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Using Arduino => General Electronics => Topic started by: SaintSkinny on Sep 13, 2018, 03:16 pm

Title: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 13, 2018, 03:16 pm
Hey all,
     I'm moving ever forward with my project and one thing I'm going to need is a soldering Iron. I've got a soldering gun, but that's obviously not the best tool for the job. I'm on a stupid tight budget for the time being, so my options are pretty limited.... I considered looking for a used iron but I doubt there's much out there in my price range. I half considered putting a wanted ad on craigslist just saying 'good home to adjustable soldering iron' or something like that, but with my luck I'd end up getting kidnapped or something  :o  :smiley-confuse:

 I had considered running to harbor freight and grabbing a $4 Soldering iron, but after researching I'm under the impression I'll need something adjustable for working on things like Arduino Boards. Is this correct?

Here are a few irons I'm considering, I'd appreciate any input!


Robot Shop 30w adjustable iron (https://www.robotshop.com/en/30w-soldering-iron-adjustable-temperature.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwlejcBRAdEiwAAbj6KeNBrK3Y4t5yeUwukPu0qclDhKyKVqR-vNWV5JkJG6jK7g40NBvL4BoCgoMQAvD_BwE)
(https://www.robotshop.com/media/catalog/product/cache/image/625x625/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/3/0/30w-soldering-iron-adjustable-temperature.jpg)


Circuit Specialists 60w Soldering Station (https://www.circuitspecialists.com/60_Watt_Soldering_Station.html)

(https://www.circuitspecialists.com/content/141439/station%2060-0.jpg)
Power Consumption: 60 W max
VAC Input:110/120VAC
Output Voltage to Soldering Iron: 24VAC
Temperature Range: 200° C to 480° C / 392° F to 896° F
Cord Assembly: 3 ft
Heating element: Dual Core ceramic


Elenco SL-75 Temperature Controlled Soldering Station (https://www.robotshop.com/en/elenco-sl-75-temperature-controlled-soldering-station.html)
(https://www.robotshop.com/media/catalog/product/cache/image/625x625/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/e/l/elenco-sl-75-temperature-controlled-soldering-station_1.jpg)
• Low-cost solder station with manual temperature settings
• 48W heater power
• Temperature range: 350°F - 900°F
• Electronics temperature control
• Power on LED


Ebay 60w adjustable iron (https://www.ebay.com/p/60w-110v-Adjustable-Electric-Temperature-Gun-Welding-Soldering-Iron-Tool-Kit-Set/8013083945?iid=113158583873)
(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/FwcAAOSwVwRbUVG4/s-l640.jpg)
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: pert on Sep 13, 2018, 03:39 pm
The clear favorite for quality low price irons in the hobby electronics world seems to now be the TS100 and TS80 soldering irons. I've seen quite a few reviews from the trusted names and no negatives so far. I think they do give it points for portability, which is not a feature I put any value on, but that's definitely not the sole selling point.

Unfortunately these irons are at a significantly higher price point from the ones you're looking at. What I can tell you is that I would happily trade in my $20 iron and an extra $45 for a TS100 and power supply but since I have a working $20 iron I can't justify buying a new iron. If you're anything like me, you already have a pile of power supplies so you could just buy the iron.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 13, 2018, 03:58 pm
The clear favorite for quality low price irons in the hobby electronics world seems to now be the TS100 and TS80 soldering irons. I've seen quite a few reviews from the trusted names and no negatives so far. I think they do give it points for portability, which is not a feature I put any value on, but that's definitely not the sole selling point.

Unfortunately these irons are at a significantly higher price point from the ones you're looking at. What I can tell you is that I would happily trade in my $20 iron and an extra $45 for a TS100 and power supply but since I have a working $20 iron I can't justify buying a new iron. If you're anything like me, you already have a pile of power supplies so you could just buy the iron.
Those look nice, If things work out I'll have to get one of them down the road. For now I just need something that'll do the job. I'm in the process of starting a little business selling Growroom Data Loggers units and DIY kits, which will hopefully help improve my current financial situation.

