I'm new to Arduino and at this point don't plan to do all that much soldering. While a $200 Weller would be really nice I couldn't justify that, at least not at this point. That would be more than I've spent on everything else combined. So I bought an inexpensive adjustable iron ($20) and a simple stand ($6). When I'm soldering and producing what are clearly less than perfect results I wonder how much of that is due to my iron versus my lack of experience.
We could tell (well, give some level of assessment) you if you posted a nice closeup of some soldering you did on a PCB. Bad soldering irons and poor technique usually look different.
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.
In the picture, the pins marked Data and Vin are classic possible dry joints.
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
The pin marked "Clk" has a rounded base which is not a perfect joint.The pin DC is much better. The pin to the right of that needs alittle more solder.All pins in the lower picture have too much solder.
I would remove the blob, check that the solder pad on the board is clean and start again making sure that the iron is heating the board as well as the wire. While learning, you will destroy solder pads from too much heat. That is why you practise on old boards.It takes practice.