problemchild
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:08 am
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Yes kits tend to cost more than the PI but that's pretty much par for the course.

Also I'd get a 50W + Iron because they can deliver a better rate of heating. 15w units are just too easy to quench the heat out of. Just because the iron has a large wattage doesn't make it crude and "hotter" far from it, it gives the potential for better control. Profesional kit is mostly 70W upwards for that reason !!

dhb
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:21 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:50 am

To anyone in the US still looking for an economy soldering iron, Fry's has a "50 Watt Solder Station" in this weeks sale (thru next Thursday) for $14.99.  It is described as having "Manual Temperature Setting" in the ad.  I was curious about it and grabbed one from the local store.  The iron, a spare tip, a small package of solder, and a "flashing led kit" from the educational aisle was under $25 including tax.

I easily assembled the kit, transistors, resistors, caps, wires, & leds with the bargain iron and the only problem was my rusty skills.  Not complicated, with only 30 thru hole leads to solder (to a solder mask single sided board), but comparable to some of the simpler projects mentioned.  The temperature control seems to be no more than a "dimmer switch" to adjust the power, but it works well enough and having the stand and sponge saves the extra expense of more accessories.

If you've got the budget for a better station, I don't think it would be wasted if you will be doing a lot of soldering.  If you will be assembling one kit or even doing light duty occasional use you can do (and I have done) a lot worse than this iron.

Link:  http://www.frys.com/product/48.....IN_RSLT_PG

Neil
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:10 am
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:37 pm

adsdad said:

Looking back, I'm wondering whether the absolute-cheapest Maplin's soldering iron might have been a major hindrance. Does anyone have any recommendations on good soldering irons? Currently I'm only planning on building a Gertboard and then looking for further inspiration, so it doesn't have to be very heavy duty, or able to heat large masses.
UK availability is necessary, cheapness is good (but not to the point that I'm likely to find it just too difficult and give up grumpily).


Learning a skill with poor quality tools results in poor quality learning.  Many people prefer not to believe that, to their personal cost.

It depends what your budget is.  Top of the shop would be Metcal or JBC, but way above your price point.  Weller is your next best level.  You do want temperature-controlled, but to begin with I don't think you need fine adjustment.  A Weller will last you the rest of your life.  I've heard good reports on Hakko and Xytronix soldering stations, but they may be more complex than you need.

I'd steer clear of Maplin and look at Rapid or Farnell.  I'd look at:

Xytronix 169 station with a selection of bits (£74.57 + P&P + VAT from Rapid);

http://www.rapidonline.com/Too.....69-85-5486

Oh, and yes to silicone cables, you really do need the flexibility when you're working on smaller stuff.

To make the experience easy for you, I'd also suggest getting a tip cleaner.  If you have a dirty tip you will struggle with making good solder joints.

And start with leaded solder as its much much easier to use than lead-free (although there are some good ones now on the market, such as Multicore - just need a hotter tip and keep it clean).

Cheers,

Neil

carlosfm
Posts: 132
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:23 pm
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:54 am

I recommend the Hakko Presto (980 in my case, or the 981 gun if you prefer) for a number of reasons:

1. Not utterly cheap, but not expensive (~25 Euros).

2. It heats up almost instantly, it takes seconds.

3. It works at 20 Watts but jumps to 130 Watts (for the more demanding stuff) at the push of a button, very quickly. The switch gets used and abused and it just lasts and lasts…

4. If you buy original tips (Made in Japan) they last for years, working on a daily basis. On most other "reputed" brands (JBC, Weller, Ersa…) the tips don"t last much.

5. It's unbreakable. It works for years and works and works… it can work 24 hours a day – cheap stuff just breaks on the second day.

6. For the money, there's nothing like it. IME.

Someone else that likes it as much as I do:

http://www.jestineyong.com/?p=196
Do you Pi?

User avatar
Frank Buss
Posts: 92
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:39 pm
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:09 am

I'm using an Ersa i-CON. I've used cheap soldering irons before and it makes really a difference, e.g. if you try to solder something to big ground planes. But it depends what you want to do with it. If you just solder simple boards with lots of through hole parts like the Gertboard, and not much at all, I would recommend to start with a cheap soldering iron. Any temperature regulated one is a good beginning.

User avatar
rurwin
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 4258
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 pm
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:44 am

This is the one that built a Science of Cambridge MK14 and an Acorn Atom, plus loads more stuff over the years:

Antex CS18 (I think it was the 15watt one, but with this tip)

This is the one I have now

RS DS50 Digital Soldering Station

Frankly, I miss the parallel tip. It was far easier to get into tight places. Although now I do not have to worry about getting out a different iron for anything approaching large, the Antex was perfect for general PCB work.

j0z0r
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:46 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:32 am

I'd have to second the vote for Weller. I've got a W-60 with a couple tips that was passed down to me from my father. It does excellent work, although I will prolly upgrade to a temperature controller station sometime in the future. Can't complain for it being thirty years old!

