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Old May 10, 2012, 08:19 PM
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United States, OH, Columbiana
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what is a good soldering iron for rc work?

i am looking to pickup an inexpensive soldering iron/kit/station. i have absolutely no experience in this arena, so something like "here buy this one" would probably be as good as telling me what to look for and sending me off on my merry way. lol. i only plan to solder small electronics... mainly rc electronics and possibly some other small electronics repair. i don't want to get a gun that will be overkill and hard to use, but i don't want to be left wanting either... any advice at all would be great.
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Old May 10, 2012, 08:52 PM
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Tampa, Florida
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Everyone starts with the Radioshack firestarter. Cheap and gets the job done. I used one for 25 years or so.

A Weller is the Rolls Royce of soldering irons. After a few years of the cheap one you will be in awe how much the Weller can improve your skills.
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:29 PM
ltc
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IMHO, a Metcal is the best soldlering iron on the market today.
Expensive, but well worth the money. You can usually find them on eBay.
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Old May 11, 2012, 06:38 AM
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A 40W Weller from any local hardware store will work and serve you well - < $20. Be prepared to replace tips now and then.
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

A soldering station is a better choice but not essential:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=3086619

Tip cleaner & tinning paste will really help extend the life of the tips:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2062721

If you do a lot of fine work (small components, servo wires, etc.) it's a good idea to have a lower power iron (25W) with pencil tips. They aren't as common in the local stores, though.
..a
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Old May 11, 2012, 09:20 AM
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ok so, assuming all i ever plan on working on are small electronics like servo wires, or maybe soldering a wire to a barrel plug or maybe something on a laptop motherboard, i need a 25w w/ pencil tips? what else do i need to go from nothing to equipped? i assume solder core/wire, thinner and cleaning paste. i seem to remember my co-workers soldering station having a little sponge he would wet when he used it. i assume to clean/cool the tips? isn't flux the braided wire you use to catch the excess solder or what you use to desolder a connection?
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Old May 11, 2012, 10:22 AM
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If you are into electric power where you are soldering motor wires and ESC's where you are using 12 gage wire or so, you need a 40 to 60 watt iron with a large (lots of mass) tip to make good joints quickly to keep the heat from deforming plastic housings on connectors. For soldering servo wires, PC board work, you need a smaller iron (usually 20 to 40 watt) iron with smaller tips (usually a needle point and spade point selection for tip--interchangeable). Do get a tin of rosin flux and a means of keep the tip clean as you use it , something like a damp sponge, brass wool pad or at the very least a damp heavy towel to keep the tip clean as you are using the iron..
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Old May 11, 2012, 10:39 AM
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Most any inexpensive irons when plugged directly into the socket will get too hot and burn the flux.
Do yourself a favor and get an inexpensive lamp dimmer from the hardware store to regulate the heat.
Something like this
http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0COQBEPICMAA

Mark a line on it where it's hot enough to melt the solder but not so hot it turns the flux to carbon.
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Old May 11, 2012, 03:13 PM
RIP Ric
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlwartman View Post
ok so, assuming all i ever plan on working on are small electronics like servo wires, or maybe soldering a wire to a barrel plug or maybe something on a laptop motherboard, i need a 25w w/ pencil tips? what else do i need to go from nothing to equipped?
You would need a 40W and a 20-25W. A temp-adjustable station with a selection of tips would also work, but a 25W is not enough for 12ga wire on high power models (for example).
..a
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Old May 15, 2012, 01:16 PM
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USA, WA, Kennewick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltc View Post
IMHO, a Metcal is the best soldlering iron on the market today.
Expensive, but well worth the money. You can usually find them on eBay.
I have to agree..
This thing is the best soldering station I've ever had..

I bought a bare PS-800 Power supply on Ebay and ordered a new handset and tips from OK International..(they bought Metcal a few years ago).. I'm into it about $120


Good ones for hobby use are the Metcal PS2E, PS-800 and the OKI PS-900

A new OKI PS-900 will run you about $250..

It heats by magnetic induction.. Light handset, very fast to get up to temp and excellent heat control..
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Old May 15, 2012, 03:08 PM
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Milwaukee G Mitchell, Wisconsin, United States
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The suggestion of a $250 for a soldering station for a beginner asking for an inexpensive solution is not helping the OP. Same thing for some of the less expensive stations. A soldering station is not needed for most of what we do in this hobby.

As suggested by Andy W, a 40watt and 25watt iron will do most things a hobbyist is likely to encounter. Couple that to an inexpensive lamp dimmer and you have something that will service you for years.

One thing that 'burns' me is the way people infer that a quality soldering station is the only way to do good soldering. If you don't understand HOW to solder, the best station in the world won't make a bit of difference.

Get a simple pencil iron, 25watt and 40watt. Get a lamp dimmer and learn how to solder.
Once you get good at soldering you can decide if an expensive station is for you.
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Old May 15, 2012, 03:28 PM
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awesome. thanks for all the input! i feel like i have a better idea of what to buy now without spending a fortune getting the best stuff (which i have been known to do)
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Old May 16, 2012, 07:34 AM
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Actually all you need is a decent 40W iron. Temperature control can be added by using a simple lamp dimmer and duplex outlet mounted in a plastic electrical box (only attempt if you're comfortable with basic AC household wiring). The typical lamp dimmer is rated for 600W, more than plenty for a 40W iron. To a lamp dimmer, an incandescent lamp and the resistive element in the iron are the same
Pete
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:26 AM
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so, could i use a simple wall switch dimmer dial? put that in a dual gang box with a standard grounded outlet?
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:48 AM
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Absolutely!

Put some marks on it where the heat is just right and you're good to go.
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:12 AM
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eggsellent! lol

thanks for the help guys!
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