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Author Topic: Soildering Iron  (Read 2261 times)

Posts: 555

« on: February 13, 2006, 09:23:51 PM »

Perhaps I am not the person to ask since I use my Iron professionally, however as an old Soldering Gunslinger, I felt that I ought to chime in.  

The iron on my work bench is an old Hako, however the iron which gets the most use is my Edsyn CL 1080 portable iron. It is a temperature controlled 70 watt iron which is ESD safe.  I also have the IR089 portable iron rest which allows me to lock the iron into the rest, fold the rest and put the hot iron back into the tool case.  Very handy for someone in my profession, however, IIRC, it set me back around $250 total, Iron and rest.  

Check out for current pricing.



Posts: 9

« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2006, 08:49:26 PM »

What is the best Soildering Iron on the market today? -Jim,Kc0usq

Posts: 9930

« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2006, 08:52:47 PM »

for what purpose, I use a 15 watt  radio shack for most small type of soldering of parts, and a weller 120 watt gun for the bigger stuff, and I used to have a 400 watt beast ( really made for soldering leaded glass) for connectors, so what use? do you need a variable soldering station, or production wave solder tank.. a little more info Please..

Posts: 380


« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2006, 05:54:28 AM »

Really need to know WHAT type of soldering you want to do, but assuming just general stuff around the shack. . .
I would suggest a WELLER WESD-350.  It is a Temperature controlled station with digital readout of the adjustible temps of about 350º to 850º.  You can do fairly delicate close in circuit board work, yet crank it up a bit for those larger solder lugs on older equipment.  It has a wide variety of tip sizes, and other accessories.  

For coax connectors and larger items I would suggest a WELLER D-650 200-300 watt GUN.  That has enough "UMPH" to get enough heat on large connectors outdoors in the wind.  The 150 watt model will do you well too, but it's not just quite as beefy when it comes to getting enough heat quick enough on LARGE items.
nope don't work for Weller... I just have never had a problem with the ones I have.

Posts: 2193

« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2006, 06:01:18 AM »

Wellers are ok, but be sure you get the kind which has the element that can be replaced, otherwise if the heating element goes out, it's going to cost you $75 to replace the whole iron. That's my only gripe with wellers.

Posts: 1066

« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2006, 06:03:39 AM »

I don't know what you mean by "best". For several years I've used a low cost "Antex" soldering iron, model X25 (25 Watt). The replacement model is the XS25 ( While I appreciate these models are not necessarily available in the USA, there will be something similar.

The irons take several different sizes of tips from 1/4" to pointed. I've built and repaired all manner of equipment with one, including building in recent years Elecraft K1, K2 and Z-11 ATU.

When I worked in the electronics industry, I was issued with a Weller TCP-1 (nick named temperature controlled poker). While generally OK, they were no better (and in my opinion often worse) than an XS25 as the Antex iron has a fairly large lump of metal behind the tip of the bit which helps transfer heat to the joint quickly.

I've used my X25 with lead-free solder without a problem too... Don't forget you will need a stand of some sort. End of advert for Antex!

73 Dave

Posts: 1220

« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2006, 06:52:31 AM »

I have a 200/275  weller  gun I bought in 1960 while in the army. I also use an UNGAR pencil with small and 1/4 tips at 35 watts. I also have a 35 watt iron with a pistol grip handle.
 I also have a 100/200 watt Weller gun which I got at a garage sale for $5...Almost new in steel box with plastic cutting tip and someother tips.
I have a 100 watt   Wen  also, but their tips tend to overheat and bubble up black,and then won't transfer heat. Have to keep  triggering onand off to keep heat right.
  Soldering tools are like ten dollar bills.  cant have too many.


Posts: 108


« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2006, 07:35:01 AM »

 Actually the best iron for the job will probably mean you should have several different types.
1) I like a big old 1930s type of iron for soldering PL-259s.
2) For intricate printed circuit board work, you’ll need a temperature-controlled iron that has static ground protection and a very small tip.
3) For general soldering jobs I have an old Craftsman gun that I found in an antique store for $5.  It looks really nasty but it puts out about 350 watts of heat that will warm the solder in short order, even outside in winter in a 20 knot wind.
4) A butane torch is also handy and you can get one of these with a soldering tip at Home Depot.

Posts: 149

« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2006, 07:46:40 AM »

I vote for the HAKKO 936 series solder station. For 20+ years I used the covenanted Weller unit, but cooper has cut quality and raised prices. The cost of replacement parts, such as a new heater, is outrageous.

The HAKKO 936 has static control, you can calibrate the temperature, a myriad of tips to choose from, the handle is balanced much better than the Weller's.

ok it's a bit pricey! about $100.00
but this will be a one time investment and last you for many many years

by the way I find tip# 900M-T-2.4D excellent for soldering PL259 connectors

Check out the product reviews for more information on the HAKKO product

Marty, KA7GKN

Posts: 1421


« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2006, 08:50:01 AM »

What's the best screwdriver on the market today?

Well, what kind of screw do you need to drive?

And what kind of soldering do you want to do?

For small gutter repair and light plumbing work, I use a Bernz-O-Matic propane torch.  When I have to do a large job, I have an old plumber's gasoline torch that I bought at a flea market.