Long story short I'm a caregiver for my mom, she's had a couple battles with Leukemia and a Stem cell Transplant, She's over a year from the Transplant and all things considered, is doing okay. that being said, I don't get paid for being her caregiver, so we're living on her SS for the time. Between travel to appointments, meds, etc., The transplant took a pretty big toll on our finances.. I've got medical issues of my own so even if she didn't need me here as often, my options are limited... But where my body fails, my brain prevails, part of my brain at least... So I'm trying to put my skills to good use to get us out of this financial mess. After kicking AML's ass, surviving a month long coma, kicking AML's butt again, then getting through the transplant, I just want to take as much stress off of her as possible so she can enjoy life and relax for a change.

I've got most of the parts for the Data Logger on their way here, I may sell the first as a DIY kit.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: JohnRob on Sep 13, 2018, 06:25 pm
Hi,

Given your cost restraints I understand your goal.

I think the most important requirements are:

1) has enough power to heat up a joint quickly
2) Has a variety of tips to different components.   To replace a 0603 you need a very fine tip and very fine solder.


If you have the above, you could always use a light dimmer to make it adjustable.

Sorry I can't recommend a specific iron :(
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: CurtCarpenter on Sep 13, 2018, 06:38 pm
I've been using one of these  (https://www.ebay.com/itm/937D-Electric-Iron-Soldering-Station-SMD-Welder-Welding-w-Stand-Sponge-ESD-110V/382415394964?epid=1346117148&hash=item5909bbd894:g:OCMAAOSwdytaqgyt) for a few years now -- very similar to the second one you show, but with a temperature display.  I've been happy with it, although the display isn't really necessary. 

If you hunt around a little, you might be able to find one that comes with a spare soldering iron.  It may cost a few more dollars, but will give you peace of mind in case one fails (I've not had one fail yet).

The big advantage of these stations is that they heat up fast, so you can turn the temp. down when not in use and quickly return them to temp. when you need them again.  If you're like me, you'll end up using just two temperatures:  one you decide works best for soldering, and another for idle times.

Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 13, 2018, 06:53 pm
I've been using one of these  (https://www.ebay.com/itm/937D-Electric-Iron-Soldering-Station-SMD-Welder-Welding-w-Stand-Sponge-ESD-110V/382415394964?epid=1346117148&hash=item5909bbd894:g:OCMAAOSwdytaqgyt)for a few years now -- very similar to the second one you show, but with a temperature display.  I've been happy with it, although the display isn't really necessary.  

If you hunt around a little, you might be able to find one that comes with a spare soldering iron.  It may cost a few more dollars, but will give you peace of mind in case one fails (I've not had one fail yet).

The big advantage of these stations is that they heat up fast, so you can turn the temp. down when not in use and quickly return them to temp. when you need them again.  If you're like me, you'll end up using just two temperatures:  one you decide works best for soldering, and another for idle times.


That not too bad a price, I just got a text asking about something I posted on Craigslist awhile back, so if that sells I might be able to swing it. It definitely makes me feel better about a purchase talking to someone that's bought the product.

I think the most important requirements are:

1) has enough power to heat up a joint quickly
2) Has a variety of tips to different components.   To replace a 0603 you need a very fine tip and very fine solder.

That's something I forgot to grab, fine solder. Any specific guage/size I should grab? Just for soldering things like a DHT22 to a PCB or soldering the Uno pins.
 
If you have the above, you could always use a light dimmer to make it adjustable.
Now that you mention it, I do have a rheostat controlled outlet I made for my Seedling Heat Mat. I suppose if need be I could go with the Harbor Freight model and the rheostat just to get me through until I sell a few kits and make enough to buy a decent iron. I wonder if this method would work with my soldering gun as well? Of course I'm assuming the tip that the gun has is way too bulky to use on an Uno or Nano.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: srnet on Sep 13, 2018, 07:05 pm
Buy an iron where you can get (at low cost) a replacement handle.

You will need a fine tip (at a lower tremperature) for a soldering small components such as SMT.

But a fine tip is not a lot of good for soldering wires to connectors or switches, a larger tip and higher temperature is better.

So I have two iron handles, one with a fine tip, the other with a broad chisel tip.

