Is tip tinner a necessity or can I get by with coating my tip with a bit of rosin core solder?
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...
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?
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.
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.
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.