good soldering station
Mar 15, 2007 at 10:12 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

bellsprout

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i'm in need of a good soldering station for pcb soldering. i need temperature control and a fine tip for smd jobs.

there's not a huge selection here in australia, and i'm going to order a component package through mouser, and thinking about getting a soldering iron there too, since they sell them. any ones worth checking out? my budget is about $100
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 12:11 PM Post #2 of 16

AndrewFischer

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This question comes up a lot. Umm from Mouser I'm not sure what you can get for under $100 US. Best soldering station for < $100 is a Hakko 936. Mouser doesn't carry Hakko. I don't know if Mouser stocks anything in 220V. Most soldering stations are not dual voltage.

Mouser does carry my personal favorite, the Weller WTCPT, but it is $144. And 120V

I just looked and you can order a WTCPTD (the 220V version) but Mouser doesn't have one in stock.


My standard suggestion for someone in the US is to get a used WTCPT off of eBay. (won't work for you) or a Hakko 936 from HMC Electronics. I don't know if HMC sells the 220V version of the 936.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 1:51 PM Post #4 of 16

mono

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Mouser seems mostly limited to Weller (Cooper Tools) and the prices aren't so great by US standards but since you asked,

Pages 1788 and on have 'em,
http://www.mouser.com/catalog/629/1788.pdf
WES51 $124.60, http://www.mouser.com/search/refine.aspx?Ntt=578-WES51
(I think it takes the "ET" series tips but don't quote me on that).

pic

WLC100 $52.67, http://www.mouser.com/search/refine.aspx?Ntt=578-WLC100

pic

On the one hand the WLC100 is a little low quality for the price but on the other, the WES51 is similarly overpriced for what it is. Aren't they made by ZD (Zhongdi)?
http://www.china-zhongdi.com/zd-919.htm

What's available near you?
One brand people seldom mention is Xytronic. Pretty good for the price, a close competitor to Hakko in some respects. Then there's the typical Hakko Chinese clones which look similar but I suspect a notch below the former two, sometimes these carry house branding but looks like the one Circuit Specialists carries here, also called Aoyue brand, IIRC. Yes it's Aoyue and here's their product page.

I dont know what the shipping costs are for you but it could work out that you still save money or get a better station for same money buying somewhere other than Mouser.

OOPS! I overlooked that bit about it needing to be 220V, which these aren't. I'd delete the above text but someone else might find it useful.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 2:33 PM Post #5 of 16

AndrewFischer

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The problem with all the stations Mono suggested is that they are 120V with US style cordsets and meet US standards, not au.

In my opinion the WLC100 isn't worth $53.00. It really isn't worth $53 + overseas UPS + step down transformer.

WES51 -- I'd rather get a WTCPT. My WTCPTs are all made in the USA. The newest one is 6 years old. No idea if they are still made here. HMC electronics sells the WTCPT for just over $100. You still have to pay overseas shipping and get a transformer. You could e-mail HMC and ask if they will sell you the 220V version of the Weller or Hakko 936 at a similar discount.

Link to 220V WTCPTD at Mouser:

http://www.mouser.com/search/Product...lkey578-WTCPTD

I don't know which cordset you will end up with. You may have to change the plug or use an adapter.


It may be more cost effective to buy locally.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 2:45 PM Post #6 of 16

mono

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WTCPT is fixed temp based on the tip? I would not want that, better to have control over tip temp. That might be like a safeguard against an overzealous line worker more than a good thing.

My main point might be that there is no Weller really worth the asking price, these are irons with about a $40 markup for the "Weller" name on them.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 2:56 PM Post #7 of 16

AndrewFischer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mono /img/forum/go_quote.gif
WTCPT is fixed temp based on the tip? I would not want that, it just causes problems, IMO not be have control over tip temp.

My main point might be that there is no Weller really worth the asking price, these are irons with about a $40 markup for the "Weller" name on them.




The WTCPT is closed-loop temperature controlled with the temperature set by a thermostat the tip. It is a very simple mechanical system.

I prefer WTCPT over the Hakko 936.

Changing tips on the Hakko can change calibration. If you forget about this, your tip temprature can be off by a considerable amount.

The Hakko is more fragile. The Hakko manual says not to tap the iron to shake off solder as that can damage it.

The TC201 iron is better balanced than the 907. I find the larger TC201 more comfortable.

I rarely (almost never) need anything besides 700F. I like that I don't have to worry about setting or calibrating the Weller. When I need a different temperature I use my Hakko.

I mostly use my Hakko for surface mount. I use one of my WTCPTs for everything else.

You can get a WTCPT on eBay for very little money. I do agree that the WTCPT isn't $40 better than the Hakko. With HMC's current sale prices the difference is more like $20. At that price difference, I'd base my recommendation on how much surface mount work you plan to do. -- Mostly surface mount get the Hakko. Mostly through hole and cables get the Weller.
Lots of field work, get the Weller. Really need the wider tip selection, get the Hakko.


