Which soldering iron to get started?

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Kosmikos
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Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Kosmikos » Sat Jan 09, 2021 5:42 pm

I’ve started building my first diy beginners module today and the solder iron’s tip lasted only half the build. :waah:

The temperature was set to around 370C, so I don’t think I’ve over done it.

Ok, I’m a novice but I was expecting to fail on the technique, not on the tools.

I got a cheap amazon « 5 stars rated - product. I now suspect I need better quality soldering tool, or tips, and that rating was somehow not related to the product durability but to its cheap price. Don’t judge, I’m learning!

The question is what should I do at this stage? I’m not sure this is going to be a long term hobby, but I think I’m not too bad at it so I might continue buying kits from time to time (I have a stereo mixer to do next). Should I invest in a better iron? Which model brand? Or should I just buy better tips, where and which ones?

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MikeDB
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by MikeDB » Sat Jan 09, 2021 8:48 pm

Can you link to the one you bought ? I actually got a cheap one from Amazon a while back for some odd jobs and I've kept using it over my Antex.

And how did the tip fail ? Pitted or broke off ?

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Kosmikos
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Kosmikos » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:46 am

The tip stopped conducting the heat in a uniform way. I had to start rolling it to get the hot points. It now does look pitted under a magnifier.
This is the one:


It was ok to start with, and started causing issues an hour in the job.

soejrd
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by soejrd » Sun Jan 10, 2021 4:43 am

I highly recommend the TS100, fantastic little guy for no big money.

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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by eljay » Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:08 am

Aoyue have a number of soldering solutions to meet a range of budgets. I would suggest something like an Aoyue 937+ soldering station from pcb-soldering.co.uk would be a good choice on a budget, circa £60. I have a slightly older version of the same thing and this has lasted over four years albeit I have bought some replacement tips. It provides simple to set tip temperature, I set mine at around 360. I've built circa 60 modules, both through hole and SMD so it's had plenty of use.

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Prunesquallor
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Prunesquallor » Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:50 am

Dude, there's already an active thread on this subject. Searching isn't difficult.

https://muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic ... 9&start=25
If at first you don't succeed read the instruction manual.

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veets
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by veets » Sun Jan 10, 2021 7:43 am

A lot of folks on the forum like Hakko. I've been using the FX888 for five years without a spot of trouble. It's reasonably priced and Hakko has dozens of different size and function tips for it.

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Flounderguts
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Flounderguts » Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:15 am

+1 on TS100.

I also have an Aoyue 888 that has been really good to me, esp for money.

The main drawback of the TS100 is the long tips...you can't choke up on it. But it really is a great iron, and I use mine more than 50% of the time right now.

If your tip was eaten up really quick, it could be from not keeping it tinned properly, especially if you're using acid fluxes. Overheating it will do it as well...370 C is pretty toasty, if you left it on overnight or something, that could hose a tip!
The soldering practices I learned in school were junk...it wasn't until I was destroying stuff on the job that I learned how important good solder hygiene is!
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ericneilj
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by ericneilj » Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:35 am

using your tip correctly is much more important than which iron you use. I use a tip tinner once every few days, use only a brass sponge for tip cleaning (prevents thermal shock and maintains consistent tip temperature). 310-320 C for a leaded 63/37 with R or RA flux. When turning off the iron for more than a few minutes, switch of the heat and flood the tip with solder, tap the excesses solder off the tip and let the amount that remains protect the tip from oxidizing. I’ve been using my current tip for about a year with no noticeable degradation.

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Randy
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Randy » Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:54 am

I've always found it odd that beginners think they should start with stuff that is not what so-called experts would use. I think that's the opposite of what should actually happen. A beginner needs all the help they can get. Like quite a few people here, I use Hakko. I had just started building things but figured I'd buy a good soldering station that would last me for a long time. The Hakko has been amazing. I've built most of my modular setup and HO model railroad switches, repaired motorcycle throttles (old Bultaco Sherpa and Yamaha TY250) and all sorts of other stuff. Grab something good to start and you won't get frustrated.

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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by ashleym » Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:11 am

As you are UK based and on a relative budget (?), get an Antex. Go for the most expensive you can to try and get the best tool you can. if you found out you are spending up to the level of the solder stations mentioned, ask again. The Antex irons are student proof and built a fair number of synthesisers from the 1970s onwards. plus you can get spares and new tips for them. Also as mentioned, get some decent solder and learnt how to solder. If you need a copper wire solder wiper, you can get endless ones from Ebay.

