Soldering Iron: What would you recommend

lakeroadster

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I need a soldering iron, what would you recommend?

Mostly I use it for soldering clip whips (22 gauge AWG wire. I haven't had a need, yet, to build / repair / maintain any circuit boards, but who knows what the future holds.

Last time I used my old iron it just didn't have the power to heat the (3) twisted 22 ga copper wires enough to melt the solder, so I used a torch.

Thanks in advance. :computer:

Sorry for the crappy photo...

009.JPG
 
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mh9162013

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Another vote for the Hakko 888D, but it might be overkill for what you need. So maybe the Weller WLC100 will be a more affordable and practical option. But if you want to invest in a high quality tool, you can't really go wrong with the Hakko 888D.

For years, I limped along with Radio Shack or generic pencil irons that put out 30-40 watts then inevitably broke after a few years. Got the Hakko 888D and can't see myself ever needing another iron.

It's the last soldering iron you'll likely ever need. If the Hakko 888D can't get it done, you're probably going to need a different tool, like a hot air rework station.
 

Handeman

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I've been using the one you pictured for 30+ years. I don't do circuit boards, other than homemade, through board, connections to the copper pads.
For soldering wires to terminals, etc. it works great. You do need to take a file to the tip and re-cone the tip once in a while and re-tin it. It works for me up to 20ga wire. The secret is to let it warm up long enough. 5+ minutes usually works but longer for thick wires might be better. I have a Weller soldering gun for the really heavy stuff.

If you need to do SMT, then refer to the post above.
 

lakeroadster

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I've been using the one you pictured for 30+ years. I don't do circuit boards, other than homemade, through board, connections to the copper pads.
For soldering wires to terminals, etc. it works great. You do need to take a file to the tip and re-cone the tip once in a while and re-tin it. It works for me up to 20ga wire. The secret is to let it warm up long enough. 5+ minutes usually works but longer for thick wires might be better. I have a Weller soldering gun for the really heavy stuff.

If you need to do SMT, then refer to the post above.

Thanks.... Now I need to head out to the barn to see if maybe that's what the issue was with the one I already have? Perhaps what I really need is a little patience?

Thanks for taking the time to write this.

I have a Weller soldering gun for the really heavy stuff.
I used to have one of those, too. It died on me many years ago.

I don't do much soldering.. but when I do it's usually on heavier gauge wire, or 4 pieces of lighter gauge wire twisted together, or but splices of wire.

Maybe the soldering gun would be a better fit for my needs? :dontknow:
 
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hobie1dog

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I don't do much soldering.. but when I do it's usually on heavier gauge wire, or 4 pieces of lighter gauge wire twisted together, or but splices of wire.

Maybe the soldering gun would be a better fit for my needs?
There's no substitute for higher wattage when it comes to heating up a larger mass of wire.
 

mh9162013

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But the digital temperature setting of the Hakko intrigues me. I may upgrade…
I usually don't need such fine temperature control, even when working on small circuit boards. I mean, going from 700 or 500 degrees is helpful. But 700 to 650 or 600? Ehh...

Using the right tip is just as important in my experience.
 

Sandy H.

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I have a Weller WES50 and I will buy another Weller product if this one ever dies.

As far as tips, I used to use a Radioshack pencil iron (likely 15-20w, but don't know) and when soldering steel chassis components, you used an acid based flux, not rosin like with electronics. It would corrode the tip quickly, but a quick clean-up with sandpaper and a re-tin worked great. I'd go through about 2 tips a year, but that was likely due to the acid and poor clean-up than the sanding.

As far as tip care goes, I firmly believe in getting a little tub of DeoxIT Tip Tinner and Cleaner. I don't use it every single time I use the iron, but it helps. Also, tin the tip with a blob of solder when you're not going to be using it for a minute or two and then get rid of the excess with one of those brass sponges right before soldering again, doing a light tin after wiping. Tip stays hot and unoxidized, solder is fresh and ready to conduct heat to the joint.

The above is my opinion only, I'm sure an expert would have better information, but it works well for me!

Sandy.
 

waltr

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Good tips Sandy.

For general soldering I use an old Weller 40W iron that I can still buy tip for.
For smaller surface mount parts (Eggtimer kits) I use a old Unger 15W iron.
For big stuff, heavy wires, brass/copper, I have a cheap 100W iron with a wood handle.

Allow time to warm up, clean and tin the tip each time you pick it up the solder a joint.
Heat to joint to be soldered then apply the solder. It should flow into the joint.

Use a good magnifier to examine the solder joints (Very important for small parts). The solder joint should be smmoth and shiny.
Use good solder with flux. 60/40 or 63/37 solder with rosin core flux works well. No need to use Lead Free solder, this is much hard to use and get a good joint.
Practice on some old scrap boards (tear apart any electronic thingy that no long works, Practice removing then re-install parts.
 

tjkopena

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Soldering's definitely more about practice and skill than tools. I recently got a Weller WE1010 like @jsdemar mentioned and it's very nice. But I see @waltr's work regularly and for sure he could do much more with the 20-year-old, 20-dollar, 20-watt Radio Shack iron I had used previously than I can with the Weller. I was better at soldering in college than I am now, which is the opposite of nearly all my non-physical skills, but is simply because back then I was doing simple soldering often and in some volume as a teaching assistant in robotics.

