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Author Topic: Looking for new soldering iron for general PCB work  (Read 7160 times)
ND9B
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« on: May 27, 2012, 04:15:41 PM »

I'm looking for a new soldering iron for general printed circuit board use. Two things it must have: It's own power switch and a pilot light. I do a lot of home brewing, so my iron is on for long periods of time. Any recommendations?

Bobby Dipole ND9B
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 09:07:48 PM by ND9B » Logged
KB4QAA
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 10:58:49 PM »

Weller WES-51
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KE5IUN
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 05:59:49 AM »

Haako FX-888, is outstanding.
 Wink
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2012, 07:17:32 AM »

The Weller WESD51 is great for general purpose PCB work. The Hako FX951 is better for surface mount components.

The difference between the WES51 and the WESD51 is that the WESD51 is safe for work where electrostatic discharge is a concern.
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W5FYI
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2012, 07:32:14 AM »

In my opinion, Haako is the best, when in a heavy-use environment. I also like Wellers--I bought a used one at a vo-tech auction, and it has performed flawlessly. I still use it routinely at work.  I can also vouch for the CSI models (http://www.circuitspecialists.com/solder-stations). I bought four of them for our high school robotics club and used them in physics class as well. For a low-dollar station, I can recommend them. You might also consider getting a variety of tips when you purchase the iron. Finally, if you are only doing a few solder joints at a time, a battery operated soldering iron might work for you. I used a Wahl when they first came out about forty years ago or so. They only heat up when you press the button, and they have a little spotlight to illuminate the work area. they are really handy for small projects and for portable (outdoor) work.
GL
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W9GB
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 09:15:29 AM »

Quote from: AA4PB
The difference between the WES51 and the WESD51 is that the WESD51 is safe for work where electrostatic discharge is a concern.
Really?

Virtually 90% of he parts are identical / interchangeable between these 2 models.
What is different?
WES51 is the Analog knob model, WESD51 is the Digital (3 digit) readout.  THAT'S it !
These are modern versions of the Weller EC1002 and EC2002 stations from 20th century.

Hakko FX-888 is the latest model of their earlier 926 and 936-12 series of soldering stations.
Hakko used Ceramic heaters for their irons -- Japan invested over $1 billion USD in ceramic R&D technology since 1980s.  They were hoping for a ceramic enhanced engine for the automotive industry -- game changer -- didn't realize that.

Ungar (California based) also used ceramic heaters, but they were acquired by Weller in 1996.
Weller primarily uses wire based heaters for their entry level stations.

The CSI products are Chinese clones or Taiwanese copies from Solomon (Sorny Roong Industrial Co., Ltd.) one of largest OEM mfg. in world.
http://soldering.com.tw/aboutus.html

Solomon SR-976 is a knock-off Hakko 926 (long discontinued)
http://soldering.com.tw/soldering-station.htm

w9gb
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 05:38:40 PM by W9GB » Logged
K8AXW
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2012, 09:25:36 AM »

9B:  You've asked a question that will no doubt bring solder melters out of the woodwork!  

I checked the two mentioned here.... the Weller and the Haako and see they're pretty expensive.  If a person has the bucks, then you can find soldering irons (stations) with unbelievable sophistication and price tags.

On the outside chance might be interested in a cheaper alternative, why not just buy an El cheapo $15.00 - $25.00 soldering iron like the Black Beauty which I've used for almost 50 years?  (The same one!) During this time I've gone through a couple feet of tips!

You say it will be on for hours at a time.  I was doing the same and made a simple modification to help save tips.  

I opened the "hot" line to the iron and installed an in line rocker switch available from ACE Hardware or similar hardware outlet.  I put a diode in series with the opened line and the switch bypasses the diode.  When I'm busy with something other than soldering, I snap the switch and it drops the voltage (and heat) about 50%.  When I want to solder, I snap the switch and wait less than half a minute and it's back up to temperature.

I even made my own soldering iron holder from a piece of 1 1/2 aluminum conduit with large holes drilled in the top side to vent heat and fabricated a base on which I anchored a plastic soap dish. I keep a wet sponge in the soap dish for cleaning the tip and when not in use, cover it with the lid.

I took the saved money and bought more parts!  Grin



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W9GB
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 07:50:34 AM »

Quote from: K8AXW
I checked the two mentioned here.... the Weller and the Haako and see they're pretty expensive.  If a person has the bucks, then you can find soldering irons (stations) with unbelievable sophistication and price tags.
American Beauty (Clawson, MI) is a great company that has been in existance since 1893.
Their irons are used in many industries (stain glass, coppersmiths, point-to-point electrical work).
They were slow in product changes to solid-state electronics soldering, but now offer stations for this work.
https://www.americanbeautytools.com/site/

It is RARE .... that I make a NEW purchase for my soldering stations since 1975.  

I learned how to repair soldering stations, while in college.  Until recently, broken, non-working solder stations were routinely trashed or given away (cheap).
 In almost every case, replacing a heater or other part for less than $20 fixed the station.
The Boatanchor Archives (BAMA) have the scanned manuals from my library for older stations, that we're not available.

I used every opportunity to learn: Boy Scouts, 4-H, high-school vocational classes, part-time maintenance work, and countless hours reading and with Elmer's ?

Quote
I'm looking for a new soldering iron for general printed circuit board use. Two things it must have: It's own power switch and a pilot light. I do a lot of home brewing, so my iron is on for long periods of time. Any recommendations?
A used Weller WTCP station is an easy, inexpensive entry level.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 08:03:14 AM by W9GB » Logged
AA4PB
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 09:34:05 AM »

"WES51 is the Analog knob model, WESD51 is the Digital (3 digit) readout.  THAT'S it !"

You are correct. The catalog page I looked at didn't mention ESD for the WES51 but other catalogs do. I have the WESD51 that I use for general purpose and a Hako that I use for SMD. Probably the Hako would be fine for general purpose work too with a different tip than I use.




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AD6KA
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2012, 10:26:49 PM »

Weller WTCPT
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WD4MTW
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 11:27:38 AM »

If the OP does a lot of homebrewing, this is a strange question to ask unless one enjoys using 110V $10 firestarter soldering irons. Maybe a nice homebrew project might be a light dimmer and neon bulb pilot light inside an enclosure with a controlled output outlet for the iron. That may sound like a joke, but it was essentially what my Pace soldering/desoldering station that I bought 30 years ago was complete with two Leviton wall dimmers inside.

For everything except SMD work, classic WTCPN/S type "magnestat' type irons have been the professional standard. Sixty watts is enough for most all jobs and you'll only buy one or two in your life if they're still made they way they used to be. Good sized grip that's not fatiguing or hot after hours of work.

For SMD work, you'd be better off with a Hakko 936 or clone station with it's smaller, pen sized iron. You usually get what you pay for, but in my experience some of the clones are just as good as the real deal. The 936 has become the defacto service standard that you can buy aftermarket tips for every need, heaters, replacement irons very inexpensively nearly everywhere.
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