I had an Antex for years, it is still in a box somewhere. Then a Maplin solder station (those were the days!! lent out to a neighbour) and now a Weller

antex soldering iron
Last edited by ashleym on Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

jingo
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by jingo » Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:16 am

If you plan to continue soldering I would go for a JBC station like the CD-2BQE T245-A and get some soldering tips for different use cases. It's expensive, yes, but you won't look back, promise :)

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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by DanaFo » Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:33 pm

As a fellow beginner do not try to cheap out you will end up destroying your confidence and wonder why you can't get results that look so easy in the tutorial vids.

This a very solid unit, auto shutdown, auto wake up, consistent temperature and uses common t12 tips.
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07V8S ... UTF8&psc=1

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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by DanaFo » Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:39 pm

Flounderguts wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:15 am
+1 on TS100.

I also have an Aoyue 888 that has been really good to me, esp for money.

The main drawback of the TS100 is the long tips...you can't choke up on it. But it really is a great iron, and I use mine more than 50% of the time right now.

If your tip was eaten up really quick, it could be from not keeping it tinned properly, especially if you're using acid fluxes. Overheating it will do it as well...370 C is pretty toasty, if you left it on overnight or something, that could hose a tip!
The soldering practices I learned in school were junk...it wasn't until I was destroying stuff on the job that I learned how important good solder hygiene is!
I discovered that using a brass sponge to the point of saturating it with solder actually allows me to tin the tip just by rolling the tip in the bottom of the holder. I still use a tin tipper product at the end of a long session before shutting down.

On the 888 can you use the heat gun to desolder or is it too hot for the components? I'm assuming otherwise it's useful for smd?

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PrimateSynthesis
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by PrimateSynthesis » Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:41 pm

I was going to say Weller WTCPT, but it looks like it was discontinued :woah:
FS: Rare Morley Rotating Wah Oil Can Delay!

Since the forum has gone back to being 100% community funded, I've decided to donate half the proceeds from the Morley Rotating Wah this thread is supposedly selling :miley:

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... p?t=131332

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B0bcat
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by B0bcat » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:23 pm

Hakko all the way.
I think out of all people who skimp on their first iron, 50% are needlessly discouraged and quit DIY, and the other 50% eventually buy a better iron. Be smart and apply that first investment toward a real iron in the first place
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cinnatoastg
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by cinnatoastg » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:29 pm

Not really a budget iron, but I've used an ERSA i-con 1 ever since I've started. It rocks. I've used some cheapie amazon/harbor freight soldering irons before and there was no comparison.
WTB/WTTF Happy Nerding HM Vco


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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by 3hands » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:33 pm

Randy wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:54 am
I've always found it odd that beginners think they should start with stuff that is not what so-called experts would use. I think that's the opposite of what should actually happen. A beginner needs all the help they can get. Like quite a few people here, I use Hakko. I had just started building things but figured I'd buy a good soldering station that would last me for a long time. The Hakko has been amazing. I've built most of my modular setup and HO model railroad switches, repaired motorcycle throttles (old Bultaco Sherpa and Yamaha TY250) and all sorts of other stuff. Grab something good to start and you won't get frustrated.
We need to talk trains and motorcycles!!
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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Kosmikos » Sun Jan 10, 2021 2:53 pm

Thanks everyone, I’m overwhelmed by the support and advices.
I’ve finished my build this morning after changing the tip, and I think the iron is junk. The first tip has probably overheated as I tried to increase the temperature to make up for the lack of constant heat. I suspect having an iron I can trust the temperature setting is going to be the really important.

I have a second project, slightly more complicated, so I need to get this sorted.
I’ll start looking into your recommendations ASAP.

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Re: Which soldering iron to get started?

Post by Flounderguts » Sun Jan 10, 2021 4:30 pm

DanaFo wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:39 pm

I discovered that using a brass sponge to the point of saturating it with solder actually allows me to tin the tip just by rolling the tip in the bottom of the holder. I still use a tin tipper product at the end of a long session before shutting down.

On the 888 can you use the heat gun to desolder or is it too hot for the components? I'm assuming otherwise it's useful for smd?
Yeah, a saturated brass sponge is a good tool. I have to admit I like the little flat tin of tipper. I have it glued to the top of my temp control box.

The 888 heatgun is a full temp hot air rework gun. It heats up fast, but it cools down slow. The temp can be controlled really well, so you can have it under 100 C easily. I mostly use it for heatshrink, as most of the hot air rework I do is in the field, so I have a battery operated one that I prefer.

The Aoyue looked like a cheapo iron when I got it...it was a stopgap because I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the cash for a Hakko when I first started building. But it has been a rockstar, and I prefer it to the Hakko I have at the workshop. If I had one complaint it would be that the handle gets a bit warm after an hour or two.
Oh, and the footprint of the machine is a bit big...for my bench.
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