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Soldering Irons

Discussion in 'Home Brew' started by NorthStar, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    Soldering irons are just like other tools, one size very seldom 'fits all'. If you're doing circuit board type stuff, a 200 watt iron isn't too practical. If you're trying to put PL-259's on coax, a 15 watt iron isn't very practical. A 3 feet long screw driver is a handy thing to have around at times, but can also be a real PITA if it's the only one you got...
    - 'Doc


     

  2. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur
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    As usual Doc hits the nail on the head in his own unique way. (y)
    A variable soldering station is a good investment if you do a lot of soldering but even then sometimes you need something larger. I used to use a Weller iron with either a 25 watt or 47 watt element. I preferred to use the irons with the replaceable elements. Don't ask why,just old school I guess.Having been soldering on a somewhat professional level for about 30 years I have been able to use a hotter than recommended iron without burning anything simply by applying and withdrawing the tip so as to allow a decent temperature to the joint without burning.I only use the tiny 15 watt elements on SMD stuff and rarely at that. Occasionally I need to use the 80 watt iron or the 325 watt gun but that is not for PC board stuff. :laugh: In any event whatever tips you use I highly suggest the iron clad tips over the regular copper tips. They stay MUCH cleaner and will last a lot longer. Just do NOT file them to shape them.They are actually copper tips that are first clad in iron and then plated with either nickel or in some cases silver. Whatever iron you choose try and use a good solder with it. DO NOT USE ACID CORE SOLDER on electronics. You will be sorry. 60/40 is good but something with 2 or 3% silver content is great. It makes better connections and will bond to odd materials like steel or nickel better.
     
  3. bushwacker

    bushwacker Active Member

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    Hexacon dial a temp
    weller portasol
    Unger hot vac station
    Weller wes51
    Weller 8200 gun
    A few other small butane irons.
    Tenma station

    At work we have 2 Dragon smd2000 "chip master". That thing is nice.
     
  4. DIRTYWHITEBOY

    DIRTYWHITEBOY Active Member

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    the hexacon looks like a quality product but the handle looks huge even on the mini iron,on the antex the tip slides over the element making it very efficient and the handles are real small
    25 watt xs top,18 watt cs bottom

    [​IMG]
     
    #19 DIRTYWHITEBOY, Dec 23, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  5. bushwacker

    bushwacker Active Member

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    I use an old Hexacon Dial a Watt.
    Its not too bad for size.... it was one of the smaller ones back when it was new.
    Its not as small as my newer weller irons for my station... those are so small and thin they are like darts.

    My hexacon has been the most reliable ofver the years. I still use it... its just getting harder and harder to find new tips for it.
    2009-12-27-28713 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I might pick up this new solderinmg station later this week. there is a guy in BC thats selling them pretty cheap. ( I'm close to BC).
    I don't know how good the brand is.... but its only $120... I think I'm going to check one out.
    ReworkStation952_400 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
     
  6. n9zas

    n9zas Member

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    Weller model # WESD 51 and kester water-sol
    leadless solder.
    n9zas
     
  7. how would something like this work for the casual beginning solderer ?
    Parts-Express.com:Stahl Tools STSSVT Variable Temperature Soldering Station | soldering soldering tools soldering station solder station stahl tools stssvt variable temperature soldering station soldering iron solder pcb circuit board gift ideas Aar

    [​IMG]

    $12 and variable from 5 - 40 watts ...
    i guess for someone who solders every day it wouldnt be durable enough . but for the casual user would it probally be ok ? outside of soldering pl-259's ..........
     
  8. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur
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    Those lead free solders with the water soluble flux are proving to be not all they are supposed to be. Many of the lead free solders have either poor wetting properties which leads to a poor connection and in the case of high tin content, tin whiskers which results in microscopic dead shorts. The water based flux, unless it is COMPLETELY cleaned from the circuit board will absorb moisture from the air and cause corrosion of the connection due to galvanic action.

    I pick up a roll of good old 60/40 Sn/Pb solder whenever I can and especially the 61.5/35.5/3 Sn/Pb/Ag type whenever I manage to find it for a decent price. Greenies be damned,I want the same stuff that is PROVEN to last for decades. (y)
     
    #23 Captain Kilowatt, Mar 11, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  9. n9zas

    n9zas Member

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    Point well taken. This what I have been using professionally since 2006. Kester SN63PB37 #66 size is .040 J-std-006 Made in the USA. After a pcb is completed you can nearly see yourself in our 4 layer boards with no residue or overcoat. This is "Organic core solder". Clear hot water rinse is all that's necessary,to give you "wave"machine quality.
    This our site Integrated Control Systems
    n9zas
     
  10. Cityboy

    Cityboy Active Member

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    If you want an extremely versatile and extremely professional soldering iron then look at the Pace group of soldering irons and desoldering stations. They are quite pricey but you get what you pay for. I have the Pace ST-115 and has the capabilities of switching out for many, many different applications for SMT to even removal of cpu 64 pin. The only problem is the cost which even there cheapest simple soldering station runs in the $150(analog) all the way up into the $1000's. I have the SX-90 desoldering hand piece and the PS-90 soldering hand piece which work great on the ST-115 power supply. It can heat up in less than 1 min to 650 degrees and will has not varied more than 1-2 degrees of the set point no matter if I hit a wet sponge or not. Very, very accurate systems but they are more of an industrial station that believe it or not is made in the U.S.A.
     
  11. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    I'm afraid I will never see a need for a $700+ soldering iron/station!
    - 'Doc
     
  12. Cityboy

    Cityboy Active Member

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    Pace soldering stations are the very best and if you work on electronics on several occassions a month than the investment will be well worth it. I used to buy the less expensive RS brand and then bought a Weller EC2002M with a 1201A handpiece and it was what I thougt a good soldering iron station. The Pace well surpasses the quality of the Weller and may not be worth it to some but if your serious into the hobby and want to grow farther and use more of there accesories then you could easily expand it with the purchase of the power supply and hand pieces and it is made in the USA.
     
  13. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

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    I figure that 'Pace' is about like Nissan and Toyota, which are both assembled here in the USA from parts from other countries. Or Fords and Chevys which are sometimes assembled here, from parts sometimes made here.
    For $700 dollars, I think I can substitute a little work and skill in soldering, and have enough left over for a lot of beer.
    - 'Doc
     
  14. Peddler

    Peddler SWR (sandwich with rum) Expert

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    I just finished repairing a phone line ... soldered the wires with a 99 cent Bic lighter , resin core solder , and some shrink wrap...looks rather well.:whistle:
     
  15. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator
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    I use a Weller WSD51 station for most work and a 150 watt gun for doing PL-259's.
     

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