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Soldering Iron Recommendations

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Antares JS

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I'm looking to get into Eggtimer products since I can get a complete GPS system for under $200 from them, but the problem is I've never soldered in my life. I figure it's a useful skill to pick up either way though, and I've picked out a couple of little learner's kits to get started (one with through-hole, and one with surface mounting), but when I went to look for a soldering iron, I found myself overwhelmed with the number of choices. I may be overthinking the whole thing, but I would like to ask those who have successfully built Eggtimer products to recommend me a soldering iron. I'm hoping not to spend too much more than $50.
 

CalebJ

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Check out the hot air rework stations. You can get one for about the price you listed and they're incredible for surface mount work.
 

prfesser

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I won't recommend this type, I'll simply say that it's worked fine for me, assembling a Quark and some other electronics jobs, but YMMV. I got mine elsewhere at $20 with free shipping.
The iron has adjustable temperature though the tiny dial is hard to read. Some kits come with a"stand" that is a flat piece of plastic or metal with a fold-up wire rest. The coil rest is much better. Five or six different tips come in handy.

Best -- Terry
 

Crazyrocket

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I got a Hakko 888FD soldering iron. It has temperature control and a decent iron with an assortment of tips. I initially got a cheap iron with 5 different power levels ($25), but it ended up always running way too hot and ruined a bunch of tips. I like to solder, so I spent a little more for a better unit. I think I paid $80 for the Hakko and love it. I have yet to ruin a tip as I can now dial in the correct temperature.
 

rockladen

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I got the TS100 soldering iron and absolutely love it. I had not soldered before either and practiced a little on those little learner kits. I quickly built skill and actually enjoyed building building the Eggtimer kits.

TS100 soldering iron
 

heada

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cerving

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Either the Hakko or the Weller irons are a good bet. Make sure you get the right tip... 1/32" spade or conical. And yes, you NEED a lighted magnifier.
 

SecondRow

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I was in the exact same boat as you are now. Last December, I had never soldered anything, and by March I had a working EggFinder. I started off with some cheap through hole kits I found on amazon. Then I moved to surface mount. I bought the Weller WLC100 40W, same as @heada above. I’ve found it very useful. You don’t need an expensive iron for these kits. Having good tips (and keeping them properly tinned) is probably more important.

One thing I’d suggest is getting good support equipment. A good lighted magnifier, helping hands, diagonal cutter. I ended up doing most of the work at the local makerspace because it has a large lighted magnifier and my eyes are garbage.

Have fun on this project. I really enjoyed learning how to solder. EggTimer kits are great, and I plan on buying the Quark and the Apogee (when it comes out).

Here’s my “learning how to solder” thread. It’s got some solid advice from other members on it. Hope it helps. https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/2020-goals-soldering-an-eggfinder.156529/
 
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Kelly

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I'll second the recommendation for the Weller WLC-100. I thought I would need a more expensive iron, but this worked great to put together some of Eggtimer's SMD kits a few months ago. Get some better tips, though - some fine point conicals. And yes, you'll need something to hold the board, and a lighted magnifier (if you're doing SMD).
 

neil_w

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I have the slightly beefier WES51 (no longer available), and it has been *more* than enough for whatever I've thrown at it. I expect the WLC-100 would a fine budget choice for this sort of use, given the proper tips.

Sadly I don't have much excuse to solder anything these days. I enjoy it, down to about 0604.
 

Greg Furtman

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I have both a inexpensive soldering station, variable temp & with various tips. I then bought a hot air station. The hot air station makes doing surface mounted components so much easier I couldn't believe it so if I were in the market to buy again I would get a station that has both, something like this.

PROSTORMER 2 Rework station
 
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cwbullet

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I have both a inexpensive soldering station, variable temp & with various tips. I then bought a hot air station. The hot air station makes doing surface mounted components so much easier I couldn't believe it so if I were in the market to buy again I would get a station that has both, something like this.

PROSTORMER 2 Rework station
I have to agree it is well reviewed and the price is right.
 

neil_w

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That is a lot of functionality for $59, if the quality is OK.
 

