Soldering iron and Third hand tool advice

Hi,

I'm currently on my first Arduino project and attempted soldering at the weekend and found it a bit tricky with my old clunky solding iron and no crocodile clips to hold it in place!

Can anyone please suggest a good quality soldering iron and a "Third Hand tool" with magnifiying glass?

Ebay seems to do them for not much cash.

thanks!

I got my soldering iron from SeeedStudio, and am quite happy with it. Small, temperature controlled, easy to handle.

Third hand tool: well, those you can find just about anywhere. Nothing special about them really.

For a “third hand” I have found plasticine can be quite useful.

Thanks guys.

Plasticine? I never thought of that. Does it hold stuff firmly enough?

I use an Antex soldering iron. I don't know its wattage because it is not written on it (or it has worn off). I think it is about 20w - it is certainly not their smallest, I have a few different sized tips for it.

I also have a small IRODO gas fired soldering iron that is (obviously) very portable and which can produce a lot of heat when needed for bigger jobs such as soldering pieces of brass sheet.

I have one of the helping-hands tools (with multiple crocodile clips) but it has languished in a drawer for years as I found it useless.

I now hold my work in a small vice that clamps onto a table and whose jaws can be rotated.

I have a small normally-closed tweezers that can be useful for holding small parts that get hot.

...R

Is there such a thing as a "project work box" which can hold all your tools and components and third hand clamps which can be closed with a lid and transported easily?

skyboyflyboy:
Is there such a thing as a "project work box" which can hold all your tools and components and third hand clamps which can be closed with a lid and transported easily?

Visit your local large DIY store. In the UK B&Q or Screwfix (same company, different brands) or ClasOhlsen would be a good place to look. Seeing some toolboxes in the flesh is better than just viewing them online - at least to start with.

...R

I recently did some research on soldering irons for a friend who had asked me for a recommendation. I found two options that seemed to be the current favorites of the experienced hobbyists:

TS100
My main concern with this is the custom tips. It is compatible with the Hakko T12 tips but the standard TS100 tips are shorter so you really need to add an extra handle (which you can get) to use the TS100 with the Hakko tips. Considering the popularity of the TS100, it’s likely their tips will continue to be available and you always have the option to fall back on the Hakko tips if they did become unavailable.

Hakko T12 tip compatible kit
I like the kit nature of this because it makes you familiar with the inner workings of your iron so you’re more likely to be able to diagnose and repair any problems it might have. I like the use of standard, high quality tips. There are many sources for these kits so they might not all be of the same quality.

I haven’t ever used either of those irons. This is just hearsay.

From personal experience, I can tell you to definitely not buy the XYTronic XY-258 soldering iron. It works reasonably well but the cord on this thing is so incredibly stiff it makes it really a struggle to use.

I have a super cheap helping hand I bought from eBay. It had a magnifying glass bit it always just got in the way so I took it off. I mostly only use it for splicing wires or soldering wires directly to components but it is very useful for that purpose. You need to put some shrink tube over the aligator clips otherwise the sharp metal damages whatever it clamps on.

I’ve seen several nicer homemade helping hands made either of cooling hose, armature wire, or heavy gauge solid copper wire like you get from household mains wire.

For holding PCBs while soldering I use a Panavise model 333 and it’s really great!

I use blue tacky stuff from the dollar store for small things.

and I bought one of those $5 irons from aliexpress for small work, but it seems to work well for doing most of what I do.
my bench iron has not seen much use since.

Thanks for all the advice guys.

I found that soldering was actually quite difficult.
(especially on a tiny arduino nano!)
Is there a recommended method or online tutorial that can give me any tips?

What are you soldering on a Nano? I'm using Pro Mini a lot but only soldering the header pins to them, and that's easy enough.

Possibly the hardest I've done so far is soldering SOT23 packages on perfboard. They fit exactly in between three holes :slight_smile: 0603 resistors on a 8 mm diameter PCB is also not exactly easy.

skyboyflyboy:
Hi,

I’m currently on my first Arduino project and attempted soldering at the weekend and found it a bit tricky with my old clunky solding iron and no crocodile clips to hold it in place!

Can anyone please suggest a good quality soldering iron and a “Third Hand tool” with magnifiying glass?

Ebay seems to do them for not much cash.

thanks!

I use a Jakemy I got for 10 bucks at banggood works great also banggood has a helping hands tool and led magnifying glass. If you haven’t checked them out they got a great electronics section, some of the best prices online that site is Banggood.com they got all your after best prices online.
Better than ebay

skyboyflyboy:
I found that soldering was actually quite difficult.

IMHO the most important thing to understand about soldering is that the metal you are soldering needs to be at the same temperature as the melted solder.

Second most important thing is cleanliness.

...R

Robin2:
IMHO the most important thing to understand about soldering is that the metal you are soldering needs to be at the same temperature as the melted solder.

Easy to understand, often much harder to pull off (especially when there's a big chunk of metal attached to your piece, sucking out all the heat).

wvmarle:
Easy to understand, often much harder to pull off (especially when there's a big chunk of metal attached to your piece, sucking out all the heat).

IMHO understanding the need greatly increases the chances of pulling it off. And if your don't pull it off then you get a bad joint - simples.

And if you are soldering to a large piece of metal it is much kinder to everything to use a big soldering iron. It will get the metal to temperature much more quickly and the total time at high temperature will be a lot shorter.

...R