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Solder Station Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Joe, Jul 10, 2007.

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  1. Joe

    Joe Guest

    I used to have an Edsyn solder station that I bought from Radio Shack
    about 5 or 6 years ago for around $50.00.

    It got lost in my cross-country move.

    I'd like to get something of similar quality and not spend more than
    around $50 or $60.

    At most I solder maybe 200 connections in a year. I also have a soldering
    "gun" for heavier soldering, so the one I'm looking for will be for
    components that typically mount on a PCB.

    Anybody know of a solder station on special, or a favorite that fits my
    needs and roughly my price range?

    Thanks.

    --- Joe
     
  2. I've had soldering irons for 35 years, most of my life, and I've never
    had anything more than just an iron. I suspect if you are making so
    few connections that you can count them, there isn't a big need for
    anything more than a twenty dollar iron. Just make sure the tips
    can be replaced, and that they are plated (with whatever they are
    commonly plated with, it's been so long since I've needed to buy
    a new tip, I forget).

    For most of that time, I've bought modular irons, again I forget
    who makes them since much of that time I've bought them as Radio
    Shack branded irons. So you can change the heating element, and
    the tip, for a lot of flexibility that I've never really taken
    advantage of. But changeable tips are useful if you want to do
    some really fine work at times.

    Toss in a stand of some sort.

    At least, that's the way I'm reading your question. "Soldering
    station" to me implies a fancier iron with some sort of constant
    temperature control, and that is overkill for occasional use.

    Michael
     
  3. notbob

    notbob Guest

  4. Joe

    Joe Guest

    I never heard of Howard Electronics, but I think I did come across this
    solder station via a google search.

    Have you had any dealings with Howard Electronics, or know of them by
    reputation?

    Also, I don't know anything about xytronic. Is it a decent brand?

    Thanks.

    --- Joe
     
  5. Ben Jackson

    Ben Jackson Guest

    I'm not the guy who posted that, but I have a 379 (not purchased from
    Howard) and I have also purchased things from Howard Electronics (such
    as more tips).

    The 379 is great. It is generally only limited by the tip. The big
    B10 chisel tip can easily solder parts onto big thermal pads. I
    also like the finer chisel tips for general work. The super sharp
    tips like like B23 and B03 do work when you need really fine work, but
    their low thermal mass will slow you down. If you really want to do
    super fine work all day, buy a Metcal.

    I got one of their "mini wave" tips (hollow tip that you load with solder
    to do smt work) but I haven't tried it yet. In a week or so I'll be
    mounting some QFPs that should test it.
     
  6. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    It depends on what exactly your "occasional" uses are. If it's just for
    fixing the doorbell, or the kids' toys - the sort of stuff where a soldering
    iron just hangs on the garage wall for most of the year, and is a handy tool
    to have when yout neighbour pops round with two wires that need soldering
    together - then I agree totally with Michael. Anything of about a 30 or 40
    watt rating that feels comfortable in your hand, and has a variety of tips
    available, should be fine. If, however, it is to be used for work on
    commercial printed circuit boards, you might want to look at something just
    a little more sophisticated. The component packaging density is very high
    now, and many surface mount components are just too small and delicate to be
    dealt with by a 'heated poker', as is a lot of the actual print. Also bear
    in mind that the whole world is going over to lead-free solder in
    production, and this requires an iron with a hotter tip, to work with
    successfully. For a standard non-controlled iron, that represents a conflict
    of characteristics ie small tip - hot - stays hot. In this case, you might
    want to consider a 'basic' temperature controlled iron. Many are really
    quite cheap now, if you don't need real precision, and day in - day out
    workshop reliability.

    Arfa
     
  7. notbob

    notbob Guest

    I've not tried it. I have an older Weller, but am considering a Weller
    WCL100. It's also in your $50 range and has been recommended for SMT
    soldering, something I'm completely ignorant of.

    nb
     
  8. Chuck

    Chuck Guest

    You might consider an ESD-safe model like the Xytronics 137ESD. A very
    nice station for about $80. More than your target price, but may be
    worth the difference.

    Chuck
     
  9. GregS

    GregS Guest



    WLC100 can't see the cord, but looks like a 2 wire ungrounded. I like Xytronics,
    been using them for about 20 years. I used two wire irons a great seal. Never
    blew anything out, in fact, I have soldered powered up units with the ungrounded
    tips. No recommended, but I have actually forgot to turn equipment off when
    repairing !!

    Love my 80 watt Weller !!!

    greg
     
  10. John

    John Guest

    Check out www.mpja.com
    They have a variety of adjustable temperature stations starting under
    $30.

    John
     
  11. Robin

    Robin Guest

    The "Kalashnikov" of soldering irons is (or was) the original Weller
    with its simple built-in "mechanical" temperature regulation.

    Get a fine point number 7 tip for general use and a broad point number
    8 tip for wave-desoldering idc headers.

    Robin
     
  12. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    "Kalashnikov of soldering stations" - I like that ! It's very true as well.
    I have had two Weller Magnastat irons in constant daily use for years, and
    also have a '900 series vacuum desoldering station which uses the same iron.
    Agreed also on the tip choice that you advocate.

    Arfa
     
  13. I must be odd in not much liking Weller. I've had Antex for over 40 years
    and prefer the balance and weight.
     
  14. GregS

    GregS Guest

    After using the Weller WRS 3000 iron, all others I have been using forever,
    seem like holding baseball bats, trying to solder.

    greg
     
  15. Robin

    Robin Guest

    My first iron was an Antex in ~1968. It was really beautiful and tiny
    and it was cheap and lasted for years but only because I looked after
    it, and generally remembered to switch it off.

    You can leave a Weller switched on all week, put it in a bucket of
    water, light fags with it and mend plastic housings. If the magnet-
    switch sticks, hit it on the bench.

    You *can* destroy it by using it as a crowbar but then it is easily
    fixed with a new tip. Production managers wise-up to this by
    restricting new tips to one every couple of months - so the wise
    contractor keeps his own and swaps it, replacing the original when the
    job is done.

    Robin
     
  16. notbob

    notbob Guest

    But! ...be careful of those cords/connectors. One place I worked had
    2 lockers full of dead Wellers. Closer inspection revealed almost
    everyone one of them had cord/connector failures where the iron
    plugged into the power unit.

    nb
     
  17. Robin

    Robin Guest

    You are right. The cord often wears out first.

    But a Weller can even perform it's own abdominal surgery thanks to
    transformer isolation.

    Robin
     
  18. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    LOL double !! You could just strike "Robin" off the bottom of that, and put
    "Arfa" there instead ...

    Arfa
     
  19. Think I had my first one earlier than that. More expensive than the usual
    Henley Solon - in those days.
    Of course mine isn't used 24/7 - it's a sort of paying hobby. But my first
    temperature controlled 50 watt low volt Antex is still fine and only on
    its second element. Must be about 15 years old.

    These days I have a home made solder/desolder station which has two Antex
    hand pieces fitted with the different bits I most use, and two others with
    the next most common which I plug in if required. I made the mistake of
    using a Pace SX80 as the desolder tool and the element on that has a short
    - and expensive - life. Wish I could find an alternative.

    But like all tools it comes down to personal preferences.
     
  20. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    I've always used mostly Wellers, because that's what the company bought. :)
    At home on my own bench, I use the "princess" from RS or one of a couple
    of clunky irons from the hardware store or something.

    Cheers!
    Rich
     
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