Soldering Statoin - Advantages.

Soldering Statoin - Advantages.

Austin J
Austin J

May 25th, 2012, 5:02 pm #1

So I've been contemplating between a soldering station or just a run of the mill soldering iron.

What are the pros of getting a station? I'm okay with the investment. I figure it will help down the road.
Temperature control will probably help keep a stable running temperature and prevent me from burning the solder.

I am pretty rookie and starting out. I plan to do basic kits, repairs, wiring and eventually more complex things.

However, I have some projects right now that I want to do. I have a headphone amp that I want to replace the capacitors on and it seems pretty basic. desolder, remove, attach new caps, and solder.

Thanks for all your help guys .
Heck, I may have reasked this sometime ago but forgotten now and can't find it. (I could dig through the email notifications..)
So thank you very much for those that have already helped me answer this question or have provided similar info.


Austin J
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Junk Box 99
Junk Box 99

May 25th, 2012, 5:30 pm #2

Sounds like what you're after is something for the workbench, so I'm going to ignore butane soldering irons; those are best for field techs who may have to climb up a ladder to reach the thing they need to solder.

Station
Pros
+ Flexibility. Many offer temperature adjustment over a fairly wide range.
+ Stability
+ Durability
Cons
- Expense
- Availability of repair/replacement parts
- Size (Better for a permanent work bench)

Iron
Pros
+ Simple
+ Cheap (comparatively)
+ Lightweight/compact (great toolbox items)
Cons
- Beware the ones that are too cheap!
- Unregulated (beyond the limits of the heating element)
- Many have ungrounded tips


Caveats on both:
Proprietary parts. Manufacturers frequently do something a little weird with their stuff (i.e. make the tips different sizes or shapes) specifically so their parts won't work with anyone else's parts. This can cause problems when something on your solder station breaks.

Comments:
* Weller (Cooper Tools) has been the "Cadillac" of soldering equipement for a long time - good quality, but expensive.
* Other names out there include Plato and Hakko, both of those would be worth a look.
* I recommend that you get several replacement tips when you get the iron/station. Most will come with a "general purpose" tip, but for fine PC board/component work, get the sharpest tips you can find.
* A seller worth their sales staff will be willing to order replacement parts. Ask before you buy.
* If you can't find a seller locally, the big on-line houses such as Allied, Digi-Key, and Mouser should have some good ones.
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Hans
Hans

May 25th, 2012, 5:49 pm #3

So I've been contemplating between a soldering station or just a run of the mill soldering iron.

What are the pros of getting a station? I'm okay with the investment. I figure it will help down the road.
Temperature control will probably help keep a stable running temperature and prevent me from burning the solder.

I am pretty rookie and starting out. I plan to do basic kits, repairs, wiring and eventually more complex things.

However, I have some projects right now that I want to do. I have a headphone amp that I want to replace the capacitors on and it seems pretty basic. desolder, remove, attach new caps, and solder.

Thanks for all your help guys .
Heck, I may have reasked this sometime ago but forgotten now and can't find it. (I could dig through the email notifications..)
So thank you very much for those that have already helped me answer this question or have provided similar info.


Austin J
This is coming from a guy that does a lot of rework as a business, as opposed to a hobbiest, so my needs may be different than yours.

The biggest advantage of a soldering station is the temperature control. Wattage is good, but you need to be able to manage what temperature you're at. Too hot, you're burning the board. Too cool, and it takes way too long to heat a component, the heat soaks too much, and you roast it. Better stations have faster temperature recovery, meaning the temp stays constant when you start heating a component, as opposed to dipping down for a bit until it re-heats. Then you start looking at features such as ESD-safety, auto shutoff and goodies like that.

For basic stuff, the Weller WESD-51 is a good choice. I use an older Weller WTC series that's about 20 years old, and have never even needed to replace a tip on it. Though I am looking at saving up for a $2,000 JBC rework station.... but again, I do this as a business.

Now desoldering is a whole different beast. Just a component every now and then, you can get away with some wick, maybe a soldapult sucker if you're feeling fancy. When you're doing 120+ pins in a sitting, you need a dedicated desoldering system. Right now I use a Hakko 808, but it does get heavy after a while if you do a lot of work.

