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Looking to upgrade to a soldering station


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Well I am enjoying my latest project. But I'm not found of the soldering pen I'm using a 25 watt pen from Lowes. Before I invest in a station I wanted to know what you recommend. I want to get a good one, one time, no more of slowly upgrading it just seems to waste money in the long run.

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You want to buy one iron and have it last for forever - Metcal's entry level iron, the SP200. Your jaw will drop when you hand over the plastic (this is their entry level model, remember), but years from now you'll have forgotten the price, and the iron will still be going.

I've had mine several years (must be nearly a decade), and can't recommend it highly enough.

Get a couple of different size bits.

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go_vandy wrote:

Well I am enjoying my latest project. But I'm not found of the soldering pen I'm using a 25 watt pen from Lowes. Before I invest in a station I wanted to know what you recommend. I want to get a good one, one time, no more of slowly upgrading it just seems to waste money in the long run.

Visit www.web-tronics.com and check out their selection. I have the CSI Station 1A which costs about $35. Make sure that you get a temperature controlled soldering station rather than a wattage controlled station. With a temperature controlled station you set the exact temperature that you want the tip to be. (With a wattage controlled station you are really just guessing....hmm, 25 watts must be about 600 degrees...) I don't think you are really getting all that much more for the additional money of the more expensive stations at least for hobbiest use. If you buy $50 worth from web-tronics you get a free gift (either one of 2 different types of multimeter or a set of 10 different pairs of mini pliers). You MUST enter a code to get the free gift so be sure to click on the banner that says "Free gift with qualifying orders". There's a lot of cool stuff on this site. Resistors $3 per 1000, LEDs 1.50 per 100, spools of high quality very thin solder, etc.

Here is a direct link to the soldering stations:

http://www.web-tronics.com/solstat.html

TED

TED

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You can’t beat the Metcal; it’s truly the Cadillac of soldering irons. Once you’ve used one; you’ll never want to use anything else. Heat up time is about six second from cold. It’s more like using a pencil instead of a cigar to solder with. I can literally solder a small surface mount part and then solder a transistor to a piece of steel. I once used a Metcal with a small 600ºF tip to unsolder a frozen Weller with large 800ºF tip.

In all reality though, unless you’re going make money or do an awful lot of soldering with your iron, you don’t need to spend the big bucks. The type that Web-tronics sells will work fine. The heat up time for these is between one and two minutes though.

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  • 5 months later...

I use the Wellers. At home, it's a couple of the analog dail type for temp. At work, it's the digital type. I've been able to solder .015 center surface mount if I have a good magnifying glass.

The price was right. Found enough good parts from the scrap bin at work to make two functional units.

Add: The heat up time is about 15 seconds.

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The CSI unit that is mentioned above is a great unit. I got one a couple months ago and it is GREAT! Heat up is 60 seconds (400*) The price is great too.

If you get one, don't forget a couple extra tips. :cool:

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I'll second (okay, third) the Weller stations. For a robust unit , I recommend the Weller WTCPT. I started with one in Grad school. Then I used another for eight years and literally thousands of audio connections & miscellaneous circuit repairs, and I only replaced the heating element ONCE. Before I left that job, I bought another for my assistant. We soldered everything from IC's to 10awg speaker cable. And after fiddling around at home for six years with a Radio Shack iron, I just bought my own WTCPT from Fry's for about $110 (an assortment of tips added about another $50) to help with my foray into automated Christmas lights.

Though the temperature on this unit is not adjustable, there are numerous soldering tips that provide different heat ranges. And along with the cable and heating element, nearly every small part in the iron is individually replaceable, so you don't have to cough up another $70 for the whole assembly.

Pencil tips for your IC's and chisel tips for your AC connections, and you're set! :D

Tony

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Sure, I wanted the top notch solder station, but I settled for a cheap Radio Shack two power setting iron with thread on copper tips.

Low power was pretty worthless, high power worked great. I've used better and I'm sure it would be nice, but now that I've soldered up 4 8-channel D-Light boards, I probably won't do it again. They all worked, first time, no overheated or underheated joints.

The money is in the de-soldering stations. Me, I just used copper braid and flux for a few joints where I put down too much solder.

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JonB256 wrote:

Low power was pretty worthless, high power worked great.

My experience with the $40 Radio Shack iron/station has been similar. For me it's been great for little jobs around the house, but I missed the tip variety and more precise handling of my old Weller.

IMHO--for desoldering, Radio Shack's knock-off version of the "Solder-Pult" works fine for me. It'll s*** the solder out of circuit board holes with the best of 'em. :cool:

Tony

Edit: Hmmm. The censored "s***" above refers to a quick, vacuum like action. You get the idea. ;)

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