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Thread: Soldering iron

  1. #1
    Neophyte
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    Soldering iron

    I want a decent soldering iron, any suggestions?

    Leaning towards plug-in types, not cordless battery or gas powered.

    Mostly for household level stuff, nothing fancy but last couple soldering irons I've had were total poo.

    Perhaps this?
    https://www.amazon.com/Weller-WLC100...qid=1496688031

  2. #2
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    Weller makes some good irons, but the good ones tend to have blue handles. those don't burn your hand as much. That orange one you listed has a tiny point, which I don't find useful.
    I use a Weller WP35 for medium electronics, individual wires soldered together under 16 ga. I use a 3/16" screwdriver tip to make the heat flow faster. For tiny IC's you need the conical pointed tip, but the slow heat flow means you need a hotter iron with temperature control to not overheat. That is like a Weller WES51. If you don't have prime, buying both the iron, tip, and solder in one box from a distributor like newark or mcmelectronics can save money on the freight by getting it all in one box. Buy only in stock stuff, and to a home specify USPS to avoid the home delivery charge.
    If you do more 14 ga automotive stuff, a WP45 iron is more like it.
    For really big stuff I use like pistol type 110-130 W irons, like 12 gauge wire to big resistors or to phone plugs for speakers & stuff. I tend to run the tip orange hot when I am soldering that big stuff.
    Portable, the butane irons working on the cartridges are very effective and easy to control with the valve. Burnzomatic I think is what home Depot sells.
    Soldering 6 ga battery wires for the lawn tractor to make the crimps work more than one year, I use a big propane torch.
    Instead of dropping $50 on a pro holder and sponge, I use an aluminum pie plate to rest the iron on, and a grocery store 6 for $2 sponges. You wipe the iron tip every time.
    Above recommendations are for tin-lead solder, you need temp control for lead free silver solder.
    See Jameco for solderting tutorial.
    For more opinions see tools threads for diyaudio.com forum.
    Last edited by indianajo; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:39 AM.

  3. #3
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    It depends what you want to use it for. "household level stuff" is a bit vague.

    The one you linked to should work for occasional light wire or electronics repair but if you need to solder anything more then say 16 gauge you probally need to go with a gun instead of an iron.

    Like this: https://www.amazon.com/Weller-D550PK...+soldering+gun

  4. #4
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    I've got one of these:
    https://www.doitbest.com/products/30...702d410a003fd6
    It works well enough for what I use it for...mostly guitars.
    I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?

  5. #5
    half-fast
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    I too think I would like a nudge in the right direction, I have a **** one from radio shack, the $10 one, and it is not very nice.

  6. #6
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    There is a place that specializes in this stuff, Circuit Specialists, and they sell the real deal quality stuff at rock bottom prices. They have been around for a long time, and also support it, selling tips and accessories.
    If possible, for "better than junk grade" you want to get a detachable iron, ceramic heater w/ temp feedback, and replaceable tips with many tip styles available.
    This is a great deal for $35. and with 75W should have enough power for almost any job, with the right tip.

    https://www.circuitspecialists.com/7...g-Station.html

    the better version for $59 - this one is also a very good deal for what you get. You save $ as these are not "name brand"
    https://www.circuitspecialists.com/c...g-Station.html
    Last edited by Z'mer; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:05 PM.

  7. #7
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    Here's the $35 one with LCD display for $39.
    https://www.circuitspecialists.com/7...D-Display.html

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    I too think I would like a nudge in the right direction, I have a **** one from radio shack, the $10 one, and it is not very nice.
    Yeah, and don't but the POS that Harbor Freight sells. One repair on the ABS wiring on the Volvo, and the plastic case started melting....
    Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love, it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people, being able to stand things.
    E. M. Forster

  9. #9
    Frog Whisperer
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    I have a 25 year old 15 watt pencil that has served me well.
    I probably paid under 10 bucks for it
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  10. #10
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    If your typical use is for 5 minutes maybe every 3 years, on fine wire, etc, a plug in pencil type is fine. The tip you use, and solder type is most important.
    On the other hand, I assemble circuit boards, and do mods / repairs on vintage audio electronics. So I need a good station, and also have a de-solder station, with ability to surface mount, etc.
    This looks to be a decent pencil type for infrequent but flexible use -
    https://www.amazon.com/Vastar-Full-1...ds=solder+iron

    This also comes in a case with more stuff for $5 more.
    https://www.amazon.com/Vastar-Adjust...ds=solder+iron

    If you need to remove through hole components for repairing electronics, this is a decent tool that I've used for many years. If you use it a lot, you'll need new tips after maybe 50 hours of use.
    https://www.amazon.com/ECG-J-045-DS-...soldering+iron

  11. #11
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    Really depends on what you are looking for. I like the butane powered ones for automotive wiring. Easier when there's no cord in the way.

