solder station

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by adrenalina, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. adrenalina

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    Hello everyone. I am thinking of getting a solder station, but I need help on picking a good model. I currently have a basic weller solder iron, the orange one. It's pretty good for the price I think, but I want to move on to something better.
    I also want to start working with smd parts, so I need a solder station that can solder this types of parts. I also don't want to spend more than $150 dollars.
    I currently have seen this model weller wtcpt: http://www.amazon.com/WTCPT-Temperature-Controlled-Soldering-Station/dp/B00004W463

    Can you guys recommend me some models?
     
  2. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    We just picked up some of the new Hakko FX-888 stations. They are great... Very comfortable grips/low tip cost/wide tip assortment/adjustable temp control,etc... Probably the best value out there for a well known/quality brand.
     
  3. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    I use one of these, though I don't use the tip tool, just hot air. An associate of mine uses it and says it is good. I believe it uses Hakko style tips.
     
  4. adrenalina

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    the Hakko solder station looks pretty good. is the standard tip that comes with the station suitable for through hole and smd work or would I need to buy another tip for smd?
     
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Hakko is a pretty small tip.. But if you want hot air too then the one ErnieM posted looks pretty good for that price too.
     
  6. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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  7. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    I can tell you one brand not to buy... :p Radio Shack. A friend who was moving out of town gave me quite a bit of electronics stuff before he moved, as he didn't want to have to move it. The Radio Shack was a digital model that could display the tip temperature in either degrees F or C on an LCD. The overall mechanical design wasn't too bad, but the firmware was designed by an idiot.

    It did some obnoxious beeping when you turned it on or when you pressed a button (and you couldn't turn the beeping off). It always started at the lowest temperature setting -- this was my biggest beef, as I wanted it to remember the last setting I had used. Then you had this long wait while pressing a button to change the display to read the setting you wanted (it should have incremented in 10 degree increments, but used 1 degree increments instead). I would have expected this poor design from something made 30 years ago when digital stuff was still relatively new, but not now.

    Fortunately, the thing just quit working one day. I salvaged what I could of parts and tossed the rest in the garbage. Now I'm back to using a 25 watt Weller iron I bought in the 1970's.

    I will NEVER use another soldering iron that uses a digital display. The most I'll go for is a pot with a printed dial; those Hakko FX-888 irons look like what I ought to get.
     
  8. nickelflipper

    Active Member

    Jun 2, 2010
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    Ha, I made the very same jump from the Weller WL100C to the WTCPT based on a recommendation. Light years difference in construction and performance. I really like the quick heat up time.

    No problem soldering tssop with 0.63mm pitch. Haven't really tried the 0.5mm pitch stuff. Doing smt is just as much about technique and using a liquid flux pen than the iron tip itself. My favorite tip right now is the long screwdriver tip PTK7. Did manage to burn thru a long conical PTS7 tip, and once I started with PTK7, I haven't gone back.
     
  9. adrenalina

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    After looking at the links and replies, I think I am going to go with the hakko. Just another quick question, do you use lead or lead free solder? I have read that its harder to solder with lead free solder is this true?
     
  10. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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  11. TBayBoy

    Member

    May 25, 2011
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    I purchased the weller wes51 from Parts Express for $95.00
     
  12. adrenalina

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 4, 2011
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    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011
  13. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Ordered from all-spec before.. No problems.
    You will be happy with the hakko unit. Its very nice quality.
     
  14. saturation

    Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    22
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    All-spec and Kimco are very professional. All-spec has a better online ordering site, they will you give a lot of receipts, invoices and prompt shipping. I don't know the first one.

    The FX888 is a IMHO the best analog station out today; its a bang for buck. The Weller WES51 is the equivalent, but Hakko is far more consistent in quality, parts, and support. Weller is good today, but it wasn't a few years ago, and then it was again, the years before that.

    If you use lead free solder, it will be important to keep soldering temps below 350C otherwise tip wear will increase 3-4x. This can be done easily with a well regulated iron that is calibrated, so you know to stay below 350C as much as possible. You can easily calibrate the Hakko with eutectic solder, say SnCu0.7, which melts are precisely 227C, so you can confirm the knobs on the Hakko point properly, and adjust as needed ... this is simpler than using a thermocouple.
     
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