Need advice on a good soldering station (answered)

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part12studios
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Need advice on a good soldering station (answered)

Post by part12studios » Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:33 pm

Hi there,

So I've done a few light repairs with a cheap $4 soldering iron and i've also seen how frustrating it can get when the solder wants to stick to the iron more than the soldering points.. and i've even done some jobs that i thought were good till i came back later to see they were not..

So I have a few things that I need to work on (Akai S612 and JX-8p) and these are fairly precious items and I don't want to risk doing a bad job on. I'd like to invest a little more than $4 this time. I figure I'd like to be able to remove solder as well as add it.. I have no idea what is needed for that.

The latest trouble i was having was getting the board hot and it's like the solder would just bead and even roll off the motherboard.. just felt like water and oil..

I'm not looking for "the best that money can buy" but something that just helps insure I'm able to do good soldering points when the time arrives.

what are the things that I should be looking for?

Thanks!
Caleb
Last edited by part12studios on Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:21 pm

You want interchangeable (replaceable) tips and a power control.

Image

This unit by Weller is under $40 at Home Depot
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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by part12studios » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:06 pm

awesome thanks yea the $4 did seem to work good on my K1m job.. but it was the first time it got used.. over time the tip got funky..

so tell me this.. with power control.. what's the point of having that control? high is good for what? low is good for what?

also how do you know when your iron is at the right temperature? i've seen some with temp displays.. is that useful or overkill?

$40-50 is definitely my price range.. $100 and up feels like a bit much.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Rasputin » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:39 pm

That Weller is about the bare minimum you want. It can get the job done in most cases, but good tools are worth investing in. You can buy that Weller now and then decide you want a Hakko later, or you can just get a Hakko now. Sure, you can dial in a number on the Weller, but what temperature is it? And it's not temperature controlled, so even if you figure out what temperature it is set to approximately, how will you know it has reached that temperature or is staying at that temperature?

An old Hakko 936 can be found for a reasonable (read: budget) price with a little looking and patience.

If all you're ever planning on doing is fixing those other two pieces of gear then I guess go with the Weller, but seeing as you've already done at least one job and have two others planned, I would assume you'll have other things to do in the future.

Everyone that's bit by the hardware bug gets gear acquisition syndrome, so you're very likely going to be pulling out the ol' soldering station more than you anticipate.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by part12studios » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:14 pm

Would this be a good one? http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-110V-936-So ... Swj2dXjeX6

$60 free shipping.. sounds good, but maybe it's lacking something that I should look for in a nicer model?


Thanks,
Caleb

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Rasputin » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:04 pm

part12studios wrote:Would this be a good one? http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-110V-936-So ... Swj2dXjeX6

$60 free shipping.. sounds good, but maybe it's lacking something that I should look for in a nicer model?
In theory, yes. In practice, you probably want to get a genuine Hakko, not a Chinese counterfeit/re-badge/knockoff. Since they don't make that model anymore, anything sold as new is almost definitely counterfeit. And to add to that, I believe any "Hakko" made in China is a counterfeit.

I think some of the newer Hakko stations might be made in Japan, but I believe all 936 models were made in Singapore. I could be mistaken, but this is my understanding.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by part12studios » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:47 am

ok good to know.. i didn't know it was an out of production thing. i'll do some hunting around for the real deal.

For new / modern stuff are there any reaonable brands or what kind of price range are we talking about is good? I've seen some that show temperature that run around $100.

How do I know it's an authentic one. http://www.ebay.com/itm/HAKKO-936-Solde ... 3641.l6368

Thanks!
Caleb

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Rasputin » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:09 am

That one looks pretty authentic to me. You'd probably want a soldering iron stand for it, though. $6 and a couple weeks from China.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Broadwave » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:04 am

To be honest, in all the years I've been repairing & building, I've never owned a station. I've just relied on good old Antex C15 & XS25 irons and various bits.

But I'm intrigued by their TCS50W digital iron.

http://www.antex.co.uk/soldering/precis ... ns/tcs50w/

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:10 pm

That TCS50W looks interesting...so there is no base unit as found on typical soldering stations?
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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Mooger5 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:53 am

Been using a Hakko Presto 980 for a decade now. Went to the store to buy an expensive JBC and they told me the cheaper Hakko is much better, so much they use it in the repair shop. Has a boost switch that goes from 20 to 130 Watts in a few seconds. Very reliable. Never needed to change the tip.
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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Werecow » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:48 am

I have to put in a good word for an older Weller station, the WSD81. Our factory started using these in production in 1996, and they're still going strong today. Of course, they're a tad more rare now, but also cheaper than when new, and well worth picking up on ebay. Tips are cheap and rarely go bad (unless some clown decides to use them as chisels).

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by jxalex » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:36 am

part12studios wrote: so tell me this.. with power control.. what's the point of having that control? high is good for what? low is good for what?

also how do you know when your iron is at the right temperature? i've seen some with temp displays.. is that useful or overkill?

$40-50 is definitely my price range.. $100 and up feels like a bit much.
So, you had many questions and here are the answers --

At first You really need to solder properly. I read out that You are very new into this. at first the most important part is the SOLDERIN IRON TIP and that you dont get from china. do not buy from ebay either!!!
A Weller, JBC, Pace, Welleman are all good ones. Velleman will do also - try at shop if you can.
Any of these soldering stations or irons with 25..80W will do. 40..50W is ideal for your work. Do not choose more powerful as it is not meant for so small details!

temperature controlled or "soldering station" has benefit that it really holds temperature right under different loads than simple soldeing irons. But as you are beginner then there is no difference to You, only distractions. More about it below.