For heavy electrical work, I use either a Craftsman 135-W soldering gun or a 100-W American Beauty iron.  I prefer the iron for continuous, production-type work.

For chassis-level work on boat anchor gear and general bench work, I use a Weller WTCPT controlled-temperature soldering station station.

For PCB work, I use a Pace industrial station that supports a temperature controlled iron and a desoldering tool.  The iron can be replaced with heated tweezers or other SMT tools.

For antenna work outdoors, I use a Weller Pyropen.

Posts: 1146

« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2006, 08:51:58 AM »

"What is the best Soildering Iron on the market today?"

I assume one thing: you do mean best.

Of course, "best" is very subjective so I will list a few that seem to fit the category.

1.  Weller self-contained solder/desoldering station, model WRS3000 for about $1366.

2.  Weller digital soldering station, total cost about $560. Weller model WD1000 with WSP80 iron and WCB1 programming module.

2.  Weller WSD1001 digital soldering station, about $285.

Or, you can get a combination of top quality soldering stations, desoldering air type stations, and maybe some good rework machines all for under $5000.

I actually do not use any of these and I am only assuming that they are "best" because of cost and a few other reviews available on the Internet.  I have several different sized soldering irons, the most expensive is about $30.

Posts: 395

« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2006, 10:09:24 AM »

I've been happy with Ungar and Weller.  I've also used Hakko and they are fine.

I have NOT been happy with radio shack variety and all those inexpensive irons at around 10 dollars.  I also was NOT happy with Antex as the tips fall off too easily.

When selecting an iron, hold it and see if it fits your hand nicely and feels "balanced".  Also, look at the tip.  I do not know what they do with those tips, but most shiny ones, the plated materials deteorate so quickly and wet (with solder) badly that they are difficult to use for long term.  The dull plated ones seem to last months, if not years.

I do not use the kind with temp control.  I never felt the need for them.

Do not try to buy ONE iron for all uses.  You'll need at least two, possibly more.  One for small electronics work and the other for connectors.  I have 5 and still not enough.....  I'd suggest spending about 30-40 dollars for an ungar or weller.  Parts are available and they are good.  You can find them for about 10 dollars at hamfests with new tips, also.

Posts: 3161

« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2006, 09:07:01 AM »

Jim -

Look at the product reviews under Ham Workbench, etc.
I personally have several Pace and Weller models in the shop.

The Weller WES51 and Hakko 936-12 are comparable soldering stations. I know happy and unhappy buyers/users of both products - so it is a matter of individual preferences AND local support / parts availability - where you live.

The Hakko 936 is popular with many amateurs, BUT the cost of replacement logic boards and heaters for the Hakko are higher than Weller last time I priced parts.

Weller/Cooper Tools did move their manufacturing to Mexico in 2003 and had to retool its production to meet current no Lead initiatives (Japan, Europe, California) - leading to some higher costs.  
Hakko had to meet these no lead initaitves in Japan (where mcuh of this started) much earlier than US or Europe.  The Yen/Dollar exchange rates also have not been kind to Hakko - they have also had to raise prices or cut their profits.

The PES51 replacement iron for the Weller WES51 is only $29.95 at Fry's.
The Hakko 907 iron is not sold at that price point (higher cost).

For me, I still repair and use the Weller "TCP" series (WTCPT current model) - easy to repair - requires no external calibration and in production for over 40 years now !


Posts: 3161

« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2006, 09:26:06 AM »

Regarding the K5DVW remark, you do NOT have to buy the entire iron - heaters are available spearately from Welelr dealers and distributors (e.g. Wassco, Action-Electronics, ACK, Contact East, Mouser, Fry's Electroncis).  Repalcement irons are avaalbel for consumers with no DIY electronics repair background.

The 2 most common Weller heaters are the:

TC208 (wired-in heaater used in TCP-1 and TCP-201 irons as well as early EC series irons - circa 1970s)
You can identify this heater by the 4 screws holding it to the older style bakelite handle (black or blue/green).

The EC234 heater is a plug-in heatrer introduced in the last 1970s and used with the TC-201P and TC-201T irons as well as the popular EC1201A irons.
You can identify this heater by 2 screws on flange and black insulator atop the nylon handle.

These parts are sold for less than $29 from a variety of resellers (shop around for best price between $20 and $29).

BTW, Weller changed its manufacturing process in 2003 -- (partially due to no-lead retooling).  

These new heaters (after 2002) are SWAGGED at the end -- identical to the PES51 iron producton and mfg. -- this MAY require a new BA60 barrel nut - if you have an older TCP or EC series iron.


repairing Weller TCP series stations sicne 1975.

Posts: 2193

« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2006, 06:32:11 AM »

W9GB, I'm really not making this stuff up. For the Weller iron I have, a replacement "heater" costs around $100 new. It isnt the type where the heater can be replaced. It consists of the entire iron assembly. All this is according to my Weller dealer and he says the heater element in some models aren't  field replaceable. If you know something different, I have a really nice burned out iron I'd like to fix and I'd like to not spend enough to buy a new iron.
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