Much easier to swap handles that bits.

 
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: allanhurst on Sep 14, 2018, 01:00 am
If you're doing SMT stuff a hotplate and hot airgun are good.

But you can cheapskate using a domestic oven's grill if you're careful.....

Allan
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: pert on Sep 14, 2018, 01:35 am
That's something I forgot to grab, fine solder. Any specific guage/size I should grab? Just for soldering things like a DHT22 to a PCB or soldering the Uno pins.
I'm using some 0.61 mm. It seems like anything near that size is good for pretty much anything.

I wonder if this method would work with my soldering gun as well?
As long as the gun's wattage doesn't exceed the rating of the rheostat it should work fine. I ended up doing the same thing years ago with a light dimmer switch and a cheapo soldering iron I use as a stencil burner.

I'm assuming the tip that the gun has is way too bulky to use on an Uno or Nano.
Give it a try. Larger tips are actually better for most things because they can transfer heat more effectively and don't cool down as much. Ideal is a larger tip that comes to a point somewhere so you can get precision when you need it or large contact surface area when you don't. The conical tips are hard to work with because you never get a lot of contact surface and so they won't transfer enough heat where there is any significant amount of metal (on the component or the board).

So I have two iron handles, one with a fine tip, the other with a broad chisel tip.

Much easier to swap handles that bits.  
The modern tips pull right out of the handles. It seems like it would be much faster to use a heat proof tool to swap tips than trying to untangle the cables of two handles.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: dougp on Sep 14, 2018, 02:57 am
I read on this board some months ago that distilled water is recommended for cleaning/wiping the tip as tap water, etc. contains dissolved minerals/chemicals which deteriorate the tip.  Just sayin'.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: CrossRoads on Sep 14, 2018, 04:18 am
We/ve been using brass sponges for cleaning tips. Works well, no shock cooling from cold water on a sponge.  Tho I did that for a long time too.  We've also  been living in places with soft water.
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8964 (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8964)
Got a bag of 5 and a holder for them, I think from our 'local' electronics shop.

Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: srnet on Sep 14, 2018, 08:01 am
It seems like it would be much faster to use a heat proof tool to swap tips than trying to untangle the cables of two handles.
Not when I tried it.

Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Wawa on Sep 14, 2018, 08:05 am
In NZ those brass scouring sponges are known as "Goldilocks (https://www.officemax.co.nz/Images/ProductImages/500/3615146.jpg)".
I think Scotch-Brite sells them as "Gold Scourer (http://www.attwoods.co.nz/files/large/3304/315GOLD.jpg?height=480)"
Available in any supermarket.
Leo..
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Watcher on Sep 14, 2018, 12:21 pm
In NZ those brass scouring sponges are known as "Goldilocks (https://www.officemax.co.nz/Images/ProductImages/500/3615146.jpg)".
I think Scotch-Brite sells them as "Gold Scourer (http://www.attwoods.co.nz/files/large/3304/315GOLD.jpg?height=480)"
Available in any supermarket.
Leo..
And on ebay  (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Soldering-Solder-Iron-Tip-Cleaner-Heavy-Duty-Welding-Steel-Cleaning-Wire-Ball/312126737614?hash=item48ac340cce:g:fsAAAOSwm3Ba7qQE)dead cheap as well!
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 14, 2018, 04:51 pm
Is tip tinner a necessity or can I get by with coating my tip with a bit of rosin core solder?
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: srnet on Sep 14, 2018, 07:23 pm
Is tip tinner a necessity or can I get by with coating my tip with a bit of rosin core solder?
Not a necessity as in you dont need to stop soldering if you dont have one.

However they are well worth having, so much easier to clean and tin the tip.

I bought the standard tin of Multicore Tip cleaner (15g) about 30 years ago, around 30% used so far, so they do last.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: westfw on Sep 15, 2018, 12:57 pm
It's important, IMO, to get a "temperature controlled" iron, rather than just an "adjustable" iron.

It might require some digging to figure out which is which, when looking at an iron with a dial...
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 15, 2018, 02:01 pm
It's important, IMO, to get a "temperature controlled" iron, rather than just an "adjustable" iron.

