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Topic: Soldering iron (Read 8108 times) previous topic - next topic

travalon

Just starting out and I know I will need a reliable soldering iron. Which one do you use? What wattage do you recommend as a minimum? Thanks

dankgus

#1
Mar 18, 2015, 06:02 am Last Edit: Mar 18, 2015, 06:03 am by dankgus
Just starting out and I know I will need a reliable soldering iron. Which one do you use? What wattage do you recommend as a minimum? Thanks
Do you want one that will last nearly forever and you will love using every time?  One that requires almost no maintenance?

Weller WTCPT.

When I was just starting out I bought one, it was a huge expense for me at the time but I never looked back and was happy about buying it every time I used it.  I lost it somehow in a move/divorce and just tonight I ordered another for my upcoming arduino project.  They are $140 on amazon.

I can't say enough good about them.  The tip that comes installed is a 700 degree tip and it's small enough for small work and can push plenty of heat into large jobs too.  I think it's a 60w iron, PLENTY! Seriously, do yourself a favor and buy the WTCPT.  I am not even kidding, this iron is life changing.

--Dan

weedpharma

I use a 240v Weller controlled temperature soldering iron and I am very happy with it.

Weedpharma

Paul__B

Weller WTCPT.

They are $140 on Amazon.
Just looked around.  You do not want to get spares for them from Element 14 - the quoted prices are astronomical!

(And I have needed the spares over the years.)

Paul_KD7HB

I concur with the Weller. You will need to learn to keep the tip clean and to replace the little transformer inside the wand. The downside of the Weller is the cord strain relief. One of the three wires will eventually break at that point if you use it regularly and use a whipping motion to get the cord out of the way.

I finally gave up on repairing and replacing the cords at work. Assemblers never learned to not whip the cord around. They all do it!

Paul

travalon

#5
Mar 18, 2015, 06:17 pm Last Edit: Mar 18, 2015, 06:51 pm by travalon
Thank you for your responses. Over the years I have just used the cheap impulse buy irons when getting supplies for projects. Had I invested in a good iron way back I wouldn't be asking now. $150 is a little steep for me right now. What do you think of this  one?

Hakko Digital FX888D http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AWUFVY8/?tag=bsolderingstation-20

Also, what would you rate as the top 3 brands? I definitely want one with temp display.

@ Paul - I'm relatively proficient at hacking broken thins together and getting them to work. Just curious about the transformer. Is it a drop in module with screw connections? Does it apply to all Wellers? After reading some reviews, what is the indication the transformer needs to be replaced? I'm assuming it wont turn on.

Thank you again

DrAzzy

#6
Mar 18, 2015, 06:18 pm Last Edit: Mar 18, 2015, 06:45 pm by DrAzzy
I use an older (ancient) Weller iron that *looks* very similar to the WTCPT - only it's smaller and has the sponge and wand holder integrated into the case.

I frankly question the value of a temperature display - I think it provides information that is of little practical value - do you ever adjust the temperature? Does the number shown ever change your behavior? I have a precision soldering iron, with a super fine tip, adjustable temperature, all that jazz, but I've hardly ever used it.
Assuming the soldering iron is working correctly (which is usually a safe assumption, at least with a weller), it's not going to get too hot, and to see if it's hot enough to use, I just touch the tip to some solder.

Paul - what kind of weller are you using that has a transformer in the wand? In the ones I'm using, the transformer is in the base, and we've never had any failures of that - only broken wires, and one case where (for reasons unclear) the magnetic temperature control mechanism  was getting stuck. Took it apart, saw no problem, reassembled, and it hasn't misbehaved since.
ATTinyCore and megaTinyCore for all ATtiny, DxCore for DA/DB-series! github.com/SpenceKonde
http://drazzy.com/package_drazzy.com_index.json
ATtiny breakouts, mosfets, awesome prototyping board in my store http://tindie.com/stores/DrAzzy

travalon

Good point DrAzzy. BTW is there a buy/sell/trade thread here?

dankgus

#8
Mar 18, 2015, 08:10 pm Last Edit: Mar 18, 2015, 08:12 pm by dankgus
You can save a little by getting the w60p, but I stand by my recommendation on the WTCPT.  Please don't spend $91 on the hakko gizmo and not spend the little bit more on the best thing you could ever buy.