You can spend a fortune on soldering equipment. If you do it often, it can be worth it, but for a hobby you can easily go overboard. I haven't used one myself, but many folks recommend the Xytronic 8800 rework station. Stay away from The Ayoue brand you'll see on E-bay and Amazon. Cheap knockoffs of Hakko.

-Hans
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Austin J
Austin J

May 25th, 2012, 6:14 pm #4

I have been looking at the Wellers with the digital temp control for quite a while and it seems to be the general consensus and also what my research has cropped up.

I think I will get some desolder braid and a desolder pump. They're relatively inexpensive.
If I were to grab a soldering iron for a toolbox. Any recommendations? How would I spot out cheap ones that will go bad on me or lead to hot irons.?

Thank you for the advice and knowledge.

Austin J
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sniper1rfa
sniper1rfa

May 25th, 2012, 8:20 pm #5

Sounds like what you're after is something for the workbench, so I'm going to ignore butane soldering irons; those are best for field techs who may have to climb up a ladder to reach the thing they need to solder.

Station
Pros
+ Flexibility. Many offer temperature adjustment over a fairly wide range.
+ Stability
+ Durability
Cons
- Expense
- Availability of repair/replacement parts
- Size (Better for a permanent work bench)

Iron
Pros
+ Simple
+ Cheap (comparatively)
+ Lightweight/compact (great toolbox items)
Cons
- Beware the ones that are too cheap!
- Unregulated (beyond the limits of the heating element)
- Many have ungrounded tips


Caveats on both:
Proprietary parts. Manufacturers frequently do something a little weird with their stuff (i.e. make the tips different sizes or shapes) specifically so their parts won't work with anyone else's parts. This can cause problems when something on your solder station breaks.

Comments:
* Weller (Cooper Tools) has been the "Cadillac" of soldering equipement for a long time - good quality, but expensive.
* Other names out there include Plato and Hakko, both of those would be worth a look.
* I recommend that you get several replacement tips when you get the iron/station. Most will come with a "general purpose" tip, but for fine PC board/component work, get the sharpest tips you can find.
* A seller worth their sales staff will be willing to order replacement parts. Ask before you buy.
* If you can't find a seller locally, the big on-line houses such as Allied, Digi-Key, and Mouser should have some good ones.
newer weller plain-jane soldering irons have temperature control (but no temperature adjustment. They're pretty nice.

That said, I use the WESD-51 and it's excellent for the money. I would recommend a good station over a pencil if it's your only soldering tool. I also generally advise people to not cheap out on wattage. General purpose irons are often asked to solder 3 or 4 12g wires together in a big bundle or something similarly difficult, and a lot of power helps immensely.
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keantoken
keantoken

May 26th, 2012, 4:22 am #6

So I've been contemplating between a soldering station or just a run of the mill soldering iron.

What are the pros of getting a station? I'm okay with the investment. I figure it will help down the road.
Temperature control will probably help keep a stable running temperature and prevent me from burning the solder.

I am pretty rookie and starting out. I plan to do basic kits, repairs, wiring and eventually more complex things.

However, I have some projects right now that I want to do. I have a headphone amp that I want to replace the capacitors on and it seems pretty basic. desolder, remove, attach new caps, and solder.

Thanks for all your help guys .
Heck, I may have reasked this sometime ago but forgotten now and can't find it. (I could dig through the email notifications..)
So thank you very much for those that have already helped me answer this question or have provided similar info.


Austin J
There is an important distinction between temperature variable stations and temperature controlled stations. You would assume that a nice looking station with a digital readout would have a thermal feedback loop, but you have to read the fine print.

There are two reasons I know of for having a station with a temperature controlled feedback loop IE a thermostat:

1: Useability: it doesn't cool down or heat up excessively while being used, so there is more protection against cold joints and frying things.

2: Reliability: some irons get really hot when not being used, and others will quickly cool down when soldering because they don't have enough power. If the tip gets too hot it decreases the lifespan of the iron plating, so your tip will last longer if there is thermal control.

If you want a good iron you need to look at the fine print, many of them claim temperature control but there is no feedback loop, just a power control so these two issues are not addressed.

I have heard great things about the Aoyue 936 and family, I plan to get one of these. The specs are very good, and it's very affordable. I don't need a digital readout, though it might help if you planned on using your iron for precision spot-heating.
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secretweaponevan
secretweaponevan

May 26th, 2012, 6:34 pm #7

newer weller plain-jane soldering irons have temperature control (but no temperature adjustment. They're pretty nice.