It might require some digging to figure out which is which, when looking at an iron with a dial...

That's a good point. I'm gonna have to keep that in mind when I shop for a more permanent iron. For now I went with this $4 ebay iron (https://www.ebay.com/itm/XOOL-60W-IRON-SOLDERING-GUN-Electric-Welding-Heat-Pencil-Solder-Tool-110V/253770977164?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=553050844502&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649) to get me through the first couple projects.

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/IoIAAOSwcc9bVYjT/s-l500.jpg)
I dont have much in the way of expectations when it comes to this thing, I figured if it's junk I'm out less than five dollars, and I can go grab one from harbor freight instead.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 15, 2018, 08:53 pm
The last two are garbage. They are just a lamp dimmer (phase control PWM) with no temperature feedback.

Just because an iron is labeled in degrees, does not mean it has feedback. Just because it says "adjustable temperature", does not mean it has feedback.

The Circuit Specialist iron says "A front panel led will blink while the system is heating and then once the set temperature has been acquired, it will stop  blinking and stay on." That indicates temperature feedback.

I would not trust the Robot Shop iron. It only says "Adjustable Temperature", and in one place it says 30W, in two other places it says 60W.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 16, 2018, 07:45 pm
The last two are garbage. They are just a lamp dimmer (phase control PWM) with no temperature feedback.

Just because an iron is labeled in degrees, does not mean it has feedback. Just because it says "adjustable temperature", does not mean it has feedback.

The Circuit Specialist iron says "A front panel led will blink while the system is heating and then once the set temperature has been acquired, it will stop  blinking and stay on." That indicates temperature feedback.

I would not trust the Robot Shop iron. It only says "Adjustable Temperature", and in one place it says 30W, in two other places it says 60W.
So the circuit specialist would be the best option of the 4 in the OP?
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 18, 2018, 06:08 pm
So the circuit specialist would be the best option of the 4 in the OP?
I would say so.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: ocsav on Sep 19, 2018, 02:56 pm
I have a nº 2, with some other branding and it is ok, there are very cheap compatible tips on ebay so you can order what you need for a few bucks.

Just stay away from the very cheap 220V (or 110V in your case) AC irons where the tip is just a cooper(ish) rod, most of the times they will just burn the pads out from the PCB, an iron like the nº 2 will not.

About solder, choose something with about 0.6 - 0.8 mm with rosin core (no acid flux core), any 60/40 (60% lead, 40% tin) will do, but if you can spare just a bit more go for a 63/37, they look to be a bit better.
But if you're buying solder from china remember that you'll get what you're paying for... not much :-(

If you're using a wet sponge, distilled/deionized water is just a bit better but, really, for you or me it is not important. But grab a brass "sponge" it is much better and will not cool your iron.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 20, 2018, 08:51 pm
(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/IoIAAOSwcc9bVYjT/s-l500.jpg)
I dont have much in the way of expectations when it comes to this thing, I figured if it's junk I'm out less than five dollars, and I can go grab one from harbor freight instead.
I have a few of those. I mean that exact shape, but with two different brand names on them. They are just a lamp dimmer. Temperature takes a long time to stabilize, then it drops very quickly when you start soldering, and takes a long time to recover.

It is literally just a triac, diac, and the resistors and capacitors for a lamp dimmer.

$4 is too much.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 21, 2018, 08:28 pm
I have a few of those. I mean that exact shape, but with two different brand names on them. They are just a lamp dimmer. Temperature takes a long time to stabilize, then it drops very quickly when you start soldering, and takes a long time to recover.

It is literally just a triac, diac, and the resistors and capacitors for a lamp dimmer.