I've found the two to be complimentary. Sort of like having a big screwdriver and a small screwdriver. If you can afford it, get both!
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 3:09 PM Post #8 of 16

mono

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AndrewFischer /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The WTCPT is temperature controlled with the temperature set by the tip.

I prefer WTCPT over the Hakko 936.

Changing tips on the Hakko can change calibration. If you forget about this, your tip temprature can be off by a considerable amount.



"IF" you forget, yes, but it may still be better to have control instead. Since the owner will be able to become familiar with the iron it isn't really so necessary to limit them, it is more often a problem not being able to set the tip to what you want than not.

Quote:

The Hakko is more fragile. The Hakko manual says not to tap the iron to shake off solder as that can damage it.


That's unfounded, you can't tap any decent iron to shake off solder without risking damage to the tip... and Hakko tips are about as good as it gets in an affordable iron (we're not talking about Metcal class).

Quote:

I rarely (almost never) need anything besides 700F. I like that I don't have to worry about setting or calibrating the Weller. When I need a different temperature I use my Hakko.


This is a pretty significant point you make, that you have a choice of multiple irons to use but someone buying one station may need to be able to adjust temp as I'd mentioned before.

Quote:

I mostly use my Hakko for surface mount. I use one of my WTCPTs for everything else.

You can get a WTCPT on eBay for very little money. I do agree that the WTCPT isn't $40 better than the Hakko.


I suggest it may actually be worth $0 more, though since Weller is so often overpriced, ebay is a good place to find deals.

Quote:

I've found the two to be complimentary. If you can afford it, get both!



There's no need for two irons unless both would be used simultaneously. Either of them, with the right tips would be fine for both SMT and through-hole, except that the WTCPT is crippled so the WES51 is more versatile. By crippled I'm thinking that if someone has only one iron, they might want to be able to use it with multiple solders, and other things than just their similar audio projects. Anyway that's how I interpreted the OP's request since an adjustable iron was asked for and one that auto-adjusts itself isn't so adjustable really, you have to like the default for everything.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 3:34 PM Post #9 of 16

AndrewFischer

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You can get a range of temperatures with the Weller. Weller sells tips that set for 600, 700 and 800F.

Plato makes an extended range of tips that include 750F and 900F as well.
I'm not aware of any need for temperatures other than 600,700,750,800,900.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 9:20 PM Post #12 of 16

ericj

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My vote is for a used Weller WTCP series station. They're built like tanks (or, well, like a Gremlin at least), and i've bought them for as little as $25.

A point that keeps getting missed is that the WTCP series thermostat is much faster and more accurate than the best conventional variable-control irons. And by 'conventional' i mean 'less than Metcal'.

The TC201 pencil will stay closer to the target temperature than the hakko, or than variable control Wellers for that matter.

Having to change tips to change the temperature is a very small price to pay. I have a variety of tips, but i find that the only two i ever use are the 700f short-and-pointy and the 600f long-and-spindly.

And I only ever use the 600f tip for SOP format SMD chips.

What the heck do you need the other temperatures for? I mean if i were going to desolder a heck of a lot of stuff, I'd finally heat up the 800f wedge tip, but, it just hasn't come up yet.

And in a pinch you can just turn off the iron and use a pair of pliers to remove the flaming-hot tip and replace it with another temperature.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 10:02 PM Post #14 of 16

mono

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ericj /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My vote is for a used Weller WTCP series station. They're built like tanks (or, well, like a Gremlin at least), and i've bought them for as little as $25.

A point that keeps getting missed is that the WTCP series thermostat is much faster and more accurate than the best conventional variable-control irons. And by 'conventional' i mean 'less than Metcal'.



They're not built so much different than anything else except the expensive (to replace) tip-power switch in the handle.

If you can get one now for $25, that could make all the difference, but it would be a value for the price, moreso than for the regular price.

The reason it's overlooked is that it doesn't matter.
Any of these grade irons are suitable for the intended use. They are all "fast" enough and accurate enough. A drift of a single-digit # of degrees is not of the slightest importance, but being able to control what temp you want might be.Taking WES51 for example, it's +-6C. We are not soldering anything that depends on less than 6C drift, but actually if temp is that important, it would be arbitrary to think this iron's default was the exact temp needed rather than off from the ideal by more than any other adjustable iron.

Do you see what I'm getting at? Being a tiny bit closer to a temp you don't necessarily want isn't such a great consolation for the same price, but at a higher price to purchase and fix?

I'm not saying it's a bad iron or won't do the job, just that it does no better than anything else at 2/3rd the regular price and costs more to repair.
 
Mar 15, 2007 at 11:33 PM Post #15 of 16

villekille

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I have a Xytronic 136 ESD station which is very good at least for me. I think the hakko 936 is quite similar and after using a regular iron this temperature controlled station feels wonderful. I just regret that I built my PPA before buying this station, the solder joints really are much more impressive when a station like this is used
smily_headphones1.gif


I don't have anything negative to say about it, except for the price which was 150 euros here in a local electrics store but I've seen them online for less than $60!
 

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