So, just a quality mark, bought locally, simple Weller/Velleman 50W soldering iron will do, becouse all you need is good tip which dont get dirty or sticky! I do not know prices unfortunately what they may be. But you are better off with a proper locally bought
soldering iron than a chinese knockoff soldering station whatever if it is 50USD or 350USD -- BECOUSE chinese do not provide quality tip! I have experiences with them and the good soldering iron tip is something which they cant do.

soldering iron tip. The most important detail.
If you can choose and you do not know which tip then you might prefer flat tip ones and choose 2..3mm wide tip. it makes easier learning process. you do not need broader than that. small round sharp ones leave for a moment.
A good soldering iron tip is always clean and receives tin without problen even at the end of the day while you just cleaned with a wet sponge couple times.
it has to take/receive tin easily when it is melting and without rubbing or very little! It is not a question about temperature. A tip in a good clean soldering iron tip melts tin very well at 350 degrees, while sticky/dirty tip cant melt tin not even at 450 degrees!

Now about soldering station:
For beginner there are no real advantages about it as it gives more parameters to fiddle and to get it wrong.
If you get that soldering station then just to turn that temperature knob to 350 degrees and keep it there for next couple years until you learn how to solder and do not fiddle with it.
That fiddling with temperature here and there does NOT learn you better how to solder and desolder. The flux will vanish too fast, you burn up details or You will just make cold joints.
Actually my Weller WS50 which I bought, surprisingly to me had this feature -- the possibility to LOCK the temperature knob with a key! :D It was certainly some student version perhaps so that they would not fiddle with temperature :D :D here it illustrates exactly what happens when a dumb student gets a key. It should NOT be at 450 degrees. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=wel ... ajaxhist=0
the soldering temperature depends on tin type (its melting point) and pcb type (onesided, double sided).
Just now 350 degrees celsius will do just to begin on a soldering station. AND so the most unregulated irons ARE with that temperature already! SO thats why it is better off with a simple soldering iron than soldering station until you learn!
Even I just need 98% cases I just this temperature -- 350. There are just a few situations which need higher or lower temperature but about that you can read and seek yourself information, but you certainly do not need that. ;)

100USD is a good price for a soldering station which is quality brand.
My own one cost ca $280 back on 2001 -- weller ws50 . Now there are same models with cheaper price and anyone of these will do just have the quality tip!!

lcd numeric displays are overkill, it does not have to be so exact :) just with rotary knob and a blinking led will do which indicates the temperature status. I never needed the soldering tin to be exact at 287 degrees in 16 years, also it never is so exactly in practice and these numbers need to be taken with reservations as it can depending on the tip you use differ 10 degrees from the indicated temperature.
leave out THAT soldering station, ESPECIALLY FROM CHINA. it looks strikingly similar to AOYUE 950 model :D
the problem with those is that their tips get dirty quickly which makes learning process MUCH harder. I have bought some and there is no soldering iron tip which works from China. ;) it works for experienced, but not for a beginner.

WIthout good soldering iron tip it is very difficult to learn solder properly.
you may as well just to take a copper rod and heat it up and filing it every week, even that gives better result.

You need original tip ones which works, buy locally NOT from ebay chinese salesmen/China or you get counterfeit.
even best station is useless with the chinese soldering iron counterfeit cheat-cheap tip!!!

So, just a simple, quality brand soldering iron will do with 40.. 50W, and flat 2..3 mm tip.
and you need solder flux,
sponge to clean the tip,
especially SOLDER WICK (to remove the tin)
and
good low meltpoint solder -- with lead, not leadfree! -- velleman will do.

back on 1992 these $4...6 cost chinese soldering irons lasted to me just couple months and the soldering iron tip usually just wear off, so I from one point replaced that tip with copper rod which I filed every week -- my first soldering iron set :D
After I bought chinese soldering station (pincets) then these were the same bad ones as just having 2 of these $4
cost soldering iron tips at temperature controller -- so, no result.

At the end I will add this:
when 2001 I went to shop and asked my friend which is the best-money-can-buy soldering station (without hot air still) then I was ready to buy a $1000 soldering station (as I knew it is for a years), but then he recommended to me Weller WS50 and it was $280 -- and I am using it even now and the tip is always clean, there was _never_ need to rub or file a tip.



just my couple cents and advice after being more than 25 years in electronics.. ;)

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by Broadwave » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:21 am

meatballfulton wrote:That looks interesting...so there is no base unit as found on typical soldering stations?
No, that's the beauty of it - It's all built into the handle. Temp adjustable from 200 to 450C - I'm seriously thinking of getting one now.

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Re: Need advice on a good soldering station

Post by part12studios » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:29 am

fantastic information! yes I am happy to invest up to $100 on a good quality station / unit. Anything beyond that seems like it might be getting to be full of features that an amature like myself wouldn't benefit from but that's the point of this thread is to know what IS important to do basic soldering.

The one other questions in this that i'd ask too is i hear about "solder removers" what is a good one? it seems reasonable that at some point remove excess solder would be important and I wonder what is the most effective means of solder removal that is pro / cost effective.

When I did the soldering job on my K1m, I had to remove a copper shield and it was secured in 4 places by solder. at the time i just melted them and removed.. but i'm not really sure that's how i would do it if i had to go a second time around. I really wish I had just installed the 2032 battery holder upside down though in hindsight..heh.. would never have to remove the shield again hindsight 20/20..

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