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New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?
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New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by ToddK on Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:18 pm

Hi All,

I'm just getting started in electronics and a few of our Homeschooling Dads and I are putting together a basic electronics and robotics club/class for our kids. I just received the Arduino starter kit and so far so good. I do need to get some soldering equipment together on a limited budget and I came across this soldering iron. Has anyone used this and is it any good?

http://www.mpja.com/productsdirect.asp?dept=480&main=79&item1=15860+TL&item2=15845+TL&item3=15140+TL&item4=15141+TL&item5=17204+TL

Thanks for your help.

ToddK
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by adafruit on Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:30 pm

for that price, check the WLC http://www.elexp.com/sdr_wlc1.htm

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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by ToddK on Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:07 am

The one I was looking at was the Mini Station for $15. If I could spend the money, that one you suggested looks really good. Maybe I should wait until I have a few more dollars and get the WLC100 you suggested.

Todd
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by Entropy on Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:45 am

I really like my new Aoyue 937+. The 936/937 are identical to the Circuit Specialists CSI-1A and 2A respectively, which a lot of people seem to like. The 937+ has slightly different controls.

The 936 is around the same price as the WLC100, however it looks like the Weller is just variable power (instead of temperature controlled).
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by adafruit on Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:30 pm

spending <$20 for an iron is not suggested

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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by fishesfromtupperware on Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:00 pm

adafruit wrote:spending <$20 for an iron is not suggested


What about $19.99 ?

http://www.frys.com/product/4825190?sit ... IN_RSLT_PG

It's a 50w station with manual temperature setting , electronic temperature control (374-896°F), and ground output.
Sounds like a good deal to me (but keep in mind, I'm a rank beginner and really have no idea which end of the pencil to hold) :lol:
Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful toys and tuts!

Wali
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by adafruit on Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:02 pm

risky, probably set your house on fire but you could try it out :)

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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by GeorgeFrick on Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:55 pm

adafruit wrote:spending <$20 for an iron is not suggested


Lols, and here I've been building all my robot stuff with a 9.99 Radio Shack special!
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by sirket on Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:50 pm

This is the soldering station you want:

http://www.action-electronics.com/grc/wewrs7000x.jpg
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by ToddK on Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:50 am

That last one looks totally out of my budget!
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by sirket on Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:59 am

ToddK wrote:That last one looks totally out of my budget!

Sorry- I was being a smartass. The WRS7000X isn't sold any more but when it was- it had a price tag around $4500.00. It's a great station but it's so far beyond what anyone actually needs that it's kind of funny.
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by Agent24 on Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:21 pm

GeorgeFrick wrote:
adafruit wrote:spending <$20 for an iron is not suggested


Lols, and here I've been building all my robot stuff with a 9.99 Radio Shack special!


Nothing wrong with the cheap irons for basic work, and of course as long as you take care of them.

I've got a 25 watt Scope (two in fact) about 8 yrs old I think, had a fair bit of use but still work perfectly. Used to have 3 but one got dropped and I think the element cracked.

Never even had to buy a replacement tip yet. I always make sure the tip is clean and fully tinned before switching off.

They work perfectly for single layer boards, even SMD is fairly easy. The only thing they aren't good for is multilayer boards like computer motherboards etc, just not powerful enough, with the large ground planes etc that soak up heat.
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Re: New Hobbiest: MPJA Mini Solder Station any good?

by mojo on Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:41 pm

I too use an 18W Antec basic iron. It has lasted over 10 years and originally cost about £20 so a bit more than $20.

Higher power and temperature control are nice but not at all essential if you are on a budget. Just make sure it is a proper electronics iron (not a "general purpose" or DIY shop type iron) and has a suitable tip (you will want a small one with flat side for most through-hole stuff and a small round one for SMD). Check what temperature it reaches as you will need 480C to work with many types of lead-free solder.

I know Antec are not that easy to get outside Europe but Hakko and Goot do nice and reasonably priced irons. Weller are good but overpriced IMHO. A good quality basic iron will probably be better than a cheap temperature controlled one, but if you are going to spend a bit more and can't get Hakko or Goot then Aoyue are okay-ish. I say "ish" because the heating elements on the ones at work don't seem to last all that long where as all the other brands have never needed new ones. When changing the elements I was not impressed with the build quality.

If you don't get an iron with a built-in fume extractor (typically only hot-air rework stations have them) then get a desk mounted one. Otherwise you will breath in the fumes and get headaches, dry throat, watering eyes etc.

In the end I think the quality of your soldering is mostly determined by your own skill rather than the iron. Once you get past the cheap rubbish then a good quality basic iron will do for 95% of tasks. If you end up doing a lot of SMD work or something else specialised that needs a more advanced iron you will know it when you get there. I also have an 80W Hakko but the Antec pretty much everything including very small SMD parts. The only difficulty I have is down to my own unsteady hands.

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