Hamish

Anyone recomend a decent soldering station?

26 posts in this topic

WAnt to treat myself to a new soldering station as my soldering iron has seen better days!

Any one got any recomentations?

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The Maplins 48 watt one is perfectly adequate, tips are cheap from germany, not Maplins, and it has very good temp control and an lcd readout.

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Thirded. I have two as my company keeps throwing them out as they seem to regard a change to Metcal as an upgrade.:doh:

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Weller or Oki/Metcal all the way.

Having used both at Uni (studying electronics):

A Weller TCP is a bit old fashioned, a bit chunky, and takes a while to reach temperature, but is fixable and should last forever with an occasional tip, element and temp stat (all are service items). Parts are widely available and should remain so - it's been in production for years.

The Oki/Metcal RF kit is supeiror in almost every way: it heats faster, directs the heat better, maintains control better, the tip is slimmer and lighter, and it's generally brilliant to use. The element is part of the tip, and is guaranteed for as long as the tip (which is the only service item) lasts. That said, it is less maintainable than the Weller - if the power supply dies (not likely, but not unheard of) it will be easier and cheaper to replace it outright than have it repaired. Parts supply is good, but anything more than tips gets expensive.

The temperature of both types is controlled by the choice of tip. It's much easier to swap the tips on the Metcal, so you could have a low-temp fine tip for PCB work and a chunkier higher-temp tip for bigger stuff. With the Weller switching the tip is fiddly, so you end up with a compromise. Some people (i_s_c for example) prefer the more recent (and expensive) variety of Weller with a temperature control dial, but personally I find that an iron with decent temp control and reasonable output power is fine at a single temp for most jobs

I have used a "Precision gold" station just like the £50 48w Maplin one, and it was awful: avoid like the bubonic. The iron is a poor design, so much of the power is wasted to the surrounding air, and for the stuff I was soldering (capacitors in a small amplifier) I had to have the temp pretty much at maximum and use the thermal mass of the tip to melt the solder: I had to wait for the temp to go up again between each joint. If I didn't manage to de-solder a wire in time, the solder would re-solidify as the iron cooled down. With a Metcal I wouldn't even have needed to think about the iron's temperature: it would have done it straight off, every time.

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I have a Weller WSD81. One of the best investments for DIY that I made. No need to swap tips as temperature is set by the station and it warms up in <30 secs.

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Oh how I dream of a 48W maplins iron, I only have a 40W one. I thoroughly enjoy taking 20secs to heat up a tag on the back of a speakon, praying to the solder gods that the solder will flow before the plastic of the speakon melts....

Time to buy a proper one me thinks:doh:

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Oh yes - only use leaded solder (which can still be bought, although it's harder to find since RoHS came in). Lead free solder is a royal pain in the hole.

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Lead free is like soldering with jelly if you don't complete the joint within a few seconds of heating. Plus it's a real shit if you have to use it to solder modern cheap wire as the heat needed soon starts to burn the sleeving back if you're not careful. Try to avoid if you can!

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If you use the small tips on the Maplins job it's crap, you need the wide tip then it's easy. I never run mine over 230'degrees.

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