$4 is too much.
I can't say I'm surprised, that's about all I expected for the price.... But luckily I won't have to use it for long :) ... I was talking with my Dad the other day and at some point I mentioned something about the iron I got from ebay. Yesterday I got an email saying he was sending me a decent iron and that it'd be here Saturday. YAY!  :smiley-cool:  
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: ocsav on Sep 21, 2018, 10:53 pm
My 1st iron, back in 1988 was 220V job with a hood handle, without any kind of regulation it heated like crazy, the point was a cooper(ish) cylinder about 3 or 4mm thick without any kind of coating, that I had to file almost every day because it become pitted and corroded after a few hours of use.
Maybe the electronic solder (as it was called here) back then had acid flux inside instead of rosin or maybe it was just the heat...
I only used it for about 3 months, when I was able to buy a much better one that I still have today.
But in a fix, it would do the job, but you risk the pads and traces specially when trying to remove a component.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 22, 2018, 04:12 pm
It wasn't the rosin or flux, it was the solder. Copper is soluble in molten solder. That is why tips are iron plated, now, and why you should never file or sand an iron plated soldering iron tip.

Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 22, 2018, 04:24 pm
I did a teardown of a Tenma branded copy of the Weller WLC100, another lamp dimmer soldering station I would not buy on a dare. Just like the one pictured above, there are dozens of them with different brands printed on them, but all the same.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41DWr45UuAL.jpg)

https://youtu.be/HJynLwsqnts (https://youtu.be/HJynLwsqnts)

Having a threaded ring to hold in the tip was a terrible idea, as the heat/cool cycles while using it cause it to unscrew itself, sometimes literally in minutes. The three little dents used to hold in the bit the collar threads onto, similarly loosens itself from heat/cool cycles.

It takes a long time to get to equilibrium temperature, then drops 100F or more while soldering one connection. Then takes around 10 minutes to get back to equilibrium. I find that if I turn it up enough to stay hot enough to solder, it will heat until the tip burns black when back in the holder. So I had to turn it up to use it, turn it back down to put it back in the holder. And keep pliers handy to keep tightening the collar. And watch out for the entire tip/collar/retaining ring falling out. I'm not exaggerating.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: ocsav on Sep 22, 2018, 11:04 pm
It wasn't the rosin or flux, it was the solder. Copper is soluble in molten solder. That is why tips are iron plated, now, and why you should never file or sand an iron plated soldering iron tip.
At the time that 'new' tips were called 'long duration' and here (in Portugal) were only available (for the public, it could have been different in the pro market) in fancy brands like JBC. All the cheaper irons just had the cooper rod.
The one I still have is only marked DAHER 30W 220V, the original box is gone, but I am quite sure that I bought it as being a JBC (I can't find any info about but the tips do look like the JBCs, with that small spring on the top), the tip is not the original because I changed it to a smaller one in the 90's but it is still very very shiny.
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=568383.0;attach=275125)
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 23, 2018, 12:33 am
I did a teardown of a Tenma branded copy of the Weller WLC100, another lamp dimmer soldering station I would not buy on a dare. Just like the one pictured above, there are dozens of them with different brands printed on them, but all the same.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41DWr45UuAL.jpg)


Is the WLC100 a 'lamp-dimmer' too? Or were the clones just putting a rheostat in a similar looking enclosure? the WLC100 is what my Dad sent me, it just came in this afternoon. Either way it's better than the ebay piece I was going to use
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Paul__B on Sep 23, 2018, 12:55 am
I think we can presume that a real Weller will do it properly.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: allanhurst on Sep 23, 2018, 12:59 am
Correct.

I have an ancient magnetostat Weller TCP, and it still works fine.

For modern stuff I use Metcal irons  . Good, but not cheap.

Allan
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Paul__B on Sep 23, 2018, 01:02 am
I have an ancient magnetostat Weller TCP, and it still works fine.
I suspect most of us "oldies" do, but spare parts are the killer.  :smiley-eek:
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: allanhurst on Sep 23, 2018, 01:08 am
Yep - the day it irrevocably dies I shall be sorry. A good workhorse for many years.
You could get pretty much any part till about 10 years ago.

I wonder if the modern kit will last as long? Or will be so well supported in spares?

But this is pro stuff - $5 would never buy a Weller. If you're going to take electronics seriously  a good iron is essential in my view. Don't cheapskate here.

The big advance is to put the heating element in the tip - more heat efficient and very fast response.
Metcal did this years ago.

The TS100 has many good reviews - I'm tempted.