User avatar
Jessie
Posts: 1754
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:40 pm
Location: C/S CO USA

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:37 am

I use the cheapest Weller I could find.  It was $15 at a hardware store, and here is the kicker... my wife lost the fine tip so I use a big fat chisel tip.  I should get another, but I've gotten pretty good at using just the corner of that chisel tip, I made a whole prototype board for my STM32 F4 setup with it.

SeanD
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:25 am
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:16 am

When I moved to the US I treated myself to a Hakko FX-888 soldering station replacing a couple of Wellers I had been using in the UK.  I was in awe of the thing on the second or third joint I soldered.  Wast to come up to temperature and keeps it wonderfully and also very easy to handle.  However not cheap, but it will last a long time so for my use good value for money.

And modern solder may be good for the environment but it is not a patch on the real thing.

Steady_Bear
Posts: 110
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:06 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:00 pm

I use high end irons at work, and an Antex 25W at home (too tight to spend more). The Antex is plenty good enough - although not as good as the kit at work - there is one important thing to note:

The kit at work, when allowed to 'burn'*, is a lot harder to use then a cheaper iron that has been cared for. So care for your iron!

The brass shavings are definitely better than a wet sponge, a sponge is better than nothing.

Tip cleaner (the little pots of nasty) are good to have for the odd time you neglect your end (although lots of leaded solder can also clean the tip).

Solder braid / wick (cleaner) - the braid used to remove excess solder from the board is good to have.

Leaded solder was 'The Solder' for decades. There is a reason for this (and not just cost). If anyone is ever throwing it out, rip their arms off for the stuff. Worst bit with AgSn is the dull finish...

I've never needed flux, but it can be helpful.

You can solder 0402s with chunky chisel tips (I found out through lazine..) - but this takes experience. So get a 0.5mm (failing that 1mm) point tip if you're doing fine work. They're only a few quid.

Your mileage may vary.

*Yep, lots of people don't care for kit.

plugwash
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 3517
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:45 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:42 am

adsdad said:


- PVC or silicone cable?


The main advantage of silicone is that it doesn't melt when you accidently touch it with the soldering iron. Highly reccomended.


- bits (just use the one that comes with the Antex or try a different shape)


I've mostly just used what came with the iron but a smaller bit probablly makes sense if you have bought a cheap iron that comes with a big bit by default.


- good cheap thin solder (probably doesn't exist)


As long as you aren't planning to sell what you make good old tin-lead solder with rosin cores is still good and is pretty economical.


- cheap electronics kits to experiment with (haven't looked at Maplin's recently, but historically their kits were uninspiring, and cost more than a RasPi for a rubbish kit -- an LED dice with a total of eight states...)


maplin don't do their own kits anymore, they just resell velemann stuff which while better than the old maplin kits in some ways (for example they come with soldermasked PCBs) are IMO highly uninspiring. In particular they seem to come with no documentation explaining how the things actualy work.


- places to buy this stuff from (in UK or cheap delivery to the UK)


Farnell and rapid seem to be the main options. There is also CPC (owned by farnell but still run pretty seperately it seems) who generally have cheaper prices than farnell but less selection. Finally there RS but i've heard they don't like dealing with indivduals.

Moving further afield mouser are pretty good for components if your order is large enough to get free delivery but thier small order charge is bloody high and I don't think they will ship soldering equipment to the UK.

Digikey have similar small order charges to mouser but are far more of a PITA to deal with.

P.S. of the irons i've used my favorite is the weller WMP, lightweight, quick to heat up and with enough power to tackle the vast majority of jobs but at £124+vat for the iron and £133+vat for the WD1 base to drive it it's far too expensive for occasional hobby use.

User avatar
rurwin
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 4258
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 pm
Contact: Website

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:03 am

RS (http://rswww.com) are fine dealing with individuals, and they tend to have lower minimum order charges than Farnell. I look at RS first and go to Farnell only if RS can't help. They also have branches you can visit to avoid even P&P. I once wanted two diodes, chose the ones from the catalogue that had no minimum order, and picked them up, for a total cost of around 5p.

User avatar
oliviawiliams
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 9:24 am

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:38 am

Hello! I've found one website to buy soldering stations. There are s lot of diferrent professional tools. May somebody recommend me what is better to buy to begin. It seems to me that this one is good https://toolboom.com/en/mini-soldering- ... ot-px-601/. May somebody tell me opinion on that?

Heater
Posts: 14430
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:34 pm

Grief, that is an 80 Watt iron. You could build a ship with that! Also not so cheap.

Times have moved on since this thread started. Maplin is with us no more. Soldering iron technology has moved ahead.

If you want to solder components to circuit boards and such to day I would go for the TS100.

It has very good reviews from guys who do a lot of soldering. It has good temperature control, what with the temp sensor being so close to the business end. It does not need an big ugly controller box taking up space on your bench.