PokerJones

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I would also highly recommend the Hakko FX888D. I have assembled dozens of eggfinder kits for myself and friends using it. I have a hot air station as well but rarely use it, mostly to remove soldered parts. It works for surface mount but you will need to solder just about everything else so you may as well learn.
 

cwbullet

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I would also highly recommend the Hakko FX888D. I have assembled dozens of eggfinder kits for myself and friends using it. I have a hot air station as well but rarely use it, mostly to remove soldered parts. It works for surface mount but you will need to solder just about everything else so you may as well learn.
I agree to agree the Hakko FX88D is a great iron.
 

Jeff Lassahn

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I've always had good luck with Weller.
Make sure whatever you get has temperature adjustment, and easy to replace tips in different sizes.

A non-soldering-iron tip: the number one thing you can do to make your soldering go well is to use the right amount of the right flux. Flux makes the difference between solder almost magically going exactly where you need it, and solder balling up and sticking everywhere you don't want it.
 

n27sb

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I bought a Hakko about 10 yrs ago. You get what you pay for. Many people go through a series of cheaper ones only to come back to Hakko. I usually use the 1/32 spade tip.

There are some excellent tutorials on Youtube.
This guy is really good
 

g.pitts

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I bought a Hakko about 10 yrs ago. You get what you pay for. Many people go through a series of cheaper ones only to come back to Hakko. I usually use the 1/32 spade tip.

There are some excellent tutorials on Youtube.
This guy is really good
You're so right - you get what you pay for. I have a pretty nice Weller setup with a good working range of temperatures, but if I were buying today I'd likely go with Hakko. Why? I know both Weller and Hakko are quality brands that produce a great product, but the aesthetics of the Hakko are a bit more to my liking.
 

n27sb

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You're so right - you get what you pay for. I have a pretty nice Weller setup with a good working range of temperatures, but if I were buying today I'd likely go with Hakko. Why? I know both Weller and Hakko are quality brands that produce a great product, but the aesthetics of the Hakko are a bit more to my liking.
I agree, The Hakko is more convenient to use.
 

OverTheTop

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I would suggest Hakko as good value for money. I personally would stay away from hot-air systems and just use a regular iron. They are capable of doing many things, including very fine pitch components. Temperature-controlled is a must, as it makes it so much better on the PCB when you are soldering. If you learn to solder with a cooler tip you can get many reworks out of a PCB if needed. I suggest somewhere south of 300degC (600degF) is where you should be traveling IMHO. There is rarely any need to go above 600F.

Hot air is good if you have an IC with a pad underneath that needs soldering, but otherwise a regular iron can do wonders. I do down to 0402 size by hand (40mil x 20mil), and fine pitch integrated circuits down to 16mil pitch, all with a regular iron. I personally run a JBC but $500 would probably be out of your budget ;). I do a lot of soldering so it was a birthday present to myself about 15 years ago.

Make sure you grab yourself a flux pen. I prefer an Electrolube pen like this:
FP.jpg

BTW, always wash the board after using a flux pen, especially if it says "No clean".
 

Antares JS

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I appreciate everyone's input; you've all been very helpful. I've decided to go with the Weller WLC-100 for now. The Hakko sounds good but it costs more than I'm willing to invest at this point. If I end up doing a lot of soldering in the future, I'll reconsider getting the Hakko, but for now I'm just looking to assemble a few Eggtimers and don't expect to need the iron for more than that at this point.
 

Greg Furtman

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I appreciate everyone's input; you've all been very helpful. I've decided to go with the Weller WLC-100 for now. The Hakko sounds good but it costs more than I'm willing to invest at this point. If I end up doing a lot of soldering in the future, I'll reconsider getting the Hakko, but for now I'm just looking to assemble a few Eggtimers and don't expect to need the iron for more than that at this point.
Does the Weller have different size tips? You'll need small chisel type tips.
 

CoAz2k

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I have the "5 in 1" Aoyue 738H from SRA Soldering products. It has served me well over the past few years. It has a soldering iron, hot air heat gun, vacuum pickup tool, smoke absorber and soldering tweezers. The digital controls are easy to use and it heats up quick.


I like the soldering iron. It has a vacuum tube above the soldering tip that captures most fumes.
 
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