That said, I use the WESD-51 and it's excellent for the money. I would recommend a good station over a pencil if it's your only soldering tool. I also generally advise people to not cheap out on wattage. General purpose irons are often asked to solder 3 or 4 12g wires together in a big bundle or something similarly difficult, and a lot of power helps immensely.
I bought a 60 Watt Weller WTCPT about a month ago, moving up from a cheap Radio Shack pencil (20 Watt?).
The difference is night and day. I solder a lot of capacitors to dying motherboards and LCD's and this thing is a dream.
I also just had to re-solder an iPhone 4 "pim" back onto the logic board and would not have been able to do so if I didn't have my Weller.

The WTCPT controls temperatures by the tip you use and can be rebuilt.

Mine ran about $140 and was worth every penny.
http://www.amazon.com/Weller-WTCPT-Temp ... 883&sr=8-2

I also bought the Soldapult desolderer which is amazing compared to the smaller, cheaper, desoldering pumps.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Soldapullt-Mode ... 519e2c55c4

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Snowtroll
Snowtroll

May 26th, 2012, 8:05 pm #8

So I've been contemplating between a soldering station or just a run of the mill soldering iron.

What are the pros of getting a station? I'm okay with the investment. I figure it will help down the road.
Temperature control will probably help keep a stable running temperature and prevent me from burning the solder.

I am pretty rookie and starting out. I plan to do basic kits, repairs, wiring and eventually more complex things.

However, I have some projects right now that I want to do. I have a headphone amp that I want to replace the capacitors on and it seems pretty basic. desolder, remove, attach new caps, and solder.

Thanks for all your help guys .
Heck, I may have reasked this sometime ago but forgotten now and can't find it. (I could dig through the email notifications..)
So thank you very much for those that have already helped me answer this question or have provided similar info.


Austin J
As you plan to do a lot of repairwork, a GOOD desoldering station may be a higher priority that a soldering station.

Handheld suction pumps and desoldering braids can only do so much, and among what they can do is completely ruin some printboards.

If money is a priority, get a desoldering station and a decent soldering iron which can be moved to the toolbox when you later get a proper soldering station.

The Hakko 808 seems to get decent reviews:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2978
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Hans
Hans

May 26th, 2012, 9:39 pm #9

Other than having to regularly clean it, it's rock solid. Then again, I'm probably desoldering about 2,500 pins a month with it, so yeah.... it's going to get dirty.

-Hans
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Doc Nickel
Doc Nickel

May 27th, 2012, 11:47 am #10

So I've been contemplating between a soldering station or just a run of the mill soldering iron.

What are the pros of getting a station? I'm okay with the investment. I figure it will help down the road.
Temperature control will probably help keep a stable running temperature and prevent me from burning the solder.

I am pretty rookie and starting out. I plan to do basic kits, repairs, wiring and eventually more complex things.

However, I have some projects right now that I want to do. I have a headphone amp that I want to replace the capacitors on and it seems pretty basic. desolder, remove, attach new caps, and solder.

Thanks for all your help guys .
Heck, I may have reasked this sometime ago but forgotten now and can't find it. (I could dig through the email notifications..)
So thank you very much for those that have already helped me answer this question or have provided similar info.


Austin J
Somewhere around 1999 or so- as best as we've been able to recall- I started doing Curt's angel ACE installs. I had some soldering equipment, but it was pretty basic. Functional for, say, automotive wiring, but a bit crude for the teeny paintgun wiring.

Curt suggested I buy a temperature-controlled iron, and so I picked up a Weller. I don't recall the model number (I can go look if anyone's curious) but it's fairly basic, ran about $100 or so, if memory serves.

And it has been worth every penny. Near-instant heat-up, plenty of power for (relatively) large pieces, a nice durable tip (it's still original, despite doing hundreds of Gabriels, Gladiators, Glaciers and Morlocks.) Heck, it's still even the original sponge.

It sure beats the old Radio Shack analog thing hands down.

Though admittedly when the going gets tough, the mid-50's era two-pound 200 watt iron is tough to beat on the big jobs.

Doc.
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