priced at 250€ (~300$) where the WES51 is about 80-90€ (~100-110$) !)

I also found some Velleman stations for about 60€, but I don't know if they are good or not. (My current crappy iron is a Velleman, so...)
Here is a link to the manufacturer's website: http://www.velleman.eu/distributor/prod ... ?id=353578

Given that I plan to do some SMT soldering in the near future, what station should I buy ?
Is there a way to safely operate the WES51/WESD51 on a 220v/50Hz power plug ?

Thanks to those who'll answer me :)
TimScampi
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:17 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by zener on Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:53 pm

The Weller's are a little spendy. We use the Edsyn 971 and I like it very well, but it is expensive also! I don't know a cheap one.

zener
 
Posts: 4567
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:38 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by franklin97355 on Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:22 pm

I like Edsyn and Hakko stations but my favorite is the Edsyn cl1080 model 930. It's not a station but I like the portability.

franklin97355
 
Posts: 21498
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:33 pm
Location: Lacomb, OR.

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by Rotzog on Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:35 pm

Check out this link for surface mount technology (SMT) techniques using a soldering iron:

http://www.curiousinventor.com/guides/Surface_Mount_Soldering/101

There are some links to other techniques at the top as well, using skillets for example.

Money spent on a good soldering station is never wasted. Especially if you have gone through the special hell that is a $10 soldering iron. :x

I like my Weller WTCP, but if I had to do it again, I would get a variable temperature station.
Rotzog
 
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:10 pm

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by St.Jimmy on Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:21 am

Aoyue 968! I cannot recommend this iron enough. Sparkfun has an improved version for sale (for the same price I paid, FAIL) with interchangeable tips and a vacuum part lifter. Has a hot air gun and fume sucker-doodad too. The Sparkfun one is HERE and the 968 should be on amazon. The tips are a little hard to come by, but Sparks=fun usually has few.
St.Jimmy
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by zener on Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:07 am

Rotzog wrote:I like my Weller WTCP.

They are OK while they are working but the thermo switch and/or heater break too often.

zener
 
Posts: 4567
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:38 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by RJM on Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:32 am

I've always liked MetCal soldering stations, they are a little pricey but you might be able to pick up
a used SP200 for the price that you are looking for.

http://www.okinternational.com/binary/m ... 201206.pdf
RJM
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:27 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by TimScampi on Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:00 am

I made some search around the internet and it looks like the Weller WES51/WESD51 in 220v requires only 50Hz (Only the Peru uses 220v/60Hz, which is quite lame in m opinion)

I'll look for 220v versions of the irons your mentioned and see if they are not too cheap (I'm a student, I definitely cannot afford a 350$ iron :) )

Thanks for all the help :)
Any recommended kit to begin SMT soldering ? I thought about building a Minimig (Amiga in an FPGA, using quite a lot of SMT components) but I don't think this would be a good project to begin SMT... (Don't want to ruin 200$ worth of components...)
TimScampi
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:17 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by zener on Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:30 pm

I wouldn't think the frequency would make any difference. They are heaters basically. Could just be a documentation issue.

zener
 
Posts: 4567
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:38 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by crazybutable on Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:28 pm

I got a Hakko 936 and couldn't be happier with it.
crazybutable
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:25 pm

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by RJM on Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:44 am

RJM
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:27 am

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by Entropy on Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:21 pm

I have an Aoyue 937+.

The Aoyue 937 is a clone of the Hakko 937 I think.

Same for the 936.

The Aoyue 936/937 also match the Circuit Specialists CSI-1A/2A
Entropy
 
Posts: 472
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:43 am
Location: Owego, NY USA

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by adshea on Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:06 am

If you're willing to spend a bit of time looking you can usually find Metcal/OKI and Weller Irons on ebay for really cheap (I got my Metcal PS800 for $90 after ordering a tip from Digikey). Just look at the pictures and read the descriptions. Ask around here or look on google for model specifics.

adshea
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:01 pm

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by Agent24 on Wed May 12, 2010 5:57 am

My main iron is a Scope MH25, very basic iron but good quality. I made many many Dick-Smith and EA kitsets with it, never had a problem, It just plain works.

I imagine the cheaper ones available now have cheap tips that can wear out easily, but also you must make sure you're not using it badly either. There are many ways to damage the tip, actually.

Temperature control is only useful if you need adjustment for critical things. For just building most kits there is not much point. BUT if you are going for temperature control you might as well do it properly.

Depending on your work you may want finer or bigger or special tips, a lot of the cheaper irons do not have these kinds of tips available.
User avatar
Agent24
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:48 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Choosing a new soldering iron...

by mojo on Wed May 19, 2010 6:36 pm

Rather than trying to get one uber iron I'd suggest getting a couple for different tasks.

My main iron is a basic 18W Antec. People scoff because it's not even temperature controlled but it is actually a fantastic iron and suitable for 90% of the electronics work I do. It's ideal for assembling most PCBs and prototyping. The low wattage is adequate for through-hole, SMT and signal wires without much danger of cooking components even if you do a lot of re-working. You can do small to medium power connectors with it too. Sure, it takes a few minutes to warm up, but it was both cheap (£15 for the iron, tips are £10 for 3 at Maplin but cheaper online) and reliable.

The only two thing I would say about it is that you need to make sure you push the tips on all the way or they don't get hot enough at the business end. Actually you can easily swap heads by gripping the tip in some pliers which is handy because you can swap without waiting for it to cool down.

For larger stuff and for re-working things which need a lot of power I have a Hakko 80W iron. Again it is not temperature controlled and only cost 1000 yen (about £7.50). It is perfect for larger power wires and re-working power sockets on PCBs where the PCB itself acts as a heatsink.

Between those two I can do anything. TQFP format surface mount ICs to through-hole stuff and cables. We have more expensive Weller and Blackjack irons at work, and while they do have some nice features for doing repairs and I could easily borrow them if I needed to I have so far not done so. Sure the really cheap stuff if junk but Antec, Goot and the cheaper end of the Hakko range are all good quality basic irons which are ideal for hobby use.

Use the money you save to get a desktop extractor fan, some helping hands or a PCB vice, a better multimeter or a second hand oscilloscope. These tools will benefit you a lot more than spending €€€ on an iron.

PS. Using a brass sponge to clean the tip instead of a wet sponge makes them last 20x as long and perform consistently throughout their lifetime, as well as doing a better job of actually cleaning them. Wet sponges also cool the tip a little.

mojo
 
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:04 pm

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.