Is this a good budget soldering iron?

The helping-hand station you gave a link to is junk. Look at those alligator clips. In a few weeks, they will all come loose, and have a tendency to fall off, and even at their best, they aren't very good at holding a board. Save yourself money and grief. Put the money you've saved into a better soldering station. It is a better investment.

Take a look at the PanaVise. Use google to find it. Yes, it is expensive. Look at it carefully. Notice the several axes of motion. Now look for cheap clones. You may find one. But anything less than a PanaVise functionality is just a waste of money, because you will want to (or have to) throw it out in less than a year. Even a simple bench vise would be a better investment.

I bought a good one about twenty years ago. It is still in service. The one you referenced is in the makerspace I inhabit. They have two of them. Everyone avoids those except those who don't know any better. They use one of them exactly once. Then they use the PanaVise. We only have one PanaVise, so it can get kind of desperate. I bought my own, which I keep in my toolbox, and therefore I avoid the contention for the good one.

The problem is that good tools last a lifetime, or nearly so, and cheap tools last weeks. You will end up disappointed by the cheap soldering iron, but you don't need a top-of-the-line to start. But the comments about ESD are relevant, and the use of a "mains iron" has many risks, for both the user and the circuits, all of which have been described. Poor tools have no lasting power, and you will soon tire of how bad they are. Yes, I agree, that buying good tools has a very negative impact on cash flow, and it doesn't matter how good something is if you can't afford it. But you also can't afford to waste money. Doing without is so much better than doing-with-really-crappy-stuff. Don't say no one warned you. joe joe

If you're feeling creative, you can make your own helping hands setup with coolant lines used for cnc machines and alligator clips. Infinite possibilities for range of motion and angles and number of hands.

It wasn't mentioned that these cheap iron usually don't have temperature control. This causes problems. One is that they over heat, possibly lifting pads from circuit boards and oxidizing the tips quicker, requiring more regular cleaning. If the tip is uncoated copper, it will rot out faster. If iron clad, it will need more aggressive cleaning that will cause the coating to be damaged. One of the biggest problems with new people using soldering irons is not keeping the iron clean and tinned. The other is using the iron to transfer solder to the work, causing typical cold solder joints. As for grounding, one can add a clip and ground wire. A light dimmer makes a coarse temperature controller. One can get a inline dimmer for an incandescent lamp. Still, I would not go for cheap when used for tools. I've wasted a lot of my hard earned money on bargain tools. I'm too old now to even think of using cheap junk. Dwight

dwightthinker: It wasn't mentioned that these cheap iron usually don't have temperature control. This causes problems.

The one he linking to in OP claims to have temperature control. Whether it's worth anything or not is the question.

Temp knob works, I have one. Set it and forget it once paired with a good solder. Nothing scientific, didn't bring out the temp gun, but it self regulates instead of just getting hotter and hotter as some people who have never owned one like to claim for no reason.

I actually have one of the cheap "Helping Hands" that I find very useful for holding certain things while soldering such as wires and components, for example a switch. I never use it for circuit boards though, for that my panavise is so much better. I took the magnifying glass off right away because it just got in my way and that soldering iron holder is idiotic. I put some shrink tube over the alligator clip jaws because they were too sharp and damaged the things they held. I haven't had any problems with the alligator clips falling off and they look just like the one at the link.

The one on the link you posted is overpriced. You can get them way cheaper on eBay if you don't mind waiting a while for China shipping: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Third-Hand-Soldering-Iron-Stand-Helping-Magnifying-Tool-OE-/122118568705

flounder: Take a look at the PanaVise. Use google to find it. Yes, it is expensive. Look at it carefully. Notice the several axes of motion. Now look for cheap clones. You may find one. But anything less than a PanaVise functionality is just a waste of money, because you will want to (or have to) throw it out in less than a year. Even a simple bench vise would be a better investment.

Would the Panavise Model 201 "Junior" work? It's sold here on Amazon.

Based on suggestions for Hakko and Weller, I was thinking of getting a Yihua 936 (Clone of the Hakko 936) as a real Hakko or Weller is a bit out of my budget. It's sold on amazon.com here and I've seen it recommended on other sites as it's only $25-30. If I buy this in combination with this solder , would it work well and would the iron last me a while?

Anyone has experience with AOYUE soldering equipment ?

For example this station.

I dip a soft bristled toothbrush in 70% isopropyl alcohol

I do the same, but use 99.9% Anhydrous isopropyl alcohol. Airdries really quick. I have a gallon bottle of this http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/mg-chemicals/824-500ML/473-1150-ND/2602438 that I refill a taller version of this with http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en/static-control-esd-clean-room-products/accessories/2228308?k=isopropyl and a hog hair brush, the longer bristles fit nicely over the legs of shields. http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/mg-chemicals/857/473-1050-ND/949492

Does smell like a doctor's/vet's office afterwards.

