Soldering Iron Advice

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Deve, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Deve

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 28, 2015
    91
    0
    I have an old Weller soldering station with the PT series tips. Since they don't make them anymore (for a very long time) I can't get GOOD IC tips anymore. When I get some new old stock, they are delaminated and deteriorated just over time. I really need to resolve this issue since I have lots of soldering in my future. If anyone knows of a source where I can get NEW new ones, please share.

    I would also entertain getting a new station. In this case, I want the best and the highest quality industry standard. I will be soldering circuit boards with IC's, transistors, other passive and discretes. Shrink tubing is used for most everything I do as well. I do not do alot of removing of parts but desoldering capability wouldnt hurt. Right now I just use my trusty solder sucker. Any and all suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks! As it is, the Weller 800 degree tips work like the 700's used to. I don't want to use too much heat!
     
  2. dl324

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 30, 2015
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  3. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    568
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    I have used mostly Metcal irons. I'd really suggest one of those if you are doing LOTS of soldering in a semi professional environment. The 5200 series isn't incredibly expensive, but is definitely a professional iron using ultrasonic heating element and delivering extra power when loaded heavily. Changing tips is very quick and easy as well. I usually only need two tips for this one. A J-lead and a normal size chisel. I will probably buy a metcal for the home lab in the next 5 years. But I'm a professional engineer too.

    I have been using the Hakko FX-888D at home. It's decent. I'm a little disappointed in the tip selection and size and the tip changing interface. It seems large in my hand and I have experienced problems with it not doing well with heavy loads - then I have to wait for the tip to cool for a hour so I can get 'big momma' chisel on. It does hold the heat usually... but it takes lots of time to get changed out so you have to plan how you are going to solder the board a bit more.

    Anyway... maybe more than you wanted to know.
     
  4. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    1,190
    156
    The best
    Metcal
    JBC

    Middle
    Weller Wes51
    Hakko FX-888D
     
  5. Stuntman

    Active Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    181
    47
    +1

    Never had the interest in spending what they want for a "top end" iron. At work we do quite a bit of PCB packing and repair (lots of SMT), as well as some harness soldering (big wires), and I can't say enough about the Weller WES51. I like it so much that when my Fakko 936 hit the skids, I bought a WES51 for home. I strongly considered the FX888, however, the auto-off on the Weller made it my choice.
     
  6. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
    4,415
    784
    When the Cooper Tools bean counters decided that Weller quality and reliability was an unnecessary extravagance, I tried Antex as a cheap/expendable stop gap - I've been using Antex ever since.
     
  7. Deve

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 28, 2015
    91
    0
    I like my old Weller, but every tip I order these days has problems with its construction. Its like the plating is delaminating or something. The system TC201 IS very old by now. What I don't like is the idea of the Tip being the governor of temperature, requiring you to have several of the same tip with different temperatures for different applications. I end up using the 800 all the time then even when its way too high for somethings but seconds later what I am using it for is appropriate.

    Does the WES51 use that system? I noticed the knob on the front so maybe not? I do not mind spending less than a few hundred, but more than that is unnecessary for my application. Thanks to everyone for the ideas. I want to get this purchase right, so please keep them opinions coming!
     
  8. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
    4,415
    784
    That's pretty much why I quit using Weller.

    When I started self employed, I bought a brand new Weller iron because I thought it would be more reliable than the ones I'd been cobbling together from a box of parts I'd acquired - it wasn't!

    The Curie-stat in the brand new iron didn't even last one whole week, they sent me a replacement no questions asked - that lasted nearly a month and then welded its contacts and burned out the element.

    So I bought a new element and modified an old stat - I filed off the contacts and glued on an opto-interrupter. A multi way coily lead led to a triac circuit built into the base unit.

    That worked perfectly - until I had to buy new tips. The new tip had defective plating which split and allowed the copper core to oxidise - that expanded and jammed solid into the element. It wasn't possible to remove without wrecking the element.

    The Antex was purchased because I needed an iron quick, at the price it was regarded as pretty much expendable. Having had very few problems with the Antex irons - I never looked back.
     
  9. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
    17,757
    4,800
    I picked up some Metcal stations when the local TRW went out of business and have never looked back. I can solder fine-pitch (o.5 mm pitch) and, without switching tips, solder a heatsink to a fender washer. I swear you could solder a fine-pitch lead to a car bumper with that thing. Those and the binocular microscopes I bought at the same time have easily been the best equipment purchases I have ever made.

    At the time, Metcal units like mine were about $3000, so getting three of them for $85 a piece plus $1/tip (I got LOTS of tips!) was steal. But not too much later the prices for the low end units dropped into the basement and you could get them for under $200 from Digikey. They might be going for considerably less than that, now, for all I know.
     
  10. Magic Dr.Shoon

    New Member

    Nov 30, 2007
    5
    0
    JBC all the way for me. Not cheap, but I love the sleep function. You can define the sleep temperature which is activated as soon as you put the iron back into the holder. When you pick it up, it is up to temp by the time you get the iron to the work (you can beat it if you try, but that's not the point!) The temperature is variable from the base unit.

    By no means the cheapest, but efficient.

    I've not tried the Metcal ones though.
     
  11. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
    4,415
    784
    Weller (Cooper Tools) have taught me that you can spend a lot of money and get a lemon.

    Buying cheap (expendable) irons is one way of going about it - I got lucky with Antex.
     
  12. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
    17,757
    4,800
    The Metcals use RF and tips that set the temperature by changing the impedance via the Curie point. Since everything is self-regulating and happening right at the tip, they can heat very quickly and respond to the actual thermal load at the tip. When you turn the unit on it is ready to solder is about one second. When idling, the tip stays at temp but very little power is used because the tip is only losing heat to the air surrounding it.
     
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