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Starter DIY Soldering Iron Recommendations

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I'm getting into the world of DIY and I'm looking for a decent starter soldering gun. I have some experience soldering but that was several years ago. So I have a couple small projects coming to get back into the swing. But I used my school's equipment back then so I know nothing about the brands and quality of the different irons and sets. I'm eyeing a couple different sets on Amazon as I have a gift card. I've searched through these forums and have come up with a few different ideas, but the recommendations are all over a year old that I'd found, so I don't know if the newer stuff is any better. I'm looking to stay around $50 but I can stretch it a bit if there's sound reasoning to do so. I'm currently considering the ones listed below but I'm open to suggestions.

 

Aoyue 937+

Kendal 937D+

Weller SP40NKUS

 

Any recommendations are welcomed and greatly appreciated. These will be used to start with a simple training board set, then moving onto a ThinkGeek useless box and then into the DIY amp and headphone modding realm. Thanks everyone!

post #2 of 3

The Weller you have listed is not worth the trouble.  It's an arts & craft soldering iron, basically nothing more.

 

The Kendal and Aoyue are Hakko 936 clones.  Read the reviews on Amazon and you'll see some people mentioning that the barrel of the iron gets hot (the part you hold onto).  Despite that, many people have purchased the Aoyue and claim that it works fine.  However, the ones that have switched to a Hakko would never go back.  I got a few at a 50% discount when Hakko was changing the design (to cut down on cloning, most likely).  I gave one to a friend who had used an Aoyue and he said, "Wow - the handle doesn't get hot!"

 

The Hakko FX-888D is the current model and now looks nothing like the Kendal and Aoyue.  You'll pay more than your budget - not quite twice as much, but you won't regret it if you continue to solder.  This place has almost everything you would want:

http://www.hmcelectronics.com/product/Hakko/FX888D

 

Stick with the chisel tips - a 1.6D is great for all through-hole PCBs, cabling, and connectors.  A 0.8D chisel tip will do SMD quite well.  Stick with 63-37 eutectic solder, with rosin flux - Kester has some with #44 rosin flux that's 0.025" diameter. That's about as small as you can get without it breaking all the time.  It'll do all the soldering you need for everything from cabling, connectors, through-hole PCBs and even SMD.  I wish they offered it in the half-pound, because I bought a half-pound of it 7 years ago and it's just now starting to run out.  A pound will last you for 10 years or more, most likely.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds like I'll be looking into that particular model. It also looks like it's on Amazon for about the same so I can use my gift cards. Huzzah!

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