Allan
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: westfw on Sep 23, 2018, 03:55 am
My Weller TCP cost something like $70 when I bought it in 1981 (got it at the Heathkit Store!), and it lasted till just a couple of years ago (although it didn't really get used very much, software geek that I became...)
Replaced it with one of those Hakko irons from Adafruit (for quite a bit less than the ~$200 that $70 would be worth now, according to inflation calculators.)
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: DrAzzy on Sep 23, 2018, 06:12 am
I exclusively use Weller irons with the ugly green housing (they switched to other colored housing at around the same time that they were bought out and became only a brand name). I would recommend a used Weller iron over any of the new production crap that seems to dominate the market now.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 23, 2018, 01:58 pm
I think we can presume that a real Weller will do it properly.

Good to hear!  :) I googled the model and it had good reviews on most places I checked, and they seemed to be legitimate, but then again it is the internet.... It's not always easy to tell who's got real reviews and who's paid to have them written. That's actually one of the main reasons I posted this, I've trusted the wrong reviews a couple times and ended up with junk. But alot of people are surprised that you can find decent items for decent prices if you put some work into it.

Having a threaded ring to hold in the tip was a terrible idea, as the heat/cool cycles while using it cause it to unscrew itself, sometimes literally in minutes. The three little dents used to hold in the bit the collar threads onto, similarly loosens itself from heat/cool cycles.

It takes a long time to get to equilibrium temperature, then drops 100F or more while soldering one connection. Then takes around 10 minutes to get back to equilibrium. I find that if I turn it up enough to stay hot enough to solder, it will heat until the tip burns black when back in the holder. So I had to turn it up to use it, turn it back down to put it back in the holder. And keep pliers handy to keep tightening the collar. And watch out for the entire tip/collar/retaining ring falling out. I'm not exaggerating.
Sounds just like the way my Ebay Iron was built! the tip screws into the end of the collar, and the retaining ring holds the collar to the body (I think I used the right terminology, I honestly know more about names of the parts of a plant or flower than I do about the names of the pieces of a soldering Iron lol.

I showed Momma Saint (my Mom) my new iron and even she could tell the difference, the weller has a bit more weight and a more 'solid feel'... By solid feel, I mean I'm not worried about anything falling into my lap when I'm working!  :o Not to mention if that happens I'll have to explain the oddly placed scars to every girlfriend I ever have again lol

 After looking at the Tenma and comparing it to the Weller, it seems like they just used the cheapest parts they could find and built a movie prop version of the WLC100. I can't tell for sure, but is the Tenma iron attached to the base permanently? One of the first things I noticed about the WLC is that it's Iron doesn't require the station to work, which I could see coming in handy in certain situations.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: TomGeorge on Sep 23, 2018, 03:26 pm
Hi,
My field work soldering iron;
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=568383.0;attach=275183)

My work soldering iron;
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=568383.0;attach=275187)

My home soldering iron;
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=568383.0;attach=275185)

I like the Weller for field work as its simple and field repairable, and the tips are compact to store.

Tom... :)
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: polymorph on Sep 23, 2018, 09:43 pm
I would NOT assume that the Weller WLC100 does it "the right way", just because Weller also has better irons. It has a dial labeled only in a few numbers.

"Variable power control dial adjusts performance from 5-Watts to 40-Watts for accuracy" (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Weller-5-Watt-to-40-Watt-Soldering-Station-WLC100/100130478)

In addition, although the base is grounded, the soldering pencil that comes with it is not. Not a good idea with modern MOSFET and CMOS circuitry. Quite a bad idea, in fact.

And I've seen a lot of cheap irons with good reviews. Have you read the Amazon reviews? Often, they received it, it looked shiny, so they left a 5 star review without using it or after only soldering a few joints. And if you've never used a good soldering iron, will you be able to tell?

I've used a lot of crappy irons in my career. Just about every place I've worked, I've been contract labor and had to buy my own equipment. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you =can= blame your tools, and that cheap tools are expensive in the end.

I have a Weller WTCP (magnetostat) iron that I used for a long time, it works great. I found that for lead-free solder, I needed finer temperature control than merely 600, 700, or 800F. So I bought another Weller, this time with digital temperature control.