  12. #12
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    I used to use the pencil-type irons. I killed a handful of them before discovering how stupid they are for my purposes!

    This $100 70 watt unit is the go-to unit for doing reliable and easy soldering. Made by Hakko a respected Japanese brand - think of it as the Shimano of soldering tool companies. Most of the experts in RC flying (most of them professional electronic engineers - can list them for ref if you like) I know of use this one, as do I. And we are spending hours a week using this. The pencil ones (no matter who makes them) can be very frustrating to use in comparison, especially when dealing with wide variety of wire guage and need for fine work on PCB. The pencil-type ones take forever to heat up the subject, and often not up to the task at all, which increases the risk of damage to wires and PCB etc. Also they take too long to get to temp for turn-on.

    Hakko is the standard nowadays for hobbyists. And only a hundred bucks. Above this is the full on rework stations costing a couple hundred or more.

    https://www.amazon.com/Hakko-FX888D-...akko+soldering


    Last edited by BCSaltchucker; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:56 AM.

  13. #13
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    I make a living with a torch. I have re-soldered a new c-mos battery on a motherboard with a torch, many times. There is a marked difference between what you need and foolproof
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  14. #14
    half-fast
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touch0Gray View Post
    I make a living with a torch. I have re-soldered a new c-mos battery on a motherboard with a torch, many times. There is a marked difference between what you need and foolproof
    You're not like the rest of us. I've seen what you can do with fire. You have a gift. The rest of us burn **** up.

  15. #15
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    My son and I used to race electric R/C cars and we used Hakko Soldering stations for all our battery and motor work. On Race days, they were on for 8+ hours and worked great. The Models we used aren't made now, but the Company is still around.

  16. #16
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    I highly recommend propane or natural gas
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  17. #17
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    I'd love to add this tiny portable to my arsenal. For making quick field repairs when racing drones, which inevitably get damaged at the races. Runs off the same batteries we use to power the planes and racing drones. Lots of folks using them. But Hakko mains station at home


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    You're not like the rest of us. I've seen what you can do with fire. You have a gift. The rest of us burn **** up.
    I burn stuff up too...... Not always intentionally
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touch0Gray View Post


    I highly recommend propane or natural gas
    Btw, in the back, is an electronic, resistance soldering machine which I owned for 15 years and never used before I sold it.
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the feedback, still shopping and soaking it all in...

  21. #21
    tka
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    I'm an EE. At home I have a Hakko FX-888D and a couple of cheap pencil irons. The Hakko is a very good, but if I were to do it again I'd spend a little extra and get a Weller WESD51. It is much easier to find Weller tips and replacement parts than it is for the Hakko where I live. You give up some power but I've never found that to be an issue with the WESD51's at work. Tip size/shape is much more important than power for the work I do, particularly with lead-free solder.

    You will also need a good tip cleaner like the Hakko 599, and occasional use of tip bright will keep the tip clean and shiny, but too frequent use will ruin the tip.

  22. #22
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    I just order Hakko tips off Amazon. arrive in a couple days. common item found worldwide. I need new one every 24-36 months or so

  23. #23
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    I read Hakko products are good from others, but never owned one. Almost did, but stepped up and bought a solder/desolder station instead.
    If you go that way, used is OK, and the premium is not that great. I bought this one, the LF-8000 used (like new) with many spare tips on the 'Bay for $170
    Xytronic Lead-Free Solder And De-Solder Station Model LF-8000


    For electronics applications, I never used lead free solder. Plumbing, yes, electronics, no.

    I like the RS #64-035 silver bearing solder, 62-36-2. It flows easily and gives a nice shiny joint. They closed many RS stores, but the local one near me is still open and carries it. Many other people I know who work on audio electronics / kits love this stuff as well. There are other sources for 62-36-2, but none as convenient for me.
    https://www.radioshack.com/products/...-silver-sdr015

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