*************LIFE CHANGING***************

You really won't look at soldering the same way again.


Let me ask you this, how many times have you melted the cord on your $6.99 soldering iron from accidently touching the hot tip to the cord?  Remember that awful smell?  Yeah, the WTCPT cord is silicone, go ahead and wrap the cord around your 700 degree tip, it isn't going to burn/melt. Boom, life changing.

How many times has the tip of your $6.99 soldering iron corroded away into an awful jagged unusable shape?  Not transferring heat into your joint well?  The threaded tip loose and disgusting?  Yeah, those days are pretty much gone when you step up to the WTCPT.

I promise you will post back telling me how happy you are with it.

--Dan


Shpaget

I have a Weller PU 81 base with WSP 80 wand, and it's awesome. Heats up in seconds, has enough power to quickly melt the solder on even the big joins. However, I got it for free and I don't think I would buy it. It's just too expensive in my opinion.

I've only heard good things about Hakko 888.

MarkT

Anything with temperature control that you can adjust and for which bits will be
available in ten years - ie major brands only.

Low voltage iron is a really good idea in case you accidentally melt the lead - much
less risk.  Lots use 24V or so these days I believe.  Silicone insulated lead will also
help here.

And a big sponge tray is good to have.   Auto off woud be nice (bits oxidise if
you forget to switch off when not in use).
[ I DO NOT respond to personal messages, I WILL delete them unread, use the forum please ]

travalon


Paul_KD7HB

Paul - what kind of weller are you using that has a transformer in the wand? In the ones I'm using, the transformer is in the base, and we've never had any failures of that - only broken wires, and one case where (for reasons unclear) the magnetic temperature control mechanism  was getting stuck. Took it apart, saw no problem, reassembled, and it hasn't misbehaved since.
I had to wait till I got to the plant and had the Weller wand in hand. Wednesday is my day at home to try to keep things going there!

The wand for the Weller WPCTP has a replaceable tip. Unscrew the tip holder and replace the tip with a different heat or tip shape. The one I am looking at has a "7" stamped on the end of the tip. That means the tip will try to maintain 700 F and was probably used for lead-free solder.

With the tip off, you can remove two screws and unplug the heating element. Two pins connect to the heating element, one to ground. Inside the heating element you will see the magnet that controls the internal magnetic switch that controls the current going to the heating element.

You can check the heating element with an ohm meter and replace it if open.

What I thought was a transformer inside the wand is actually a cover for the magnetic switch. I got another old wand and the cover was loose. Turns out it is just a plastic cover with capton tape around it. So, no transformer inside the wand.


If you take a wand apart, figure on at least a day trying to get it and the strain relief back together. It can be done, but is a pain!



keeper63

Please don't spend $91 on the hakko gizmo
While I'm sure your Weller suits you fine, and I realize you love it and think its the best - to call the Hakko a "gizmo" is doing a disservice to the unit and the brand.

Hakko is one of the best soldering iron manufacturers in the world - their stuff is professional grade, same as Weller; while I can't speak to how the FX888D performs, I do own another older Hakko - and while tip cartridges for it are virtually impossible to find, it has performed reliably for me and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

That said, I have read nothing but praise for that particular Hakko model. If there were to be any complaints from me, it would be about being wary regarding the tips - Hakko likes to "upgrade" their product line about every 10 years, and tips for the new version may not fit older versions, and the old tips might stop being produced (like for my iron - which, granted, is going on 15 years old). However, this could happen with any brand (so buy as many tips as you can afford over time).

Though maybe with Weller, they do a better job about keeping the old stuff working for people...?
I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.

Shpaget

Weller too has at least two incompatible tip shapes (the one I use at work, and mine at home being one such pair of incompatibility).

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