Great value soldering station

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by recklessrog, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. recklessrog

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2013
    As there are often requests by members as to which soldering iron to use, I thought I would share this :-
    In the U.K Maplins are currently selling a temperature controlled station for £39.99. Code number N34FB.
    When my 25 year old Weller iron packed up last year, I looked around for a replacement and was horrified
    at the cost, so I tried a couple of cheap alternatives but they proved to be practically useless. After returning one for
    refund, the assistant showed me one of the N34FB stations and persuaded me to give it a try. One year on and I can say
    that it really is exceptional value for money, maintains set temp within 2-3 deg and is very simple to set. The replacement
    tips are not expensive and a complete replacement iron is available should it ever be needed.

    I must point out that I have no connection with Maplins other than as a customer, and am passing on this information
    in the hope it may be of use to someone.
  2. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    What failed on your Weller that could not be replaced for 10 Pounds?
  3. MrSoftware

    Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    recklessrog likes this.
  4. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    That looks like a fancy version of the one I have and appears to use the same tips. (My needs are just hobbyist and I'm not saying everyone should use such a cheap set as I do.) One reason I chose that model - other than the good reviews - was that replacement tips are cheap and easy to find. Every other piece-of-crap iron I had used before went to the graveyard because a replacement tip, if I could find one, cost more than the iron did. The tips for this model are only about a buck apiece and they last a long time anyway.
  5. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    You can get replacement parts for the Kendal units. I got mine off EBay as I did for the base unit.

    The Kendal will give years of good service if you don't abuse it. If you do abuse it (I did) you can fix it.
  6. recklessrog

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2013
    The poor thing had been dropped a few times, and I had re-glued the case, but it finally gave up when a short developed in the iron element and the transformer burnt out and melted the case.
    Brilliant station though, I had used it probably 6 days a week for 25 years only ever replacing the bits and the Curie point magnetic switch in all that time. We had several at my company, and I kept one when I sold the business. I believe that one of my ex partners is still using his.
    The only downsides to buying another was A, the cost, and B, to change temperature you had to change the tip for one with a different Curie point.
    For those that are not familiar with these irons, temperature control was achieved by having a piece of iron alloy at the base of the tip, by varying the mix of the alloy, it varies the curie point. (At the Curie point temperature, the material loses its magnetic properties)
    The clever design had a micro switch in the handle that had a rod with a magnet on the end inside the element. Whilst the temperature was below the tips curie point, the magnet was attracted to the tip keeping the microswitch and element on. Once the temperature reached the Curie point of the tip, the magnet could no longer be held against the tip base and was retracted by a spring. This caused the microswitch to operate and turn off the power to the element.
    Once it cooled a little, the magnetic properties returned and the magnet was then attracted back to the base of the tip so the microswitch turned the power on again etc..etc.
    The Hysteresis ( difference in off-back on temp) was quite high, and depending on the selected bit could be as much as 50deg C. but was usually not a problem.
    GopherT likes this.
  7. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012

    I know mine has the thermostat, I never bothered to think about how it worked. Thanks!
    recklessrog likes this.
  8. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
    There are those temperature controlled soldering irons. A few dollars each. I have used them and am quite happy.

    On the other hand, I have made quite a few temperature controlled soldering irons from laptop power supplies, pic12f675, a pot and a MOSFET. Practically free and they work wonderfully.