At 40 odd Euro from many sellers on ebay I would say it is a good deal.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TS100-65W-Digi ... 3338256597

When I'm done with the summer holidays I'll be getting a TS100 for my winter projects.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

User avatar
Z80 Refugee
Posts: 358
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:02 pm

...but don't forget the TS100 requires some kind of finger guard before it could be considered safe (easily made).
Military and Automotive Electronics Design Engineer (retired)

For the best service: make your thread title properly descriptive, and put all relevant details in the first post (including links - don't make us search)!

Heater
Posts: 14430
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:02 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:43 pm

It does not "require" any kind of finger guard.

Sure you might singe some fingers when grabbing the wrong end absentmindedly. The searing pain might be a whole new experience.

I wager, you will only do it once. Lesson learned, no harm done.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

User avatar
Z80 Refugee
Posts: 358
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:42 pm

I think you are wrong. It is very easy to apply a bit too much pressure in an effort to improve the thermal contact, and if you aren't gripping tightly enough... Bear in mind it will be the fingers of your right hand (assuming you are right handed) that get burned - what you use to write, eat, scratch...

An extra ridge in the handle near the hot end is all that is required, and I am incredulous that the handle of the TS100 is the same profile all the way along. I regard it as unsafe, and I suspect so would the BSI. Potentially, they may be illegal to import. If you have a TS100, I strongly recommend you adapt it to provide a guard (even just an O ring superglued around the handle near the hot end would do, or as a last resort wrap a rubber band), or stop using it.

It's all very well saying "be careful", but that doesn't excuse poor design when it would have been so simple to design it properly. Don't come crying when it's your fingers that get burned, and if you've experienced the enduring pain of more than a casual dab with a soldering iron you wouldn't be wishing it on anyone else. A casual dab is bad enough, and a sufficient learning experience.

In the event that anyone does burn themselves: immerse the affected area in running cold water ASAP, for a minimum of 15 minutes. The imperative is to get any remaining heat out if the tissues to limit the damage. Delay just cooks more flesh, and don't be in a hurry to stop with the cold water.
Military and Automotive Electronics Design Engineer (retired)

For the best service: make your thread title properly descriptive, and put all relevant details in the first post (including links - don't make us search)!

nes_pi
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:35 am

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:13 am

I have a pre digital Hakko 888, it's great but i've lost one and destroyed the cable on another of the removable iron handles. I still have the base which works fine, which is the only reason i haven't bought an Aoyue soldering station, which can be bought for very little money. I've seen longtime electrical engineers heartily recommend sub $40 aoyue soldering stations. Wish they were on the market when i bought my hakko!

achrn
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:22 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 am

Z80 Refugee wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:42 pm
I think you are wrong. It is very easy to apply a bit too much pressure in an effort to improve the thermal contact, and if you aren't gripping tightly enough... Bear in mind it will be the fingers of your right hand (assuming you are right handed) that get burned - what you use to write, eat, scratch...

An extra ridge in the handle near the hot end is all that is required, and I am incredulous that the handle of the TS100 is the same profile all the way along. I regard it as unsafe, and I suspect so would the BSI. Potentially, they may be illegal to import. If you have a TS100, I strongly recommend you adapt it to provide a guard (even just an O ring superglued around the handle near the hot end would do, or as a last resort wrap a rubber band), or stop using it.
In my opinion a soldering iron does not require a finger guard, and I've never burnt myself on an iron when using it properly. I did once knock an iron off a desk and grabbed it by reflex not realising it was at temperature. That was quite painful, but a finger guard would not have helped.

If you're leaning on an iron hard enough for your fingers to slip, you're doing it wrong, in my opinion (or using the wrong tool).

Do you actually have knowledge of a BS that mandates the profile of soldering iron handles? Can you cite? There are more dangerous things that don't have ridges such as you describe (for example, a classic Stanley knife - that's a slippier surface, and tapered, and more likely to require some pressure (even when properly sharp) so actually rather worse than the scenario here).

User avatar
Z80 Refugee
Posts: 358
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:53 pm

Re: Soldering iron recommendations

Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:36 am

Each to his own, but something for a prospective purchaser to consider.
achrn wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 am
If you're leaning on an iron hard enough for your fingers to slip, you're doing it wrong, in my opinion (or using the wrong tool).
Most accidents are the result of user error, that doesn't mean you shouldn't make them less likely.

If the TS100 had a small ridge at the hot end of the handle (much like the 15W Antex), would it be that much less attractive? What I am saying is that the TS100 could have been made safer than it is, with very few cons (if any).
achrn wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:33 am
Do you actually have knowledge of a BS that mandates the profile of soldering iron handles?
If there isn't, there should be. My direct knowledge only extends to electrical and electronics compliance, but the range of safety aspects dealt with in other areas would certainly cover this, and it is an omission if not. The BS's, ISOs, etc are not easy to come by (except by paying lots of money).
Military and Automotive Electronics Design Engineer (retired)

For the best service: make your thread title properly descriptive, and put all relevant details in the first post (including links - don't make us search)!

Return to “Off topic discussion”