That said, the temperature readout & control and the comparatively rapid heating of the Weller does provide slight compensation to my current lack of practice and relative inexperience. There is also something to be said for better tools making tasks easier and more pleasant and therefore making you more likely to do & practice the task. I'm way more excited to solder with my Weller than with the Radio Shack just because it's nicer to use, which is a value all on its own.

(to be fair to myself, I didn't upgrade in hope of magically improving my soldering: my primary use at the moment is doing quantities of heat set inserts, so I needed an iron with more power, temperature control, and appropriate tips available)

Additional comment to the OP while shopping: I also got a small fume extractor which I recommend both in general and specifically the model I got, from Kotto.
 

cerving

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Good tips Sandy.

For general soldering I use an old Weller 40W iron that I can still buy tip for.
For smaller surface mount parts (Eggtimer kits) I use a old Unger 15W iron.
For big stuff, heavy wires, brass/copper, I have a cheap 100W iron with a wood handle.

Allow time to warm up, clean and tin the tip each time you pick it up the solder a joint.
Heat to joint to be soldered then apply the solder. It should flow into the joint.

Use a good magnifier to examine the solder joints (Very important for small parts). The solder joint should be smmoth and shiny.
Use good solder with flux. 60/40 or 63/37 solder with rosin core flux works well. No need to use Lead Free solder, this is much hard to use and get a good joint.
Practice on some old scrap boards (tear apart any electronic thingy that no long works, Practice removing then re-install parts.
Good advice, but you do NOT want to use rosin core solder for SMT work. You need a 63/37 no-clean solder like the Kester 245 that we ship with our kits. Also, don't use paste flux, even the no-clean type with SMT parts... it can act as an insulator between the pads and the parts unless you get it hot enough for it to boil off. I've seen plenty of reworks due to the use of the wrong flux. Use a no-clean liquid flux like Kester 951 instead, or better yet no flux at all. Our PC boards are pre-tinned so there's no reason to use any additional flux.
 

waltr

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Sorry Chris. On your Eggtimer kits I ONLY use the supplied Kester 245 solder and do not add or use any other flux.

For my own projects, including SMT, I use rosin core with excellent results. This does require proper cleaning.
 

rharshberger

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Sorry Chris. On your Eggtimer kits I ONLY use the supplied Kester 245 solder and do not add or use any other flux.

For my own projects, including SMT, I use rosin core with excellent results. This does require proper cleaning.
I did use the Kester 951 flux on a recent quark build...to help fix a bad solder bridge on the processor chip, it was a bad day....
 

Scrapmaster87

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Soldering's definitely more about practice and skill than tools. I recently got a Weller WE1010 like @jsdemar mentioned and it's very nice. But I see @waltr's work regularly and for sure he could do much more with the 20-year-old, 20-dollar, 20-watt Radio Shack iron I had used previously than I can with the Weller. I was better at soldering in college than I am now, which is the opposite of nearly all my non-physical skills, but is simply because back then I was doing simple soldering often and in some volume as a teaching assistant in robotics.

That said, the temperature readout & control and the comparatively rapid heating of the Weller does provide slight compensation to my current lack of practice and relative inexperience. There is also something to be said for better tools making tasks easier and more pleasant and therefore making you more likely to do & practice the task. I'm way more excited to solder with my Weller than with the Radio Shack just because it's nicer to use, which is a value all on its own.

(to be fair to myself, I didn't upgrade in hope of magically improving my soldering: my primary use at the moment is doing quantities of heat set inserts, so I needed an iron with more power, temperature control, and appropriate tips available)

Additional comment to the OP while shopping: I also got a small fume extractor which I recommend both in general and specifically the model I got, from Kotto.
Another vote for the Weller we1010. Gets to temperature in a hurry, won't scorch tiny parts, pumps the heat for larger parts.

My old Weller with the screw-in tips needs to go in the trash or some non-soldering duty.
 

neil_w

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I have a Weller WES50 and I will buy another Weller product if this one ever dies.
I have the exact same one. Why did I get it? Because that's what we had at work at the time. It is very good.

Sadly (?) I hardly ever do any soldering these days, so my iron sits unused most of the time. But I'm ready if the need should arise! :)
 

Handeman

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Another vote for the Weller we1010. Gets to temperature in a hurry, won't scorch tiny parts, pumps the heat for larger parts.

My old Weller with the screw-in tips needs to go in the trash or some non-soldering duty.
Consider flattening the tip and using it as a hot knife to cut rip-stop nylon. Of course, that's assuming you have a sewing machine and sew your own chutes... :)
 

Scrapmaster87

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Consider flattening the tip and using it as a hot knife to cut rip-stop nylon. Of course, that's assuming you have a sewing machine and sew your own chutes... :)
Never had much luck using a soldering iron to cut fabric, but oh yes I do my own chutes! I do however have permission from the wife to build a jumbo laser cutter to cut nylon (and her crafts as well).
 
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