CanadianCyanide:
Based on suggestions for Hakko and Weller, I was thinking of getting a Yihua 936 (Clone of the Hakko 936) as a real Hakko or Weller is a bit out of my budget. It’s sold on amazon.com here and I’ve seen it recommended on other sites as it’s only $25-30. If I buy this in combination with this solder , would it work well and would the iron last me a while?

I believe Dave Jones did a teardown of that exact Yee-haw! (as he pronounced it) model. I believe he found that it was just a superficial clone, the interior control circuitry was different and the temperature regulation wasn’t as good. Only the appearance was copied.

Good enough I’d imagine, and it has a proper iron holder.

Watcher: Anyone has experience with AOYUE soldering equipment ?

For example this station.

I've used an Aoyue rework station a bit. My main iron is a Weller WESD51 soldering station with digital temp control.

I bought one of these to evaluate it as a beginner iron for OlyMEGA:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013JM4AW4/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage

I also bought a pack of Hakko tips. This iron is NOT compatible with Hakko tips.

I will be doing a video of it.

This is the best iron out there but beyond both my budget
and I’m sure the OP’s.
The Metcal is just about the absolute best I’ve seen anywhere.
It has almost zero thermal inertia and can go from single IC
pin to 16 gauge wire on a ground plain without a hint of delay.
I have an old Weller with fixed temperature tips. It works fine
for me.
Dwight

This is the best iron out there but beyond both my budget and I'm sure the OP's.

Which iron are you referring to dwightthinker ?

Watcher: Which iron are you referring to dwightthinker ?

Any of the Metcal irons With the rf generator. Dwight

People give great recommendations for great products when they're not spending their own money.

It's just an iron. A piece of hot metal. There are even ones that just use fire. Get the one you posted originally, come back when it somehow isn't doing what you want it to do.

INTP: People give great recommendations for great products when they're not spending their own money.

It's just an iron. A piece of hot metal. There are even ones that just use fire. Get the one you posted originally, come back when it somehow isn't doing what you want it to do.

It is clear you have never used an soldering iron, more than casually. Have you ever remove 100 parts from a PC board without damaging a single pad ( including single sided )? The right iron for the right job. If all you want is a wood burner, it is no issue. Dwight

dwightthinker: It is clear you have never used an soldering iron, more than casually. Have you ever remove 100 parts from a PC board without damaging a single pad ( including single sided )? The right iron for the right job. If all you want is a wood burner, it is no issue. Dwight

Somehow I'm the only one that read the first words of the thread, "So I'm an Arduino beginner...." and didn't jump to conclusions of "man this guy probably needs to remove 100 parts from a PC board without damaging a single pad blah blah"

It is clear you have never acknowledged that not everyone has the same needs. Spare the ad hominem and move along. The amount that I solder has zilch to do with giving the OP advice as per his needs and budget.

I agree that it's not necessary for a beginner to get a professional soldering iron and there are some cheap soldering irons that should work fine for most any casual use. However, it is worth a bit of effort to try to get a reasonably usable iron since it is a very important tool. When I first got into Arduino I knew I would need a "good" soldering iron because I had previously a lot of trouble trying to solder with the non-adjustable hardware store model I already owned. I had no clue what constituted a good iron other than adjustability and searching for information usually led me to threads with electrical engineers fan-boying on their high end irons and saying everything in my budget was complete junk. So I decided to trust Adafruit when they said:

This 'pen-style' soldering iron is just about the best entry-level tool I've seen.

In the description of this item: https://www.adafruit.com/products/180 Well "Lady Ada" must had been high on flux fumes because the cord on this stupid thing is so stiff it's almost unusable. Also, there's no clear documentation on tip compatibility and Adafruit doesn't sell replacement tips for it. The iron does work but I've had to hang it from the ceiling by the cord and it's still very awkward constantly fighting the cord when trying to do precision work or long jobs. I can't really justify buying another one when I have a working iron since it's just a hobby for me but I really wish I had done a bit more research and spent a little more to get something that would have served me better over the years. Since I didn't pay much for it(though they do charge a good bit for shipping), it's not really worth the effort to try to splice a better cord on there.

pert: ...the cord on this stupid thing is so stiff it's almost unusable.

Yep, a big problem (and dangerous) in colder climates. I have a Chinese rework station with the same "feature". Weller stations (have?) had super flexible silicone cords. Leo..