I've also come to the conclusion that a simple soldering pencil with no power control, that just plugs in and regulates temperature by virtue of the PTC of the element and the design of the iron is better than any lamp dimmer controlled overpowered iron.
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 24, 2018, 01:28 pm
I would NOT assume that the Weller WLC100 does it "the right way", just because Weller also has better irons. It has a dial labeled only in a few numbers.
Uh oh, did I just get into the electrical engineers version of Ford VS Chevy? lol

"Variable power control dial adjusts performance from 5-Watts to 40-Watts for accuracy" (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Weller-5-Watt-to-40-Watt-Soldering-Station-WLC100/100130478)

In addition, although the base is grounded, the soldering pencil that comes with it is not. Not a good idea with modern MOSFET and CMOS circuitry. Quite a bad idea, in fact.

I noticed that as well. Just a shot in the dark here, but could someone add a ground if they felt it necessary?

And I've seen a lot of cheap irons with good reviews. Have you read the Amazon reviews? Often, they received it, it looked shiny, so they left a 5 star review without using it or after only soldering a few joints. And if you've never used a good soldering iron, will you be able to tell?

right, not to mention those getting paid for said review. It's hard to know where to look to find an honest review, but amazon isn't it. Even when I check some DIY or electrical blogs, I'm never 100% sure they don't have some hidden motive to bump it up a couple stars.


I've used a lot of crappy irons in my career. Just about every place I've worked, I've been contract labor and had to buy my own equipment. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you =can= blame your tools, and that cheap tools are expensive in the end.
Been there... I can't tell you how many times I had to run (okay walk) to buy a socket from the auto parts store after breaking one from a china kit when working on my truck... That is if I was lucky and didn't round the head off first. Back then my screw extractor kit never left my toolbox. Then I turned 18 and I started getting old lol Okay Maybe old isn't the right word, but my shoulders were worn out (thanks Ehlers Danlos syndrome)and I couldn't handle the physical work all the time.

Sometimes I miss mechanical work, but my Buick was kind enough to blow a brake line in the worst possible place, so I've been playing with that for a couple weeks SMH I don't miss it anymore



Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: SaintSkinny on Sep 24, 2018, 01:56 pm
I suppose down the line I could always just build my own like this one here (https://hackaday.com/2018/09/22/diy-arduino-soldering-iron-hits-version-2-0/)

Or I could go WAY HARDCORE with this guy (https://hackaday.com/2018/09/18/soldering-like-its-205-bc/)

Tonight were gonna solder like it's 205 BC!
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Perehama on Sep 24, 2018, 02:01 pm
The Atten SA-50 is a temp controlled and adjustable pen-style soldering iron able to do SMT parts, through hole parts and heavier parts. It's tips are compatible with HAKKO tips.(https://cdn-shop.adafruit.com/970x728/2163-01.jpg)
Under $30 (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2163)
Title: Re: Soldering Option help
Post by: Perehama on Sep 24, 2018, 03:54 pm
Hey all,
     I'm moving ever forward with my project and one thing I'm going to need is a soldering Iron. I've got a soldering gun, but that's obviously not the best tool for the job.
I am assuming by "gun" you mean a pistol grip automotive 100 watt iron that would destroy anything smaller in diameter than a wire coat hanger.
I'm on a stupid tight budget for the time being, so my options are pretty limited....
What is your budget?
I'm under the impression I'll need something adjustable for working on things like Arduino Boards. Is this correct?
As westfw pointed out, it's more important to get an iron that is temperature controlled than adjustable. An adjustable iron will give you the ability to dial in the right temperature for the work you will be doing. Heavier parts have more thermal mass and are suited to higher tip temperatures than lighter parts. Brands and budget aside, a soldering iron should meet a bare minimum standard. There are three things budget irons commonly get wrong. They frequently lack temperature control, use a set screw to fix the tip to the heating element, and pass voltage to the tip. Above this minimum standard, that the unit be temp controlled, that it use a collar to attach the tip and that it electrically isolate the tip, everything else is as budget allows.